Cindy Powell, Arlington's associate superintendent of finance, had some unhappy news for trustees Thursday night.
The financially pinched district has been counting on legislators in Austin to make significant changes to the state's school funding structure by the time the session ends June 1. HB3646, which went before the Senate Education Committee Thursday, seems like the most likely legislation to get passed. But, the version that came out of the Senate committee, left trustees less than enthusiastic.
According to Powell, the version to be considered in the Senate drops the amount of additional funding Arlington could expect to receive next school yearfrom $20.1 million to $12 million. The reason, Powell said, is that the new version raises the minimum increase guaranteed to districts from $100 per weighted average daily attendance to $135 per weighted average daily attendance.
With everybody guaranteed more money, it leaves less to spread around to districts like Arlington that are on the lower end of the state's current target revenue funding system, Powell said. About half of the funding increases would have to be spent on yearly raises for teachers and some other school professionals.
Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, said earlier this week that he shaped the bill to stay within the $1.9 billion education spending increase in the proposed budget. He said he wanted to help all school districts and especially those hit hard by 2006 changes to the funding system.
Trustee Jim Ash said he was frustrated and discouraged by what he was seeing. He complimented local legislators like Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, but pointed out that they can't do it alone.
"We've got two weeks," he said. "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."