I wanted to clear some things up in regards to Bruce Luerson’s guest column (“You should vote against the TCISD bond proposition,” The Daily News, Feb. 26) regarding the Texas City Independent School District bond issue and its relation to Chapter 41 status.
The district has been considered a Chapter 41 school district since 1994. Since the district is considered property wealthy, we are required to “share the wealth” through the “Robin Hood” school finance plan by paying “recapture.” Recapture means that Chapter 41 school districts send local property tax revenue to the state for redistribution among other school districts.
Since 1994, the district has sent more than $178 million back to the state, not $375 million as Luerson stated. That’s an average of $7.1 million a year, not $15 million each year as stated by Luerson.
The district is not happy about having Chapter 41 status and we’ve been fighting it all along the way. We’ve been active in multiple lawsuits against the state of Texas for the school funding system being unconstitutional. In addition to the participation in lawsuits for financial equality, our district has testified during legislative sessions, including the most recent one in 2017. We’ve had personal meetings with Speaker of the House Joe Straus, state Sen. Larry Taylor, state Rep. Wayne Faircloth, and both the former Commissioner of Education Michael Williams and current Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. Our last meeting with Morath was Dec. 5, 2017.
Through these efforts and thanks to the support of Taylor and Faircloth, Senate Bill 1353 was processed and approved giving the district about $18 million specifically for facilities. With that adding to funds the state is giving due to the annexation, approximately $40 million of state money will be used toward bond payments should voters approve the May 5 bond referendum. This money would help offset costs to taxpayers so that a potential tax rate increase would not be more than 8 cents on a $100 valuation.
This year, we filed paperwork with the Texas Education Agency for Disaster Aid Assistance since we had flood damage at three of our schools. If accepted, the district will not have to make a Chapter 41 recapture payment for two years.
Chapter 41 and Bond 2018 are two separate issues. However, there are advantages for the district and the community. Taxes generated for bond payments will stay in the district. This provision allows Chapter 41 school districts, like us, to invest money in our own school district and community without it being subject to “recapture” or sending it to Austin to be redistributed to other school districts.
You can find recapture payments on the TEA website (https://tea.texas.gov). If you have questions, feel free to contact us.