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Posted on: July 18, 2019

New money to schools - Wise County Texas

By Richard Greene - Wise County Messenger

With the newly adopted school finance bill, House Bill 3, local school districts are expected to see an increase in state funding this coming school year. The amount of the increase is still to be determined.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the $11.6 billion school finance bill this week, which included $6.5 billion in new education spending and $5.1 billion toward property tax relief. It provides an increase in teacher pay, reduction in recapture and provides money for a full-day of pre-K for eligible 4-year-olds.

Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) said the legislature and state took enormous steps in helping schools and taxpayers with the bill.

“We’ve slowed the growth in local property taxes,” King said. “We’re turning the bus around. The state’s committed to growing its expenditures, while holding down local taxes. It’s a major victory for public education.”

Many local school officials agreed it is a step in the right direction.

“I appreciate the effort and the increased funding definitely helps us,” said Alvord ISD Superintendent Randy Brown. “With the initial run of the numbers, we don’t know how much of an impact it will have.”

Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis added: “We certainly welcome the increased funding. Initially, it looks great. We will have to wait to see what it means for the future and the sustainability.”

Based on last year’s values and an estimate of average daily attendance, the legislative budget board released projections for all the districts in the state. The projected maintenance and operations revenue increases for Wise County schools and new compressed tax rates were:

  • Alvord ISD – $822,644; tax rate decreases from $1.17 to $1.06.
  • Boyd ISD – $692,455; tax rate decreases from $1.04 to 97 cents.
  • Bridgeport ISD – $620,945; tax rate decreases from $1.04 to 97 cents.
  • Chico ISD – $368,468; tax rate decreases from $1.04 to 97 cents.
  • Decatur ISD – $1,955,033; tax rate decreases from $1.04 to 97 cents.
  • Northwest ISD – $15,433,927; tax rate decreases from $1.04 to 97 cents.
  • Paradise ISD – $1,385,437; tax rate decreases from $1.04 to 97 cents.
  • Slidell ISD – $309,153; tax rate decreases from $1.06 to 99 cents.

Local school officials warn the revenue increases are less using updated attendance and preliminary values.

Paradise ISD Superintendent Paul Uttley said his district’s projections are an estimated increase of $700,000 rather than $1.3 million.

Brown said Alvord’s increase will likely be closer to $500,000.

The increases in funding are tied to funding for staff members. A memo from Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath to districts this week reminded districts: “a school district must use at least 30 percent of the amount to provide compensation increases to full-time employees other than administrators.” Additionally, “75 percent must be used to increase the compensation paid to classroom teachers, full-time librarians, full-time school counselors certified and full-time school nurses.”

Bridgeport ISD set its new salary schedule Monday, increasing annual salaries for teachers and administrators by an average of $2,700 per position.

Whitis said Decatur ISD will be looking at its salary schedule.

Brown indicated Alvord ISD will likely take action after certified values are received in July to get the most accurate information to make adjustments.

“I’ve talked with some superintendents that are waiting until August,” Brown said.

The bill eliminates recapture, where local districts considered property wealthy send money to the state, for all but Slidell ISD. Northwest ISD was looking at $24.5 million in recapture, Chico ISD $612,069 and Alvord ISD $11,230. Slidell ISD’s recapture was reduced from $639,340 to $18,376.

View original Wise County Messenger Article.

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