Recapture—also known as the Robin Hood plan—redistributes property tax dollars from property-wealthy districts to those deemed property-poor by the Texas Education Agency. The district’s payment into the state’s recapture system for the current school year is a more than $8 million increase over last year, district officials said when the budget was approved in June.
"The law provides several options to accomplish the [required] property wealth reduction," PISD Chief Financial Officer Johnny Hill said. "In an election held all the way back in 1993, the district voters approved the ... purchase of attendance credits from the Texas Education Agency [for the recapture payment]."
In June, district staff said the expected state recapture payment of $187.9 million contributed to the budget deficit of $19.6 million trustees adopted for the 2021-22 school year.
"This is three years in a row of deficit budgets for us," board President David Stolle said. "Each year has been [a] progressively higher deficit and yet, our recapture payment continues to grow."
Stolle called the purchase of attendance credits the "least worst" recapture option made available by the state. Board members also said the state does not provide transparency on how the funds collected are used to support education.
"[The state] collected more in recapture last year than they needed to fund public education and they didn't give us any money back," Superintendent Sara Bonser said. "Where is it? Because it was supposed to be used for education and if it wasn't used for education then our taxpayers should get their money back."
The board approved the purchase of the attendance credits "begrudgingly and unanimously," as Stolle put it.