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Legislature school funding plans a boom for small districts

Posted: 6:53 PM, Jan 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-22 00:35:43-05

 

Paying for public education is one of the 86th Texas Legislature’s big assignments.

“The greatest thing about this is public school finance, it looks like it will be handled correctly, gonna get focus, gonna get emphasized,” said Rep. Todd Hunter (R – District 32).

The state house proposed adding $7 billion to education funding, but only if lawmakers also overhaul the school finance system.  That means reduce reliance on property taxes, and eliminate the “Robin Hood” system, where wealthy districts subsidize poorer ones.

“Districts are being squeezed like turnips with regard to funding,” said Dr. Nancy Vera, President of the Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers.  “That would certainly help some of our school districts get out of a hole.”

Districts like the West Oso Independent School District.

For smaller school districts, like West Oso ISD, a funding increase like the one the legislature’s proposing would go a long, long way.

“That would be a blessing for our district, and we would gladly use it,” said WOISD Superintendent Conrado Garcia.

Garcia is used to doing more with less.  He urges lawmakers to not forget small districts like WOISD, especially if the Robin Hood system goes away.  For now, he’s cautiously optimistic about the house proposal.

“What matters, if anything, out of this whole process is what’s at the end,” said Garcia.  “That’s what matters.”

Meanwhile, the state senate proposal calls for $3.7 billion, which would be used to give every public school teacher in the state a $5,000 raise.

Rep. Hunter says he expects parts of both proposals to be in the final resolution, though he’s not sure it will be for all $10+ billion.