School Funding Refom Series

School Funding as it applies to AISD

The Texas Legislature is in session and Rally Day is coming up on Feburary 25th.  Please read, educate yourself, and find out what you can do to improve education for the children in Texas.

Below are some data points that will make the budget discussions more personal for our campus and for the families who support us.

AISD budget data points to consider:

  • AISD will pay back $600 million to the State of Texas for recapture (Robin Hood) this year alone.
  • Last year AISD paid back $530 million to the State in recapture monies.
  • Essentially AISD pays out 46% of the local property tax dollars received from property owners back to the State of Texas.
  • This amounts to just over $8,000.00 per student in AISD that we pay back to the State of Texas.
  • The recapture amount for AISD climbs every year due to the Robin Hood formula, rising property values and no appeal process for AISD to challenge the payout amount that is crippling our school resources.
  • No other major urban district in Texas is “feeling the budget pinch” to the extent of Austin. Other districts paying out for recapture include Houston, Dallas and Plano, but no other district is anywhere close to the amount Austin pays back.
  • AISD is currently operating at a $30 million dollar deficit (dipping into reserve funds to make ends meet this year; but, this cannot continue).
  • Overall, 25% of what the entire State of Texas funds for public education comes directly from what AISD pays back in recapture dollars.
  • State of Texas funds 32% of public education costs with the remainder coming from local property taxes.
  • State of Texas funds 100% of charter school costs.
  • Regardless of political philosophy, the current Texas school finance system/formula has been found unconstitutional multiple times by Texas courts.
  • Austin ISD is diligently working to continue to provide comprehensive, effective education for all students. When the budget is so restricted that student services and instructional resources are affected, the intent/spirit of the law has to be revisited by our legislators.

Here are some websites that examine this issue from varied perspectives:

Please take a few minutes to be informed on this issue as AISD needs community support to get through this dilemma. Until a legislative remedy is operational, AISD must devise a plan to continue educating about 80,000 students each school year. Thus, the budget for next school year must cut $30 million in order for AISD to remain solvent.

What cuts are being considered?
There were actually over a hundred possible cuts when the process started. Some have to do with eliminating particular positions or programs; others have to do with changing how schools function or how they are staffed. There are conversations about closing or combining under-enrolled schools and other discussions about reworking staff benefits.

What cuts are being seriously considered?
Changing the way schools are staffed is on the table. There is definite momentum behind raising the the teacher to student ratio for general education student.  Changing the number at which a school receives another Assistant Principal, Counselor or more classified assistance (think registrar, book keeper and office staff) is also being highly considered.

Why does it seem like all the cuts are to jobs?
Across the district most of our money goes to human capital (86% of the entire AISD budget is salaries), that means staff (campus and district) salaries and benefits. Yes, there are some expensive programs and buildings have maintenance and operations costs, but still, the majority of money is spent on people, so when you are looking for cost savings in the tens of millions of dollars it’s hard to do that without looking at people’s jobs.

What can you do???

Join the PTA!!  There is strength in numbers and Texas PTA has a goal of 50,000 members.  Become a part of their voice on Texas School Finance Refom.  Go the the marketplace on the Hill website to join!

Rally Day

Join 2,000 PTA members from across the state to tell our legislators that we want equitable and adequate school funding NOW, among other things. Rally DAY will be held on February 25 8am, at the Capitol.