Under Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code, also known as the “Robin Hood” or recapture system, Texas school districts classified as property-wealthy must share property tax revenue with property-poor districts. The relative wealth of the district is calculated by dividing the taxable value of property within it by the number of students in weighted average daily attendance.
In other words, the fewer students and higher property values a district has, the more it will owe to the state.
SMCISD leaders did not expect to be required to pay into the recapture system for the 2019-20 school year. However, after what administrators describe as a “perfect storm,” that is no longer the case.
According to a presentation by Karen Griffith, SMCISD assistant superintendent of business and support, at a May 6 special school board meeting, demographers over-projected the district’s 2018-19 enrollment by 206 students. Additionally, the original 2019-20 property appraisal values were not accepted by the Texas Comptroller’s office, which increased the property tax values within the district by $716 million.
Following these new developments, the board of trustees will have to go back to the drawing board and adjust next year’s budget to accommodate its new “significant recapture obligation.”
“So, a portion of the SMCISD tax base will go back to the state, and not remain with our students,” Andrew Fernandez, SMCISD executive director of communications, said in a statement to Community Impact Newspaper. “In addition, this caps the amount of revenue the district will receive. The only way to receive more money is to grow our student population, as well as make sure all our students come to school each day [to increase average daily attendance].”
In the meantime, some of the options the board will consider at its June 3 workshop are how it can unencumber the approximately $4.5 million that was previously designated for a new central administration office and a drainage project at Bonham Prekindergarten School, according to Griffith’s presentation. The board will also have to evaluate alternative compensation and incentive options for district employees.