TASA Summer Conference, Part II

by Coy Holcombe.  

As I mentioned yesterday, the vast majority of this year’s summer conference focused on school finance. We got to hear Lisa Dawn-Fisher, deputy associate commissioner for school finance at TEA, Lynn Moak of Moak, Casey & Associates, and Omar Garcia, director of statewide school finance from ESC Region 13. Each of these people gave presentations about different aspects of the current school finance situation and what is likely to be coming up for the next biennium. We also heard from Catherine Clark, associate executive director, Texas Association of School Boards, and David Thompson, the attorney that has handled lawsuits against the state over school finance.

Briefly, some of the major points of each:

Lynn Moak

  • How did we get to our current financial situation?
    • $11 billion was used to fund permanent programs last legislative session
    • Recession
    • School property tax cuts and business tax increases
  • Estimated $2 billion deficit in current biennium
  • What can be done?
    • August payment to schools will be delayed
    • Budget cuts
    • Perhaps a more optimistic opinion from the comptroller on economic growth
  • Expected deficit in the next biennium – around $15 billion
  • Cannot cover deficit from the 10% cuts from state agencies
  • Solutions
    • Use some rainy day funds
    • Various accounting "tricks"
    • Federal help

Catherine Clark

  • TASB will propose a school finance system that produces equity and adequacy

David Thompson

  • 70% of adult Texans do not have school age children
  • Concerns about current system
    • Target revenue and disparity in target revenue
    • State property tax – discretion has become what do we cut
    • Adequacy – how well the students are doing

Omar Garcia – Omar is the person that develops the template that estimates how much funding a school district is earning.

  • New money for the 10-11 school year will be $0.95/WADA
  • For the next three years (at a minimum) we will have to live with the same amount of funding we received in 09-10.
  • School districts will be lucky to keep what they have now

Lisa Dawn-Fisher

  • There will be a shortfall in funding for this current school year.
  • Will have to "borrow" from the 10-11 school year.
  • This will definitely cause a shortfall for the 10-11 funding year.
  • Legislature will have to appropriate money to cover this shortfall.
  • If legislature does not appropriate this money, then proration would occur.

As you can see, the economics are not great for additional funding opportunities. As always, as soon as I learn additional details, I will pass them on to you. If you have any questions about any of the above information, please do not hesitate to contact me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net.



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