Commentary

Chapter 41

Robin Hood' may make Rockdale ISD give up some tax revenue

There's probably nothing which would irritate Rockdale ISD school district taxpayers as much as having to give some of the RISD's locally-generated tax revenue to the state.

But something like that could happen in the near future. Supt. Dr. Howell Wright told school trustees last week the RISD is now considered a "Chapter 41" district. What does that mean?

A "Chapter 41" district is one the state classifies as "wealthy," so wealthy in fact that districts in Chapter 41 must surrender some of their revenue in one of five ways.

Bottom line. It's the Robin Hood approach, take from the "rich" and give to the "poor."

How did the RISD get to be so "rich?" Because of Luminant's new Sandow 5 facility. Chapter 41 eligibility is determined by dividing a district's tax base by its Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA).

WADA is just what it sounds like, the number of kids who actually show up at school with extra "points" awarded for students who are in programs like special education or gifted and talented.

How will "rich" districts give money to Robin Hood to redistribute? There are five possible options the state allows and three of them are obvious non-starters for Rockdale. Those are consolidating physically with another district, consolidating tax bases with another district or giving up property to another district.

What does that leave. There's an option to basically partner with a less wealthy district but the most cost-efficient method for Rockdale ISD to handle the situation may be, in the words of the Texas Education Agency to "purchase attendance credits from the state."

That means just give some money to the state.

The district doesn't have enough information to understand just how Chapter 41 will affect Rockdale this year but it's going to be in our future and there doesn't appear to be much anyone can do about that.

It's a "chapter" the state's going to make us read. And follow.—M.B.


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2009-08-27 digital edition



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