Education Funding

Financial Solution Eludes Galveston

By Jessica L. Tonn — November 28, 2006 1 min read
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Voters in Galveston, Texas, may soon have the option of deciding, yet again, how they plan to share their school district’s wealth with less advantaged school systems.

On Nov. 7, voters rejected two local propositions that would have authorized the Galveston district to either give money to the state or directly to another district. Under the state’s school finance system, referred to as the “Robin Hood” plan, wealthy districts are required to share property taxes with poor districts.

State law requires wealthier districts to hold special elections to decide how to meet their obligation. The Texas Education Agency wasn’t aware of any other districts that voted on this issue Nov. 7.

The propositions’ failure means the school district will have to cede land to, or consolidate with, other districts. Or it can choose to hold another election.

As of late last week, Galveston school officials and the TEA had not decided jointly what course of action to take.

Galveston Superintendent Lynne Cleveland and other district officials had pushed unsuccessfully for passage of the two propositions.

The 8,380-student district, most of which is on an island along the Gulf of Mexico, is already dealing with declining enrollment and possible school closures.

Before the Nov. 7 election, district officials had estimated that the school system would have to give up $2.5 million for the 2006-07 school year, and between $8.8 million and $11.7 million for the following school year. The district must provide the funds for this school year by February.

The first proposition, which would have authorized the district to send money directly to the TEA, failed by 1 percentage point.

The second, which would have authorized the district “to educate students of other school districts with local tax revenues,” failed by nearly 30 percentage points.

Christine Hopkins, a spokeswoman for the district, said that some of the voters she has talked to thought the language in the second proposal meant that the district would be directly responsible for educating students from other districts, rather than just sending checks to those districts.

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A version of this article appeared in the November 29, 2006 edition of Education Week

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