Energizing Public Education in Texas

The San Antonio Express-News reported this week ('Drilling sends school fund to record high') on the massive impact that shale energy production is having on K-12 public education in Texas.

According to figures released by the Texas General Land Office, the “booming oil and gas activity on state lands has led to a record $1.26 billion going to the…Permanent School Fund.” Texas General Land Office spokesman Jim Suydam said that the total for fiscal year 2014 “crushes all previous yearly amounts.”

The shale revolution brought about this boost in revenue for the state as energy companies are now competing “to outbid each other for access to Permanent School Fund lands that previously were of marginal value.” The lands are now prized thanks to “hydraulic fracturing and new horizontal drilling techniques” that have opened “such properties to profitable oil and gas development.”
Interest earned on the fund is distributed by the State Board of Education to school districts in Texas on a per-pupil basis.” This means that every student in Texas is able to benefit from the shale energy revolution. 

Students in the Barnett Shale receive additional benefits from shale energy production activity beyond the payments from the Permanent School Fund. The recent report (The Economic and Fiscal Contribution of the Barnett Shale: Impact of Oil and Gas Exploration and Production on Business Activity and Tax Receipts in the Region and State) released by the Perryman Group estimated that "local taxing entities (including cities, counties, school districts) within the (Barnett Shale) region currently receive tax receipts of an estimated $480.6 million" each year from energy production, "which can be used to fund local priorities and education.”

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