Presentation To AISD Board Of Trustees – School Finance Reform Proposal

By Bill Oakey – May 23, 2016

Attending an AISD board meeting was a fascinating experience, and one that I recommend everyone do at least once in their lifetime. During the 30 person public comment period, parents, teachers, school staff members and community activists of all stripes had their say. It was quite different from a City Council meeting or a Travis County Commissioners Court meeting. The center of attention, whether addressed directly or indirectly, was the school kids, the folks who will step into our shoes and who represent Austin’s future.

My topic of discussion was the school finance reform proposal that was introduced on this blog on May 14th:

Presentation to AISD Board Meeting, Public Comment Period – School Finance Reform Proposal

By Bill Oakey – May 23, 2016

Hello And Good Evening,

My name is Bill Oakey, and I am a retired accountant and blog writer for AustinAffordability.com. Since the Texas Supreme Court ruled the current school finance system Constitutional, I have drafted a school finance reform proposal. This proposal would subdivide the school districts across Texas into local school board voting districts, and use those smaller areas to calculate the “Robin Hood” recapture amounts. The intent is to reduce the unfair burden placed upon AISD, and allow more of our local tax dollars to stay here in Austin.

I would like to thank Board President, Kendall Pace, as well as Jacob Reach in Dr. Cruz’s office for offering to formally review my proposal. I hope it can serve as a discussion staring point that will lead to meaningful reform. Some folks have cautioned me that the Legislature will not reform the school funding formulas or increase education spending. But in its 2016 “Quality Counts” report, Education Week ranked Texas 43rd in the nation for student achievement, chance for success and school finance. (See the full Education Week “Quality Counts” report here).

We need to rally the support of City, County and AISD officials, along with leaders in the business community, to stand up for Austin Schools and make Legislative reform happen. Austin simply cannot sustain a Robin Hood increase from $181 million to $445 million over a three-year period. For some challengers, you could walk softly and carry a big memory stick full of data, as you march into battle. The numbers should speak for themselves.

It will be an uphill struggle. When Marty Robbins sang his inspiring song, “You Gave Me a Mountain,” in 1969, he wasn’t sure if he could climb that mountain. But here today, if everyone works together, I do believe there is hope. I believe in Austin, and I believe in Texas.

mountain

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