Study: MISD ranks low in financial equity

WalletHub report shows most Ellis County schools in top half of state

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
A study of financial equity in public school districts between per-pupil spending and average household income finds that Midlothian ISD ranks near the bottom of all Texas districts.

A recent study of public school districts shows that while Midlothian ISD spends the fewest amount of dollars per pupil in Ellis County, the district also has the county’s highest average household income.

The personal-finance website WalletHub last week released a report on the Most and Least Equitable School Districts in Texas. Because of the imbalance between school spending and household income, WalletHub ranks MISD near the bottom, at No. 883 out of a total of 1,020 Texas public school districts.

The report states that MISD spends on average $8,160 per pupil, more than $400 less than the next-listed school, Maypearl ISD. Midlothian ISD also reported an average household income of $99,106 within school district boundaries.

The report, of course, doesn’t take into account spending efficiency, which MISD officials have touted in holding the line on annual property tax rate increases. In fact, last September the district board of trustees voted to cut the tax rate by nine cents per $100 valuation.

WalletHub said more than half of teachers reported significant learning loss during the pandemic, and that poorer districts were disproportionately impacted.

Smaller rural districts, such as Italy ISD, tended to fare better in the rankings. Italy was the highest-ranked Ellis County district in the rankings at No. 47 statewide, with a average expenditure of $11,711 per pupil and a $54,567 average household income.

“If we make sure that every school district has equitable funding, students in less affluent communities will have a level playing field with students in wealthy districts. As a result, their graduation rates will increase, as will their likelihood to pursue higher education and earn larger incomes,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “College graduates have $524 - $1,112 higher median weekly earnings than people with a high school diploma and no college experience, depending on the degree.”

On the other hand, larger, more affluent suburban districts populated the bottom of the list. Southlake’s Carroll ISD ranked No. 1,019 or next-to-last in the state, for example, and Highland Park ISD ranked No. 1,018.

Almost all other Ellis County districts rated in the top half of the state, including Ferris at No. 124, Avalon at No. 210 and Waxahachie at No. 355. Ennis came in at No. 395, while Red Oak ranked below the median at No. 617 with an average household income of $81,904 and a per-student expense of $9,417.

To find out where school funding is distributed most fairly, WalletHub scored the equitability of each school district in Texas based on two metrics: average household income, and expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools per pupil.

WalletHub said data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics.

WalletHub also ranked the states and found Texas to be in the middle in equity, ranking at No. 24. Iowa, North Carolina and Arkansas were rated most equitable, while California, Idaho and New York were rated as least equitable.

The entire Texas study can be found at https://wallethub.com/edu/e/most-least-equitable-school-districts-in-texas/77134 .

Here is how Ellis County school districts are ranked in the study:

Rank              District               Score     Expense Household

47                  Italy ISD                  1.62     $11,711       $54,567

124              Ferris ISD                  4.46        $9,545       $64,024

210            Avalon ISD                  7.61     $11,472       $61,125

355   Waxahachie ISD               13.41        $9.903       $72,506

372           Milford ISD               14.26     $11,008       $50,870

395              Ennis ISD               15.17        $9,147       $59,875

442       Maypearl ISD               17.69        $8.563       $81,844

451           Palmer ISD               18.05        $9.764       $75,897

617         Red Oak ISD               25.37        $9,417       $81,904

883     Midlothian ISD               43.86        $8,160       $99,016