Area school districts watching state legislature for changes to school finance

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Area educators will be keeping a close eye on Austin this week.

On Tuesday, state legislators open a new year of business inside The Capitol. A hot topic they'll have to work on includes funding for public education and the burden it's placed on property owners.

In recent years, the proportion of money coming from the state has shifted from the state, to taxpayers.

"We'd like to see something simplified," said Kevin Beesaw, Bryan ISD Assistant Superintendent for Business Services.

Beesaw met with KBTX at the school board meeting Monday afternoon. The district is looking at future funding for their nearly 16,000 students.

There's concern the state may decrease their contributions to public schools due to rising property tax values. Higher values mean more money is being brought in to state coffers.

"I like to look at it as a swimming pool, you know you're swimming pool is full if you throw more rocks in there meaning those are like the property tax dollars, then water is going to run over. It's not going to actually come to the school," explained Beesaw.

“There's a lot of things that are needed. Seems like every department, every group could use more funding," said Beesaw. "But you know we’ll stay focused on the things that would help accountability, and help our kids' success," he said.

"There are some serious issues that need to be addressed but you put that on top of the need or the desire to reduce property taxes and that of course immediately raises a question well where's the replacement money going to come from?," said David Stasny, who is a long time Bryan School Board Trustee. Stasny also serves on a Legislative Advisory Council with the Texas Association of School Boards.

“I think some real efforts have been made but the legislature now has to come through and not only deal with the funding issues but also the accountability issues," he said. "And try to make sure that to the extent it’s possible, which is a very difficult task, is that we’re all on the same, on a level playing field," added Stasny.

"Back in, ten years ago the state and local taxpayers paid about an even proportion of the amount of funding for Texas school children. Since that time the local taxpayers all across the state of Texas their share has gone up above 50 percent. The states' share has gone below 38 percent," said Dr. Clark Ealy, Superintendent of College Station ISD.

College Station ISD currently has 13,660. Ealy said he's optimistic changes will happen with funding.

"I’m hopeful that will be a little bit of a different tenor in Austin and so we can see maybe some movement this legislative session," he said.

"Every two years they've got to figure out how to meet the needs for an entire state, a growing state, a prosperous state and so it's very difficult," said Ealy.

You may remember, two years ago state legislators were unable to pass comprehensive funding reform for public education.

News' 3's Kathleen Witte is heading to Austin to cover the start of the legislative session. She'll have reports there this week.