School districts won't know exactly what nearly $10 billion in state cuts means to them until lawmakers pass a new school finance bill. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune takes a look at the first bill of the session that gives districts an idea of what to expect.
by Ben Philpott
When lawmakers file a school finance bill, they publish a spreadsheet showing how the new funding formulas affect each of the state's more than 1,000 school districts. This year, with a proposed budget that currently cuts $9.8 billion from public schools, no such spreadsheets have been published.
That's, in part, why state Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, has filed a series of school finance bills — so lawmakers will know what to expect before voting on the state budget.
Audio: Ben Philpott's story for KUT News
"We'll be laying out a budget that cuts $9.8 billion out of the schools," Hochberg said. "But that's a number that doesn't mean anything to a legislator unless they know that means you're taking between $500 and $2,500 dollars" per weighted student out of their local district.
The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.
Hochberg's bill, though, won't likely make it to the House floor (odds are on Public Education Committee Chairman Rob Eissler's), and he freely admits he doesn't like his own legislation.
"Given the drastic effects on many district as a results of the budget cuts, I truly hope this bill is a starting line, not a finish line," Hochberg said. "This is not a bill I would like to vote for as currently drawn."
Hochberg's per-district calculations aren't out just yet, but the new funding formulas would increase the number of so-called Robin Hood school districts, wealthy districts whose funding is partially redistributed to poorer districts, and increase the amount taken from existing Robin Hood districts.
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.
The Texas Tribune is pleased to provide the opportunity for you to share your observations about this story. We encourage lively debate on the issues of the day, but we ask that you refrain from using profanity or other offensive speech, engaging in personal attacks or name-calling, posting advertising, or wandering away from the topic at hand. To comment, you must be a registered user of the Tribune, and your user name will be displayed. Thanks for taking time to offer your thoughts.