The Texas House of Representatives is preparing to vote this week on House Bill 21, which would increase school funding by $1.65 billion and provide millions of additional dollars to Austin, Pflugerville and Round Rock ISDs’ annual budgets.
Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, filed HB 21 and said the bill is the first step in a multisession process to more adequately fund public schools in Texas.
“We are putting more resources in the classroom and making needed reforms to our school finance formulas,” said Huberty, who serves as chairman of the Public Education Committee. “By increasing state funding for schools, we can improve instruction and reduce the need for higher property taxes.”
How would Northwest Austin school districts be affected?
- If the bill passes, AISD would receive $11.5 million more for fiscal year 2017-18, amounting to $116 more per student for the district’s average weighted daily attendance.
- If the bill passes, PfISD would get $3.2 million more for FY 2017-18, which equals $106 more per student for the district’s average weighted daily attendance.
- If the bill passes, RRISD would get $12.9 million more for FY 2017-18, which equals $225 more per student for the district’s average weighted daily attendance.
What else does HB 21 do?
HB 21 adjusts the funding formula by allotting an additional $1.65 billion to public education over the next two years, per the bill’s fiscal note. Here are some of the other major changes the bill makes:
- An additional weight for dyslexic students that Huberty says will affect 154,000 students
- An increased weight for career technical education and technology
- An increased bilingual adjustment to factor in for the diverse student population
- A professional development grant for nonprofessional staff
- Adjustments made to the hardship grant in light of the end of Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction funding
How does HB 21 affect the “Robin Hood” funding system?
Recapture, colloquially known as the “Robin Hood” plan, was first created in 1993 as a way to divert tax revenue from property wealthy school districts to property-poor districts for the goal of greater equity.
In 2016-17, 379 school districts are considered property wealthy and are expected to send more than $2 billion in total to the state, according to the Texas Education Agency.
If passed, HB 21 would lower recapture payments by approximately $173 million in 2018 and $205 million in 2019, said Molly Karol Spratt, who serves as Huberty’s legislative director.
AISD is the top contributor to the recapture system in Texas and expects to pay more than half a billion dollars to the state through the system in FY 2017-18.
What’s next for the bill?
The House is expected to vote on HB 21 on Wednesday. If it passes the House, HB 21 would then be sent to the Texas Senate.
However, the bill could face a challenge in the Texas Senate, which decreased funding for public schools by $1.8 billion in general revenue in its budget in early April.
The two state bodies have until Memorial Day—when this legislative session ends—to reach a compromise on public school funding unless a special session is called to reconcile the differences.
Additional reporting by Evan Marczynski