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Missing From Austin ISD's Budget? More Than Half The Money Raised From Property Taxes

Martin do Nascimento

As Austin’s property taxes continue to rise, so does the amount on the check AISD writes to the state.

The Austin Independent School District’s Board of Trustees approved a budget Monday night that sends more than half of its local tax revenue away from the district. Texas law requires wealthier districts to send a portion of their property taxes back to the state to help out smaller, poorer districts in a program known as “recapture.”

This year, AISD will lose $670 million, more than half of local property tax revenue within the district, the largest amount the district has ever given back to the state.

“This is not Robin Hood, this is piracy,” said Trustee Edmund “Ted” Gordon. “We are being savaged by a state that is intent on punishing liberal Austin.”

Over the last few months, AISD administrators have told the board that this budget would be tight, and that if the pace keeps up, the district could deplete its reserves within the next three years.

Gordon was the only board member to vote against the budget, saying he wants the board and the administration to re-evaluate its priorities with its limited funds.

“I think we need to particularly prioritize educational opportunity and address disparities,” Gordon said. “For me, that means putting our resources where our values are in terms of that.”

A few parents spoke to the board about their concerns with the health services allocation. The budget for health care professionals remains the same as last year, which is not enough to fund a full-time nurse at every school.

Ted Hennessy, an AISD parent, told the board his 4-year-old daughter has diabetes and when she went to pre-K this year there was only a medical assistant on campus – not a registered nurse. He said the medical assistant was not always comfortable giving her insulin, but eventually a full-time nurse came to the school.

“Not only did the nurse’s training and expertise have an immediate and positive impact on our daughter’s care, but the effect was felt by the parents, students and faculty of the school at large,” he said.

The board passed the budget with the limited health services budget, meaning full-time nurses won’t be present at every school.

Claire McInerny is a former education reporter for KUT.
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