Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Kelvin Bass
214-467-0123
March 2, 2009

SENATORS TO TAKE ON SCHOOL FINANCE STRUCTURE

(AUSTIN, TX) — Today, Senators Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), and Royce West (D-Dallas) filed legislation that would inject $2.6 billion into the state's school finance system and would increase equity among school districts by reducing recapture and returning state funding for school districts to a cost-based formula funding system.

School districts' level of operating revenue has been frozen at the 2006-2007 level. This means school districts have not received any additional state funding to meet inflationary costs or other cost increases. With no prospects of additional state funding and with school districts across the state facing budget shortfalls, many districts are being forced to cut programs, freeze salaries or lay-off teachers and staff in order to overcome the lack of sufficient state support.

S.B. 982 returns our school finance system to a cost-based, formula driven system, improves equity among all districts and children and reduces recapture. Under S.B. 982, everyone wins. Every school district is guaranteed a minimum increase of dollars and beginning in year two taxpayers receive property tax relief. S.B. 982 creates a structure for funding our schools based on our children's actual needs not on a fixed dollar amount that continues to minimize the Legislatures' obligation to fund a high quality education for its future generations.

"We must improve our school finance system, but we need to start with a strong foundation and structure. Without a strong foundation, nothing else is secure," said Van de Putte.

"Texas' once formula driven system of public school finance is now a target revenue system that has districts struggling to meet costs and provide quality education," said West.

"We need to provide a structure for funding our neighborhood schools, a structure that allows school districts to plan ahead and provides a constancy of resources," said Van de Putte.

"It is important to properly fund public education and this proposal increases equity while providing additional resources for all school districts," said Eltife.

"We need to return to a formula driven system, the small school component of that system is the life blood of rural schools," said Bill Grusendorf, Executive Director for Texas Association of Rural Schools.

"If the appropriation of taxpayer dollars in public education is "all about the children" then, we must have a public school finance system that ensures an equitable distribution of state tax dollars that is sensitive to the individual needs of students and projected workforce skill requirements of Texas," added West.

"The quality of our children's education should not be determined by where they live. Many of our leaders say that the children of this state are their top priority and I hope that their actions this session will match their words," added Van de Putte.

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