Fate of the ‘Hold Harmless’ Funding Mechanism Could Affect the Bottom Line for School Districts

Dec 31, 2016 by

Texas lawmakers are about to spend a lot of time talking about how the state funds its public schools. The question is: Will they make any changes during the legislative session that starts in January? If they don’t, there’s a part of the system that’s set to expire next year. That could be a problem for some school districts across the state.

About 10 years ago, the state legislature provided some property tax cuts by compressing property tax rates. But public schools in Texas depend on local property taxes for funding. School districts were worried what this might do to their bottom line. So, lawmakers put in something called a “hold harmless” provision.

“They promised districts they wouldn’t lose any funding as a result of that tax rate compression so they created this ASATR, Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction,” explained Chandra Villanueva, a school finance expert with state policy think tank the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Instead of funding schools based on the formulas school districts currently use, schools were simply guaranteed the same amount of funding they got in 2006.

“That just set their funding frozen in time based on that level. So, it no longer matters how many economically disadvantaged students they have, how many [English language learners], all that matters is they get that historic level of funding,” Villanueva said.

Over the years, lawmakers have tacked on a variety of hold harmless provisions, and they’re political.

Source: Fate of the ‘Hold Harmless’ Funding Mechanism Could Affect the Bottom Line for School Districts – Houston Public Media

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.