Texas Education

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Finance system flaws hurt SAISD – another one (almost) bites the dust

Posted by Texas Education on August 21, 2008

Here is an excellent article by an asst. super in San Angelo, Jeff Bright. I believe it really sums it up, and puts it into laymans terms. I believe I understand the “Robin Hood School Finance System,” better after reading this article. It all has to do with the “cap” on revenue a school is allowed to take in. Which pretty much puts the districts in quite a bind.

Just a few highlights by Mr. Bright:

Through a series of complicated formulas and calculations, each district in the state is given a “target revenue” that the system allocates to schools. Generating the revenue is a shared commitment between local tax dollars and state aid. Increasing property values do nothing to help our school district. The state system is set up so that as local values and collections increase, the state simply reduces its share until you hit your “target revenue.” If your district generates more than the target, the state “recaptures” the excess – giving way to the label “Robin Hood School Finance System.”

If every district in the state is held to the same standards, why does the Legislature allow this to happen?

Despite having one of the lowest per-student revenue targets in the state, San Angelo has been able to avoid the drastic measures being taken by numerous districts around the state to balance their budgets.

Each budget year, we seem to all have an endless list of mandates, needs and wants. But, with a finite amount of dollars, it means that programmatic choices have to be made. Districts that are having trouble balancing budgets look first to programs that do not directly affect the classroom. But, they quickly realize that it will not save them.

With more than 80 percent of school budgets tied up in salaries, to make a real impact, districts must look at staffing by eliminating costly programs such as block scheduling, teaming and magnet programs. They will cut out field trips, limit or cut travel to out-of-town contests, eliminate elective teaching positions, increase class sizes, and close campuses. Since every program is important to someone, it is never an easy task.

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