Despite their political rifts, Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate lawmakers, and rural and urban Texans all agree the state needs to change the way it funds public schools. That consensus is the culmination of decades of lawsuits against the state claiming Texas schools are not adequately or equitably funded. view article arw

Omar Garcia with BOK Financial Securities has a new release (Release 1 dated 02/07/2019) that is now available for download.  This new release loads the preliminary 2018 values as recently certified by the Comptroller’s office and makes other minor adjustments (see Notes tab).  As always, please stay tuned for any new developments.

Atascocita High School experienced a major drop of attendance on Feb. 1, the day after 17-year-old Mikael Neciosup allegedly shot a 16-year-old student. About 58 percent of the AHS student population were accounted for on Feb. 1 compared to its 2018 attendance attendance of about 94 percent that same day. view article arw

Eanes ISD has sent more than $1 billion of local property tax funds to the state of Texas since the recapture system was established in 1993. Lake Travis ISD has sent about half a billion. The amount districts send increases rapidly with taxable value   growth like in Lake Travis ISD, where recapture payments have gone up 100 percent in a decade. What began as an attempt to equalize school district wealth across Texas and make up for a lack of an income tax is now an outdated, broken formula, according to many state senators, representatives, administrators and parents. view article arw

The Grapevine-Colleyville ISD school board is gearing up for the upcoming 2019-20 school year by beginning to prepare for its budget. Board members approved parameters to guide the six-month budget-planning process during the Feb. 11 board meeting. “One of the first things that we do is approve the rules, or the parameters, by which we will build the budget,” GCISD Superintendent Robin Ryan said. “This is a template for us to build the budget.” view article arw

Later Monday night, Austin ISD will be looking to find some answers to a problem that keeps growing: How to cut $60 million from the district's budget. view article arw

At Austin Independent School District's February work session meeting on Monday, board members are scheduled to discuss budget adjustments that would save the district money as well as plans to more efficiently use the district's campus facilities.  view article arw

Texas' school finance system is putting additional strain on two coastal districts that lost millions of dollars after Hurricane Harvey and now owe the state millions more. Port Aransas and Aransas County districts are seeking relief from ballooning recapture payments this year as schools struggle to pay teachers and meet student needs after the 2017 storm, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Aransas County district officials plan to cut 25 jobs next school year, in addition to the 59 positions cut since 2017-2018. view article arw

In his State of the State address last week, Gov. Greg Abbott rightly praised teachers across the state, pointing out that Texas now has “more public high schools ranked in the Top 100 and more Blue Ribbon public schools than any state in America.” But he also noted — as is the case in so many states and school districts across America — that far too many students graduate from high school “not ready for college or a career.” view article arw

More than in any legislative session since the Great Recession, Texas lawmakers are signaling a willingness this year to dip into the state’s massive savings account.  As the Legislature debates costly investments in property tax reduction and public schools, and with big bills coming due for retired teachers’ pensions and Hurricane Harvey recovery, Texas’ Economic Stabilization Fund is taking center stage in budget negotiations. view article arw

Along with recapping where projects funded by the tax ratification election are, members of the Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Council also reviewed budgetary cost savings for Ector County Independent School District. Interim Superintendent Jim Nelson said they were mostly Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Howard’s ideas from when she was a principal and superintendent previously. view article arw

School finance reform is critical this year, particularly for children enrolled in public school districts in Houston, Galveston and other communities that are forced to pay huge amounts of local tax dollars to the state government under the so-called Robin Hood school finance system. Currently, the Houston Independent School District expects to pay a whopping $312 million to the state in the 2019-2020 school year under Robin Hood. More than 30 cents of each dollar Galvestonians pay in local school property taxes is siphoned off to the state the same way. Our communities cannot keep enough of our local tax dollars to educate our children, and we have no way to make up that loss. view article arw

If you owe a company money and someone from the company calls and says they've changed bank accounts and seeks payment from you, what are you going to do? view article arw

Texas ranks 28th in teacher salaries, according to the most recent data. Teachers here make about $7,000 less than the national average. But that could change, with some legislators and state leaders talking about an across-the-board raise. Sounds great, right? Well, maybe not for rural teachers, who can lag significantly behind their urban and suburban counterparts, compensation-wise. view article arw

Two words may haunt the La Joya Independent School District during the legislative session: water park. The school district spent about $20 million on a Sports and Learning Complex, which includes a planetarium, tennis courts, an indoor pool and a water park — complete with slides, splash pads and a “lazy river.” view article arw

After receiving an $8 million bill from the state for recaptured taxes last year, Comal ISD Superintendent Andrew Kim is championing school finance reform in the 86th Texas legislative session. “We need to address both school finance and rising property taxes statewide,” Kim said. “Fortunately, homeowners in Comal ISD receive the benefit of an additional 20 percent homestead exemption offered by the district, which lowers their valuation and ultimately their tax bill.” view article arw

Motiva is giving $890,000 to Hardin-Jefferson Independent School District as a part of recovery efforts for local communities from Tropical Storm Harvey. At a ceremony Tuesday on the boardwalk of Henderson Village beginning at 9:30 a.m., representatives from the company will present the gift to Hardin-Jefferson ISD Board President Michelle Yentzen. view article arw

The Eanes ISD Board of Trustees could vote as early as Tuesday night on an estimated $75 million bond focused on maintenance and upgrading security and technology systems. The vote may come next month instead, Superintendent Tom Leonard told KXAN, because a board member won't be at Tuesday's meeting. But over the course of the last few meetings, the group has come up with a number of projects they'd like to include. view article arw

Texas’ Robin Hood program of taking money from “rich” school districts and giving it to “poor” districts sounds just as great as the old legend of the English hero it was named after, but an East Texas superintendent of one of those “rich” districts said the program is broken and not at all as romantic as it sounds. Karnack ISD Superintendent Amy Dickson is still using donated funds collected from her “Adopt a Room” program a couple of years ago to fix and keep up her 1938 school building — one of the oldest school buildings in use in East Texas today. view article arw

Texas lawmakers in the House and Senate are making school finance a priority by developing plans to improve funding. According to the Center for Public Priorities, money in education matters. They reported that a dollar from 2008 is only worth 85 cents in 2018, which means state aid only goes 85 percent as far as it should. Some local districts, specifically River Road ISD, rely heavily on state funding by 74 percent of the state’s share. view article arw

Prepared by Sheryl Pace Senior Analyst Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA) The public education system in Texas is one of the largest in the nation, with 1,231 school districts and charter schools containing 8,771 campuses. They employ approximately 705,000 people — over half of whom are teachers — to educate 5.4 million enrolled students. Texas has more school districts than any other state and is second only to California in the number of students enrolled. Projected funding for the system in the 2017-18 school year totaled $61 billion, which includes $23.6 billion in state funds (39%), $32.2 billion in local property taxes (53%), and $5.2 billion in federal funds (8%).  view article arw

The state of Texas is paying 36 percent of the cost of public education while local school districts — funded by property taxes — pay the remaining 64 percent, according to a new report from Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar. That’s a less rosy assessment than those offered by the Texas Education Agency or by the Legislative Budget Board, each of which has put the state’s share at about 40 percent. And it’s a benchmark from the state’s chief financial officer at the beginning of a legislative session in which the governor and legislative leaders have made school finance and property tax relief their top priorities. view article arw

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education will consider requesting a reduction in recapture payments after it says it was left with an unreimbursed balance of over $15 million after Hurricane Harvey. According to the Texas Education Code, "unreimbursed disaster remediation costs that a school district incurs responding to a disaster allows the district to request a reduction in recapture payments." view article arw

Bryan school board members have approved a $2,000 stipend for speech-language pathologists with at least three years of experience for supervising assistants. The added incentive, which was proposed by the district's special education department and approved during Monday's meeting, will go into effect immediately, according to district spokesperson Matthew LeBlanc. Speech-language pathologists are a high-need position in school districts throughout the state, he said, noting all speech-language assistants are required to work under a supervisor. Those supervisors are required to be certified speech-language pathologists -- the graduate-level certification -- with at least three years of experience. view article arw

Ten years ago the school district in this small rural town faced a choice that would cut deep in the heart of every Texan: keep its 11-man football program, or downsize to a 6-man program? Sitting where west Texas oil fields meet north Texas farmland, the high school student population here had dropped below 300, so funding had dropped as well. Six-man football, or consolidation with other school districts nearby, seemed a question of when not if. view article arw

The Texas Legislature is putting its focus on public education. More funding for schools and for teacher salaries could be in the future. "If this were to happen, it'd be a tremendous morale boost for our teachers," said Denison Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Henry Scott. "It's very exciting, and I'm hoping that they have the will to do that. It's badly needed. Our teachers have not had a state pay raise in 20 years." view article arw

The work starts now

January 1708:30 AM

It’s here. As of noon on January 8, 2019, the 86th Texas Legislature has begun––and we’re off to a great start. The Texas Senate, Texas House of Representatives, Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick are all united and ready to work this legislative session building a better Texas. view article arw

The Humble ISD board of trustees is seeking a new source of federal funds to reimburse the district for nearly $60 million in construction costs it incurred after Hurricane Harvey. The board approved a motion to withdraw a request for monies through FEMA’s Public Assistance Alternative Procedures grant application, also known as Section 428 of the The Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018, during their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15. view article arw

The Humble ISD board of trustees is seeking a new method to receive federal funds to reimburse the district of nearly $60 million in construction costs it incurred after Hurricane Harvey. The board approved a motion to withdraw a request for monies through FEMA’s Public Assistance Alternative Procedures grant application, also known as Section 428 of the The Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018, during their monthly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15. view article arw

The Commission on Public School Finance is recommending paying the state's best teachers $100,000 a year for meeting certain criteria, like working on at-risk campuses for example.  Education Commissioner Mike Morath said that's where education is, at times, most vital. view article arw

Repost!  Background: Under the politically-motivated disguise of saving students from the ineptitude of community-based school districts, the State’s potential “hostile takeover” of Houston ISD (“HISD”) is all part of the State’s master plan to privatize public education. The State does not want to assume control of HISD. If that was the goal, the State would have already taken over HISD for having a conservator for more than 2 years. Rather, the State’s threatened “hostile takeover” of HISD is simply the deployment of another privatization strategy approved by the Texas Legislature in 2015. Unfortunately, it is only one of the many strategies deployed by the State to expedite the privatization of public education in local communities across Texas. A common feature of each of the State’s strategies to privatize public education is that they are deployed without community or taxpayer approval. view article arw

As lawmakers in Austin look to tackle school finance this legislative session, educators in Highland Park ISD and other property-rich districts are hoping for new approaches and more funding.  But whether there will be any relief for districts such as HPISD, which must give back money to the state to help fund property-poor districts under the ‘Robin Hood’ system, remains uncertain. view article arw

This story is part of our Annual Community Guide, which takes a look at some of the biggest stories to watch in The Woodlands and South Montgomery County in 2019. Stay tuned throughout the week as we countdown to the No. 1 story to watch this year. What we reported A commission on school finance reform was created by House Bill 21 in the 85th Texas Legislature after lawmakers set out to fix the school finance system but could not agree on a solution. After a series of meetings throughout the year, the commission delivered a report to the Legislature at the end of 2018 with recommendations for how the school finance system could be improved. In past budget cycles, Conroe ISD has attributed losses in state funding to the “Robin Hood” plan, which uses recaptured revenue from wealthy districts to fund less-wealthy districts. State funding accounted for 40 percent of CISD’s budget in 2009, while funding dropped to 26 percent in 2018.    view article arw

In the latest episode of our podcast on the 86th Legislature, Evan Smith talks to the chairman of the House Public Education Committee, Dan Huberty, about what it will take — and what it will cost — for Texas lawmakers to solve the state's most intractable problem, school finance. "Point of Order" is a weekly podcast hosted by Smith that takes you inside, behind and underneath the politics and issues of the Texas Legislature — the turning of gears and pulling of strings that power government in a state like no other. view article arw

District 73 State Representative Kyle Biedermann, of Fredericksburg, on Thursday filed House Bill 729 to help schools negatively affected by the state’s recapture formula, also known as the “Robin Hood” school finance system. Biedermann formed a working group with local public school districts during the interim to formulate legislation to improve schools. HB729 is a result of that working group and will limit recapture, allowing property wealthy districts to keep at least the state average per student. view article arw