Education costs are in the news. Consider the following cost comparisons and thoughts:

Nacogdoches ISD has an operating budget of $55.6 million with an enrollment of approximately 6,300 students. This results in $8,825 per student. Stephen F. Austin has an annual budget of $265 million with an average annual enrollment of 12,500 students. This equates to $21,200 per student, 2.40 times more per SFA student than the cost per NISD student per year.

Last fall NISD administrators and volunteers expended considerable effort to advise NISD voters about school system building needs prior to the $77.9 million November school bond election. 12,634 persons voted. Voters approved this bond initiative 8,533 to 4,101. More recently, the SFA Board of Regents (10 members) voted to proceed into a bonding situation of $125 million — 1.6 times larger than the NISD bond — approved by only 10 regents’ votes. A $10.00 per semester hour increase accompanied the board’s bond decision. The expense of the SFA bonds will be the responsibility of the taxpayers and lead to higher fees to be paid by future students.

SFA student enrollment has remained generally unchanged for 20 plus years while SFA continues to build more buildings and purchase real estate. Higher and higher costs, accompanied with consistent student population, results in higher per student costs and student debt.

Some years ago The Daily Sentinel reported that 80% of SFA students are involved with some form of borrowed money for education expenses. It has been reported that SFA has various programs to assist students with education debt management. Many students are likely involved with what could be considered a perpetual indebtedness process for achieving a higher education.

Recently, my sixth grade grandson wanted to be on time for his computer class in Austin. His class had a project in which they were operating an imaginary grocery store — profit, loss, etc. I briefly explained “overhead” to him. This was a new topic (the teacher explained it to his class the next day). My grandson responded to me with a question, “Is there an underhead?”

It seems to me there may be an “excessive overhead” issue in higher education — not just in Nacogdoches but possibly throughout the state. Is there an “underhead” issue also?

Milton H. Moorer


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