Texas Public Education by the Numbers
In 2016-17, according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas public school system was responsible for:
- 1,203 school districts and charters
- 8,771 campuses (including 675 charters)
- 352,756 teachers
- 5.34 million students
Of those students:
- 59.0% were Economically Disadvantaged
- 18.9% were English Language Learners
The 2016-2017 school district finances totaled:
- $60.07 billion in Revenue ($11,247 per student)
- $50.75 billion of Operating Expenditures ($9,503 per student)
- $68.30 billion of Expenditures ($12,787 per student)
All of this is paid for, ultimately, by taxpayers. From federal funds to local property taxes, there are few public resources in Texas that are not heavily invested in the state’s public education system. Getting the best value from that significant investment should be important to every Texan.
At the state level, public education constitutes one of the largest categories of state spending. The personnel, buildings, buses, books, utilities, and services involved in the delivery of public education all must be paid for. Education is a labor-intensive industry and by far the biggest cost driver is salary and benefits.
In 2016-2017, 59% of the Texas school system’s total operating expenses were payroll expenses. Texas’ school enrollments are climbing, but we must continue to hold the line on spending wherever possible. Identifying and adopting cost-effective best practices will be the key to moving the Texas education system forward.
Total educational expenditures include monies spent on capital outlay which can vary significantly from year to year in potentially misleading ways. Therefore we only use the operating expenditures when comparing spending between school districts. Operating expenses do not include expenses like new school buses, construction, building additions or repairs, and debt.