I’m sure most of us as parents and citizens in the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD are aware that our great state of Texas no longer funds its school districts under the “Robin Hood” plan. This is good, right? WRONG!
The state’s current finance plan (House Bill 1) affects GCISD and our children even more negatively than before.
House Bill 1 created a “target revenue” system of finance throughout the state. “Target revenue” is the amount of money pre student the state allocates to each district. This system created by House Bill 1 (HB1) has resulted in drastic and irrational differences in the amount of money pre student districts across the state receive.
GCISD’s target revenue is $5270 per student. There are districts in other parts of the state that receive over $12,000 per student!
Next, HB1 effectively capped GCISD’s revenue potential at the 2005-2006 level (the year after Delta Airlines left DFW). Any tax revenue earned above and beyond what our district earned in ’05-’06 automatically goes to the state!
Plus, there is no inflation factor built into HB1. GCISD is operating under a 2008-2009 cost-of-living with a 2005-2006 income!
What else? HB1 took away the School Board’s local authority to raise and levy taxes. This is why we elect them in the first place! Now, GCISD has to seek voter approval to raise taxes. Even if voters approve a tax increase, GCISD only gets to keep $0.58 of every $1! That will be a hard sell to voters!
What if the current system of school finance doesn’t change? School districts have certain fixed and unchangeable costs (curriculum, facilities, utilities, etc.) The largest and most easily-changed expense is payroll. If things don’t change, employees will be let go. Programs such as Band, Choir, Art, Music, etc., will be the first to be cut back. Since there is no limit on class size at the secondary level, we could begin to see higher student-The to-teacher ratios. Teachers become overworked and look for other jobs. With larger class sizes, it will be difficult to retain and attract the higher-caliber teachers we expect in our classrooms. Ultimately, OUR CHILDREN SUFFER!
What can we do? In order for us to play an active role and affect change, WE MUST BE VOCAL AND ENSURE THAT WE ARE HEARD!
It is our responsibility as taxpayers and parents to demand change from our legislators. What do we say to them? First of all, let our representatives know that as taxpayers and voters, we expect them to do something about school finance. Below is the contact information for our state representatives. Also, you will find a simple list of points to include in your email, letter, or phone conversation.
Texas House Representative
What do we indicate needs to change?
1. Formula Funding vs. Target Revenue: GCISD supports replacing the current system with an updated formula funded system. The current target revenue system creates wide variances in the amount of revenue a district receives with no rational basis to support the difference.
2. Inflation Factor: If the target revenue system is left in place, an inflation factor should be applied to the target revenue to help offset the rising costs of goods and services.
3. Reduce Inequity in Target Revenue: Take measures to reduce the wide disparities in target revenue.
4. Timing of Tax Rate Elections: Holding tax rate elections in November to fund budgets approved in June or August create uncertainty in the budget process. Building budgets based on available revenue is a much more logical approach. Therefore, if voter engagement continues to be required, then the election should occur much earlier in the process. An election to approve a tax rate increase in February or March would be an optimum time for districts with a June 30 year end such as GCISD. If a tax rate election must continue to be held on uniform election dates, a May election fits better in the budget process than a November election.
5. Local School Board Authority to Set Tax Rates: School Boards should be allowed the authority to set tax rates. Trustees are elected by voters to represent them in setting goals and expectations but are now left with no authority to fund these goals and expectations.