Operation Education: Frequently asked questions



Posted on March 3, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 16 at 12:04 PM


Question: What happened to all the Texas lottery money that voters approved?

Answer: The overall answer is nowhere, it's still there. Since inception, the lottery has generated more than 13 billion dollars for education.

That first ticket was sold in 1992. On average the lottery has contributed about $1 billion a year to education over the past 12 years.

In 1996, lottery proceeds paid for about two weeks of schooling for Texas students.This year, the money raised by the lottery will cover just three days.


Question: A couple of years ago the state of Texas began adding an additional $1 tax to each pack of cigarettes which resulted in an increase of about 20 percent per pack of cigarettes. It was supposed to fund new schools or something related to education. Where is that money?

Answer: The 20 percent tax increase is intended for education. In the 2010 fiscal year $796 million was put into the education fund.


Question: How much of the Dallas Independent School District budget cuts will come from the top positions? Positions like superintendent, learning community superintendents, central staff, and curriculum departments.

Answer: If and when positions need to be eliminated from the Dallas ISD budget, central administrative non-campus staff positions will be reduced at a much larger percentage than campus positions.  The administration is submitting proposals for consideration to trustees to minimize as much as possible the impact to campuses caused by a possible lack of funding from the Texas Legislature.  –Jon Dahlander, Dallas ISD


Question: Will teachers be able to collect unemployment benefits if they are laid off or fired? Will they be eligible for unemployment benefits if they resign?

Answer: Teachers are eligible for unemployment if they are laid off.  You will need to check with the Texas Workforce Commission, but I do not believe a person who voluntarily resigns is eligible for unemployment benefits except under very particular circumstances. –Suzanne Marchman, Texas Education Agency


Question: I am worried that the changes in the education system, like reducing the number of teachers, will also affect the Special Needs classes. I believe the teacher to student ratio per the state for Special Needs kids is 1:3. I hope this does not change as it will affect the way our kids learn and progress. My son is currently in a PPCD (Pre-school Program for Children with Disabilities) class and he has improved immensely. He has autism and I cannot believe how much he has improved.

Answer: There are no state regulations that mandate a particular teacher-to-student ratio for special education classrooms. The number of staff in a special education class would be based on a variety of factors such as requirements related to the implementation of the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), safety concerns for the student and for other students in the classroom, and the type and severity of the disability. Each school/district decides how best to staff their classrooms so any concerns should be addressed to your local principal, superintendent or school board. -Suzanne Marchman, Texas Education Agency


Question: What is the outlook for charter schools?

Answer: Until the Texas Legislature passes a budget, we won’t know the financial outlook for charter schools or traditional public schools. There have been several charter-related bills filed, but none of them have been voted on at this time. - Suzanne Marchman, Texas Education Agency


Question: Can you dive a little deeper into "why" bond money can’t be used to help? I understand it is a law but what is the rationale behind it? Allen ISD is spending millions on improvements but is facing teacher layoffs and it just does not seem to make sense. I would think many other people would like to have a better understanding of why this law is as it is.

Answer: The issuance of bonds and the property tax that supports the debt service payment are authorized under Article VII, Section e of the Texas Constitution for "erection and equipment of school buildings" and by a statute (Section 45.003 of the Texas Education Code) with a similar limitation. The bond election itself also adopts a proposition that is usually phrased something like "for construction of facilities and acquisition of the sites therefore" and constitutes a covenant with the voters to use the bond funds for those purposes. School districts levy two distinct taxes for maintenance and for bonds, and they must observe the distinct uses of those funds. The school district couldn’t legally sell the bonds and use the proceeds for anything the election didn’t authorize. -Suzanne Marchman, Texas Education Agency


Question: I continue to see reports of schools having to make cuts because of budget issues. I do not recall anyone mentioning how Robin Hood is impacting the districts. Let’s take another look at this situation. What would happen to the DFW area school districts if Robin Hood was eliminated? How many of the school districts would face teacher layoffs and a budget crisis?

Answer: There would be winners and losers in the DFW area if Robin Hood were eliminated. Lawmakers are dealing with a budget shortfall estimated to be somewhere between $15 billion to more than $27 billion over the next two years. Because education makes up a large part of the budget, education funding is expected to take a big hit. Initial budget proposals would give school districts $9 billion to $10 billion less than they’d get under the current funding formulas.                  (See the current list of districts that are currently required to share their wealth at TEA web site) -Suzanne Marchman, Texas Education Agency.