First step to fix ‘broken’ Texas school finance system unveiled

FILE - Classroom (Nexstar File Photo)
FILE - Classroom (Nexstar File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas House leaders unveiled House Bill 21 Monday, what they call a first step to fix a “broken” school finance system.

The bill, introduced by House Public Education Committee Chair Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, would increase the amount of money school districts in the state get for each student by about $200. Additional funds would come from state transportation dollars, something the districts have not had access to in the past.

“It provides more resources for schools, and it distributes those resources in a much smarter way,” said Rep. Huberty.

HB 21 also gives districts more money for each student with dyslexia. Districts like Austin ISD would get to keep more local tax dollars that they would typically send back to the state.

“It is progress,” said AISD Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley-Johnson. “However it doesn’t really substantially address our budget challenges that we face from the recapture payment.

AISD expects to gain around $10 million more annually, but would still be expected to send more than half a billion dollars from local property tax revenue to the state. The entire House school finance plan would only be doable if the state pitches in $1.6 billion to cover what would no longer be coming from districts through recapture.

While most districts across the state would get more money, about 5 percent would lose funding under the proposed plan. “It’s going to be tough,” said Rep. Huberty. “This is hard. I didn’t ever suggest this would be easy for us to do.”

The House Public Education Committee will start hammering out the bill Tuesday during a public hearing.

Almost every school district in the Austin area could benefit from the proposal. Round Rock ISD is slated to receive an additional $215 per student, while Lake Travis ISD gets another $126. One local school will lose funding, however. The Katherine Anne Porter School in Wimberley will get $10 less per student under the new proposal.

  • See total projected figures for Texas school districts for 2018 and 2019 here. 

Huberty joined us in the KXAN studio to discuss the bill aimed at fixing how we pay for students’ education.

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