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In February, I wrote an article about my skepticism regarding the “Commision of Public Education Funding” and some of its members. Another one just jumped in front of a bus. The above statement is one of the most foolish and short-sighted ones I have heard in a long time.  Instead of spending their time trying to find solutions, they spend their time making ridiculous statements. First Larry Taylor and “MAKE SCHOOLS MORE EFFICIENT” and now  Bettencourt suggesting that “fundraising activities will help district fill their budgets.  Most districts already require that many of their programs conduct a yearly fundraiser to help offset what the district is unable to provide through the budget process. view article arw

The Dripping Springs ISD community will have an opportunity on May 5 to vote on a $132 million bond package aimed at increasing district capacity and updating facilities. If approved the bond will not increase the tax rate, which is currently $1.52 per $100 home valuation, according to district documents. According to district demographer’s moderate growth projections, Dripping Springs ISD enrollment could increase by about 71 percent over the next eight years. District enrollment is expected to exceed the current facilities capacity of 7,350 students by the 2020-21 school year. view article arw

Sherman schools could be forced to give some of its money back. Sherman Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Tyson Bennett recently explained the potential for the district to enter into a state of recapture for the 2018/2019 school year. “Recapture is basically the concept of taking from the rich and giving to the poor,” Bennett said. “Unfortunately, it actually doesn’t necessarily work out like that because you think about that in terms of rich as in people and poor in terms of people but it’s actually talking about property wealth.” Legislation involving the recapture program was enacted in 1993 as defined in Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code. The legislation was part of a plan by the state to equalize wealth levels among property wealthy districts to be redistributed to others. view article arw

For eight-straight years, Cypress-Fairbanks and Conroe ISDs earned the Texas Smart Schools Award, bestowed on school districts with prudent financial practices and high academic achievement.  Now, Cypress-Fairbanks faces a $50 million deficit next school year, and Conroe is projected to face its first deficit in nearly a decade in the next two to four years.  They are not alone. view article arw

Updated at 9:45 p.m. on April 18, 2018 with comments from Sen. Paul Bettencourt's office One of the state politicians instrumental in figuring out fixes for the state's broken school finance system recently mentioned Dallas ISD as an example of how districts can expand their revenue through philanthropy, without relying on property taxes and the state.  Hold on a sec, DISD officials said this week.  In an article by the Houston Chronicle's Shelby Webb about budget woes for Houston-area districts, Webb quoted Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, an influential voice on school finance and a member of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance. view article arw

Friendswood ISD is at risk for a $2.2 million deficit in the 2018-2019 school year, largely because of lower property values caused by Hurricane Harvey and plans for a 2 percent salary increase, which would cost $708,000, district officials said. However, a portion of the deficit may not come to pass. According to Connie Morgenroth, assistant superintendent of business and operations, the district could receive funding from the Texas Education Agency to help make up for the expected $700,000-$1.1 million loss in property tax revenue. However, the district won’t necessarily hear back from the TEA prior to setting the budget or deciding teacher salaries. To address the shortfall, Morgenroth said she hopes to cut the budget by $1.1 million, but any cuts would have to be approved by the board of trustees. The district will also be at risk for a $900,000 deficit in the 2019-2020 school year, which includes 2 percent raises and maintains the $1.1 million budget cuts from the year before. view article arw

The Socorro school district is working to get back the money it lost when kids were absent due to school shooting threats. Following the Florida school shooting on Feb. 14, seven schools in Socorro ISD had attendance numbers that fell after threats made on social media. Now, the district is trying to get back the money it lost from the students who didn't show up. On Tuesday, the district approved a submission to the TEA for a low attendance waiver. view article arw

Bryan school board members addressed several personnel items at their monthly business meeting on Monday night. Topping the list was choosing the new assistant superintendent of business services. Director of financial services Kevin Beesaw will take over when Amy Drozd retires. Beesaw was introduced by human resources director Carol Cune. view article arw

The Greenville Independent School District may become the focus of a criminal investigation after an external forensic audit found evidence of financial fraud, theft and misconduct.  “We realize that our financial house has to get in order,” said Dr. Demetrus Liggins, GISD superintendent.  Addison based CA Forensics, which conducted the audit, said investigators “found sufficient evidence to conclude that former GISD officials engaged in cronyism, misappropriation of payroll assets, misconduct to include mismanagement and abuse of position, and theft by gift of taxpayer monies.”  view article arw

Texas’ failure to adequately fund and support public education has been thrust in the spotlight with the plight of San Antonio’s North East Independent School District. The second largest school district in San Antonio is losing students to charter schools, costing it millions in funding. Meanwhile, rising property values mean that in 2019, the district will pay the state millions of dollars under the so-called “Robin Hood” system. This is when the state redistributes tax dollars from property-wealthy districts to property-poor districts. view article arw

Leaders in Cy-Fair ISD are asking lawmakers to re-evaluate the state’s school finance system as Texas is still working to make up a $5 billion hole the 82nd Texas Legislature left behind in 2011. Chandra Villanueva, a program director for the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, said the state is still about $3.2 billion away from where it would be if it had maintained public education funding levels from before the Great Recession of 2008. Villanueva was one of several speakers to address the Texas Commission on Public School Finance at a March 19 hearing. The commission was created by House Bill 21 in the 85th Texas Legislature after lawmakers set out to reform the school finance system but could not agree on a solution. After a series of meetings throughout the year, the commission will deliver a report to the Legislature by the end of 2018 with recommendations for how the school finance system could be improved. view article arw

The Sherman Independent School District has voiced concerns over the costs associated with traveling to Texarkana and Tyler as part of its new district realignment. Sherman football was placed in District 7-5A (I) with McKinney North, Mesquite Poteet, Texas High, John Tyler, West Mesquite and Wylie East and will have to make some trips east. “There are some long trips,” Sherman ISD Assistant Superintendent Tyson Bennett said during last month’s board of trustees meeting. “When things like this happen, we have to adjust. Longer trips require earlier departure. When we have to leave earlier in the day, we can’t always utilize our own transportation, so we have to go out and charter transportation. We also have to utilize the most reliable travel when we are looking at longer trips and additional fuel cost.” view article arw

Midland ISD is continuing the Listen and Learn and Lead initiative by holding meetings for their key communicators. The program includes people who are active members in Midland and are on the path to becoming key communicators to work alongside the district.  view article arw

Holding tens of thousands of students back from progressing to the next grade cost Texas taxpayers an estimated $384 million, according to researchers at Texas A & M University. Researchers said more than 37,000 students across Texas were held back in 2016-2017. With an annual cost of educating a child at $10,360 per student, a study showed keeping students in school an extra year adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars statewide. view article arw

Humble ISD is requesting that Harris County conduct a reappraisal of properties within its boundaries to reimburse taxpayers whose property values may have lowered due to damage sustained during Hurricane Harvey. The school board approved an order authorizing property tax value reappraisals within the school district during their April 10 meeting. view article arw

In Plano, like many parts of Texas, property taxes have been climbing, often leading to a backlash about the tax burden.  “We hear that a lot and we get a lot of the blame,” said Missy Bender, president of Plano ISD’s board of trustees.  The district isn't responsible for higher taxes or, more important, the fact that most of the increase isn’t staying in town. view article arw

Change is being debated for Houston Independent School District magnet schools. Funding cuts, as well as future locations of magnet programs, are on the table for consideration this spring. During a February HISD Board workshop on those issues, outgoing Superintendent Richard Carranzasaid, "There are vast neighborhoods in our city and our district that have not been served well for a number of years." view article arw

Houston ISD officials have abandoned plans to overhaul the way the district funds its schools, opting to keep HISD’s long-standing financing system as they work to fill a $115 million budget deficit. Schools will continue to receive an allotment of money based on their enrollments next school year, but the amount campuses receive will shrink by nearly $200 per student. The announcement walked back proposals made by former Superintendent Richard Carranza in January to centralize some staffing and budgeting decisions now made by principals. view article arw

Houston ISD officials have abandoned plans to overhaul the way the district funds its schools, opting to keep HISD's long-standing financing system as they work to fill a $115 million budget deficit.  Schools will continue to receive an allotment of money based on their enrollments next school year, but the amount campuses receive will shrink by nearly $200 per student.  The announcement walked back proposals made by former Superintendent Richard Carranza in January to centralize some staffing and budgeting decisions now made by principals. view article arw

A new teen treatment center being built in Brenham is raising some concerns with school officials. Primarily, how much will it cost the district to teach those teens. Brenham ISD will be responsible for teaching the clients at Bluebonnet Haven. Monday, the school board met to get an update on the facility and look at possible costs. The district believes staffing requirements for the new students could cost up to $1.1 million. The owner of Bluebonnet Haven, Randall Bryant, met with district officials to assure them they don't plan on opening at max capacity. view article arw

Texas prides itself on economic competitiveness, but in 2017 it fell to fourth place in a ranking of top business states, landing outside the top two for the first time in 11 years. In their interim report, members of a state House committee cited increased global competition, increased housing costs, outdated infrastructure and “certain actions taken by the 85th Legislature” — the so-called bathroom bill, for example — as reasons for the low ranking. But to address an emerging mismatch between jobs and workers’ skills — another key problem the report identified — the committee said that Texas must address property tax issues by allocating more state funding to public education. view article arw

Texas pre-K programs are just scraping by after losing millions of dollars last year — and without sustainable funding, they could see greater problems down the line, school officials say. During the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers decided not to fund a $118 million high-quality pre-K grant program that was created in 2015 and championed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The money had gone to 573 districts and charter schools that pledged to meet measures such as setting a lower student-teacher ratio, avoiding Common Core curricula and reporting student progress to the state. view article arw

Another school district in the Big Country is reporting a financial loss as a result of a high number of student absences during the flu season. The superintendent for the Brownwood Independent School District, Dr. Joe Young, said that the school district that he oversees is currently $57,000 below what they had originally budgeted for. view article arw

 New Hampshire school district officials could lay off 50 employees because of budget issues. Timberlane Regional School District Superintendent Earl Metzler tells The Eagle-Tribune the $71.8 million default budget put in place by the school board last month neglected costs for transportation, special education and food services. The budget came after voters rejected a $72.8 million operating budget view article arw

San Antonio’s second-largest school district is struggling with a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall that will force it to cut teaching positions even as it starts paying into the state’s “Robin Hood” fund that aids poorer districts. Sharply falling enrollment is driving both developments at the North East Independent School District, whose board was briefed this week on plans to eliminate more than 100 teaching positions through attrition. view article arw

A trend has emerged across Bexar County’s public school landscape: students leave school districts, enrollment dips, state funding drops, and a budget shortfall remains. Now South San Antonio Independent School District forecasts it, too, will face a budget gap in the 2018-19 school year. District officials expect South San ISD to lack about $7 million needed to fund expenditures in 2018-19. This is not a small amount for a district that only operates with a budget of $77.9 million – making the deficit a shortfall of about 9.5 percent. view article arw

he South San Antonio Independent School District may soon ask voters to decide on raising taxes to pay for a more than $7 million deficit.  On Monday, district officials held their first meeting on this topic. The school board blames the deficit on a sharp drop in enrollment, with many students going to charter schools.  The district is looking to raise property taxes to where the operation tax rate is equal with surrounding school districts. The way it breaks down is if a homeowner has a house valued at $50,00 in the SSISD district, they would end up paying an extra $2.71 a month. view article arw

Sometimes in the Texas Senate, it seems to be an article of faith that performance pay, especially when built on the foundation of opaque “black box” algorithms purporting to measure precisely an individual teacher’s “value added,” has huge payoffs in terms of teacher retention and student achievement. Also often fervently expressed is the belief that raising teacher pay across the board to attract and keep high-quality teachers is not an effective strategy. view article arw

Texas pre-kindergarten programs are just scraping by after losing millions of dollars last year — and without sustainable funding, they could see greater problems down the line, school officials say.  During the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers decided not to fund a $118 million high-quality pre-K grant program that was created in 2015 and championed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The money had gone to 573 districts and charter schools that pledged to meet measures like setting a lower student-teacher ratio, avoiding Common Core curricula and reporting student progress to the state. view article arw

Superintendent Pedro Martinez delivered a dim outlook for the San Antonio Independent School District’s finances in 2018-19 at Monday night’s board meeting. He introduced the budget process by alerting trustees that they may be dealing with a $31 million revenue shortfall due to a sharp decline in enrollment over the last two years. SAISD Chief Financial Officer Larry Garza said in that period of time, the district has lost approximately 3,000 students, which has resulted in a projected decrease in state funding. view article arw

When speaking with constituents at community events, the most popular topic is public education. It’s also probably one of the most challenging issues facing the state, thanks to complicated funding formulas, as well as who pays in and who receives under the current “Robin Hood” system. view article arw

In its first meeting open to public comment Monday, the Texas Commission on Public School Finance heard several themes echoed. One major one: Texas needs to figure out how much it actually costs to meet the state’s academic goals. For example, Texas officials in higher education want the majority of young adults to have a college degree or another certificate beyond a high school diploma by 2030. And state lawmakers want all high school graduates to be prepared for either college or a career. view article arw

A combination of depressed property values and the state eliminating a type of school funding has prompted Crane ISD to not renew some of probationary contracts for next year. Superintendent Janet Hunt said people in the agreements were told Friday that the district would not renew their contacts for the 2018-19 school year. There were 29 teachers on probationary contracts in the school district. “I truly wish that the people who made the decision to cut school funding were made to be present when,” it was time to tell people they will not have a job next year, Hunt said in an email. view article arw

School districts within Texas have paid more than $20 billion in recaptured taxes to the state since legislation was passed in 1993 that redistributes money from property-wealthy school districts to those that are considered property-poor. Comal ISD was notified by the state in January that it will pay an estimated $8 million in recapture of local property taxes to the state for fiscal year 2018-19. Recapture, commonly referred to as Robin Hood, is determined by a formula that divides property wealth in a school district by the Weighted Average Daily Attendance, or WADA. When property wealth is growing at a rate faster than the student population, districts must pay the overflow back to the state. view article arw

As Texas' school finance commission is set hold its next hearing, some members and policy experts are arguing the hearings seem set toward a predetermined outcome — making schools do more with the funding they have.  A state panel responsible for proposing improvements to Texas' embattled public school finance system is facing criticism from an unexpected source: some of its own members, who say the panel's hearings seem geared toward a predetermined outcome of making schools do more with their current funding. view article arw