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The Sharyland Independent School District has passed a measure that could save over $800,000 on the cost of financing the construction of Sharyland Pioneer High School. On Feb. 21, the school board voted to implement the refinancing plan that Miguel De Los Santos, executive vice president for the Dallas-based Estrada Hinojosa Investment Bankers firm, said would cut the interest rate in half on a bond that financed the high school’s construction. In November 2011 voters passed a bond election for construction of the new $55 million high school, approving a $0.097 cent tax increase. view article arw

In 2015, Governor Greg Abbott championed passage of a bill to fund quality, public pre-kindergarten program, drawing much needed attention to the critical importance of a child's early years on their brain and social-emotional development. Others in our state government still need strong encouragement to continue investment in this level of education.  Local and national data clearly show that the most cost effective tactic to improve the critical area of third grade literacy is to invest in young children during the years their brains and social-emotional development are in the most formative stages. view article arw

I believe using local tax dollars as part of the formula for paying for charter schools is a bad idea, especially for Northern Kentucky. Let me explain why. As a region, Northern Kentucky pays a higher percentage of local tax dollars to pay for our schools. Even though education is a state responsibility, in some Northern Kentucky school districts we are covering over 60 percent of the costs.      view article arw

Highland Park ISD officials fear the 85th Texas Legislature’s approach to education could mean bad news for Park Cities campuses. As the biannual session got under way, school officials were communicating  with state lawmakers and hoping to have their voices heard.  Potential changes on how the controversial Robin Hood law is applied could have a major impact to district funding, district leaders say.  Under the current formula, districts deemed property-rich, such as Highland Park, are forced to divert money to poorer districts. Since 1994, HPISD has paid more than $1.2 billion to the state, including  more than $80 million in 2016. While some of that money eventually flows back into the district, there is little to no local control over it. view article arw

What do you do when presented with a shrinking budget in the fastest growing school district in Texas? Frisco ISD is in the process of figuring that out. Superintendent Jeremy Lyon expressed optimism about a clean slate. “Scrubbing our budget is a good thing,” he said. view article arw

If your property taxes are too high, blame the Legislature and the shell game it plays with public school finance. First, let’s back up. The property tax/school finance intersection is a complicated beast and one that deserves a little unpacking. To start, property taxes are not a state tax; property taxes are paid annually by homeowners and collected by local school districts instead of the state. Even if you don’t own a house, you pay property taxes; a portion of your rent goes toward taxes paid either by landlord or your apartment complex, which is on the hook for the property taxes collected on commercial real estate. view article arw

As part of its probe into whether student with disabilities in Texas are receiving the special education services they need, the U.S. Department of Education will visit a dozen Texas school districts in the coming months. view article arw

As the Texas Legislature searches for a solution to the state’s persistent school finance problems, the Houston school district is asking voters to reconsider its property tax policy, and Austin ISD is warning voters that a big chunk of their school tax dollars aren’t going where taxpayers might think they’re going. It’s a confusing time in school finance — a system that is broken in every way but the most important one: It remains, according to the Texas Supreme Court, constitutionally sound. view article arw

Canutillo school board members are considering a resolution to publicly oppose housing developments that would bring more poor students into the district, saying they’re too costly to educate. view article arw

From paying to play sports to helping keep classrooms clean, parents and staff are making recommendations on ways to save money in Frisco ISD. The district is facing a $30 million budget shortfall over the next few years. Recommendations came out of months of meetings with a budget committee made up of parents and staff to look at the budget after voters turned down a proposed property tax hike last summer. view article arw

In 2011 the Texas Legislature reduced funding for public education by $5.3 billion - the largest blow ever suffered by our schools. As a result, requests for the limited resources of our family foundation grew as public-private partnerships and local community initiatives in our region struggled to fill the gaps. Knowing that we would be unable to meet the growing demand, we joined with other philanthropists and grantmakers from across the state to form the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (TEGAC). Together we have worked to expand and improve educational opportunities for all Texas children through smart state public education policies. view article arw

Some school districts in Texas with high property values could see more money this fiscal year after the Texas Education Agency decided in a sudden move to change how it interprets a complicated aspect of the state’s school finance system.  The change involves two aspects of school finance: Robin Hood, or recapture, and something called the optional homestead exemption. view article arw

Make no mistake: There is an intense fight underway in Austin as lawmakers jockey for resources in a tightening state budget. Taxpayers can afford to pay for only so many worthy programs and initiatives.That's why it makes sense to focus investment on programs that bring the biggest return. Research has repeatedly shown that high-quality prekindergarten can pay big achievement dividends.  Gov. Greg Abbott understood that when he made early-childhood education a priority in the last session and pushed lawmakers to add $118 million in emergency one-time grants in order to improve pre-K.  Now those grants are are at risk.  (paywalled) view article arw

A reinterpretation of the state’s school finance law will leave $100 million in the accounts of some of the state’s property wealthy districts — and will leave a hole of that size in an already tight state budget. After reconsideration of an 18-year-old law, state education officials are adjusting their school finance calculations in a way that could save several dozen school districts roughly $100 million — while costing the state the same amount in revenue. view article arw

Two years after approving $147.4 million in capital expenditures, Comal Independent School District voters will head back to the polls in May to consider a $263.5 bond proposal for projects that include two new high schools in the fast-growing district. Besides those campuses, forecast to cost $250 million combined, the spending plan calls for allocating $4 million for land purchases, $3 million for new buses, $3 million for maintenance at existing facilities, $2 million to design a future elementary school and $1.5 million to design a future school-of-choice high school. view article arw

A new legislative session has brought speculation about the fate of Texas’s public school funding formula. Districts have long argued the complex formula fails to equitably fund public schools and because of it, more than 600 districts—including Fort Bend ISD—sued the state in 2011.  This is the first year FBISD was considered property wealthy based on the state’s rules for wealth equalization—the system meant to equalize funding among districts. FBISD opposes the system for what it considers a loss of local funding.  “We entered into Chapter 41 status in 2015-16, but because of the [property tax] homestead [exemption] that got passed, it decreased our value,” said Dina Edgar, FBISD executive director of finance. “We’re kind of teetering.” view article arw

Dallas County Schools plans to quickly cut up to 100 jobs after interim-CFO Alan King says the beleaguered bus contractor is $42 million behind budget projections.  King said Tuesday during a meeting with the board that the agency's revenue was overstated by a significant amount. King said while he doesn't have a full picture of the problems, the accounting is in bad shape.  Rick Sorrels, superintendent of Dallas County Schools, said staff reductions and other efforts are needed to restructure the agency's finances.Additionally, DCS's controversial stop-arm program, which is designed to record and ticket drivers who bypass the stop arms on school buses, has failed to meet revenue expectations and is $20 million behind projections. In 2013 and 2014 NBC 5 Investigates raised serious questions about that camera program. view article arw

The Beaumont Independent School District was poorly managed and funds from the 2007 bond issue were poorly spent, but auditors determined all of the money was spent on BISD projects, according to a statement released Thursday by Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham.  A review of the audit, performed by Weaver and Tidwell, is now complete, Wortham said. His office, however, is still reviewing other matters related to the school district.  The audit addressed bond money expenses as well as proceeds of insurance claims from damage caused by two hurricanes, FEMA disaster funds and grants from the Texas Education Agency.  BISD and several of its employees were investigated by the FBI and federal prosecutors due to allegations of fraud, theft and gross mismanagement.  You can review the audit here. view article arw

Wind turbines are proving to be a boon for the Blanket Independent School District. The small rural school district, with a student body of almost 200 kids and a yearly operating budget of $2.6 million, is seeing its agreement to lease some of its land for wind production finally pay off. view article arw

Local and federal authorities are investigating a breach of some 950 Mercedes school district employees’ personal information, Superintendent Dr. Daniel Treviño Jr. said Friday morning. Treviño blamed an oversight for the sharing of what’s believed to be every Mercedes ISD employee’s W2 forms with an “unknown email address” on Thursday. According to the superintendent, the sensitive information within the government documents — such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth — should now be considered comprised. view article arw

The Waco Independent School District Board of Trustees has named a new principal for University High School, three months after the last principal resigned amid findings of academic wrongdoing on the campus. view article arw

Rate of Robin Hood funds rising

January 2508:33 AM

Public school funding is a hot topic in this legislative session, with about 200 bills related to the topic filed so far, according to Steven Bassett, Fort Bend ISD’s chief financial officer. view article arw

Beaumont ISD is excited. Recently the school district received its first clean audit since 2012. The district’s Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Hernandez says this is a big step for the district. view article arw

Education Updates: Montgomery ISD

January 2408:25 AM

We have grown quite a bit in the last five years. In those five years, we have grown by almost 2,000 students. During some years we did not grow much at all, including this year, but the growth has been significant enough to build three new schools view article arw

Education Updates: Willis ISD

January 2408:25 AM

From a budget standpoint, [it is] planning for the new facilities like the Career and Technology Education Center that will be open in 2018. With that, we will have to figure out how many staff members to hire, positions to create and how all of that will affect us on our budget for 2017-18 as well as 2018-19. view article arw

The Austin Independent School District says payroll problems with a new $7 million system are improving. Since the summer, several employees have been telling KXAN they were not getting paid correctly. AISD Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley says in the last two months the district has retrained time keepers and IT staff, provided more online and live training and set up a help hotline view article arw

TexasISD article of the day - js - The only bill that must pass the Legislature is the two-year state budget, and more often than not it turns into a test of will between the House and Senate leadership—and if the preliminary budget proposals laid out by the chambers on Tuesday are any indication, the game is once again afoot. But this time House Speaker Joe Straus put pressure on the tax-cutting reputation of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick by including $1.5 billion in the House plan for potential property tax relief. view article arw

AUSTIN — Like any other tough job, how you start writing a state budget helps determine where you’ll end up.  House leaders’ decision to draft an introductory budget that would spend more state general revenue than is projected to come into Texas’ coffers over the next two years will put the focus on the key services that are at stake in the process.  If budget writers decide to spend less than originally proposed by House leaders, they’ll be putting a knife to funding already seen as essentially promised.  Senate leaders’ initial budget for the next two years, by contrast, is so lean that they almost inevitably will add to it.  Both chambers eventually will have to agree to one budget document to pay for state services, and it will have to pass muster with Gov. Greg Abbott.  But the House’s initial position will be a point of comparison throughout the process.  It’s a point not lost on leaders. view article arw

State Rep. Dan Huberty said the 'A-F' accountability ratings released this month from the Texas Education Agencywere a test-run that failed. "The engine blew up," Huberty told a group of educators, parents and members of the community at an Humble Independent School District legislative committee meeting Thursday, Jan. 19.  The state's accountability ratings needed to be more detailed, Huberty said, because currently schools are simply told whether or not they met standard. view article arw

Millions Saved by Iola ISD

January 2008:10 AM

The taxpayers within the Iola Independent School District will have something new to celebrate this holiday season after the board voted to refinance $9,030,000 in outstanding Series 2009 bonds. According to district superintendent Chad Jones, the resulting savings will total $2,869,467. view article arw

Bullard Independent School District played the part of host for local school board members, as well as members of the East Texas community, to have an opportunity to learn about and discuss the upcoming session of the Texas legislature and its impact on Texas Public Education, among other topics, at the Legislative Summit event, held Thursday, Jan. 12, at Bullard Elementary School.  The purpose of the event was to allow school board members, local community members, and school superintendents to hear and discuss thoughts on key issues facing school district across the state.  “Bullard ISD was very pleased with the turnout for the 2017 Legislative Summit event,” said Laura Jones, Bullard ISD Director of Communications. “We had representation from over 13 school districts, as well as Region 7, in attendance, and received wonderful insight from three experts in their fields regarding how the 85th Texas legislative session will impact public education in the state of Texas.”  School districts with representatives in attendance at the event included Alto, Bullard, Greenville, Henderson, Jacksonville, Lindale, Martins Mill, Nacogdoches, Overton, Palestine, Region 7 ESC, Tyler, Westwood, and Whitehouse. view article arw

New Template from Omar

January 1808:41 AM

A new template (release 6 dated 1/4/17) is now available for download. Please read the ‘Notes’ tab carefully for the changes made and stay tuned. view article arw

Emotions ran high Tuesday night outside the Gregory-Portland ISD building even before the board of trustees took up the issue of a proposed Exxon-Mobil ethylene cracker plant in San Patricio County.  With only a yard separating them, project supporters wore green shirts while opponents wore red shirts and surgical masks. view article arw