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May 17, 2019 - Plano ISD Joins with Other Texas Districts on Behalf of School Finance Reform

Texas Capitol Building Plano ISD Joins with Other Texas Districts to Prevent School Finance Reform from Being Derailed by a New Robin Hood System

Plano ISD and other Texas districts collaborated on a letter to the Texas Legislative Conference Committee deliberating House Bill 3. The letter addresses the Senate’s proposal to calculate school funding using property values from the current year, rather than the existing practice of using prior year values. This collaboration is an extension of the work that Plano ISD and other school districts have put forth in order to provide information and input to legislators regarding school finance reform. Trustees and administrators have worked with peer districts, the business community, voters and legislators to maintain an inclusive and productive conversation surrounding public education funding.

This legislative session, the Plano ISD Board of Trustees prioritized comprehensive school finance reform, as well as property tax relief, and advocated that adding new money into the school funding formula was paramount. The House version of HB 3, dubbed “The Texas Plan for Transformational School Finance Reform,” was a big step in the right direction. However, districts across Texas are saying that the Senate’s proposal to use current-year values is not at all transformational and, in fact, would be devastating to school districts. The letter states:

“This change is not simply resetting a fiscal calendar. The reality is it becomes another mechanism for the state to collect local revenue. Shifting from prior-year to current-year values would substantially diminish, or in many cases, virtually eliminate any benefit that our school districts would otherwise receive from positive changes in the new formulas. In most cases it would cause significantly more harm than the current funding system.  It is not a one-year adjustment.  Moving to current-year values would cause local property tax growth to benefit the state instead of the local school district.”

The letter goes on to say that, ultimately, using current-year values creates an additional Robin Hood system that affects even more districts than those currently subject to recapture. Any school district that experiences property value growth will now be subject to another system of recapture that benefits the state’s budget. Additionally, using current-year values makes budgeting at both the district and state levels much more imprecise. Districts will be preparing budgets and spending funds before the State Comptroller’s Office has reviewed, audited and certified values to both school districts and the Texas Education Agency. Certified values are essential for accurately calculating a school district’s revenue.

The districts concluded their joint letter by reminding conferees of their common goal. “The goal of this session has been to solve many of the issues plaguing our school finance system and not create new burdens,” the letter stated. “Please ensure that the final version of HB 3 retains prior-year values.”

Signees of the letter to the Conference Committee include 58 school districts and 4 organizations:

  1. Alamo Heights ISD
  2. Aldine ISD
  3. Aledo ISD
  4. Alief ISD
  5. Alvin ISD
  6. Arlington ISD
  7. Austin ISD
  8. Barbershill ISD
  9. Bastrop ISD
  10. Birdville ISD
  11. Boerne ISD
  12. Brock ISD
  13. Cleveland ISD
  14. College Station ISD
  15. Coppell ISD
  16. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD
  17. Dallas ISD
  18. Denton ISD
  19. Dickinson ISD
  20. Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD
  21. Eanes ISD
  22. Ector County ISD
  23. El Paso ISD
  24. Fast Growth School Coalition
  25. Friendswood ISD
  26. Frisco ISD
  27. Galveston ISD
  28. Garner ISD
  29. Goose Creek CISD
  30. Grapevine Colleyville ISD
  31. Gregory Portland ISD
  32. Hays CISD
  33. Highland Park ISD
  34. Hutto ISD
  35. Jarrell ISD
  36. Katy ISD
  37. Klein ISD
  38. Lake Travis ISD
  39. Lewisville ISD
  40. Liberty Hill ISD
  41. Lockhart ISD
  42. Lovejoy ISD
  43. Lubbock-Cooper ISD
  44. McKinney ISD
  45. Miami ISD
  46. Midland ISD
  47. New Caney ISD
  48. Peaster ISD
  49. Plano ISD
  50. Port Aransas ISD
  51. Prosper ISD
  52. Richardson ISD
  53. Rockwall ISD
  54. Round Rock ISD
  55. Royse City ISD
  56. San Antonio ISD
  57. Spring Branch ISD
  58. Sunnyvale ISD
  59. Texas Association of School Administrators
  60. Templeton Demographics
  61. Tyler ISD
  62. Texas School Coalition