The relationship between local salary enrichment, local wealth and selected socioeconomic variables in Texas
Kitchen, Weston Ellis
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With the advent of the school finance reform movement of the past twenty years, the concept of fiscal neutrality has emerged, which contends that the quality of a child's educational program should not be a function of local property wealth. In harmony with that concept the Texas Foundation School Program is purported to eliminate local wealth as a determinant of a quality school program and to ensure an adequate supply of teachers to all the schools within the state. A quality school program is dependent upon an adequate supply of teachers, and the teacher supply is a function of teachers' salaries. The Texas Foundation School Program provides for statewide uniform teachers' salaries, but the local districts are free to enrich those salaries and hire additional teachers from local enrichment funds. The problem of this study was to determine the relationship between local salary enrichment for public school personnel, local wealth and selected socioeconomic variables in Texas. The 1071 school districts were cluster sampled to obtain 285 districts to be tested. The clusters constituted the areas defined by the Education Service Center regions. The 1981-82 data were obtained from the Texas Education Agency and the 1980 Federal Census. The measures of the variables were statistically processed and then submitted to correlation, partial correlation and multiple regression analysis. Inspection of the correlation and regression coefficients confirmed that the variation in personnel salary enrichment is highly dependent upon local school district wealth.' Nineteen of the twenty-one correlation coefficients between salary enrichment and local wealth were positive and significant (P=.01). The R2 values of the regression analyses indicated that wealth accounted for as much as 56 percent of the salary enrichment variation. School district size and graduate degrees were also positively correlated with both salary enrichment and local wealth. It was concluded that the prescribed objectives of the local enrichment portion of the Texas Foundation School Program were not in harmony with the concept of fiscal neutrality. The prescribed objectives cannot be met as long as salary enrichment is dependent upon local socioeconomic factors, particularly upon local wealth.