Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Scott Brister, Melissa Martin, Elvira Reyna, and Todd Williams to the Texas Commission on Public School Finance for terms at the pleasure of the Governor. Additionally, the Governor has named Brister chair of the commission. The commission is charged with developing recommendations for the legislature on public school funding and prepare a report to deliver by the end of 2018 to the governor and legislature of recommendations to improve the public school finance system. view article arw

Sabine ISD gets clean audit

November 1408:25 AM

Sabine ISD was one of only five school districts throughout the state to receive an F, or substandard, financial accountability rating this year. It isn't expecting the same rating next year, based on audit information presented to the board Monday, but officials said even that one failed rating would have a financial impact on the district. view article arw

Voters in the Lake Travis school district said yes this week to new bonds, but they have also said yes to a tax ratification election.  District spokesman Marco Alvarado said that allows them to prevent a lot of money from being sent to the state for recapture. view article arw

Although San Antonio leads the nation in economic inequality, many of the issues contributing to the opportunity gap between residents stem from the fundamentals: homes and education. Texas school districts rely heavily on local property taxes to fund facilities, staff salaries and supplies for students. This poses problems because property values and tax revenues vary by neighborhood. Therefore, the flow of funds for arbitrary, "independent" school districts throughout the state differ as well, creating inequity by geography.  view article arw

The Pine Tree ISD board of trustees is scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the district's financial accountability rating and the 2016-17 financial audit. view article arw

Kemp ISD receives highest rating

November 0808:10 AM

Kemp ISD received a rating of “A” for “superior achievement” under Texas’ School FIRST financial accountability rating system. The “superior achievement” rating is the state’s highest, demonstrating the quality of Kemp ISD’s financial management and reporting system. This is the 15th year of School FIRST (Financial Accountability Rating System of Texas), a financial accountability system for Texas school districts developed by the Texas Education Agency in response to Senate Bill 875 of the 76th Texas Legislature in 1999 and amendments under House Bill 5 during the 83rd Texas Legislature. view article arw

The Katy Independent School District received a A on its latest state-mandated financial report card. At the Oct. 23 Katy ISD school board meeting, Christopher Smith, the district's financial officer, presented the results of the 2016-17 report from the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas or FIRST, part of the state's education agency. Katy ISD passed with a rating of Superior. "This is being done this month and next month throughout the state of Texas at every (school district,)" Smith said. "Its primary goal is to improve the management of a school district's financial resources." view article arw

Texas most needy and struggling students are the most severely affected when public education funding is shortchanged. And there is usually a price to paid for that. The $5.3 billion reduction in public school funding by the state Legislature between 2011 to 2106 created a funding hole that disproportionally affected low-income and other disadvantaged students, according to the findings of a report recently released by the University of Texas at Austin and the Center for Public Policy Priorities. view article arw

The Lefors Independent School District is being creative to help meet its budget for this year and for the future. Joe Waldron, superintendent for Lefors ISD, tells ABC 7 News the school board recently approved starting an education foundation. “The first job of the education foundation is to raise money,” said Waldron. “It’s never been done before at Lefors. We are using a model from Pampa and Gruver. We also are using the Underwood Law Firm from Amarillo to help develop bylaws and get that process started.” view article arw

Waco Independent School District has cut about half a million dollars in administrative costs since Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson started in June.  The effort is part of the superintendent’s strategy to make the district run more “lean and mean” to tackle an estimated $3 million deficit in this year’s budget and get ahead for planning next year’s budget cycle, Chief Financial Officer Sheryl Davis said. view article arw

The state of Texas this year is scooping up record levels of Plano ISD property taxes, part of a steep uptick in state recapture payments that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, district officials have said. Of the $573 million PISD will collect in property taxes this year for its day-to-day operations, nearly $155 million will be sent to the state—a record-high recapture payment. Next year’s payment is expected to rise by an additional 32 percent and cost the district more than $200 million. And while the state is adding to its overall education budget through these property tax revenues, some PISD officials are crying foul. Pointing to the state’s declining share of contributions to public education, PISD officials have said recapture payments are making up the difference for a decrease in state funding. view article arw

Government fiscal schedules are inconsistent across Texas as different entities have the ability to choose when they set budgets. The city of Katy and Fort Bend County use an Oct. 1-Sept. 30 fiscal calendar, Harris County uses March 1-Feb. 28 fiscal year, Waller County uses a January-December fiscal calendar and Katy ISD uses September-August fiscal year. Governments and private companies alike will often select fiscal years that support their bottom line, according to the International Monetary Fund.  view article arw

They are called "Empower Texans," but two area superintendents said the political action committee is doing the complete opposite, especially when it comes to statewide public education.  School vouchers were one of the many hot-button issues during the past legislative session, and although the session is over, the conversation continues. "They do want to set up a voucher system, a tax credit system for parents whose kids go to private school," said Robert McLain, Channing ISD Superintendent. "I feel like Empower Texans is attacking public schools in that way."   view article arw

As Houston ISD faces a possible state takeover, a $106 million budget shortfall and millions of dollars in needed repairs from Hurricane Harvey, six of its board’s nine seats are up for election on Nov. 7. Fifteen candidates are vying for school board seats in regular elections, and four are competing in a special election for the District III seat held for 14 years by Trustee Manuel Rodriguez, who died in July. view article arw

Riesel Independent School District recently got almost $1 million in state grant money, about a year after the appraisal for the district’s biggest taxpayer, the Sandy Creek power plant, was cut by more than half.  Riesel is one of 130 districts that got a grant from the Financial Hardship Transition Program, which was created during the 85th Legislature, Texas Education Agency spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson said. Riesel got $965,122. The average for the 130 recipients was $769,230. view article arw

The November general election is just a few weeks away and there are some big decisions citizens will have to make at the voting booth. One of those decisions is whether or not to approve the Huntsville ISD tax ratification plan, which consists of moving 6 cents from the district’s interest and sinking rate (I and S) to the maintenance and operation rate (M and O). view article arw

For the 15th year in a row, Decatur ISD received the highest rating in the state’s fiscal accountability rating system. The district received a rating of “A” for “superior achievement” under Texas School FIRST (Financial Accountability Rating System of Texas). During a public hearing at Monday’s school board meeting, Deputy Superintendent Cindy Tatum said the district scored 98 out of a possible 100 points. view article arw

Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak with numerous groups concerning public education and how it is impacted by the legislative process. The way by which we fund our public schools affects every person in one way or another. Be it by a child or grandchild who attends a public school, someone who works for the district, those who pay property taxes, or even the indirect impact on every consumer in our state, we are all impacted.  view article arw

Fort Bend ISD school board president Kristin Tassin reflected on the state of Texas public school funding Friday and how the district has responded. During a seminar at the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Tassin, who is running for the state Senate District 17 seat, said advocating for an updated school funding formula is among her concerns. view article arw

The Gregory Portland ISD received a generous donation at Monday's night school board meeting. Four donors presented checks to the school district with a total sum of more than $100,000. The money will go towards helping the district in their efforts to help students who have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Two of the donors were the Portland Cha view article arw

Doing more with less has been the new normal for Texas public schools ever since the Legislature made deep cuts to education funding in 2011.  Now a joint report by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities describes the effect of the $5.3 billion cut from state education spending from 2011 to 2016 — overall, the resulting “funding hole” disproportionately affected low-income and other disadvantaged students. view article arw

The Ore City ISD board of trustees will meet Monday to host a public hearing on the district's financial accountability rating. view article arw

During a hearing for public comment Monday evening in the Waxahachie ISD boardroom, Waxahachie ISD Chief Financial Officer Ryan Kahlden presented the results of a report on the district’s financial rating. For the fourth consecutive year, the district has received the highest marks possible. “The district received the rating of Superior by the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST). The rating was based on the 2015-2016 school year. Superior is the highest rating a district can get,” Kahlden said. view article arw

Joey Lopez called the country’s largest school board to order with the swift strike of his gavel. Lopez, South Texas ISD’s board president, and the 23 other board members began making significant expenditures. But, unlike most districts, the spending didn’t make a dent in their operating budget of more than $60 million. view article arw

The Texas Education Agency is offering state funding this school year to as many as 157 school districts and charter schools with lower attendance due to Hurricane Harvey.  The agency officially announced the compensation plan in a release Monday afternoon, with statements of support from Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath estimated last week that this decision will cost the state a total of $400 million. view article arw

Houston ISD school board members on Thursday are expected to consider approving campus turnaround plans, the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey, an audit of spending at about 50 schools and several other topics. Here's what to look for from Thursday's meeting, which starts at 5 p.m. at the district's headquarters at 4400 W. 18th St.: view article arw

Researchers at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium, and the University of Texas at Austin have summed up what we unfortunately have realized for several years, that the draconian budget cuts to public education in 2011 have had significant and ongoing negative impacts on our students. view article arw

Dallas County Schools (DCS), the county school district that provides school bus and supplemental transportation services to 13 districts in and around Dallas County, saves taxpayers of Dallas Countyup to 52% annually on the cost of transportation by utilizing DCS services. According to a DCS assessment, based upon data from the Texas Education Agency Official 2016 ISD Audits, there are higher costs to districts by not using DCS Transportation Services. "Without DCS, taxpayers and ISDs will have to pay much more for transportation services," mentioned Gary Lindsey, Interim Superintendent of DCS. "Currently, DCS provides a tax contribution to the districts within Dallas County that use our student transportation services. However, if DCS is dissolved the districts will not receive the DCS tax, and face paying more." view article arw

San Antonio public schools’ best shot at securing more State funding died this summer in the 85th Legislature’s special session when Senate revisions to a bipartisan House bill stripped $1.5 billion in new funds and all reforms to the State’s outdated school funding formulas. “We got closer than we had before, but [in the end] we didn’t have much to show for it,” said State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio), who was joined by fellow State Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio), San Antonio ISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez, and Northside ISD Superintendent Brian Woods at a Tuesday panel discussion hosted by the nonprofit San Antonio Youth Literacy. view article arw

Commissioner of Education Mike Morath today announced that certain school districts and charter schools within the Governor’s state disaster declaration for Hurricane Harvey will be eligible for an adjustment to their average daily attendance (ADA) funding for the 2017-2018 school year, holding them harmless for losses of funding due to enrollment declines stemming from the storm. “Many of our school systems have seen major disruptions in their communities because of Hurricane Harvey,” said Commissioner Morath. “This one-time adjustment is meant to bring some certainty for the remainder of this school year as school leaders face a number of major financial decisions following this devastating storm.” view article arw

Texas practices something called student-based funding, meaning districts get money depending on how much they raise from taxes per weighted student. After a series of complicated algorithms determine whether the state will re-distribute or add to local tax money, as part of recapture, funds are then distributed based on how many students attend. Charter schools receive a portion of student-based funding too, and, until now, did not receive the portion of per-student funding that comes from local taxes or is allotted for facility building and maintenance. But Texas just passed legislation that will allocate $60 million to charter schools specifically for facilities funding, to build or maintain buildings. view article arw

The Tatum ISD Board of Trustees will meet Monday to host a hearing on the district's financial accountability rating. view article arw

The Union Grove ISD Board of Trustees will meet Monday to hold a public hearing on the district's financial accountability rating. view article arw

Preliminary numbers from Amarillo Independent School District signal a second straight year of declining enrollment. According to a district spokeswoman, Amarillo ISD enrolled 33,194 students on Sept. 15. The count is down 343 from last year’s official “snapshot” number, which the Texas Education Agency collects at the end of October. Enrollment could rise in the weeks before snapshot day on Oct. 27. Last year, the district added about 50 students between mid-September and the October snapshot. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas – Funding cuts by state lawmakers left a five-year, $5 billion hole in the budget for Texas public schools between 2011 and 2016. A new University of Texas study analyzes the effect of those cuts, made because of state revenue shortfalls, which forced many districts to operate with less money despite a growing number of students.   Michael Marder, a professor and co-author of the study at the UTeach Institute at UT, says although state spending is beginning to rebound, there is still a need to deal with the problems caused by the cut view article arw