Austin,Texas (PR MediaRelease) March 27, 2017 - More than 150 years ago, Texans set aside a fund to provide free textbooks to children in the state’s public schools, and ever since leaders have worked to keep faith with that covenant. Until now. Now, the Texas legislature seems determined on abandoning their commitment and raiding the proceeds of the Permanent School Fund which provides not only for books, but the 21st Century technology our children will need to succeed. view article arw

It’s no secret that Austin ISD is strapped for cash. The district often blames that on the state’s school finance system, which requires it to send hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes back to the state. So, in an effort to save a little money, the Austin School Board has proposed changing how school board trustees are elected. At a meeting last week, trustees considered changing Austin School Board elections from a majority system to a plurality. That means trustees would no longer need to receive 50 percent of the vote to win. The candidate with the most votes would become the trustee – eliminating runoff elections, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. “There’s financial advantage for that for candidates, as well as the district and people that contribute to a candidate’s campaign, which we do,” said Ken Zarifis, president of the local teacher group, Education Austin. “If you don’t have the runoff, you can control your investment more.” view article arw

Tyler ISD once again has been honored for its financial practices. The Texas Association of School Business Officials recognized 26 school districts with an award of merit for following best practices in the area of purchasing operations. This marks the second year in a row Tyler ISD has received a TASBO Purchasing Award of Merit.“As one of only 26 districts in the state, we are extremely honored to receive the Purchasing Award of Merit by the Texas Association of School Business Officials,” Nakeia Burrell, coordinator of budget and purchasing/risk management, said. view article arw

As the Texas Legislature is transfixed by toilets, it has lost sight of a major development: The Texas economy, the pride and joy of the 21st century, is no longer No. 1 in the country. In fact, it's no longer even close.  Depending on which index you want to measure, jobs, growth or productivity, Texas is ranked 26th, 10th, or 21st. Once the state with the lowest unemployment, Texas fell to 26th earlier this year. Growth has flattened out. Costs have risen. Other states are just as — or more — attractive for business and people alike.  The bloom is off the rose. view article arw

The Killeen Independent School District is creeping closer to the federal government’s minimum requirement to qualify for Impact Aid. However, a formal agreement has been negotiated to create a backup plan if the district’s military-connected student percentage drops below government’s mandated 35 percent mark. If the district’s military connected student population drops below 35 percent — which is likely because of the continuing trend of nonmilitary students moving to the area — KISD would still be able to receive 90 percent of its previous Impact Aid funding under the agreement. view article arw

Unless Texas lawmakers agree to increase funding for public schools during the ongoing legislative session, Katy ISD's financial future will be more uncertain than it already is. District funding sources have transformed drastically over time. With current laws, school administrators continue to feel increasingly strangled by a loss of revenue that has already led to budget changes, with more issues possibly ahead. "The vast majority of my days are spent wondering, 'what kind of things can we do with our precious dollars to be able to provide for children in an environment that's full of obstacles and land mines?'" said Chris Smith, KISD's chief financial officer. "We try to put all of those resources in the classrooms." view article arw

A million dollars in waste and it could lead to some serious punishments. That's after an external investigation into the purchase of computer software at the Dallas Independent School District. At least two senior level employees have been fired. In all, seven DISD employees have been disciplined. All over an alleged scheme to circumvent the bid process and award a $5-million contract to an out-of-state technology firm. view article arw

Mesquite ISD will host a community meeting on Wednesday, March 22, 6:30 to 7:45 p.m., at Poteet High School. Join us for a brief presentation by Superintendent Dr. David Vroonland and School Board members on the topic of school finance. * Understand how school funding works and why school districts are not funded equally. * Learn the difference between I & S and M & O dollars. * See why tax revenue growth due to increasing property values is not going toward your public schools. * Discover how the portion of public education funding that the state pays has steadily decreased over the years. view article arw

About $950,000 in additional revenue is projected for the Abilene Independent School District based on its weighted average daily attendance figures, according to Executive Director of Finance Melissa Irby. Irby based the estimate  on a combination of attendance figures through the first four six-week periods and historical data looking at the final two marking periods. While the extra revenue does bode well for the district, it isn't the best news possible. The dollar amount was actually higher – $1.3 million – after the first two six-week periods in December, she said. view article arw

Godley ISD is one of 192 Texas school districts that will lose funding if something is not addressed this legislative session. Several proposed bills look to make changes to Texas schools’ finance system. Two of them — House Bill 811 and Senate Bill 419 — would extend Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction for six years, a program from which Godley ISD receives $4 million a year. Under House Bill 21, at least 95 percent of school districts would receive more per capita state aid, House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, told the Dallas Morning News. view article arw

Robin Hood. That's the nice name for how Texas takes a big chunk of Austin's school district taxes and quietly funnels them away from education. Under current Texas school finance regulations, districts are classified as either property-wealthy or property-poor. Since their finances rely on local property taxes, districts with low property values don't raise the money they need, so the state skims a portion of the money property-wealthy districts raise to balance out property-poor bank balances. Currently, the Austin Inde­pend­ent School District is the biggest single contributor under this recapture system. view article arw

2016-17 LPE-DPE Template

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Note from Woody: I have updated the 2016-17 LPE-DPE Template to include changes in Omar's r2 revision  - NOTE: The 2016-17 LPE-DPE "Side by Side" Template may be used to calculate a district's "projected over-payment/under-payment" based on the district's "running" average of ADA/FTE's. This may not be the final version for 2016-17. As Omar says, "Stay Tuned". (Link to 2016-17 LPE-DPE Side-bySide Template) read more arw

A ‘big loss’ of funding from the state is forcing the administration at Blanco ISD to make cuts to staffing. During a BISD board meeting last week, Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford announced that, due to the loss of more than $700,000 in Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction funding, the current staffing situation cannot be maintained. “Our employees are our strength,” said Ford. “It is extremely difficult to take these measures, when we know that it will affect employees and their families. Their situation is ever-present on our minds as we work through these circumstances.”ASATR funding is expected to be eliminated on September 1. Currently, ASATR funds account for seven percent of BISD’s budget. view article arw

It has been said that passions, only passions, can elevate the soul to great things. As we reflect on the third nine weeks of school, it is clearly evident that we are surrounded by exceptional students, outstanding employees, supportive parents, a visionary Board of Trustees and a community that truly values the importance of education. With everyone's commitment and dedication to the success of "Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day," we indeed bring forth positive changes throughout the Victoria Independent School District. view article arw

It was standing room only at the Big Spring ISD board of trustees meeting Thursday night as a crowd showed up to voice their concerns on the possibility the district could outsource its food service program to a private contractor. “Six years ago when I went to work for the food service, we had a staff of 70. In order to save money, the decision was made not to fill the vacancies that occurred. Now we have a staff of 49,” said Anna, a food service employee who addressed the board. “After learning of this cutback, we didn’t riot, strike, or threaten. We just took a deep breath, tightened our belt, and went back to work to produce a quality product in a safe, clean, sanitary, welcoming, friendly atmosphere because we love our jobs, need our paychecks, care about the kids, and care about the district.  view article arw

In May, HISD voters will once again decide how to pay money owed to the state. Texas school finance requires wealthy districts like Houston to share money with poor ones. It’s known as Robin Hood or recapture. The current option, which voters approved in November, lets the state take billions in commercial property away from HISD and assign it elsewhere. It’s called detachment. That will cost more money in the long run, according to a financial analysisprepared by HISD’s budget administrators.  “We’ve lost our revenues,” Glenn Reed, a budget manager, told HISD trustees at their meeting Thursday night. view article arw

The Big Spring ISD has agreed to move forward with the process of requesting proposals from food vendors. The district was visited by two of the contending vendors on Thursday and are interested in working with the district. At the meeting three food service workers with the district voiced their concerns with school officials who ensured them that they would not lose their jobs. view article arw

After Rep. Dan Huberty filed HB 21 Monday, the Texas Legislature’s public education committee held hearings on it. Many of the speakers were in favor of the bill which plans to pump $1.6 billion intro public education. The bill makes several other proposals including reducing recapture payments as an effort to keep property taxes from rising. It also plans to raise the basic allotment the state gives districts by $210 per student. view article arw

 The first attempt to tweak the state’s school funding system since the Texas Supreme Court last year declared it constitutional but deeply flawed enjoyed a warm reception in a House committee Tuesday even as advocates said it needed more work.Though the $1.6 billion plan generally won praise during a three-hour hearing in the House Public Education Committee, some called on lawmakers to do more to protect the handful of school districts that stand to lose money under the proposed bill, while others urged them to rethink how the state spends money on transportation and study how much is needed to adequately fund teaching students with dyslexia. view article arw

Texas lawmakers unveiled a bill on Monday that would increase funding for 95 percent of the state's school districts. The proposed law would also provide slight relief for local property taxpayers. Although the bill has support from House Republican and Democratic leaders, the likelihood that the bill will pass is unclear because the Texas Senate hasn't pledged any significant increase in funding so far. In Irving: A state appeals court Monday ordered Irving city officials to add the name of a previously-rejected mayoral candidate to the city's May ballot. view article arw

The first phase of South by Southwest is underway with an education expo going on the Austin Convention Center. The trade show is a real wish list for school districts wanting the newest of everything for their students. But buying anything new may have to wait until the state can solve something old: its strained school finance system. Folks attending SXSWedu get to see first-hand the newest thinking in education. And some businesses are thinking they need to start pitching in. Blair Blackwell manages education programs for Chevron. She says, “For companies it’s imperative that we help prepare that next generation, not just for our selves, we’re a company of engineers and looking to hire literate STEM-skilled work force in the future, but also for our communities.” view article arw

Mansfield ISD receives environmental award Mansfield ISD credits a shift in mindset and behavior that enabled it to save millions of dollars – and to receive a Texas Environmental Excellence Award from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the innovative operations/management category. The awards are jointly selected by TCEQ commissioners and the governor.Mansfield ISD started an energy conservation program in 2012 with three primary goals: reduce the environmental impact of school district operations; reduce overall utility expenditures by 20 percent; and educate students, teachers and community members about their roles in implementing efficient practices, the district said in announcing the award. view article arw

House Republican and Democratic leaders on Monday unveiled a bill they said would amount to a "first step" in a multiyear overhaul of Texas' antiquated school finance system. Under the bill, at least 95 percent of school districts would receive more per capita state aid, said House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston. "Nearly every school district and every charter school in Texas will receive more dollars per pupil," he said. view article arw

The state would boost per-student funding and lower the recapture payments by property-rich school districts to their poorer counterparts under a bill filed Monday that supporters say would begin a years-long process of reforming Texas’ public school finance system. The bill by House Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty comes with a price tag of roughly $1.6 billion, and would increase transportation spending, create a hardship grant and boost funding for students with dyslexia. More than 95 percent of Texas school districts would benefit from House Bill 21, Huberty, R-Humble said Monday. Houston ISD, for example, could see its recapture payment cut almost in half under the bill, he said. view article arw

The meeting is scheduled for 12 PM or upon final adjournment.  Agenda, View the Meeting. Equity Center stated the following related to HB 21:   Chairman Dan Huberty filed his school finance proposal House Bill 21 Monday afternoon and discussed the bill at a press conference shortly afterword. You can view the bill here HB 21 and see the Legislative Budget Board's runs for the bill here: 2018 2019. HB 21 proposes a number of changes, including eliminating the Transportation Allotment, High School Allotment, Staff Allotment, and eliminating a hold harmless dating back to 1993. The savings resulting from these allotments is expected to be used to increase the Basic Allotment. It also creates a new Dyslexia Allotment and a Financial Hardship Transition Grant program that prioritizes providing grants to districts who lose funding as a result of ASATR expiring on Sept. 1, 2017. We will be providing a more detailed analysis shortly.

Take a second to review the property tax bill you paid earlier this year, and you’ll likely see the largest portion goes to your school district. In fact, more than half (53.97 percent) of all local property taxes paid by Texas property owners in 2015 were levied by school districts, according to the Texas Comptroller’s most recent Biennial Property Tax Report. Texas properties are in high demand, which translates to increased market value and higher appraisals, making Texas real estate a wise investment. Some blame increased appraisals for our skyrocketing local property taxes. view article arw

Houston could lose some of its most valuable properties, including a big mall and downtown office towers. They’d be moved to North Harris County. Not the buildings, though. Just the taxes paid to school districts on those properties.It’s part of a confusing result of what Houston voters decided last fall. view article arw

Interesting article! - js - Proponents argue these Chapter 313 agreements allow Texas to compete with other states in attracting new businesses. Texas has one of the highest property taxes nationally for corporations. However, opponents argue the incentive program bleeds money from public education in favor of companies that would have invested in Texas anyway. view article arw

Every two years, men and women elected by the voters of their districts arrive under the pink dome of the Texas Capitol to draft laws for the betterment of our state and the folks back home. Yet predictably as sunrise, some are co-opted by deep-pocketed special interests to serve lesser ends.  The results are crooked works of legislative effrontery that hurt Texans and soil the dignity of the Texas Legislature. Two bills filed this session to limit the way educators support professional organizations are among the worst examples. Senate Bill 13 by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and House Bill 610 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) are being sold as anti-union bills, but make no mistake: They are malicious instruments aimed squarely at teachers view article arw

The Montgomery ISD Board of Trustees have approved an amendment to the budget to allow the purchase of five bundles of police body cameras. view article arw

 Select Texas lawmakers called critics of state school funding structures to the Capitol along with experts for possible solutions. The Texas House will have to decide whether to beef up our current system or create a brand new one. Rural school districts say the state isn’t pitching in enough money. Fast growing suburb districts say they can’t construct buildings fast enough to keep up with the influx of students. Big city districts like Austin fork over hundreds of millions of property tax dollars to the state every year. Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, laid out the problem, “Ladies and gentlemen we have a serious problem with our public education system in the state of Texas today and I’m proud to work with some serious people.” view article arw

While initial budget bills for the Texas House and Senate include a $1.5 billion bump for public school funding, that amount is barely enough to keep up with enrollment growth, Aledo public education advocate Bobby Rigues wrote in an open letter. Rigues’s letter came after group of representatives from local public schools recently met with State Rep. Phil King and Sen. Craig Estes to discuss their concerns on education legislation, including funding for public schools and school choice vouchers. Weatherford ISD Superintendent Jeffery Hanks, Weatherford ISD Trustee Jeff Geyer and Aledo ISD Trustee Rigues made the trip to Austin, in addition to representatives from Garland ISD, Santo ISD and Denton ISD. view article arw

Austin Independent School District staff testified before a House Public Education Committee Tuesday, as lawmakers prepare to draw up their plans for school finance this legislative session. “The school finance system is undeniably broken,” said AISD Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley. Conley spoke against recapture, also known as the “Robin Hood” program, alongside district leaders from other big Texas cities, including Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. view article arw

he Belton Independent School District will begin offering high school students new blended learning and dual-credit class opportunities as part of the new District of Innovation plan. The BISD Board of Trustees officially approved the plan Monday evening, completing a months-long process that legally allows the district with exemptions from certain Texas education regulations. “We have talked about District of Innovation since September,” said BISD Superintendent Susan Kincannon before the board’s vote. “We have met all the statutory requirements.” view article arw

Gainesville school board members voted Monday to approve a district innovation plan. “We are excited about officially becoming a District of Innovation,” said Gainesville school district superintendent Jeff Brasher. “The district is looking forward to having more local control which will help lead to more success from our students.” view article arw