Government Capital Corporation, a leading provider of financing for Texas school districts, announced today the funding of a $2.8 million energy conservation project financing for Wills Point Independent School District. The structure utilized energy savings as the primary source of repayment and did not require a bond election. view article arw

Amarillo Independent School District could lose more than $1 million per year under President Trump’s 2018 full budget proposal, according to district officials.  Trump’s budget, released Tuesday, eliminates the federal government’s $2.3 billion Title II grant program for the 2018-19 school year, which helps with teacher recruitment and retention. At Amarillo ISD, the funds are used for teacher training and to hire teachers to reduce class sizes, district Chief Financial Officer Pati Buchenau said. view article arw

Burnet school district officials were probably expecting to get more than two years from the synthetic turf installed at Bulldog Field in 2015, but that didn’t happen and it’s now set the district back $150,000. Burnet Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Keith McBurnett, however, said the district is looking to get $105,000 back from one manufacturer. Last year, officials noticed some turf fibers sticking up higher than others, so they took a closer look, McBurnett said. “To most people, it probably wasn’t noticeable,” he said. “We had all the experts look at the field, and they looked at the backside. It needed to be replaced.” view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott demanded the House and Senate fund his pre-K grant program holding school districts to quality standards. So they came up with a budget proposal that keeps the standards, but cuts the grants. Texas could ask public schools to make specific improvements to their pre-K programs — while cutting the grant program that would fund it. After months of private deliberations, a committee of House and Senate legislators on Saturday unveiled a joint budget in Senate Bill 1 that includes no additional money for a high-quality pre-K grant program that has been one of Gov. Greg Abbott's priorities this session. Instead, it says districts should use a portion of existing school funding to meet the program's standards, including setting a low teacher-student ratio, avoiding Common Core curricula, hiring qualified teachers and reporting student progress to the state. view article arw

The ruling, by state District Judge Darlene Byrne in Travis County, temporarily halts an agreement by the Texas Education Agency that allowed the Houston Independent School District and other property-rich districts to reduce the amount of "equalization" payments required to fund public education.  The ruling throws HISD's recapture bill back into question and could affect more than a dozen other property wealthy districts across the state, though no official list has been released.  "We understand the financial situation even wealthy school districts are in, which is why we're pushing for school finance reform in the Legislature," said Marisa Bono, southwest regional council for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a civil rights organization that filed the suit.  "But the solution is not to give wealthy districts a tax break on the backs of property poor districts." view article arw

The Austin Independent School District board of trustees have two big dollar decisions to dive into Monday night. KXAN has been following the bond planning process that will likely result in a November school bond election. The committee trying to prioritize the district’s most immediate needs has been working on getting the wish list under $1 million. A preliminary bond presentation is on the board agenda, along with a presentation of the recommended FY 2018 budget. view article arw

Judson Independent School District has agreed to let Bexar County collect its property taxes, marking the first time the county will hand tax collection for all 54 of its local government jurisdictions. The county’s tax office announced last week that the district and county had entered into a contract to transfer the collection duties, effective Sept. 1. By closing its tax collection office, which has three employees, Judson ISD will save at least $35,000 a year, said district spokesman Steve Linscomb. Two of those employees are retiring, and the third will be reassigned, he said. view article arw

Employees of the Socorro Independent School District will get a 3 percent raise next school year. Trustees on June 20 will vote on a budget for the 2017-18 school year that includes an employee compensation plan approved by the school board last week. view article arw

ANGLETON — Angleton ISD is attempting to increase its enrollment by welcoming children who live outside the district’s boundaries.   The Board of Trustees approved switching to an open enrollment district for the 2017-18 school year in mid-April after seeing the number of students drop slightly this year, Superintendent Pat Montgomery said. view article arw

The College Station ISD Board of Trustees met Tuesday evening, and Deputy Superintendent for Business and Operations Mike Martindale made a presentation regarding the development of the 2017-18 budget. view article arw

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

Another decline in property and mineral values could reduce Henderson Independent School District’s operating budget by about $800,000 next fiscal year. During Tuesday’s regular monthly board meeting, Superintendent Keith Boles told trustees the district’s preliminary property and mineral values estimated by Rusk County Appraisal District dropped roughly $165 million from last year’s certified values. view article arw

For school districts still getting their financial footing after the Great Recession, the Medicaid changes being advanced as part of the health care overhaul are sounding familiar alarms. Administrators say programming and services even beyond those that receive funding from the state-federal health care program could be at risk should Congress follow through with plans to change the way Medicaid is distributed. They say any reduction in the estimated $4 billion schools receive in annual Medicaid reimbursements would be hard to absorb after years of reduced state funding and a weakened tax base. view article arw

Dallas ISD is contemplating a new tack to get more money for its innovative programs. During a wide-ranging, nine-hour board briefing Thursday, DISD chief financial officer Jim Terry and RBC Capital adviser Bob Henderson presented the idea of using a 2-cent tax swap to increase funding for the district's programs and teachers. view article arw

Texas’ per-pupil spending continues to fall farther below the national average, despite the state Supreme Court declaring the public school finance system barely constitutional last year. The Texas arm of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, announced Wednesday data showing state spending per K-12 student declined by an average of $143 to $10,017 from the 2015-2016 school year to the current 2016-2017 one. view article arw

Texas' per-pupil spending continues to fall farther below the national average, despite the state Supreme Court declaring the public school finance system barely constitutional last year. The Texas arm of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union, announced Wednesday data showing state spending per K-12 student declined by an average of $143 to $10,017 from the 2015-2016 school year to the current 2016-2017 one. view article arw

The Pine Tree ISD Board of Trustees plans to conduct a special meeting and budget workshop beginning at 5 p.m. today. view article arw

The Frisco ISD is still trying to figure out how to deal with a $30 million budget shortfall. One cost-saving move the district is considering is a pay-to-play fee. That means that student athletes would be charged a fee to participate in sports. view article arw

The Frisco ISD board of trustees is expected to adopt the district’s 2017-18 budget June 19. A proposed budget is expected to be presented by June 5, on which FISD will hold a special meeting to adopt the tax rate. The tax rate is proposed to remain the same at $1.46 per $100 valuation. In April, 59 budget recommendations were outlined based on the priorities-based budgeting that included input from employees, trustees, parents and citizens to prioritize spending and balance the FISD budget. view article arw

House Bill 21, if approved, could add nearly $6.6 million to Killeen Independent School District’s $322 million preliminary budget for the next fiscal year. The proposal referred to as the "Robin Hood plan" has become a hot-button issue as wealthier districts may be forced to give back some property tax revenue. This plan has been passed by the House and is currently being considered in committee by the Senate, which would need to pass it before the May 29 end of the legislative session. If approved by the Senate and signed by the governor, it could go into effect in September. view article arw

At Timbers Elementary, fifth graders recently cut pieces of paper and taped them together to create tiny houses. Their teacher Stacey Ward checked on the next step. view article arw

The El Paso school district will dip into its rainy day fund for nearly $10 million this school year to buy land for its new central offices and pay for a variety of equipment purchases. EPISD officials have approved tapping the district's nearly $122 million savings account for $18.7 million to purchase technology, software, surveillance equipment, buses and other expenditures. Officials say they will instead need $9.8 million, less than half of the approved amount because they were able to save through vacant positions, program cuts and lower utilities costs. view article arw

Hundreds of millions of dollars were at stake for voters this Election Day in Houston ISD. On Saturday, HISD voters approved proposition 1 to make recapture payments to the state. Proposition 1 is a controversial issue dubbed recapture -- rejected by voters in November -- that would allow the district to send money to the state to be redistributed. view article arw

Your Turn: April 8

May 0808:25 AM
 

Fix school funding Re: “Funding inequities hurt students,” Cassandra Martinez, Another View, April 28: I could not agree more that funding schools with property taxes creates the inequalities in student achievement. When we moved to Texas in 1983, we purchased a home in Northeast San Antonio, where our four children enrolled in NEISD schools. I took a job teaching with SAISD on the East Side. view article arw

On Saturday, voters who live within the Houston ISD will go to the polls to determine how - or if - the district will pay the state millions in "recapture" fees. Whatever voters decide on Proposition 1, the Houston ISD will take a financial hit, officials say. Recapture, and school finance, can be difficult to grasp. To help, here are the answers to some questions about the ballot measure. view article arw

The Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation department agreed to foot the after-school-hours utility bill for Corpus Christi ISD schools that are sites for the Latchkey program. The city department's assistant director, Becky Perrin, said city officials were contacted by Corpus Christi Independent School District leaders last month about the district's inability to continue paying the recurring costs of the program. The department was told the district was no longer going to pay the utility costs to keep gyms and cafeterias of Latchkey sites open after school. "CCISD is asking us to pay for the services so we will be going forward with paying for all the sites," Perrin said Tuesday after meeting with superintendent Roland Hernandez on the matter. view article arw

 Longview doesn't have an arts district but the city is a growing market. There are hopes to have one in the future. Tiffany Jehorek oversees the events at the Longview Museum of Art. It would disappointing to her to see progress stop because of a budget cut.  "I can't imagine a world without art," Jehorek said. "We're really trying to support the local artist community."  Jehorek said cutting the arts would no help the economy or bring jobs. The arts industry brought more than five billion dollars for the state and more than 300 million dollars in sales that in 2015. That's according to the Texas State of the Arts Report. 5 million dollars earmarked for the arts is at risk of being taken away.  view article arw

Every year, the state of Texas and local school districts pay more and more for public education. Together, they’ll spend a projected $46 billion on Texas schools in 2017. That money comes from two main places: the state government and local property taxes. But that burden isn’t shared equally.  Last year, the Texas Supreme Court called the funding system “Byzantine” and urged legislators to work on “transformational, top-to-bottom reforms that amount to more than Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid.” That seems to be the push lawmakers needed to take school funding seriously in 2017. view article arw

The Southside Independent School District is working to close a budget gap of about $4 million for this school year, caused in part by miscalculations made last summer when the budget was being developed. The executive director of finance at the time, Jose Keubke, failed to budget about $3.1 million for 68 positions that were then vacant, said Fred Hayes, deputy superintendent of business and operations. Hayes said Keubke made assumptions based on incorrect information that he was given. Keubke also overestimated district revenues by about $1 million, in the face of declining property tax values for oil and gas companies that make up 72 percent of the district's tax base, administrators said. The state allocates money to districts based on the previous year’s budget, so the state’s share also decreased because property values rose last fiscal year, Hayes said. Through its “hold harmless” provision, the state will make up for any losses Southside incurs based on property value, but not until next fiscal year. view article arw

The Texas House Thursday approved a bill designed to inject over a billion dollars into public schools and simplify complicated funding formulas. As The Texas Tribune reports, State Rep. Dan Huberty succeeded at a difficult task Wednesday: getting the Texas House of Representatives to vote for legislation overhauling the funding system for public education, without a court mandate. view article arw

The $100 million Holdsworth Center, which will train Texas public school administrators in leadership techniques, expands its founder’s focus from politically supporting public schools to direct intervention in how they’re run. Charles Butt, the chief executive of H.E. Butt Grocery Co., is a longtime critic of legislative voucher proposals to shunt state tax money to private charter schools. He has contributed money to interest groups such as Texas Parent PAC and Save Texas Schools, and is a supporter of House Speaker Joe Straus. The speaker, a San Antonio Republican, has said it’s unlikely that the House will consider voucher legislation already passed by the Senate during the current legislative session. Butt’s Holdsworth Center, which will be based in Austin, is named after his mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, who was a public school teacher in Kerrville and later cofounded of the H.E. Butt Foundation. view article arw

New teachers starting at Pflugerville Independent School District will be paid $46,000, after the board approved a $1,000 pay increase. Along with the starting pay raise, all district staff will receive a 2.5 percent salary increase and all existing teachers will receive a $1,250 step increase. The Pflugerville ISD Board President Vernagene Moss said the increase is necessary to attract and retain employees. view article arw

The small district adjustment penalty has affected rural schools since 1975. It withholds funds from more than 400 districts statewide, that are smaller than 300 square miles, with less than 1,600 students. With House Bill 21 moving out of the House and forward to the Senate, this penalty could be on its way out, leaving Slaton ISD officials hopeful for change. "We're one step in for getting the help we need to do better," Julee Becker, Slaton ISD Superintendent said.  That one step, an amendment to the school finance reform bill, HB 21. It essentially reverses a penalty that's withheld more than $800 thousand yearly from Slaton ISD, and nearly $29 million from rural districts in Senator Perry's district. "Being one step closer is victory for us because three years ago, we were told by many many people, that would would never be able to get anything done for our small districts because there wasn't enough votes in our small districts to make a difference or to be noticed by legislators," Becker said. Legislators approve San Angelo Representative Drew Darby's provision 86-59. view article arw