Friday, September 17, 2010

Committee wants to overhaul school finance

Thursday’s meeting of a school finance committee ended with the same sentiment that permeated the group the first time they met back in March.

The verdict: Texas’ school finance system needs a total overhaul.

“It creates uncertainty, it creates angst,” said Sen. Florence Shapiro, who co-chairs the Committee on Public School Finance Weights, Allotments and Adjustments with Rep. Rob Eissler. “We need to sunset this program and we need to start all over again.”

Both the committee members and experts agreed that the system is hopelessly complicated and includes huge disparities when it comes to how the money is split among districts.

Shapiro told committee members to come to the next meeting with fresh ideas.

"We need to find a better system that works for all of us," she said.

That’s strikingly similar to what she said in March when she told committee members they might need to start from scratch when it came to funding schools.

“We just spent the better part of two hours trying to figure this out, and I guarantee you we have more questions now than we did when we started,” Shapiro said at the March meeting. “We've got to find a way that makes more sense so we can be more responsive to taxpayers.”

The clock is ticking for committee members to come up with a proposal before the Legislature convenes in January. But Eissler and Shapiro both indicated that a budget deficit shouldn’t stop lawmakers from addressing the problem.

Shapiro also addressed speculation that lawmakers were eyeing school districts’ fund balances as a way to help balance the budget. Rumors have been circulating for months that the Legislature may consider requiring districts to spend some of their fund balance before receiving state funding.

“Where did that come from? We have no right to your fund balance,” Shapiro said. “That’s not going to happen.”

No comments:

Post a Comment