Education News

On School Finance Vote, HISD Calculates Detachment Costs More In Long Run

Reed said that detachment – or losing commercial property – will make it harder to budget for new school buildings and will shift more tax burden to homeowners.


The HISD board of trustees called a second election on the district's Robin Hood, or recapture, payment in May.
The HISD board of trustees has called for a second election on the district’s Robin Hood, or recapture, payment in May.

In May, HISD voters will once again decide how to pay money owed to the state. Texas school finance requires wealthy districts like Houston to share money with poor ones. It’s known as Robin Hood or recapture.

The current option, which voters approved in November, lets the state take billions in commercial property away from HISD and assign it elsewhere. It's called detachment.

That will cost more money in the long run, according to a financial analysis prepared by HISD's budget administrators.

“We've lost our revenues,” Glenn Reed, a budget manager, told HISD trustees at their meeting Thursday night.

“So detachment makes your budget a little bit more volatile because of ups and downs and it makes it harder to put things in your budget that are permanent.”

For example, Reed estimated that after five years, HISD will have $73 million less in taxes available to pay back debt on school construction.

Reed said that it will make it harder to budget for new school buildings. He also said that it will shift more tax burden to homeowners.

The other option is essentially to send a check to the state for $77 million. On the ballot that shows up as “purchasing attendance tax credits.”

Trustee Jolanda Jones took issue with the presentation. She chastised the budget manager for showing it to city council members first and disagreed with the numbers.

“This presentation was not at all neutral. This presentation was very biased in favor of ‘Please pay the recapture because detachment is worse,'” she said.

HISD voters will ultimately decide for themselves in May.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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