School Finance Terms

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

History of Public School Finance in Texas

1836 - The Texas Declaration of Independence listed the failure of the Mexican government "to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources..." among the reasons for severing political ties with Mexico.

1839 - The Education Act of 1839 provided public lands to public schools.

1840 - The first Anglo-American public school law in Texas was enacted and provided for surveying and setting aside four leagues (17,712 acres) of land in each county to support public schools. Later, the state constitution of 1845 provided that one-tenth of the annual state tax revenue be set aside as a perpetual fund to support free public schools.

1845 - A new school law set aside as a permanent school fund $2 million of the $10 million in five-percent U.S. Indemnity bonds received in settlement of Texas' boundary claims against the United States.
1853 - San Antonio established the first comprehensive free public school system in Texas.
1840-1861 - Legislation was passed establishing a Permanent School Fund.
1869 - Texans adopted the Constitution of 1869. Twenty five percent of the general revenue was to go to public education and all sales of public land were for the Permanent School Fund. Local school districts were required to provide school buildings and a ten-month school year supported through local property taxes.

1875 - Texas legislature voted to allow incorporated towns and cities taxing authority for education purposes.

1876 - After the Civil War and Reconstruction, the new state constitution of 1876 set aside 45 million acres of public domain for school support and directed that the income from the new Permanent School Fund be invested in bonds. The revenue from this fund was divided to schools on a per student basis.

1877 - Payments were distributed at $3.59 per student. Other sources of revenue for state education funding were available; funds from the Permanent School fund were the only actual state education expenditure until

1884 - The school law again was rewritten. The office of state superintendent was re-created, the state ad valorem tax was affirmed, and the Permanent School Fund was to be invested in county and other bonds to increase income.

1885 - A system of accreditation was created when high schools sent selected test papers for examination by the faculty of the University of Texas. If found satisfactory, the school was considered to be affiliated with the university and its graduates were admitted without examination.

1900 - All Texas students lived in 11,460 rural school districts.
A series of additional laws gradually granted cities and towns more freedom in the development and administration of their schools, resulting in the formation of independent school districts. By 1900 there were 526 such districts in which the high school replaced the earlier academy.

1911 - a rural high school law was passed which established county boards of education and permitted creation of rural high schools and the consolidation of common school districts.  

1915 - The first attempt to equalize school funding. The state legislature appropriated $1 million in school aid for rural school districts that taxed the maximum legal rate.

1917 - Expansion of rural aid to schools, including state support for teacher salaries, gradually helped improve the education provided to children on the state's farms and ranches.

1918 - The legislature established a state property tax to pay for textbooks. The use of general revenue funds for education was allowed during this time. To address a funding crisis, Governor Hobby issued the first state general appropriation.

1949 - The Gilmer-Aikin Committee (formed by the state legislature in 1947) proposed the establishment of a Minimum Foundation Program (MFP). Eighty percent of the funding came from the state and the rest of the funding was to come from the local level. The ability for local school districts to fund above the state level was allowed.

1950’s: Brown case – gradually a commitment to educate all children and to keep them in school. Costs began to rise.

1965 - Governor John Connally appointed a committee on public education.

1968 - The Governor’s Committee published a report, The Challenge and the Chance. The report called for a complete overhaul of public education in Texas, consolidation of small school districts, a more comprehensive minimum foundation program and increased state funding of public education.

1870 - 1970 - Texas school finance evolved. Through Bills regulating local taxation for education purposes, state studies determined the quality of public education in Texas. State aid to rural education were all passed and/or amended many times during this period.

1949 - The Texas Legislature adopted the Gilmer-Aikin Act, which prescribed the reorganization of state education administration. The Gilmer-Aikin Act also established the "Minimum Foundation Program," which created a funding system that provided revenue for education from both state and local sources.

1971 - The federal district court issued its opinion in Rodriguez v. San Antonio ISD. The court ruled Texas’ method of funding public education to be in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution. The court found that students in poor districts received an inferior level of education compared to the students who lived in wealthy school districts. The court also noted that the tax rates in the poor school districts were frequently higher than the rates in wealthy districts.

1973 - The decision was appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed the federal court's opinion. The Supreme Court felt that the manner in which the state chooses to fund education is a state decision and not a federal issue.

1983 - Governor White appointed a Select Committee on Public Education to investigate the status of public education in Texas.

Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment that provides for the guarantee of school district bonds by the Permanent School Fund. On approval by the commissioner of education, bonds properly issued by a school district are fully guaranteed by the corpus of the Fund.  

1984 - The Texas Legislature passed what is commonly known as House Bill 72, enacting sweeping reforms of the public school system. House Bill 72 provided a pay raise for teachers, revamped the system of public school finance to funnel more money to property-poor school districts, and took many other steps aimed at improving the academic achievement of students.

1986 - Edgewood ISD v. Kirby was similar to the Rodriguez case except that it alleged that the current practices violated state law not federal law.

1987 - Judge Clark ruled that the Texas system of financing schools is in violation of the Texas Equal Protection Clause as well as other state constitutional provisions and laws. Clark held that the students of Texas possess a “fundamental right” to an education and that equality of access to funds is the key and is one of the major requirements of this fundamental right. As a result, Judge Clark found inequities in the wealth of the local school districts. The district court judge ruled the Texas system of financing public education to be unconstitutional and that the current system will be set aside. The judge ordered the state legislature to re-work the state’s funding system.
Texas students, beginning with the Class of 1987, have been required to pass an exit-level exam, along with their courses, in order to receive a diploma from a Texas public high school.

1988 - The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals of the Third District of Texas. The Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Clark's’ opinion.

1989 - The Supreme Court overturned the ruling of the Third Court of Appeals and sustained the original ruling of the District Court by Judge Clark. The justices ruled that the Texas funding system violated “fiscal neutrality and required the state to provide the public school students of Texas sustainable equal access to educational revenues.”  (Leading to the “Robin Hood” system currently in place)

1990 - The Texas Legislature was convened in a special session and passed Senate Bill 1, which provided more money for equalization, but essentially left the system intact. After the Texas Supreme Court ruled the new funding formula to unconstitutional, the Legislature passed House Bill 351 in 1991, creating 188 County Education Districts (CEDs). The CEDs were allowed to levy state-mandated property taxes and redistribute the revenues to member districts.

1991 - In January, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled unanimously in upholding the district courts unconstitutional ruling on the Senate Bill 1 funding formula. It declared that the plan did not address the deficiencies noted in Edgewood I.

Thereafter, the property poor districts filed for a rehearing to overrule the 1931 Love v. City of Dallas decision, stating that local property taxes could not be used to educate students outside the district. Considered the Edgewood II decision, The court refused to overrule Love, stating that tax base consolidation could be achieved through the creation of new districts.

During this time, property-rich districts filed a brief asking the court to clarify whether unequalized local enrichment was still possible under the state constitution. Five of the justices agreed that local school districts might supplement education resources if the local property owners agree to pay an additional property tax.

1992 - In January, the Texas Supreme Court declared Senate Bill 351 unconstitutional in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD v. Edgewood ISD case, considered Edgewood III. The problem was that the county education districts violated constitutional provisions requiring local voter approval of local property taxes and prohibiting a state property tax.

1993 - The legislature passed Senate Bill 7. The law required school districts above a certain wealth level by transferring wealth to poorer school districts. The purpose for recapturing revenue from high-wealth districts and using it to fund lower-wealth districts was to improve equity in the funding system.  This was considered the “Robinhood” plan.

Open enrollment charter schools are being established as an alternative to traditional public education schools. Today, Texas has about 185 operating charter schools that only have to comply with minimum provisions of the education code, but operate with state funds and provide alternative methods of instruction.

To give Texas residents a sense of how schools are performing, the state issued ratings for its public school districts and campuses. The new system is based on state test scores and high school completion rate

1994 - The Texas Supreme Court upheld Senate Bill 7 as constitutional.
During the 1990’s dissatisfaction with recapture mounted. At the same time, modest state funding increases were not keeping pace with the cost of education in Texas. To meet revenue needs of districts, school boards raised property tax rates.

1995 - A second major reform to the Texas Education System occurred with the complete overhaul of the Texas Education Code. Passed by the 74th Legislature, Senate Bill 1 stripped the education code of several state-mandated rules and returned more authority to local school districts; gave the governor power to appoint the commissioner; gave the State Board of Education authority to grant open-enrollment charter schools, and established the separate State Board for Educator Certification.

74th Legislature passed the Public Schools Reform Act of 1995a. Texas Education Agency is to administer an accountability system creating and implementing the student testing program.

The TEKS were developed by a writing team composed of 35 social studies teachers and supervisors, campus administrators, college and university professors, members of business and industry, and parents. The 29 educators appointed to the writing team in February 1995 had a combined total of 427 years of social studies teaching experience in Grades K-12 at the time of their appointment.

2001 - a group of school districts mounted a lawsuit that became known as West Orange-Cove CISD v. Neeley.

2002 - TASA/TASB address school finance in Texas

The federal education plan, No Child Left Behind, and the Texas accountability system measures and holds schools and districts accountable for student performance on assessment tests and dropout rates. Campuses and districts each year receive an accountability rating based on the percentage of all students and the four student groups (white, Hispanic, African American and economically disadvantaged) that pass the state’s assessment tests at grades three through eleven. The rating also considers the overall student dropout rate and each individual student group.

2003 - The legislature "sunsets or investigates" the school finance code. It establishes education finance as the top priority for the state. It repeals Chapters 41, 42, and 46 of the Texas Education Code as of September 1, 2005. It ensures that no later than September 1, 2005, the Texas Legislature will have replaced the current funding system.

Nearly 690 school districts were at or near the statutory maximum tax rate of $1.50. This in turn, sparked litigation to overturn the system because of high taxes and inadequate funding.

2004 - Robin Hood was recapturing $1.2 billion per year from 134 school districts. The Texas Legislature budgets those recaptured dollars and uses them to fund the Foundation Program of finance. As a result, it is very hard to end the Robin Hood provisions because state government would have to find replacement funding to maintain support for schools.                                           

The Travis County District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and set a date of October 1, 2005 for the Texas Legislature to remedy the unconstitutional aspects of the school funding system, including unconstitutional aspects of facilities funding.

West Orange-Cove CISD v. Neeley goes to trial. Over 300 school districts were involved as plaintiffs or plaintiff interveners. Plaintiff school districts argued that, because they must levy the maximum property tax rate to maintain equity and adequacy, the local property tax had become equivalent to a state ad valorem tax, which is prohibited by the Texas Constitution. They also argued that the state finance system underfunded public education, preventing the districts from meeting their responsibilities to promote the General Diffusion of Knowledge.

Beginning with the Class of 2005, Texas students must pass the exit-level Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) to meet this graduation requirement. TAKS, which is the most rigorous graduation test ever given to Texas students, covers English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.

2005-06 - Under new law, the commissioner can replace the entire staff at any campus that is rated academically unacceptable for two years in a row. A campus intervention team appointed by the commissioner would determine which employees would be removed, with the principal automatically removed. The team would run the campus until it was rated acceptable. And if a campus continues to receive poor ratings for two years after state intervention, the commissioner must turn over management of the school to a nonprofit education entity or order closure of the school. The commissioner can take similar actions against a school district for multiple years of poor academic or financial ratings under the state's accountability system. The changes signal a shift in power not only to the education commissioner, but also to the governor, who appoints the commissioner.

2009 – The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides allocation of authority to issue tax credit bonds through the Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB) program, which will provide low-cost or no-cost bonds to districts. Congress appropriated $11 billion annually for this program nationally and Texas expects to receive $1 billion in obligation authority in 2009 through this program. It will receive another $1 billion in authority the following year.

About $2 billion in federal stabilization funds was approved by the U.S. Department of Education to Texas schools as the new school year begins.  

The Permanent School Fund, which is overseen by the State Board of Education, rebounded to a value of almost $22 billion, up from $15.9 billion from the spring

2010 – The State Board of Education approved a new asset allocation for its $22.2 billion Permanent School Fund Friday that includes, for the first time, making about a $100 million available for charter school facilities and putting $1.5 billion in a risk parity strategy.

The State Board of Education (SBOE) voted  to increase the amount of funding it will provide for the state budget to $1.9 billion over the next biennium. This increased level of funding is possible because of the strong performance of Permanent School Fund and assistance from the General Land Office.

2011 – Permanent School Fund hits $25 billion level. (Created in 1854 with a $2 million investment, the fund benefited from the global financial recovery and continued to provide strong support to the state’s public schools. The fund was last valued at $25 billion in 2007.  The financial upheaval in the market caused the fund’s value to plunge to $16 billion in 2009.   The PSF quickly began to recover, with the total value of the fund growing by about $9 billion since 2009.  Over the last two years, the fund return has been 18.99 percent per year and, for more than 20 years, the average annual return was 9.0 percent.)

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced that it had completed the process of procuring a state-sponsored Student Information System that will reduce administrative costs and improve educational resources for school districts across the Lone Star state. After an intensive process of competitive bidding and contract negotiation, the state obtained a solution that leverages its formidable buying power and provides direct benefits to educators.


Monday, July 18, 2011

School Finance Terms Defined

School Finance Term Definitions
Adequacy - the quality of being able to meet a need satisfactorily.  In education, the standards of adequacy are determined by the state (or State Constitution). 

Adjustments - One of the ways (along with weights) that the Texas school finance system creates equity in funding public schools to the state aid distribution formulas. District adjustments increase funding for districts that, because of their size or location, are likely to face higher costs. The sparsity adjustment, for example, compensates districts that serve a small number of students in a very large geographic area.

Allotments – funding allowed for programs including but not limited to regular education, programs, special education, career and technical education, bilingual/ESL, State Compensatory Education (SCE), Military Allotment, and Pregnancy-Related Services (PRS), Gifted and Talented (GT), Public Education Grant (PEG), New Instructional Facility Allotment (NIFA), Transportation, Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN) Allotment, High School Allotment

Average Daily Attendance (ADA) - a method of counting students for the purpose of providing state aid to school districts. Currently, Texas counts students in attendance each day and averages the attendance count over the year.

Available School Fund - Created by the Texas Constitution of 1876, the ASF is made up of earnings from the Permanent School Fund and constitutionally dedicated motor fuel taxes and other miscellaneous revenue sources. The bulk of ASF revenue is distributed on a per capita basis to school districts. The annual amount is about $400 per student in 2003-04. A portion of the ASF provides funding for textbooks and technology.

Basic Allotment - the basis of funding for most of the allotments making up a district's Tier I entitlement. The amount of the basic allotment varies depending on a school district's compressed tax rate (CTR)  

Chapter 41 districts – (Referring to Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code) a Chapter 41 school district that has property wealth in excess of $305,000 per weighted student is subject to recapture provisions.  

Chapter 42 districts – (Referring to Chapter 42 of the Texas Education Code) A district with a property wealth sufficiently below the equalized wealth level to receive Foundation School Program (FSP) aid in excess of its Available School Fund (ASF) per capita allotment. Ch. 42 districts (and “Gap” districts) do not pay recapture.

Compensatory Education - Program which is given a financial allotment to provide additional financial support to school districts to teach educationally disadvantaged pupils and underachieving students. A compensatory education program should provide additional services and instructional support, beyond the regular program, to help students compensate for academic deficiencies and may include programs for at-risk students. The allotment is based on the number of students participating in the federal free or reduced-price lunch program

Compressed M&O Tax Rate  -  A school district's property tax rate is made up of an M&O tax rate and, if applicable, an I&S tax rate. As its name suggests, the M&O tax rate provides funds for the maintenance and operations costs of a school district. The I&S tax rate provides funds for payments on the debt that finances a district's facilities. The calculation of both Tiers I and II and the revenue at the compressed tax rate is tied to a district's M&O tax rate. The calculation of facilities funding is tied to a district's I&S tax rate.

Comptroller’s Property Tax Division (CPTD) - the department responsible for conducting the annual property value study that determines the taxable wealth of each Texas school district to be used to allocate state aid.

Cost of Education Index (CEI) - an index the state uses to adjust the Basic Allotment to account for geographic or other cost differences beyond local school district control. The CEI has not been updated since 1990.

County Appraisal District - Each county has established an appraisal district office responsible for maintaining taxable real and personal property records and placing a value on all property for taxation purposes. A chief appraiser heads the CAD office. He or she is an individual appointed by an appraisal district board of directors. The appraisal district board is elected by certain taxing entities.

Effective Tax Rate - This term has two separate meanings. In school finance, it is the tax rate used in determining a district’s tax effort for Foundation School Program (FSP) funding. It is calculated by multiplying the amount of property taxes collected by the prior year’s taxable wealth as certified by the comptroller. In the Tax Code, it is the rate that would provide the school district with approximately the same amount of revenue it had the year before on properties taxed in both years. For example, if property values go up 25%, the effective tax rate goes down 20% (125% X 80% = 100%).

Equalized, Recapture, and Equalized Wealth Level (EWLs) -There are three equalized levels of property wealth per WADA that limit the access of school districts to the tax revenue generated by local M&O tax effort.

Equity - in school finance, the term refers to fair or equal distribution of resources for schooling, taking into account student differences and school district characteristics. The standard used by the Texas Supreme Court is a taxpayer equity standard, which means similar revenue for similar tax effort. In other words, the school finance system is to be property wealth neutral: a district's property tax base should have little or no impact on its ability to finance the local share of the Foundation School Program.

Existing Debt Allotment (EDA) - The EDA program was initially authorized by the 76th Legislature in 1999. The EDA program provides assistance to school districts in making debt service payments on qualifying debt. For the 2004-2005 biennium, qualifying debt is defined as debt for which taxes were levied prior to the 2003-2004 school year.

Foundation School Fund - a dedicated stream of revenue in the state budget used exclusively to fund public education. The fund primarily consists of tax collections transferred from other state accounts.

Foundation School Program - a program for the support of a basic instructional program for all Texas school children. Currently, the FSP described in Chapter 42 of the Texas Education Code consists of two parts, or tiers. The first tier provides funding for a basic program. The second tier provides a guaranteed yield system so that school districts have substantially equal access to revenue sufficient to support an accredited program.

General Revenue (GR) Fund - the state's main funding source. Money collected from state taxes and other non-dedicated sources go into this fund, and it is used to provide revenue for most state programs

Guaranteed Yield - a school finance plan in which the state specifies a revenue yield that it will guarantee in terms of revenue per student per penny of local tax effort. Districts adopt tax rates and levy taxes. The state makes up he difference between what each district levies locally per student and the guaranteed yield per student. High-wealth districts may raise all of their guaranteed yield revenue from local tax sources.

Hold Harmless - term used to describe a provision in new law that is designed to protect a school district from a loss of local revenue or state aid. Hold harmless provisions are common when a significant change is made to a formula or funding source.

Instructional Facilities Allotment(IFA) - program that provides assistance to school districts in making debt service payments on qualifying bonds and lease-purchase agreements to construct instructional facilities. IFA is distributed through grants, most of which go to districts with low property wealth.

Interest and Sinking Fund I&S Rate - The I&S tax rate is also called the debt service tax rate. I&S taxes pay for bonded indebtedness, facilities, and other capital needs. Except for unusual circumstances, debt service tax rates are limited to $0.50.

Local Fund Assignment (LFA)- the amount of money for operations that a school district is required to raise. The state will provide additional funds if the LFA does not generate enough money to fund the Tier 1 foundation program.

Maintenance and Operations M&O Tax Rate - a local school district property tax rate that raises revenue to operate and maintain the district's schools. M&O taxes are subject to a statutory maximum of $1.50 per $100 of taxable value.

Meaningful Discretion – the decisions made for what is believed is in the best interest with justification for those decisions

Permanent School Fund - a perpetual trust fund created by the Texas Constitution in 1876. PSF earnings go into the ASF, which the state must apportion on a per capita basis to counties for students enrolled in Texas public schools after funding state textbook purchases. PSF investments include U.S. Treasury bonds, Texas municipal bonds, school district building bonds, and securities. The SBOE administers the fund under constitutional and statutory requirements.

Public Education Grant (PEG) - Students in low-performing schools may request to attend a different public school in the student's home district or in another district. The amount of the PEG is the total state and local funding per student for the student's home district. The receiving district may accept or reject the student and may not charge the student tuition.

Recapture - a feature of school finance where local districts give the state locally collected property tax revenue for redistribution through the FSP. The recapture provision in Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code is a salient feature of the Texas school finance equalization system. It is also referred to as the "Robin Hood" provision.

Roll Back Rate - a tax rate that would provide roughly the same local taxes and state aid per WADA as was available the previous year, plus debt service taxes, and $0.06

Structural Deficitbelief that with the current revenue structure (e.g., taxes, fees, and other sources), the state has insufficient income to maintain services at the current level.

Target Revenue - The revenue target is a specific amount of funding, based on a certain amount of money per WADA  that the state guarantees to a school district in exchange for the mandatory reduction of the district's M&O tax rate. The revenue target amount is different for each school district and is based on the state and local M&O revenue a district would have earned had it not lowered its tax rate. The revenue target was created by the property-tax-relief provisions in House Bill 1, 79th Texas Legislature, Third Called Session, 2006 (HB 1 [79-3]). The revenue target formulas were modified by the 81st Texas Legislature in 2009 with HB 3646.

Tax Rollback Election - If a unit adopts a tax rate higher than the calculated rollback rate, the school board calls for an election if the adopted tax rate exceeds the rollback rate. If a majority of the voters vote to ratify the adopted rate, the school's adopted rate stands. If voters disapprove the adopted rate, the school district's governing body may not adopt a tax rate that exceeds the rollback rate (no petition required).

Tier I - Tier I of the FSP (Foundation School Program) is made up of several allotments, including those for regular basic education, special education, career and technical education, bilingual/English as a Second Language education, compensatory education, gifted and talented education, Public Education Grants, transportation, and new instructional facilities. Tier I also includes allotments for the Texas Virtual School Network and an allotment for specialized programs at the high school level, the high school allotment. Additional compensatory education funds may be available to serve students who are military dependents.

Tier II - Tier II of the FSP is intended to supplement the basic funding provided by Tier I. Tier II guarantees a specific amount of funding per student in weighted average daily attendance (to be discussed later) for each penny of a school district’s tax effort above a specified level. The funding provided by this additional tax effort is also referred to as enrichment.
WADA - the weighted average daily attendance figure used in several state funding formulas to calculate the amount of state and local funds a district is entitled to. In Texas, students with additional education needs are weighted for funding purposes to help recognize the additional costs of educating those students. Weighted programs include special education, vocational, bilingual, gifted and talented, and compensatory education. A weighted student count is used to distribute guaranteed yield funding.

Weights - One of the ways (along with adjustments) that the Texas school finance system creates equity in funding public schools. There are two weights in the formulas — those that adjust for student characteristics and those that adjust for district characteristics. Student weights increase district funding for students who require extra resources, such as students with disabilities or those enrolled in bilingual education or gifted and talented programs.