Fort Bend ISD responds to school finance reform deal

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Fort Bend ISD officials said they will continue to monitor the Texas Legislature’s movements announced May 23 that included legislation aimed at reforming school finance and property taxes.

“We are appreciative of our lawmakers’ efforts to reform school finance, as Fort Bend ISD agrees that the current system is broken,” the district told Community Impact Newspaper via email. “We look forward to learning more about the final details of the plan announced Thursday, as we do not yet know how it affects FBISD’s financial forecast for 2019-20 and beyond.”

Texas’ top three political leaders declared the Legislature had reached agreements on its three main 2019 priorities: A two-year state budget, a comprehensive reform of school finance and legislation designed to slow the growth of rising property taxes, according to a Texas Tribune report.

Gov. Greg Abbott broke the news on the lawn of the Governor’s Mansion in Austin. Both chambers will need to sign off on the three negotiated bills—House Bill 1, the proposed budget; Senate Bill 2, the property tax bill; and House Bill 3, the school finance bill—before the regular session ends May 27, the Tribune reported.

The school finance bill will include such items as funding for full-day prekindergarten, an increase in the base funding per student and adding $5.5 billion to lower school district taxes up to 13 cents per $100 valuation on average by 2021. In addition, the bill will include funding for districts that want to create a merit pay program.

In advance of the announcement, FBISD discussed a possible tax ratification election, or TRE, at its May 13 board meeting.

Through such an election, voters would have the chance to decide whether to raise the tax rate. The district said this is needed to fund programs included in the new legislation.

FBISD will conduct a public budget meeting June 3 for the proposed 2019-20 school district budget and tax rates. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the board room of the FBISD Administration Building at 16431 Lexington Blvd., Sugar Land.

“We continue to work with our board and community to ensure that we are able to move forward with our district’s mission of inspiring and equipping all students to pursue a future beyond what they can imagine, adopting a budget as statutorily required by June 30,” FBISD officials said via email.

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Christine Hall
Christine Hall joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2018, and covers Missouri City and Fort Bend ISD. She previously reported on health care innovation for the Texas Medical Center, was a freelancer, and held various news roles at the Houston Business Journal.
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