The Fort Davis band has returned to the field, but only as a volunteer effort. The band program was cut in February. (Lorne Matalon)
Last month, a Travis County district judge ruled the state’s education finance system is unconstitutional.
Judge John Diez ruled the system doesn’t give schools enough money to meet state-approved standards, and that it puts too much of a burden on local taxpayers.
Fort Davis ISD is one of hundreds of other districts across the state trying to tackle budget shortfalls as that case makes its way through the courts. The state legislature cut more than $5 billion in funding in 2011.
View a timeline history of the battle over school funding in Texas, from the Houston Chronicle.
“In 2008 the state’s contribution to our budget was 68% – the state contribution to our budget last year was 28%,” says Superintendent Graydon Hicks. “That’s a problem.”
Meanwhile, the district has cut $3 million in spending over the last six years.
“We simply cannot keep up cutting spending fast enough to follow the cuts in funding,” he says.
Still, they’ve had to try.
The district doesn’t get a lot of money from enrollment – it only has about 200 students. So, they’ve frozen salaries and removed some staff positions. They also cut spending on extracurriculars, even getting rid of meals for student athletes when they travel.
The district also cut its track, tennis and golf programs among others, but the decision to get rid of the band has perhaps drawn the most attention.