School Finance Plan Could End “Robin Hood”

Teachers would get about $800 more per year under a bill approved in the Texas House on Monday to tweak the state's school funding system.

School districts would get about $2 billion over the next two years under the measure by Rep. Scott Hochberg, including more money for educating high school students at campuses with the highest number of dropouts.

In the plan, about 30 school districts would no longer be subject to give money back to the state under the "Robin Hood" method of school funding.

"It's not all I would liked to have done, but we're in a tough budget year," Hochberg said. "We wouldn't even be here if not for the stimulus money, I guess."

Many school officials have been complaining that state funding has stagnated since a 2006 school finance overhaul and rising fuel costs, inflation and enrollment growth are straining their budgets.

Hochberg's plan would base each year's calculations on statewide average property values, allowing districts to benefit each year from higher property values.

Calculations would be based on current year values, rather than the year-long lag in the current system. That means schools would see impacts sooner from developments such as a windfarm or new business development, Hochberg said.

The last overhaul was designed to shift the school tax burden away from local property taxpayers, replacing a portion with revenue from a revised business tax and higher cigarette taxes among other things.

If the plan gets final approval from the House, it next goes to the Senate for consideration.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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