Thank you for your support for public schools across Houston ISD and the state of Texas.
In Houston, “putting children first” is the mantra. We must make sure our students are ready for college and career opportunities. However, significant financial investments are necessary. Money matters, and everyone must chip in.
And yet, for many school districts, student needs increase while available dollars decrease.
In May of 2016, the Texas Supreme Court called the state’s system for funding its public schools “byzantine, antiquated, and in need of reform.” After all, most of the components in today’s school finance system were last updated in 1984. The Court also said the current system needs vast improvements beyond “Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid.” However, despite the Court’s harsh criticism for the way Texas funds its schools, the Court determined the system meets the minimum, constitutional requirements.
The school finance system we have today is heavily reliant on local property taxes. When property values rise, the local share of funding public education goes up and the state’s share goes down. And, because the state keeps the revenue from local property value growth, schools are not receiving every dollar paid in school property taxes.
In addition, the state’s school finance system has a profound impact on HISD’s budget. The current school finance system requires “property wealthy” school districts to share a portion of their local property tax collections with the state. The state uses these local dollars to fund public education statewide. This process is called recapture. Recapture and local property value growth allow the state to lower its contribution to public education. By the end of 2019, the state’s contribution for education will only be 38%, while local taxpayers cover the rest.
Houston ISD’s current budget is primarily funded by local taxpayers – people like you. In fact, HISD sends more money to the state under recapture than it receives in state aid. Like our colleagues throughout Texas, we’d like to see the state increase its share of funding public education.
Texas lawmakers meet in January of 2019 for the state’s 86th Regular Session. Thousands of new laws will be considered over the course of the legislative session, which lasts 140 days. Lawmakers will disagree on many proposals and policies, but one item should be very clear: It’s time to fix the state’s outdated school finance system.
The legislature has an opportunity during the 2019 legislative session to implement comprehensive and long-term policy changes to fix school finance. That’s why we are asking you to encourage our state lawmakers to act.
Please encourage Texas lawmakers to vote for a new and improved school finance system for today’s 21st century students!
Browse and click through this toolkit to learn more about school finance and how it can be fixed. Then… call, write, email, or tweet Texas lawmakers and tell them it is time to #FixSchoolFinance.
Lawmakers need to hear from you AND our students need you to speak up for them!Thank you for your support.
GET THE FACTS ON SCHOOL FINANCE
- Recapture is a concern because the state defines HISD as property wealthy, despite the fact 77% of HISD’s students are poor.
- This school year, Houston ISD’s recapture payment is about $272 million, which will cause more budget cuts, layoffs and fewer services for students.
- Each year, the recapture payment to the state contains collected property taxes from Houston’s homeowners, business owners, and even renters because those costs are passed to the tenant.
- The state uses HISD’s recapture payment, along with payments from other “property wealthy” districts, to replace its financial contribution to K-12 public education.
- Houston ISD’s current budget is primarily funded by local taxpayers – people like you. The district sends more to the state in recapture than it actually receives in state aid.
- Today’s school finance system benefits the state when local property values rise. The state allocates less money to K-12 public education when property values increase statewide.
- Many components of the today’s school finance system are 34 years old and our student demographics have changed significantly since then.
- K-12 public education is the largest line item in the state’s budget, but the state’s share of funding public education has declined over the years from close to 50% to 38%.
HOW THE STATE SHOULD #FIXSCHOOLFINANCE
- Increase the Basic Allotment enough to keep pace with inflation and the growing needs of students;
- Increase the state’s share of funding public education to 50%;
- Increase the funding weights for unique populations, like special education, bilingual, English-language learners, and GT students. Many of these weights have not been updated since 1984.
- Count full-day pre-K students in recapture calculations for Chapter 41 (AKA Robin Hood) districts. This would save HISD several millions in its recapture state-mandated recapture payment;
- Allow HISD and other Chapter 41 (AKA Robin Hood) districts to receive state transportation funding;
- Allow recapture-paying districts to count charter school students zoned to their district in recapture calculations;
- Tie new local property value growth to the equalized wealth level.
- Eliminate the state’s over-reliance on local property taxes to fund schools and replace those local property tax dollars with General Revenue from the state. The state must reduce its over-reliance on local property tax dollars;