Friday, December 2, 2016

December 2, 2016

The Supt Dish            
                                                                December 2, 2016

With the November elections over, many of our elected state officials have filed several bills that will have an affect on education. The 85th Legislative Session begins January 10, 2017 but many committees have conducted several hearings during the fall listening to testimony to assist in crafting bills. If you have kept up with the news, public education will most likely be under attack by those who want to pass a voucher or educator savings account bill to privatize education.
Over the last two weeks, the leaders of the Texas Senate, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Texas House Speaker Representative Joe Strauss, have very different public educational priorities. Lt. Governor Patrick has a high priority on vouchers, while Representative Strauss has a priority on addressing and fixing the school finance system.
Locally, I have spoken at several groups this fall concerning the projected loss funding that Goliad ISD is facing. This funding pool, Adjusted State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) was put in place during the 79th Legislature in 2005. During the legislative session, the legislature cut school property taxes by one third. No business or corporation much less a school district can lose 1/3 of their revenue and continue to operate efficiently, thus the state replaced this lost revenue with ASATR. However, as we faced an economic crisis in 2011, the 82nd Legislature voted to phase out ASATR by September 1, 2017.
As we have weathered the school funding crisis and received a Supreme Court decision with the school finance lawsuit over equity, ASATR was not addressed in the Supreme Court’s decision. Since the action taken by the 82nd legislature, many school districts have slowly had their ASATR funding phased out. As of the 2016-17 school year 253 school districts including Goliad ISD, receive ASATR funding. Most of these districts rely heavily on ASATR funding for their budgets. Of the remaining ASATR districts:
·      83% qualify as small districts
·      75% serve populations with more than 50% economically disadvantaged students
·      65% pay recapture
·      61% are rural
·      13% are mid-sized
·      5% are fast-growth

As you can see, the districts receiving ASATR funding vary in size and geographic location with the majority qualifying as rural and small districts. In the ESC 3 region, 21 districts still receive ASATR funding. For Goliad, ASATR funding is approximately 30% of our revenue for the 2016-17 budget. Of the district’s $14 million budget, GISD receives approximately $4 million in ASATR funding. This percentage is similar with many of the 253 districts still receiving ASATR funds.

GISD initiated strategies in the Spring 2016 to reduce expenditures as GISD faces the fiscal cliff with ASATR funding. The net savings the district initiated was approximately $1.1 million. GISD is still faced with having to reduce the budget an additional $2.9 million.

As our state legislature prepares for the opening of the 85th Legislative Session on January 17, 2017, we ask that you express your concerns to our elected officials below and ask that the Legislature extend ASATR funding to GISD and school districts in similar circumstances.

State Representative Geanie Morrison                       Senator Lois Kolkhorst
Room 1N.9                                                                 PO Box 12068
PO Box 2910                                                              Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78768                                                   Austin, Texas 78711                  

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