New data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) shows a record number of school districts are now considered “property wealthy” under Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code, according to a media release.

A total of 374 school districts are subject to the recapture provisions of the law during the 2012-2013 school year, and 23 appear on the list for the first time.  

Locally, this includes the Argyle, Callisburg, Era, Lindsay, Montague, Muenster, Ponder, Saint Jo, Tioga and Walnut Bend independent school districts.

“The fact that more districts qualify for this status than ever before reinforces the fact that our method of funding public education is broken,” the release quoted Christy Rome, executive director of the Texas School Coalition. “Texas has just over 1000 school districts and having close to 400 of them considered property wealthy shows that there is not enough money in the system overall.”

The release said the “Robin Hood” system of school finance began in 1993, and applied to 35 school districts.  It took 14 years to reach 164 revenue-contributing districts, but only five years to add the next 210 districts.

“Over half of the students in revenue-contributing districts throughout the state are economically disadvantaged,” Rome said in the release. “And now their taxpayers will be asked to send money into Austin. It will come as a shock to many in these communities, but somehow the myth continues that these districts are primarily made up of wealthy students and parents.”

The Texas Legislature failed for the first time in 60 years to fund enrollment growth by cutting $5.4 billion from public education for the current two-year budget cycle.

“Rather than continuing to add recapture districts, the obvious solution is for the legislature to adequately fund education,” Rome said.

The release added that the Texas School Coalition represents school districts that return tax dollars raised from their local homeowners and businesses to the state. Since 1993, these revenue-contributing districts have given more than $15 billion to the statewide system and they are now contributing about $1 billion annually.

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