Just not so important that it will get anything more than another Band-Aid, but you take what you can get, I guess.
“Are we going to start school finance from the ground up? I don’t think so,” said Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, who chairs the House Public Education Committee. “But we’ll certainly look for a way to be more effective.”
In 2006, the Legislature revamped the school funding system when it ordered districts to lower their property tax rates. While the move granted relief to some homeowners, school officials complain they are strapped for cash since the state essentially capped their funding.
Rep. Dan Branch, a primary author of the 2006 legislation, said he has several bills in the works that would bring more money to school districts. One proposal, which he has yet to file, would raise the minimum level of per-student funding that districts receive. Under the current system, some districts end up with around $12,000 per student while others get closer to $3,000.
Branch, who chairs a special committee that has spent the last year studying school finance, said his per-student funding change would affect between 200 and 250 of the state’s 1,000-plus school districts.
The Dallas Republican also is working on a plan that would give all districts more money for middle school reform.
Two years ago, the Legislature targeted the upper grades, giving districts an allotment of $275 for each high school student.
“We’re doing well in the elementary grades. There’s evidence of that all over the state,” Branch said. “Where are we slowing down? Middle school.”
The state’s two largest districts, Houston and Dallas, also would get relief under Branch’s bill to slightly revise the so-called Robin Hood formula, which redistributes money from property-wealthy districts to poorer ones. His plan would remove the two districts, which serve large numbers of poor, at-risk students, from the wealthy category.
State Sen. Florence Shapiro, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said she expects that any financial fixes adopted this session will be “a bridge to get to that major overhaul that’s necessary.”
“It does need to be restructured,” she said of the state’s school funding system, “but that is a very large undertaking. You prepare for that change a year-and-a-half before you go into a Legislative session.”
Always put off till next session that which you’re not under a court order to fix today, that’s their motto.