What do you do if your school district advocates against you? Well, that’s what taxpayers in Belton ISD (BISD) are trying to figure out.
On Tuesday, BISD’s communications team sent out an email blast deriding parental empowerment legislation being considered at the Legislature right now. In the statement, which is now prominently featured on the district’s website, BISD’s well-paid superintendent complained that lawmakers should “fund public schools fully before diverting dollars to unaccountable programs” and that “public schools are severely underfunded.” Conveniently left unmentioned was the fact that: “Texas spent $84.8 billion on public education in the 2021-22 school year, which is $15,708 for each of the 5.4 million Texas students.”
Setting that point aside, BISD’s superintendent also said something else revealing. In the email, he says:
“BISD has been advocating for increased school funding and changes to the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) accountability system since October 2022 when we approved our Legislative Priorities. Trustees and staff met with lawmakers throughout the 88th Legislative Session and asked local representatives to say no to vouchers and for an increase in the basic allotment.”
While it’s well-known in policy circles that school districts lobby, a lot of regular people in Belton weren’t aware that trustees and district staff had been using taxpayer resources to advocate for more taxpayer resources. And, of course, they’re now using the public’s money to lobby against parent interests.
For many, BISD’s political advocacy is a reminder that the state’s ISD electioneering laws need to be updated to prohibit the misuse of public resources in this way. It is one thing for an ISD to educate state lawmakers on the issues in their district; however, it is another thing entirely for that same entity to advocate for its own interests with public money, which almost always go against the broader public interest.