Oil, Gas Boom Affecting Area Education Funding

By: Stephanie Ando Email
By: Stephanie Ando Email

Texas has added 23 school districts to the list of districts considered property wealthy, and two of those are Caldwell and North Zulch ISD.

“They hit a trigger that the legislature has set and determined that at that level, the district has to share their wealth with the remaining state,” said DeEtta Culbertson, spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency.

Some refer to it as a “Robin Hood” school finance system.

TEA officials say there are 374 Recaptured Schools Districts, or “property wealthy” school districts, in Texas. The remaining school districts are “property poor”.

Not much has changed within the school districts, so why are Caldwell and North Zulch suddenly considered wealthy?

“Factors can include everything from a district having large industry moving in, or some large commercial property development...of course some places here in Texas we see increases in oil and gas production,” said Culbertson.

North Zulch superintendent Morris Lyon says the school district's property value went up 50 million dollars this year due to oil drilling and production. He expects the property value to go up an addition 130 million dollars in the 2013-2014 school year.

Caldwell officials have noticed a similar trend.

“The mineral and oil rights, that has certainly had a high productivity for the oil expansion here in this community. And our gas reserves as well,” said Caldwell ISD Superintendent Dr. Janet Cummings.

TEA officials say a school district is considered “property wealthy” once it passes a property value threshold of $319,000/student.

“It’s not the worst thing that can happen to you, because when your economy is growing in your community, that means people have a job. There’s opportunity to work and that also brings in families for us, and that kind of helps balance the equation,” said Dr. Cummings.

Neither Caldwell or North Zulch ISD expect to pay recapture this year.

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