textbooks2Few states make a specific appropriation to districts for the purposes of purchasing instructional materials and/or technology. South Carolina, Florida, and Texas are among the states that do.

In Texas, the funds for the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA) begin at the Permanent School Fund (PSF), which was created by the legislature in 1854 with a $2 million appropriation for the benefit of Texas public schools. By the end of the 2013 fiscal year, the market value of the PSF exceeded $33 billion.

Shortly before the beginning of each biannual legislative session, the State Board of Education (SBOE) determines the annual distribution (or “payout”) from the PSF to the Available School Fund (ASF) for each of the subsequent two budget years. The SBOE sets aside half of this distribution for the Instructional Materials Fund (IMF). The legislature determines the amount of the distribution that is ultimately appropriated for the IMF.

The money in the IMF is used for several different instructional materials-related expenses, such as the cost of shipping adopted instructional materials to districts. The largest portion of the IMF, though, goes to the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA). The commissioner determines the amount of the annual, per-student allocation from the IMA based on the amount of money available in the IMF. For the 2014-2015 school year, approximately 96% of the IMF was used for the IMA.

The ability to trace the flow of IM funds from their source to the local education agencies (LEAs) not only makes for an informed electorate, but also allows those who depend on those funds to estimate future IM allotments and plan for upcoming IM purchases.

In estimating forthcoming allotments and planning for future purchases, however, LEAs should be bear in mind that as funds flow from their source, they pass through the capitol building, and, by the power of appropriation, the state legislature has the final word on the funding of instructional materials.