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Government/Politics

House To Tackle School Finance By Changing Funding Formula

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Ryan E. Poppe
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A bipartisan group of members of the Texas House has come up with a way to change the funding formula for school districts this session. The effort, related to property taxes, would fully restore the cuts taken from public education in 2011.

The plan would adjust per pupil spending by changing the funding formulas that feed into local school districts. House leaders hope those changes would result in an additional $2.2 to 3 billion dollars for schools.

State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, who authored the bill, led a group of lawmakers tasked with examining the issue of school finance in 2014. “It became apparent that some of our factors that drive huge amounts of money are antiquated, some of those things have been in place for many, many years without justification,” Aycock reasoned.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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Kileen Republican Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock and San Antonio Democratic Rep. Rick Gallindo

  Aycock said the House could not sit and wait for the Texas Supreme Court to rule on a lawsuit where a Travis County District Judge had labeled the state’s current funding formula unconstitutional.

But Aycock, the House Public Education Committee Chairman, admitted that under his plan, not every school district would benefit immediately. “Some districts will gain, some districts will gain more and some districts will lose. As we work through this process we will work real hard to try to limit the losses, so that there is very minimal suffering for anybody,” Aycock told reporters.

The plan has the support of San Antonio Democratic Rep. Rick Galindo. He represents some of the school districts that filed the lawsuit challenging the state’s school finance system. “My wife is a public school teacher for the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio and this is for them also and it is very important that we get this going,” Gallindo affirmed.

House budget writers said it would not affect a bill promising billions of dollars in tax cuts.