House Chiefs Offer ‘transformational’ Fix for Texas’ Archaic School Finance System

This is a developing story.AUSTIN -- House leaders on Tuesday unveiled a school-finance overhaul that includes about a 5-percent increase in state aid to public schools, new funds for full-day kindergarten and additional money to reduce school property tax rates.House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, a Humble Republican who has worked in recent years to modernize Texas' method of funding schools, called the bill a giant step toward helping kids and schools in need."This is transformational," he said.On Monday, Huberty briefed the House's party caucuses about the bill.On Tuesday, he and Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, have scheduled a news conference about the package.The state would spend $9 billion more on public education in the next two-year budget cycle than it does now, Huberty said. Of that, $6.3 billion represents new money while $2.7 billion would pay to reduce schools' maintenance and operation tax levies by four cents per $100 valuation, he said.In the Dallas Independent School District, the tax rate would decline to $1.09 per $100 valuation, from $1.17 currently, Huberty said.The Dallas district's expected "recapture" or Robin Hood wealth-transfer payment for next year, $188 million, would decline to $15 million, he said.Dallas "pick up a $96 million gain, or $695 a student," under his bill in the first year, Huberty said.The $9 billion infustion of state cash is over and above an additional $2 billion the state will provide districts in the next cycle to keep apace of growth in student enrollment, he said.It's also several billion more than proposed in January's tentative budget offered by the Senate, which must approve any school-finance overhaul.A key difference in the two chambers' approach to education this session is teacher pay.While the Senate would require districts to give teachers a $5,000, across the board pay raise, Huberty's bill pushes money to districts and lets them make the final decisions on compensation.It would increase the "basic allotment," the main element of the current state funding formula, to $6,030 per weighted average daily attendance, from $5,140 now.Huberty's bill would create a teacher merit pay plan in the state funding formula. It would be called the "Teacher Quality Allotment." Districts would not necessarily tie bonuses to students' performance on tests, but would be able to design their programs following some state guidelines, he said.  Continue reading...

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