Unexpected Victim of the Oil Bust: Texas Schools

Some Texas school districts relied heavily on mineral values for their funding.

By Alain StephensApril 11, 2016 11:25 am| ,

It’s no secret that the economy of Texas is heavily dependent on the oil industry  – and falling oil prices have had an adverse effect.

One unexpected victim? Public school systems. School districts in DeWitt County are especially facing the heat.

“Schools were a major benefactor of the oil boom and are now facing a reversal of their fortunes,” says Rye Druzin, reporter for the Victoria Advocate. “During the oil boom property values, especially the mineral values, skyrocketed – in some cases from $1 billion to $7 billion. It expanded the coffers of a lot of school districts, like Cuero ISD and Yorktown in Dewitt County, and they took almost no money from the state.”

Now the falling oil prices are shrinking the schools’ revenues. “Cuero ISD, which had revenues of $21 million in the last fiscal year is now dropping to $16 million annually,” Druzin says.

It is not just the schools that are facing a slowdown. The county as a whole has become rather subdued.

“Across Dewitt County you will see stacked rigs which are idle equipment, you will see empty parking lots across hotels,” Druzin says.  “(There’s) a lot less traffic coming through the area. It has gotten quiet.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above and hear Rye Druzin’s full report here.