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Vote ‘FOR’ local control
by Cletus Bianchi
Oct 18, 2012 | 1092 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
You’re probably familiar with Texas’ system of school funding known as recapture, but more commonly referred to as the “Robin Hood plan,” wherein school districts with higher tax bases send funds to the state for redistribution to poorer districts.

Thanks to Eagle Ford Shale petroleum production Karnes City ISD will be wearing green tights and little green hats, a la the Merry Men, for the first time. Call it one of the prices of prosperity, but we can’t complain too loudly since we’ve been on the receiving end of funds for decades.

Good manners might dictate that we smile and politely write the check, but with aging facilities and the constant struggle to attract and then keep our valuable teachers, forgive us for pouting a bit and asking if we couldn’t keep some for ourselves. Couldn’t we have our cake and eat it too?

Strikingly similar to what I observe as young friends exit college, start careers, and begin to move up the financial ladder. Lots of liberals who attend universities tend to become conservatives in later years. One might argue that wisdom comes with age, but I believe there’s a more pragmatic explanation … writing a check for income taxes makes one more concerned about how those funds are spent and raised. Coincidence?

No matter, because under the current school funding system, Karnes City (and likely other area school districts) will be writing the check. There is some good news associated with becoming a “Chapter 41” school district. We, the voters within the KCISD, get some input into how the money goes to the state.

After you have cast your vote for the leader of the free world for the next four years, you will come across two Propositions further down the ballot. At first reading, they sound like the District is just throwing money away, but they’re worded as required under Chapter 41.

“Proposition 1 – Authorizing the Board of Trustees of Karnes City Independent School District to educate students of other school districts with local tax revenues.”

“Proposition 2 – Authorizing the Board of Trustees of Karnes City Independent School District to purchase attendance credits from the state with local tax revenues.”

Say WHAT?! We’re going to educate kids from Midland and Muleshoe? We’re buying stuff from the state?

Basically what both Propositions do is permit the KCISD Trustees to write a check to the state so Texas can educate students of other school districts. But, the Trustees can’t do that without local voter approval.

In order for KCISD to have control over how the money is “recaptured” voters must vote FOR one or both Propositions. The best solution for the District is to have both Propositions approved so they have some latitude.

Feeling contrarian when you’re in the voting booth? If local voters do not approve one or both Propositions, then the state gets to determine how it will take the money from KCISD, with the two mostly likely scenarios being either consolidation with another school district or loss of property to another school district.

Just in case you believe consolidation might be the answer to any local school problems, realize the state will mandate the consolidation without your input, its primary goal being revenue generation, not quality of education.

If you want to get fired up about education legislation, then do some research into the state funding levels for various school districts. You’d think that “equal” meant each student received the exact same amount across the state, regardless of their zip code. Not so … it seems that there are several levels of funding that are considered adequate to provide teachers, facilities, and books. KCISD is at the lowest level, slightly less than $5,000 per student per year, and our tax revenue is moving us past that.

However, there are ‘wealthier’ districts across the state which apparently require a substantially higher level of funding, some over $10,000 per student per year. Those districts can afford higher teacher salaries and fancy football stadiums. And, they tend to have a lot more representatives in the legislature when it comes time to consider school funding levels…

But that’s fodder for another column and lengthy debate. KCISD’s immediate concern is in the hands of local voters.

The state is going to get the money one way or the other. If you prefer the Sheriff of Nottingham wrest the funds from us, then vote against the Propositions.

Better to be Merry and vote FOR local control by voting FOR Propositions 1 and 2. Early voting begins on Monday, October 22. Election Day is Tuesday, November 6.

Tights and little green hats with feathers optional, but best to leave your long bow and arrows outside the polling place.
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