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.

Margaret Lee is the assistant superintendent for business and operations of the Texas City Independent School District.


(4) comments

Walter Manuel

Coming from experience and from someone who personally fought the former ousted LMISD BOT attempt at passing a bond election, I can tell you that May elections are not good for getting voters back out to the polls after just having a primary election.

One thing I can tell TCISD is that our fight to roll back taxes was done so with the tremendous help of all of the Omega Bay and Bayou Vista residents who actually took the time to come out and vote, unlike the other 33% of former LMISD residents who supported the tax increase.

By having a better voter turn out he November election in my opinion is the best chance that TCISD has for attempting to pass this bond election, not May's election.

Mark my words....[wink]

Jose' Boix

My thanks to Ms. Lee for clearly and factually explaining the efforts that TCISD has made and continuous to make not only to have equity funding, but to have all the funding that should be made available to TCISD. It is great to have such facts noted. This shows that TCISD is a financially judicious organization with a focus to have the best education for ALL our students.

Brian Tamney

Doesn't matter when you have the vote I will be voting against it and encouraging all my neighbors to do the same.

Jose' Boix

I appreciate reading about opinions on voting for/against the Bonds; it is great to have freedom of speech. However, it would be interesting reading about an alternative approach to solving the problems with the various campuses. I just don't see having "permanent temporary trailers" be the solution. And, the longer we wait to fix the problems the worst will be for our teachers and students. Just my thoughts.

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