Teachers in Oklahoma, West Virginia, North Carolina and two to three other states have walked off the job due to low pay. A recent cover article in “Time” read “I have twenty years of experience, but I can’t afford to fix my car, see a doctor for headaches or save for my child’s future. I’m a teacher in America.”

Teachers don’t enter the field for high salaries, but they still have the same needs as everyone else.

This is a suggestion for some ways to increase teacher salaries and reduce class size.

• Consolidate six local school districts into one district. This would result in a district about one tenth the size of the Houston Independent School District. This would result in reduced administrative costs. A few years ago, the La Marque schools were placed into the Texas City school district, due to not meeting Texas Education Agency requirements. There were no negative impacts to the students.

• Eliminate all school sports except intramural sports. School buses cost about $1 per mile to operate. This includes bus driver pay, maintenance costs and ownership costs. For example, a typical football game will use three to four busses including the team and coaches, the band, the cheerleaders and marching groups.

For a game played in Brownsville, for example, the round trip distance is about 800 miles. The cost of using four buses would be about $3,200. For other sports like baseball, basketball, volleyball, etc., one bus would be used at a cost of about $800 round trip.

There are various size categories and the schools usually play other schools of about the same size. The typical distance to a game is about 50 to 60 miles, one way. It would be more affordable to take the team on one bus and have the band, cheerleaders, etc., to carpool or van-pool to the games, perhaps by the PTA.

There is a downside to this. Some students stay in school to play sports. This is the trade-off: Is it worth the increase in teacher salaries and smaller class size to keep these students in school?

There are other ways of motivating students, such as demonstrating the need of the high school diploma for employment and for going to college. The Catholic high school students are twice as likely to graduate from college (per the National Center for Education Statistics.) The Catholic schools accomplish this without the high cost of transporting teams, bands, cheerleaders, etc.

I think this demonstrates that we can do without the high cost of the sports programs. I solicit input on these thoughts from all interested parties, both for and against the thoughts presented herein.

Stephen Hodgson lives in Galveston.


(15) comments

Ma Gill

"No-pass, no-play" was a God send. Many students simply don't care about education. But if they can't play football (or go to a choir contest or whatever), they'll work to raise their grades.

If you take away these activities, you lose the incentive for many students to pass.

Ron Shelby

tHrough they may be able to be reduced in scale, sports teach a lot of important lessons to students including responsibility to a team, community, rewards for hard work, better health through athketics, etc.. They are definitely needed. If consider looking at the incredible range of electives presented these days that might be refocused back down to core topics. Leave the other items to outside groups and teachers to sponsor and teach.

Ron Shelby

And building mega sports complex facilities is plain ridiculous. If an open field with a chain link corner could work for baseball 30 years ago, it still can.

Carlos Ponce

Allow them to build their multi-million dollar sports facilities but if a community can handle that cost ask yourself, "Do they really need ANY state money?"
Look at LaJoya ISD which built a water park, a natatorium and planetarium. "The park was built from the school's main education fund, commonly called the general fund. It wasn't paid for through bonds or any other credit." See:
"A Texas school district opened a water park - and you paid for it"
La Joya Independent School District is a half hour west of McAllen. "The district's budget is mostly state money, including some of the nearly $200 million Houston ISD sent to the state as a part of the 'Robin Hood' program."

Jim Forsythe

Until Texas changes from recapture funds to a better way of funding, this area will pay to other schools.
La Joya Independent School District is a public school district located in La Joya, TX. It has 29,590 students in grades PK, K-12 in 38 schools. They have total Expenses of $302,091,000.
The 90,000 sq. ft. water park will not only be for La Joya ISD students and their community, but the entire Rio Grande Valley.It's open to the public at $5 for children and $8 for adults.They have a snack bar and are giving job opportunities to students as well.
Besides a water park, the complex also has house four tennis courts, a soccer field and a homework center for students to work on their school work,27-hole golf course, natatorium that will host swimming and diving meets.

Also some districts have found ways around recapture which point to another reason Texas needs to change the way we fund schools.
"At this point, I don’t see why our main focus wouldn’t be getting around or taking down recapture. District like Eans ISD(8,008 students) have figured out how to bring in taxes in such a way as to where they have to give almost none of it by the government (by reducing property tax for schools, increasing other taxes in the city, and then having the city send that money to the school district). Other districts like Round Rock ISD (48,131 students) have lowered property tax just enough so that they don’t have to contribute towards recapture (and this increased their revenue)."
Things have changed and RRISD,they now have to pay more,
"Also Round Rock ISD is seeing a 300% increase in their recapture payment for 2019. They're able to work with it, for now, but in a few years that number will drastically rise causing RRISD some financial woes. RRISD will get bit by the recapture bug, it's just happening a few years after AISD is since AISD's property values rose faster than RRISD's however RRISD is seeing big increases in property value. "Round Rock ISD must make a recapture payment to the state of $32.3 million in 2018-19. For 2019-20, the recapture payment is estimated to be $58.2 million.

Gary Scoggin

I agree there is a desire to overdo these types of things. Why does every school need its own football stadium? I grew up in a town with four big high schools (4A or 5A by today’s standards.) They shared one nice stadium - they coordinated schedules, one game on Friday night, one on Thursday night or Saturday afternoon, two teams playing away games.

Bailey Jones

Removing sports from schools is a non-starter. Texans don't care about education, they do care about sports. Proof? There are 2-3 stories about local school sports in this newspaper every day. When was the last time you read about what the Math Club was up to? Texas is ranked 40th out of 50 in education but 2nd in high school football recruiting and 4th in basketball. Texas is 46th in per student spending, $4000 per student less than the national average. If Texans wanted to be tops in academics, we would be. Cutting costs is admirable, but does anyone believe that lower costs wouldn't be translated into lower spending? I can hear it now, "Why my taxes still so high? Our school don't even have football no more."

Cary Semar

This proposal raises a lot of interesting issues, but to make a decision you need hard data. What is the breakdown of expenditures on teachers salaries, buildings and infrastructure, maintenance and custodial salaries, inter-mural sports, intramural sports, and administrative costs (plus whatever I am leaving out through ignorance), for a specific school district. If you want to make a change, you need to know what will be the most effective, and what are the adverse consequences,

There is a state agency that is supposed to study this sort of thing, I believe, instead of adding things to the curriculum like intelligent design and creationism.

My goodness! I just visited their web-site (https://tea.texas.gov/SBOE/long-range_plan/) and I am overwhelmed by the amount of information there. I think I better go lie down for awhile.

George Croix

The biggest problem with High school sports is the same now as it has pretty much always been...the parents.....
It's THEIR job to make Junior and Janie aware of the importance of education, and that sports for 99.99999% of people is NEVER going to be a paying job.....and to avoid the temptation to try to relive their own youth through their kids....
Aside from that, if we did away with Robin Hood, I'd say let each school district sue it's own money for whatever it can afford to use it on.
But as long as One Place has to send their money to Another Place, then Another Place just might not be doing the right thing to have 4 different sets of uniforms for the football team, or some such........

Carlos Ponce

What you post is true, George. It is the parents job. But you have to remember these youngsters are more influenced by social media, peers and television which glorifies the professional athlete. I know a man who will no longer give "Career Day" presentations. Why? Ask a high school boy what they want to do after graduation. Too many still say, "Become a professional football player, basketball player, etc."

George Croix

I understand, but have a hard time comprehending, two things that used to be the same...but, not anymore........

Peer pressure is POWERFUL....and mitigating it (CAN'T eliminate it...) takes a LOT of work and HARD EFFORT and willingness to put others ahead of oneself to convey to the kid(s) that there is life beyond Facebook 'likes' .....
Under the best of circumstances, the good guys win.
Under the 'norm', it's a free-for-all.......
A start...start...is to get it through the PARENTS' heads and thus hopefully passed along to the kids' heads that if 'social media' is upsetting them or leading them to bad choices it's NOT against any law to delete the app or at least ignore the internet cowards and troublemakers for what they are.....
It's not like in the movies where this arm comes out of the screen and drags them in...

And, yes, I'm well aware it's easier said than done...hence, the HARD WORK and EFFORT.....

I can attest that, when successful, it pays mega-dividends......

George Croix

Too quick on the post button:
You are RIGHT about the career thing.
I once was asked to bring my gear to a classroom and talk to 5th grade students about firefighting and the dominant interest was in how much did I get paid and what was it like to be on the TV news.......

I felt REALLY old and out of it............................[sleeping]

George Croix



In this area, almost synonymous, but, no excuse for me to be not close enough......

Rusty Schroeder

Twice in one morning George ? You must have been up to the wee hours catching beads an reveling in the street. :) :) :)

George Croix

I thought only twice was pretty good......[wink]
Personally, I'd rather do just about anything than stand in a crowd of drunks stumbling over each other and getting elbowed by people screaming and shoving to get a bunch of cheap plastic beads.......
I've 'evolved' to that in my old age.....
And refuse to elaborate further......[beam]

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