Extracurricular Funding in Texas Public Schools

Exploring extracurricular and athletics funding in Region 13, Central Texas.


Math-letes vs. Athletes: Examining Extracurricular Funding in Public Schools

It is commonly accepted that football is king in Texas Schools, and all other activities must bow before the cultural royal imperative of pigskin. But is that the whole story?

When looking at the budget breakdown, however, non-athletic extracurricular activities, such as UIL One-Act Play, Band, Speech and Debate, receive an overall, though only slightly, heftier cut, with the majority of the funds funneled into Band activities. For instance in Hays county, from 2011 to 2016, school districts spent on average over $860,000 on athletics yearly, which includes sports, drill team, and cheerleading, while also spending over $1.075 million dollars on non-athletic extra curricular activities. These trends are uniform State-wide.

Does this mean that Texans would actually rather enjoy a post-modern revival of The Tempest in the form of an interpretive hip-hop trapeze act instead of young boys hitting their heads against each other? Well, maybe not. Remember that band takes the lions share of the extracurricular budget, and band is often utilized in direct support of a school’s athletic teams. It doesn’t take a Math-lete to calculate there is relatively little money to be divided amongst the rest of the extracurricular buffet.

Still, despite the slight budgetary advantage, teachers who sponsor extracurricular activities often find themselves footing the bill for activity-related expenses.

I’ve had to purchase my own costumes,” Greg Griffin, drama teacher and UIL sponsor at Calhoun High School, says. “Building materials for sets, even lighting equipment. Sometimes I’m reimbursed, sometimes I’m not.”

Melissa King-Knowles, current principal at Sartartia Middle School in Fort Bend ISD and former drama teacher, understands both sides of the issue and offers her perspective. “Often, the speed at which funding can be secured is too slow for the needs of the production or event, so teachers will have to go into their own pocket to solve an immediate problem. Usually, they are able to be reimbursed.”

A thorough explanation of all and general funds in Texas budgets can be found in this article from The Rivard Report.



Chart I compares the average amount of money allocated per county annually in Region 13's extracurricular budgets to the amount allocated to athletics budgets from years 2011-2016. Region 13 consists of 15 counties that contain over 60 total school districts. While the overall dataset for the entire state does show more money being poured into the extracurricular budget, that is untrue of Region 13. There is a significant increase in the amount allocated to the athletics budget in several counties. Williamson County holds the most amount of money being allocated to both budgets, however extracurricular does see more funding than athletics for this county.

Chart II shows comparison of the average amount of money allocated per county annually for each area (extracurricular and athletics) and the average amount of money that is allocated annually per student in Region 13. While the pie charts represent similar percentages, it visually demonstrates how much more is allocated to each respective area. Per the breakdown, linked in story above, extra curricular is the umbrella for a variety of different activities. Unfortunately, the PEIMS data only shows this number as a whole and not each activity individually. Out of pocket costs, such as the ones Mr. Griffin accrues, cannot be determined by this dataset alone, requiring further investigation into individual district budgets.

Chart I | Amount Comparisons

Chart II | Averages


The tables below list the extracurricular and athletic budget data from years 2011-2016, and also show enrollment numbers in each district at the time of the fall census date. The first table is filterable by year, while the second and third tables are filterable by county to display all school districts within that county. The second table shows data for 'general funds' which, to put it simply, is the state budget already in place for a specific item. The third table shows data for 'all funds', which includes money from other sources such as federal funding.

Funds by Year

District County Extracurricular-All Funds Percent Per Student Athletics-All Funds Percent Per Student Extracurricular-General Funds Percent Per Student Athletics-General Funds Percent Per Student Fall Enrollment

General Funds by County

District Year Extracurricular Percent Per Student Athletics Percent Per Student Fall Enrollment

All Funds by County

District Year Extracurricular Percent Per Student Athletics Percent Per Student Fall Enrollment


The Small Picture

The photos below a small glimpse into one extracurricular activity that is impacted by the above budgets and data, UIL One-Act Play. OAP is listed as an extracurricular item on the state PEIMS data. While Greg Griffin is not a Region 13 teacher, he does often feel the sting of cuts and appropriations. The first photo is of the scripts he purchased, out-of pocket, to take his school to compete in the annual zone OAP competition. The second photo shows his barren classroom, which he laughs about, but says he would rather spend any kind of money, regardless of the source, on classroom and theatre items his students can actually benefit from. Most teachers decorate their classrooms with personal funds anyway. Mr. Griffin chooses to spend his money elsewhere. The third photo shows one of the few pieces of classroom decor that Mr. Griffin has in his class. The last two photos show Mr. Griffin working with new lighting equipment that was purchased with extracurricular funding. That left the rest of the year stretched pretty thin, which was one reason he had to purchase his OAP scripts out of pocket. "Our space was in desperate need of lighting equipment. I know it will be beneficial to my students and this program in the long haul, but last year was very tight in order to make that happen."