Governor Perry to Call Special Session on School Finance - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/5/04

Governor Perry to Call Special Session on School Finance

On Monday key lawmakers and officials from area school districts met to hash out their concerns for the upcoming special session. At the top of a long list of changes ending the Robin Hood school funding system. 

"In the wealth category we're considered poor," says Lamesa ISD Superintendent Ken McCraw.  He says the Robin Hood system has helped fund his financially challenged school dictrict for years. But he doesn't think his district should be funded at the expense of wealthier districts. 

"The thing we want to hammer home is that we don't want to pull the wealthier school districts down but we're asking to be raised up so our kids have the same opportunity than any schools in any other districts," says McCraw.

"From 20-80% of revenue you take in goes out to the districts," says Mike Motheral, Superintendent of Sundown ISD. 

He says he must take money from the Sundown budget to give to other districts each year. 

"Then there's some potential for you not to have enough dollars left over to be able to function appropriately," says Motheral.

Both school officials and lawmakers agree changes are needed but the challenge is making those changes fair to everyone.

"It is a golden opportunity I think for us to take a look inside out and upside down and do it right because we want it to be something's that's fair and equitable," says Texas Education Commissioner, Shirley Neely. 

Another change on the way, cutting property taxes from school funding. Property taxes put more than $8 billion into Texas schools, but are already at their maximum limit. Now legislators must find another way to remedy those dollars by taxing something else. The question is what?

"There are many formulas out there and some are gaining momentum some a little more popular than others but somone's got to pay and we've just got to find a way to make it fair and equitable and give property owners a tax break," says Neely. 

Superintendent of Lubbock ISD, Wayne Havens agrees.

"We've got to give our property owners some relief. When the school system was set up that was the only way it could be funded we're far past that in my opinion now and it's got to take the burden off property owners," says Havens.

Legislators are unsure where more school funding will come from.  Representative Carl Isett says could come from a number of sources such as a state income tax, increasing sales tax, taxing cigarettes or a tax on new businesses.

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