ROBIN HOOD HITS DALLAS SCHOOLS
March 14, 2006
Last week, Dallas Independent School District officials announced that the state's share-the-wealth funding formula had caught up to Texas' second-largest school district. When a district with as many problems as DISD lands on the list of districts with too much money, it signals a new level of crisis in the state's school finance system, critics of the system say.
DISD, district budget-makers said, will have to sacrifice $43 million to poorer districts in the coming school year. The state's system, commonly called Robin Hood, requires districts with high local property value to send a portion of their local tax revenues to the state to be shared with poorer districts.
While Dallas might have more property wealth per student than allowed by the state funding formula, its student body is anything but well off, say observers:
- Some 82 percent live below the federal poverty line; 60 percent are considered at risk; a third do not speak English.
- These are expensive kids to educate, and two years ago, DISD overspent its budget by $13.7 million.
Dallas joined the rich districts because its property tax rolls have grown faster than expected recently, while enrollments have remained flat:
- When a district's property wealth per student exceeds $305,000, it must send the excess to the state and forfeit most of its state aid.
- In Dallas, that figure is expected to hit $315,000 next school year.
Dallas has approached the cutoff before, but the state has always stepped in and raised the amount in order to keep the district and others off the Robin Hood list, say observers.
Source: Kent Fischer, "DISD 'rich'? Time to revamp; Finance fix by June 1 may save district from sending funds to state," Dallas Morning News, March 13, 2006.
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