AUSTIN (KXAN) – School finance is an incredibly complex topic and this November you’ll get to vote on it again. Proposition 7 is the latest amendment to appear on ballots, and how you vote will help determine who is distributing billions of dollars for the next few years.
The Permanent School Fund
Proposition 7 is all about the Permanent School Fund, or PSF. Texas is filled with natural resources. Whenever a company comes here to take those natural resources, whether it’s for mining, oil, or ranching, the company has to lease the land from the state. This money is then placed in the Permanent School Fund.
Established in 1854, this fund is worth over $40 billion today. It’s the largest education endowment in the country. This fund is distributed to schools across the state, and it’s how it’s distributed that you will vote on.
How the PSF works
The Permanent School Fund is controlled by the Texas General Land Office, through the School Land Board. Each year, the GLO transfers money, up to $300 million, to the State Board of Education. The Board then uses some of the money to buy textbooks for students across Texas, then takes the remaining funds and places them in the Available School Fund. From here, money is distributed to school districts.
Voting YES to Prop. 7 changes this
If Proposition 7 passes, money will no longer have to go through the GLO before it gets to the Board of Education. Instead both the GLO and the Board will be able to each distribute up to $600 million from the fund. They can then send the money to the Available School Fund. If both groups pull out the maximum amount, $1.2 billion will be available for that year.
The proposition also leaves room for groups like the School Land Board to distribute the money. Essentially sub-divisions within the larger organizations.