Society

Facts from school finance lawsuit

By ROBERT WESTBROOK
Superintendent, Milano ISD

Dr. Wayne Pierce, E xecutive Director of the Equity Center and a graduate of Milano ISD, showed a table indicating what would happen if all school districts statewide taxed at the maximum of $1.17. It was clearly evident that to reach the funding levels of their property-wealthy counterparts, poor school districts would have to impose tax rates of $1.95, which would be illegal.

Dr. Pierce used several individual districts to make his points very clear and applicable to one’s local zip code:

• The Associated Press AP (11/2) adds that Wayne Pierce of the Equity Center testified that . . . the bottom 15 percent of poorer school districts collect an average of $5,581 per student per year in property taxes compared to $7,535 per student for the top 15 percent of the wealthiest districts statewide.

That works out to a more than $65,000 per- classroom funding deficit each year, he said. The funding gap persists, Pierce said, even though the top 15 percent of wealthiest districts only collect an average tax rate of $1.02 per $100 of property value, compared to an average of $1.10 collected by the bottom 15 percent of the poorest districts.

The AP article by Gary Scharrer (San Antonio) also included:

“ Proper ty- wealthy school districts spend about $65,000 more per classroom than poor districts, Equity Center Executive Director Wayne Pierce testified Thursday in an ongoing school funding lawsuit. “You could do some wonderful things” if property-poor schools received equal funding, Pierce told Judge John Dietz, who had asked why the funding gap was a disadvantage.

“(He demonstrated that)...two homes whose property values were within $10 of each other— one in the San Antonio Independent School District area and one in neighboring Alamo Heights. Both areas pay $1.04 in property tax rates, but San Antonio gets $5,333 annually per student compared with $6,666 per student in Alamo Heights—a $1,333 per-student difference.

“ Similarly, two Travis County homes of nearly identical value— one in Pflugerville ISD and one in Eanes ISD, with the same $1.04 tax rate—Eanes gets $1,327 more per student. ‘And with money, it’s cumulative,’ Pierce said. ‘It’s not like this is only one year. Each year adds up.’”

• From CBS in Dallas/Ft. Worth: An expert witness says the poorest school districts in Texas tax at a rate that is 7.8 percent higher than the state’s wealthiest districts, but receive 35 percent less in per student funding.

* Pierce: If everyone taxed at max M&O ($1.17), the top 15% would receive $2,790 more than bottom 15 percent.

• Pierce: The story is always the same: the property poor districts who have a higher tax rate yield less revenue.

• Pierce says only 130 districts statewide can reach 1993 revenue per WADA level (adjusted for inflation) at $1.04.

• Pierce says comparing Ch. 41 districts of yesterday to today is apples & oranges. Before, there was abouta3centstaxgap.In‘11-12, the gap is now 9 cents. The gap has increased by $864. The tax rate gap is 14.3 cents between top & bottom 15 percent.

• Pierce: Substantially equal revenue for substantially equal tax has gotten worse since Supreme Court decision. When looking at the percent of students who were college ready, the higher percent belonged to those with more dollars.

• Pierce: In every instance, those with less funding had lower scores.

rwestbrook@milanoisd.net


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2012-11-08 digital edition



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