Funding for public education has been the subject of much discussion lately as the legislature considers K -12 budget reductions. So far, the debate has tended to emphasize the short-term impact of the proposed reductions while largely ignoring long-term growth trends in public education.

Since it is disingenuous to only focus on the immediate impact of the reductions, here are a few facts to consider about the long-term trends in spending, employment, and administrative pay in public education.

Decades of Spending Growth. Over the past two decades, public education spending has soared. Between the 1990-91 biennium and the 2010-11 biennium, All Funds appropriations for public education, located in Article III, grew from $12.9 billion to $52.7 billion, an increase of 309 percent. Meanwhile, over the same period, population growth plus inflation increases amounted to just 115.5 percent.

Employment Growth Nearly Double that of Enrollment Growth. In the Foundation’s June 2010 report, “,” it was determined that “the number of school personnel hired over the last 20 years far exceeds student enrollment growth in Texas. In total, education personnel employed by Texas public schools increased 71.5 percent between 1989 and 2009 while student enrollment increased 44.5 percent.”

Administrative Salaries on the Rise. Between 1989 and 2009, administrative salaries have seen significant growth. Again, based from the Foundation’s June 2010 report, the average salary for a central administrator-defined as a superintendent, chief academic officer, business manager, or similarly stlyed job type-has doubled from $42,554 to $85,305. The average salary for a school administrator-defined as a principal, assistant principal, or the like-has seen similar growth for this period, going from $38,521 to $68,891, an increase of nearly 80 percent.

-James Golsan