HISD superintendent urges people to invest in every child in public education

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Calling public education an investment rather than expenditure, HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza laid out the district's priority in his first "State of the Schools" address.

The annual event was held at the Hilton Americas before a full ballroom of 2,000 educators and guests.

In the wake of a vote last November that declined sending local school tax dollars to the state for redistribution, HISD is now confronted with losing some of the commercial property it taxes, appraised at $18 billion.

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The state said it would "recapture" the tax income and give it to surrounding property-poor districts like Aldine ISD.

"That makes no sense. At least 80 percent of our students are on assisted lunch programs," HISD board president Wanda Adams said, referring to poverty guidelines.

"We were the first district to say no to the state about the outdated system," Carranza said. The state adopted what was called the 'Robin Hood' plan years ago, in which small school districts pushed for equal funding.

Last week, the school board approved putting the issue back on the ballot this spring, three months after recommending that voters reject the school finance formula.

"It's like a chess game," Adams said.

The vote in November started negotiations between the state's largest school district over how much it would be credited for the tax money lost to its homestead tax exemption.

Currently, HISD would be required to send $77 million to the state. That's less than they $162 million dollar bill first submitted.

"That money replaces the money that the state should be setting aside for educating Texas students," Carranza said. "And that money -- what should be the state's contribution -- then gets spent on other things."

"This is the most pressing issue for HISD and one that threatens to have damaging consequences on our schools, children, and city," he said.
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