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What $7.8 Billion Less Means for Your School District.

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By Morgan Smith

If the House has its way, there will be 7.8 billion fewer state dollars headed to Texas public schools.

All along, districts have known that how much of that funding gap they'll individually bear depends on how the Legislature reworks the state's school finance system (and ultimately, of course, on the final state budget agreed upon by the Senate and House).

The districts now have a clue as to how the knife would fall under the House plan: State Rep. Scott Hochberg's school finance bill - the one he characterized as "the fairest way to distribute the pain" - has been approved by the Public Education Committee. We've created a searchable database based on the Houston Democrat's projections on how the funding cuts would hit 1,024 traditional school districts across the state.

On average, the districts stand to lose 8.5 percent of their total revenue. But the effect of the House budget on individual districts ranges between a staggering 39 percent cut at tiny Kelton ISD in the Panhandle to a handful of districts - around 25 - that would see marginal (think 1 to 2 percent) gains.

The funding cuts vary so wildly, Hochberg said, because the current funding formula created a system with significant discrepancies - which his bill aims to fix.

When it reduced the property tax rate in 2006, the Legislature promised districts that the state would fill in the gap if, under the new formula, they received less per student than before - what's called a district's "target revenue." That guarantee meant windfalls for some districts - something Hochberg's school finance plan would undo. Districts that were artificially protected from cuts in the 2006 formulas would lose that protection under Hochberg's plan, taking bigger losses now than unprotected districts with similar numbers of students and similar tax rates.

Webb CISD, for instance, has a target revenue of $11,062 per student. It's facing a potential 27 percent reduction. Aldine ISD, on the other hand, has a target revenue of $5,274. It would see just a 2 percent loss.

There's one outlier: Star ISD in Mills County, which would purportedly see a 12 percent increase in funding. According to Hochberg, that's likely because of flaws in the data it reported to the Texas Education Agency.

The biggest losers:

Kelton ISD

Webb CISD

Seminole ISD

Fort Elliott CISD

Westbrook ISD

Guthrie CSD

Borden County ISD

Loop ISD

Glen Rose ISD

Sundown ISD

Grandview-Hopkins ISD

Leon ISD

Wink-Loving ISD

Franklin ISD

Highland Park ISD

The biggest (relative) winners:

Star ISD (see caveat above)

Hubbard ISD

Aldine ISD

Zephyr ISD

Malta ISD

Castleberry ISD

Hidalgo ISD

Slaton ISD

Rio Hondo ISD

Galena Park ISD

Kaufman ISD

Priddy ISD

Littlefield ISD

Harlandale ISD

Alief ISD

One note: Lackland, Fort Sam Houston, Boys Ranch, Randolph, and South Texas ISDs are not included in the database. That's because they are districts with no local property tax rates and the state calculates their funding through a separate mechanism.
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Publication:The Texas Tribune
Date:Apr 26, 2011
Words:693
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