Throwing More Tax Dollars at Public Education
We May as Well Flush Money Down the Toilet
by Peter Stern
The Board Members of the Dripping Springs Independent School District (DSISD) is trying to raise the tax rate to bring more money into its public education program. It is doing what many other school districts are trying to do. Accurate or not, the Board may believe costs have been cut sufficiently and that now it needs to bring in more tax dollars to operate district schools.
It seems the DSISD Board tries to get as much of our tax dollars as it can. It used to be more sensitive to the wallets of homeowners, but no longer.
It is true that the State's financing has decreased over the years and the county has had to pick up the slack. At one time, 10 or more years ago, the State paid up to 80 percent of the budget for public education while the county made up the 20 percent. Currently, it is almost opposite with the county paying almost 70 to 80 percent to operate public education. Now, approximately 80 percent of home property taxes goes to public education in the district.
Unfortunately, under the "Robin Hood" clause perpetrated 10 years ago by the court system, a big chunk of tax dollars in our district goes to other districts viewed as "poorer" districts. It is no secret that homeowners are being overburdened by school taxes. So, even though homeowners pay more in taxes, the schools here don't get all the money homeowners pay out. It's a stupid system. The thought behind it was to equalize the education and financing in each district. However, it really does NOT work that way.
Approximately 5 years ago the DSISD first took more tax dollars via increased home and land values and then immediately removed the optional school exemption for homeowners. Doing so created a sort of double tax increase in the district. Many homeowners could not afford such an increase within a 1-year period. Foreclosures started escalating dramatically and continued almost every year to its current highest number ever in the history of the county and in the state.
So, while the DSISD Board is trying to get more tax dollars due to the State diverting its constitutional responsibility for public education onto county government, it is a way for them to bring more dollars into a system that is failing our children. DSISD may be more successful than many other districts in teaching children, but public education as a whole is failing. Texas is near the bottom of the list of states providing a quality education.
Another issue is that Gov. Perry and many legislators are pushing to privatize public education. Some elected officials sit on the Boards of private and/or charter schools. Men like millionaire Dr. James Leininger of San Antonio are trying to push through a school voucher program that will take away children and tax dollars from public education. In my opinion, it is a movement that will help along the failure of public education.
During the past decade there have been many Committees on Public Education that were formed by Gov. Perry and legislators to resolve many of the problem issues, but none were successful in doing so.
Too many people believe that throwing more tax dollars at public education will save it. I am not one of those. In order to become successful, the public education system must change and tax dollars used to promote better learning outcomes.