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Falls City schools now ‘rich’ under ‘Robin Hood’
by Bain Serna
Jul 01, 2013 | 1415 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FALLS CITY – At the June 19 regular board meeting, the Falls City ISD trustees reviewed and discussed information regarding Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code that governs school funding, which gives provisions that certain wealthier school districts share their local property tax revenue with other school districts that are property-poor. Chapter 41 is also known as the “Robin Hood” plan, due to its redistribution of wealth factor.

Laura Ratliff of the Region III Education Service Center addressed the board regarding various facets of Chapter 41, as Falls City ISD will now move status from a Chapter 42 district to a Chapter 41 district.

According to district officials, a Chapter 42 school district is referred to as a “property poor” district, which Falls City ISD has always been. But in the 2013-2014 school year, Falls City ISD will now be referred to as a Chapter 41 district, which is “property rich” school district.

“It (Chapter 41) was enacted by the Texas Legislature to equalize wealth for educational spending,” said Ratliff. “The intent is to recapture or return local money from a Chapter 41 district and redistribute, based on calculations at the state level, to Chapter 42 property-poor districts. The whole intent is to ensure that all public schools receive equitable funding.”

Ratliff explains how Falls City property values have significantly increased and student enrollment decreased, making Falls City ISD now a Chapter 41 district.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) determines whether a school district is considered a Chapter 41 district or not by looking at the two data elements of taxable property values that are within school district borders, and also by WADA (weighted average daily attendance). A district’s wealth is determined by dividing the taxable value of property by the WADA number of students. A district becomes classified as a Chapter 41 if the average exceeds $319,500.

Falls City ISD has five different options available in order to meet state standards for Chapter 41 in reducing its wealth per WADA:

1. Consolidate with another district.

2. Detach property.

3. Purchase attendance credits from the state.

4. Contract to educate nonresident students from partner district.

5. Consolidate tax bases with another district.

According to the TEA, a “district may exercise these options singly or in combination. In the past, virtually all Chapter 41 districts have chosen option three or option four, or a combination of these options.”

Falls City ISD is considering options three and four to equalize its wealth. The district is required to hold an election that will allow voters to vote for or against the two options.

By voting for both options, the district will be able “to send money directly to the state or another district, which can save the district up to five percent of the recapture payment.”

By voting against both options, the state will decide which local property to “detach” in order to meet the financial obligations and requirements of Chapter 41.

Early voting begins on Oct. 21 and ends on Nov. 1, and will be held at the Falls City High School administration office from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Election Day is Nov. 5, and polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. at the Falls City ISD auditorium, as well as at locations in Hobson and Cestohowa.

In other business, the district approved the hiring of new teaching staff for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. Eloisa Infante was hired as a Spanish teacher, and Anita Chaplin as a second grade teacher.
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