Millions of your local school tax dollars headed to other Texas schools

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Your tax dollars are helping other schools in Texas.

Budget cuts are coming to the Houston Independent School District because $107 million in tax dollars paid by local homeowners is headed to other schools throughout Texas.

It's all because of the state's education funding formula, which requires HISD to send these millions of local tax dollars back to the state. State rules say that districts designated as 'property-wealthy' need to pony up this cash, even though nearly 80 percent of HISD students come from low-income families.

Houston was tagged with this wealthy designation because of rising property values throughout the city.

HISD officials are re-working the books to shore up the lost funds, but some students will be hurt.

HISD is proposing an increase in funding for students who the school considers economically disadvantaged or at-risk, as well as those who are considered homeless or refugees. Funding would be reduced for students who are in the district's gifted and talented programs.

The district's budget is $1.9 Billion annually. The cuts amount to $179 per student.

"When we consider discontinuing centrally funded programs for extended school day and tutoring, we don't do it lightly," Deputy Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer Ken Huewitt said. "We know these are valuable services that have made a big difference for our neediest students and have gone a long way in closing the achievement gap. My hope is that, by increasing funding for at-risk students, schools still will be able to implement these best practices, as needed."

HISD parent Sue Deigaard who is not always supportive of HISD's board, says these cuts are not the board's fault. She blames the Texas legislature. "The legislature continues not to fix a faulty system."

Texas courts have said the current school funding system is unconstitutional. It is currently under appeal.

HISD's Board President Manuel Rodriguez says, "It's not mismanagement. It's something the legislature has avoided since the early 90s when they haven't faced what public school funding should be."

Rodriguez is worried there is no more space to cut. "You can only live on bread and water for so long before the body goes into a reverse reaction." When asked if HISD is on a bread and water diet? Rodriguez answered simply, "Pretty much."

Republican State Senator from Houston Paul Bettencourt told abc13, "This should not be a crisis. They knew it was coming." Bettencourt who serves on both the education and finance committees says the legislature will likely work on a fix after the Supreme Court rules on a funding appeal. "We are going to have to have a real good top down discussion of how to fund public schools."

While final cuts have not been made, Rodriguez & HISD administrators suggest the central office will be cut, teacher bonuses will suffer, reform programs will face cuts and extra hours of tutoring and care will be curtailed. School brass are looking for other potential budget cuts and a spending freeze has been proposed for HISD central administrative offices.

Sue Deigaard predicts, "There is no way this helps kids. The kids will lose something in their learning environment."

The amount of funding each campus receives from the district is based on the average daily attendance of its student population. The district spends roughly $3,700 on each student. That will now drop to roughly $3,500 per student.

Related Topics:
educationHISDTed Oberg InvestigatesHouston
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