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Comptroller Glen Hegar’s recent announcement about the unprecedented $27 billion budget surplus generated a lot of enthusiasm around the Texas Capitol. Almost immediately, state leaders began floating ideas regarding how to best use the funds. Leading public education policy and funding experts agree that several funding options could significantly improve the lives of Texans for years to come – and we think young Texans should be a priority. We need to invest in the 5.4 million students who are the future of our state, and as public school finance experts, we have a few recommendations.    (23) view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott is advocating for a vouchers program in the name of parental choice, but every Texan should question this because of the potential negative impact vouchers have on students and the state’s public school system. School vouchers are relatively simple – they are taxpayer-funded government subsidies that parents use to pay private school tuition although tuition and transportation at many private schools exceeds the voucher. Families must pay the difference.  When a family uses a voucher, public school districts lose funding. Education savings accounts and tax credit scholarships are less traditional approaches to vouchers, but they still take away money from public schools.  view article arw

On a warm Saturday morning in mid-September, school counselor Reba Powell knocked on doors in Houston's Independence Heights Neighborhood. She was part of a group of volunteers, staff members and district leaders encouraging students to re-enroll in high school. At the home of one student who stopped attending school so he could support his family, Powell told him which courses he needed to complete to earn his diploma in January. view article arw

During a regular meeting of the Marble Falls Independent School District Board of Trustees on Monday, Sept. 19, Superintendent Chris Allen asked for guidance from the board on several key issues the district plans to submit as priorities to the 88th Texas Legislature. Legislative priorities are essentially declarations made by independent school districts across the state to advocate for policies that will benefit educators within their districts. In the past, MFISD has relied on the guidance of the Texas Association of School Administrators and other entities when drafting its priorities. After several previous state legislatures passed bills directly impacting Texas teachers, Allen opted to bring the priorities in front of the board to see if trustees would be open to a more specific list of issues and grievances. “I’m bringing this before the board to entertain a discussion to accomplish two things,” Allen said during the meeting. “One is for the board to give me administrative direction on whether they would like me to bring legislative priorities for us to approve in October, or at least review in October and approve in November, and, if so, to give me a little bit of direction on the things (trustees) like and the things (trustees) don’t like.” view article arw

LUBBOCK, Texas — Amid an intensifying debate over whether Texas should use state money to subsidize private school tuitions, top Republicans argue a voucher program would increase school choice while statewide Democratic candidates warn such a program would uniquely harm rural schools. “I strongly disagree with vouchers because it would only achieve one thing which is to pull money out of public schools,” Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor Mike Collier told KAMC News in August. “It’s not a voucher,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick rebutted last week. “It’s saying to a parent – do you believe the money allocated to their child – should they have a say in that? We’re going to protect rural schools, so don’t buy into their argument.” view article arw

Ahead of the 2022-23 school year, Eanes ISD Superintendent Jeff Arnett reported the district was nearly fully staffed, with the exception of a few special education positions and bus drivers. The Eanes Education Foundation funded 55 teaching positions with a $2.75 million donation to the district in May. EEF funds are included in the district’s budget calculations alongside funding from the state and other revenue sources. “We’re hearing a lot of stories about other districts having great difficulty filling a large volume of positions, but we feel very fortunate, and a lot of hard work has gone into making sure that we are nearly fully staffed as the school year commences,” Arnett said.    (22) view article arw

When I step out of my office in this handsome, little town where I grew up — a little town set amid the “mile-high” beauty of far West Texas, about 20 miles from Marfa — I glance across the street and see the small, brick Fort Davis High School building that was old when I was in school nearly a half century ago. Built in 1929, it lacks certain amenities, shall we say. At lunch time, I see students sitting outside under the trees and opening up their sack lunches, since we don’t have a cafeteria. Later in the day, they get home as best as they can, since we can’t offer bus service. For the past three years, their numbers have declined. If it’s early morning, I see teachers headed to their classrooms. They’re some of the most dedicated people their profession has to offer, but we can’t pay them what they deserve. I know they give their all, but you can’t blame them when they have to move on.    (20) view article arw

The Graham ISD Board of Trustees Wednesday approved a vendor and budget amendment for the purchase and installation of an electronic door access system for the exterior doors of buildings throughout the district. This measure comes after GISD worked throughout the summer on required and recommended school safety actions tasked from the state and Texas Education Agency.  The GISD board approved allocating up to $250,000 in funds for a door access and key control systems as a safety measure for doors within the district Monday, Aug. 15. GISD Superintendent Sonny Cruse during that meeting said the door access system will cost the district approximately $4,000 per door, with $250,000 covering 50 doors throughout the district. Cruse said Wednesday, Sept. 14, upon revising the proposal, they had to increase the amount of doors outfitted with the electronic door access system view article arw

A partnership between the city of Seguin and a developer to bring an apartment complex to town has a local school district’s taxpayers asking questions. The city of Seguin plans to enter into an agreement with Vaquero Ventures to build the Lily Springs Apartments complex, creating a city-owned workforce housing project through a public finance corporation. The city-owned apartment complex slated to be constructed at the northeast corner of State Highway 46 and Cordova Road boasts 288 units with 50% of the apartments leasing at market value and the other half at 80% of area median income. “Overall, this is something that the staff is very interested in because if this is going to be sustainable, we’ve got to have places to live and this is really marketing toward first-year to third-year teachers,” Seguin City Manager Steve Parker said during a public finance corporation meeting following the regular city council meeting on Sept. 6. “A lot of big cities, like the city of Austin, have to recruit teachers from far away to come into their communities. This is for government employees, firemen, policemen, first- through third-year teachers, manufacturing workers here.” view article arw

HALLSVILLE — Hallsville ISD trustees have adopted a surplus budget and decreased tax rate for 2022-23. The board OK’d a tax rate of $1.0064 per $100 of taxable property value, with 89.13 cents on the maintenance and operations side of the budget and 11.5 cents on the debt side of the budget. That is a decrease of 2.036 cents from the 2021-22 budget. The board also adopted a 2022-23 budget with a surplus of $51,008, according to Chief Financial Officer Mary Brown. Part of the total $214.2 million budget includes a 10% raise for all positions excluding the superintendent No other raise had been given since the 2019-20 school year, the district noted. view article arw

CCMR Credit for Military Enlistment, Beginning with 2023 Graduates A September 8 TEA letter provided an update about the inclusion of military enlistment in the College, Career, and Military Readiness (CCMR) components of the academic accountability system and the CCMR Outcomes Bonus. Note: The securely uploaded DD Form 4 document will be the only form of documentation accepted to document military enlistment for CCMR credit and will only be accepted via the process outlined in the letter. Read more from TASA. view article arw

The Plano ISD board of trustees approved a recapture payment of nearly $248 million for the 2022-23 school year during its Sept. 6 meeting. Recapture, which is now called revenue in excess of entitlement, is designed to redistribute property tax dollars from property-wealthy districts to those determined to be property poor by the Texas Education Agency. PISD has made more than $1 billion in recapture payments to the state over the last six years. The projected payment for this school year is slated to be around $35 million more than last year's recapture bill of just under $213 million. view article arw

The Fort Worth school district is planning to send more than $2 million in local tax dollars to the state for the first time this year, according to estimates presented at a recent board hearing. The process is part of the state’s “Robin Hood” school finance system in which the state takes money from districts in areas with high property values and redistributes it to those in areas with low property values. The taxable value in the district increased by about 10% this year, pushing the district into this category for the first time. Other districts, including Arlington, are nearing the threshold and could end up owing money later in the year, according to the Texas School Coalition, which represents Robin Hood districts. Those that were already paying, like Grapevine-Colleyvile, are seeing increases. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin resident Olivia DeVore, 16, was interning at Reverie Books in the spring of 2021 as conversations on challenged or banned books in classrooms began to emerge. She wanted to create a space where other teenagers could meet and think critically about the titles challenged, and how those perspectives could be a learning tool for people to access. That spring, she launched a young adult book club based out of Reverie to highlight these perspectives. It’s a tactic other community members have taken to keep challenged books in circulation within the community, even if they’re restricted in local classrooms. view article arw

The Kermit ISD Board of Trustees unanimously voted to increase all salary schedules by a 3% cost of living adjustment. In addition to the 3% increase, staff will receive a pay step increase. Superintendent of Schools, Joe Lopez would like to "Thank" the KISD Board of Trustees for their commitment to retaining, recruiting, and recognizing the exemplary staff at Kermit Independent School District with this cost of living adjustment. read more arw

"The budget includes salary increases for employees as well as retention bonuses for returning employees, and addresses rising inflation," a LISD official said.  Longview ISD trustees on Wednesday approved a lower property tax rate and $126.5 million budget focused on raises for employees and addressing inflation.   During a special meeting, the school board approved a budget with projecting a balanced general operating budget of $94,214,401, a debt service of $27,210,019, and a food service budget of $5,090,196.  view article arw

HENDERSON, Texas (KETK)- Henderson ISD trustees agreed on the tax rate and 2022-2023 budget on Tuesday. Officials voted unanimously for a tax rate of $1.1299 per $100 of assessed value. $0.8999 of the tax is for maintenance and operations and $0.23 for interest and sinking to pay for previously issued bonds. view article arw

Marshall ISD trustees on Monday unanimously adopted a balanced budget and decreased tax rate for the 2022-23 fiscal school year. Trustees voted to adopt the $46.9 million balanced budget, that includes four percent raises for all non-teaching staff, teachers’ annual step raises, the addition of three new police officers and vehicles, as well as the purchase of an activity bus. Marshall ISD Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Susie Byrd presented the trustees with the balanced budget and a 10 cent decreased tax rate. After a public hearing for each, the trustees adopted a total tax rate of $1.1517 per $100 of home valuation. The rate is about a 10 cent drop from last year’s adopted tax rate of $1.2533 per $100 of home valuation. The tax rate is made up of $0.8618 for maintenance and operations and $0.2899 for interest and sinking. view article arw

Enrollment in Keller ISD is expected to increase a little more than 1% this fall compared with last year as the district continues to regain the student numbers lost during the early part of the pandemic. Officials this year will also be keeping a close eye on attendance, which correlates to the amount of money received from the state. KISD saw its average daily attendance drop by almost 4% due to COVID-19-related absences when comparing prepandemic years with the 2021-22 school year, according to Scott Wrehe, the district’s chief financial officer. This year's enrollment in Northwest ISD, meanwhile, is projected to reach 30,154, which would give the district about a 20% student growth since the 2018-19 school year, according to a report from the district’s demographer, Zonda Education. Projections are for another 14% increase between this school year and 2024-25, the demographer report stated. view article arw

The Marshall ISD Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting Aug. 29 at 5 p.m. in the Lecture Hall, 1305 E. Pinecrest Drive in Marshall. Trustees will hold a public hearing on Monday to discuss and approve the budget and proposed tax rate. They will also consider approving the Risk Management Cooperative of Texas for 2022-2023, the final budget amendments for 2021-2022, the 2022 tax roll, the 2022-2023 budget adoption, and the ordinance setting the 2022-2023 tax rate for MISD. The meeting will propose the general fund budget, food service budget, and proposed interest and sinking fund budgets for 2022-2023. Susie Bryd, MISD Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance, will moderate all discussions. view article arw

HUDSON — While its enrollment stayed the same, the tax rate decreased for Hudson ISD. The Hudson school board on Thursday approved a tax rate of $1.092900 per $100 valuation for the 2022-23 fiscal year. The total tax rate is composed of a maintenance and operations rate of $0.942900 and an interest and sinking fund rate of $0.150000. Last year’s total tax rate was $1.136700. “So $1.0929, that’s $4.38 cents lower than last year’s total tax rate,” assistant superintendent of finance and operations Barrett Lankford said. “It’s not every year we get to say there’s a decrease, but in part, that’s because of the tax rate compression of House Bill 3 and our values going up.” The district’s investment report consists of a $20,561,063 general balance market value and an I&S balance market value of $492,152 for a total investment market value of $21,053,215. view article arw

New Caney ISD’s board of trustees approved a budget for fiscal year 2022-23 that is almost $20 million more than the previous fiscal year’s budget, according to district budget documents. The FY 2022-23 budget was approved by trustees on Aug. 15 and includes $225.9 million in total expenditures, according to NCISD budget documents. Meanwhile, the FY 2021-22 budget allotted $206.4 million for total expenditures, representing a 9.4% increase from FY 2021-22 to FY 2022-23. NCISD’s general fund expenditures increased by 6.1% from FY 2021-22 to FY 2022-23, with funds rising from about $166.8 million in FY 2021-22 to about $177 million in FY 2022-23. This section of the district's budget covers expenses for instruction; curriculum and staff development; student transportation; health services; and extracurricular activities, according to NCISD’s budget documents. view article arw

Point Isabel ISD is one of the many school districts across the Valley kicking off the new school year on Monday. While the start of the school year is an exciting time for many, school safety has been a big concern for parents. Point Isabel ISD Superintendent Teri Capistran says the district has been diligently working to enhance safety protocols. The district says it has about 2,200 students across its four campuses. One of the new safety measures in place is the new security fencing at each campus. The security fencing at Port Isabel High School will also wrap around the junior high campus. view article arw

The new school year budget will be more than $169.5 million, which includes a net funding increase of about $3.1 million.  Through the approval of the district's budget Monday night, Tyler ISD trustees approved a drop in the property tax rate and raise in pay for employees.   The new school year budget will be more than $169.5 million, which includes a net funding increase of about $3.1 million. The funding increase comes from district property tax growth.  view article arw

Release 8 is now available for download. This release loads the final tax year 2021 Comptroller property values and corrects a wrong cell reference related to ASAHE (see Notes). As always, stay tuned for any further developments. view article arw

MALAKOFF–Malakoff Independent School District (MISD) trustees voted Aug. 15 to adopt the 2022-23 district budget and to set the tax rate, the latter of which fell seven cents from last fiscal year. MISD Business Manager Kim Spencer said the district’s property valuations increased 37.63%, meaning the tax rate decrease from $1.1722 per $100 valuation to $1.1046 generated more money for the school district. Spencer said some of that tax revenue increase was offset by increased recapture payments by MISD. Recapture refers to the state’s “Robin Hood” plan of school funding, which takes property tax proceeds from property-rich districts and gives them to poorer Texas school districts. view article arw

Leander ISD is expecting to pay $36.2 million back to the state in recapture for the 2022-2023 school year—the district’s first recapture payment in eight years. LISD’s large recapture payment is due to increased home property values, Chief Financial Officer Elaine Cogburn said. According to district budget documents, taxable property values grew by about 30%—more than the district evaluated in the spring. view article arw

Manor Independent School District will kick off the 2022-23 school year with new security improvements from a $280 million bond passed by voters. “We installed doorbell cameras for every school and every campus,” said Superintendent Andre Spencer. The security upgrades mean front office staff will monitor and control who is allowed in and out of the school. view article arw

The Bryan school board unanimously approved a deficit budget of $4.56 million and a tax rate of $1.1396 per $100 valuation to support the budget. The tax rate includes the maintenance and operations rate and the interest and sinking, or debt service, rate. Revenue from each rate can be used only for its specific purpose — either district operations or payment of debt from bonds. According to a presentation from Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Kevin Beesaw, the debt service rate did not change from last year; however, the general fund rate decreased by almost 9 cents from last year. The approved $1.1396 rate also represents a 21-cent decrease since the 2016-2017 budget year, he said. view article arw

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -The Bryan ISD Board of Trustees met Monday to adopt its budget and tax rate for the 2022-2023 school year. The budget for the next school year is $200.4 million. The new tax rate is now $1.1396 per $100 valuation. Last year, the rate was $1.2268. Although property values continue to increase each year, Bryan ISD has been able to lower tax rates. view article arw

As students return to school this month, superintendents from Northside and Judson independent school districts say the state has failed to help them do anything to prevent tragedies like the shooting at an Uvalde elementary school in May that left 21 people dead. The state’s Republican leaders declined requests to call a special session to address the issue this summer, but in June rolled out a plan to spend $100 million on school safety measures such as bullet-resistant shields and mental health services. Speaking at a school safety summit at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Buena Vista Theater Saturday, Judson ISD Superintendent Jeanette Ball and Northside ISD Superintendent Brian Woods said they had yet to see any of that money, even though students in their districts begin class later this month.    (15) view article arw

No matter where you go, parents usually want the same thing from schools, to prepare their kids to reach their best potential, and set them up to be successful. Despite the work Texas has done to better public education Governor Greg Abbot says there’s a problem. "Not all children are benefitting from what we’ve done, some have different education needs," he said. Abbott spoke at The King’s Academy, a private school in Dallas about issues with “some” schools. "Giving parents a true choice about where to educate their child gives parents the power they need and deserve to provide the education," he added. Since you can choose right now where to send your child to learn, many are looking at the governor’s words “true choice” to mean the desire for parents to get state money to pay for private schools. "The heartburn is coming from the fact that it isn’t a fair and just system of evaluating," said Dr. Stephanie Elizalde, Superintendent, Dallas ISD. view article arw

As enrollment declines, Pearland ISD and districts across the state aim to increase the percentage of students who show up to class by focusing on teacher retention and other strategies. The Texas Education Agency has seen declining enrollment and attendance rates across school districts since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Melissa Holmes, senior media relations coordinator for the TEA, in an email. Overall student enrollment and attendance numbers—the frequency at which enrolled students attend classes—are crucial for Texas districts because they determine districts’ funding from state and local sources, TEA and district officials said. While PISD is not alone in decreasing enrollment numbers, most of the land within its boundary has already been developed, which limits the number of new students who can move to the area, PISD Superintendent Larry Berger told Community Impact Newspaper in April. This makes increasing attendance a priority, he said. view article arw

The district’s Chief Financial Officer Mary Brown said a 10% raise for all staff was approved for this year. Employees who aren’t new to the school this year are eligible to receive a $3,000 one-time stipend. The funds for the money will come from a federal grant. view article arw

During the last two years, school districts in Round Rock and Pflugerville saw declines in enrollment that continue to be exacerbated by several factors. Data from the Texas Education Agency indicates Round Rock and Pflugerville ISDs saw year-over-year enrollment drops of 5.2% and 3.65%, respectively, from the 2019-20 school year to the 2020-21 school year, with RRISD’s enrollment falling another 2.35% the following school year. Slowed or declining enrollment in Round Rock and Pflugerville ISDs is in line with statewide trends. According to TEA data, statewide enrollment in public school districts dropped approximately 2.23% during the 2020-21 school year, a decrease that came following years of enrollment growth. In Hutto ISD, however, enrollment continued to grow relatively steadily in the 2020-21 school year. District officials said declining enrollment numbers can bring—and in some cases already are bringing—a wealth of financial issues to school districts.    (09) view article arw