I can’t tell you how to vote Dallas on the upcoming Tax Ratification Election (TRE), but I can tell you where your money is going to go – straight to charter schools. I reached out to Chandra Villanueva, school finance expert at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, and here’s what she had to say when I asked about the recapture dollar amount for the state of Texas ($2.8 billion) being eerily similar to the charter school budget ($2.7 billion).
Statute says all the dollars collected by the state through recapture may be used only for foundation school purposes – it does not say anything about property-poor districts. A lot of people believe that recapture doesn’t go to education because it’s supplants rather than supplements education funding. So I like to point out the connection between recapture and charters for two reasons.
1. Charter school operations are 100% state funded – and like you pointed out, the funding for charter schools is just slightly under what is collected in recapture, this makes it easy to draw a line to which schools exactly are getting most of those dollars.
2. This is probably the most important point, recapture is determined by wealth per student. When a student leaves a traditional ISD for a charter school, the home districts wealth per student goes up – if this happens enough times a district can be pushed into recapture. This is exactly what happened in Houston – charters drained the student population, making the wealth per student of the district fall into recapture territory. If all the charter students were still enrolled in HISD, the district would be entitled to more funding than it is currently paying in recapture. So if you live in a recapture district that has charters you can think of your tax dollars being sent directly to the charter.
If Dallas didn’t have 35,000 students in charter schools, DISD wouldn’t be in recapture and wouldn’t be requesting a TRE.
So yes, the passage of a TRE will provide increased revenue to Dallas ISD, but literally and figuratively at what cost? This spinning wheel does not stop. The TRE will provide the state additional recapture dollars, dollars that then fund charter school growth, growth that in turn causes DISD to pay more in recapture.
DISD PROJECTED RECAPTURE PAYMENTS
(pg. 503 of the 2018-19 budget)
Tomorrow we’ll discuss how DISD says the money will be spent if the TRE passes.