Board President Charles Randklev expressed the board’s main objection to sending millions of dollars back to the state through the recapture plan is there’s no transparency about where those dollars are going.
“I want to be clear nobody is talking about getting rid of recapture or getting rid of any sort of process that would help school districts that have issues raising funding,” Randklev said. “What we’re asking for is better transparency on how those dollars are being used.”
According to www.recapturetexas.org, recapture allows legislators to take excess local property tax dollars from school districts and use it to help balance the state budget.
The Texas Education Agency has determined Keller ISD must reduce its excess local revenue level by $2.5 million for the 2023-24 school year. The district will do that by purchasing average daily attendance credits, according to district documents.
Anthony Tosie, executive director of communications for Northwest ISD, said the district's 2023-24 recapture payment is $19.5 million. During their Aug. 21 board meeting, Carroll ISD board members budgeted $18.9 million for the 2023-24 recapture payment.
What they’re saying
Several board members spoke about their support for denying the 2024-25 recapture payment.
"The reality is the state is sitting on a multibillion-dollar surplus,” Place 5 Trustee Chris Coker said. “The argument that in lieu of them giving us more money that we should just give them more money instead of funding schools appropriately is absolutely asinine.”
Randklev echoed Coker’s point, speaking about the board’s responsibility as financial stewards of the district.
“As trustees, we have a fiduciary responsibility to this district,” Randklev said. “As part of that fiduciary responsibility, I think it's protecting the funds that we have. [Paying] $2.5 million in attendance credits is tantamount to a shakedown by Austin."
Place 7 Trustee Ruthie Keyes—the lone vote against the resolution—spoke about the message that this action sends to the community as well as families and students of KISD.
“I would never tell one of my kids you don't have to pay your bills if you don't want to because that's what it is,” Keyes said. “It's a bill. Do I like it? No, I certainly don't, but it's there. What we’re telling people is that we’re not following the law.”
Should a district choose to withhold its recapture payments, there are consequences, according to TEA. These potential repercussions include:
- Districts can be prevented from adopting new tax rates.
- Districts can have taxable property detached from their district and given to other nearby districts to level out tax revenues.
- The state can withhold funding from districts that don't make recapture payments.