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Port Aransas ISD officials urge lawmakers to end funding cuts - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

Port Aransas ISD officials urge lawmakers to end funding cuts

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Port Aransas ISD is defined as a small school district by the state and loses a percentage of its funding. Port Aransas ISD is defined as a small school district by the state and loses a percentage of its funding.
The school board has adopted a resolution urging lawmakers to end funding cuts to small school districts. The school board has adopted a resolution urging lawmakers to end funding cuts to small school districts.
State Representative Todd Hunter will support the resolution in the upcoming legislative session. State Representative Todd Hunter will support the resolution in the upcoming legislative session.
CORPUS CHRISTI -

Port Aransas School District officials say they are losing out on public school funds because of their small size, and with the state legislative session about to begin, they say it is time for a change. Now the school board has adopted a resolution urging legislators to amend a funding formula that reduces funding small school districts.  

When the legislative session begins next Tuesday, public school funding will once again be on the table. Port Aransas and other small school districts say current funding rules penalize them because of their small size.

The state defines a small school district as one with an enrollment of fewer than 1,600 students and an area smaller than 300 square miles. That distinction is important, because these smaller districts can see a funding discrepancy of anywhere from 3 to 35 percent. 

The Port Aransas Independent School District has 540 students, and serves an area of less than 160 square miles. Because of its size, it is subject to budget cuts based on the funding formula for small school districts that state lawmakers developed in the 1970s. 

"The idea possibly was to encourage consolidation, but now 40 plus years later there really hasn't been consolidations," said Superintendent Dr. Sharon McKinney.

Dr. McKinney also says the concept is outdated because the state is approving new charter schools, many that are even smaller than Port Aransas ISD. 

"That whole argument about encouraging consolidation just doesn't apply anymore," Dr. McKinney said. "Now it doesn't really make sense to continue to penalize districts like Port Aransas ISD, just because we're on an island and just because we're small."

The school board has adopted a resolution urging Representative Todd Hunter and Senator Lois Kolkhorst to support legislation that would eliminate the penalty against small school districts and bring money back into Port Aransas ISD. The district would get back about $700,000, which is approximately 10 percent of the operating budget.

"You're looking at 14 teachers, you're looking at quite a bit of an impact to our district if we were able to keep that $700,000 dollars," Dr. McKinney said. 

The issue is getting attention from legislators. State Representative Dustin Burrows, based in Lubbock, has authored a bill proposing to amend the funding formula.

State Representative Todd Hunter also plans to back the Port Aransas ISD resolution in the upcoming legislative session, and push for changing the formula system. 

"The law is based on old old criteria," Rep. Hunter said. "What we've got to do is adjust it, because the taxpayers need to know that if they're paying money in, that money is going to their area."

Other small school districts losing money because of the current funding formula include Agua Dulce, Banquete, Bishop, Driscoll, and London. 

A similar House bill to amend the formula was introduced during the last legislative session, but was not passed.

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