Muenster ISD Tax Rate approved; school board plans to avoid fund recapture | Education

Muenster ISD Tax Rate approved; school board plans to avoid fund recapture | Education

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  • September 4, 2022
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Muenster Independent School District (MISD) school board met Wednesday to approved its tax rate for the 2022-23 school year.

One of the main concerns for the board was better understanding and reducing Recapture, also known as the money the school has to pay to the state if they collect more funds than the state deems reasonable for the size of the school.

“Sometimes when I talk to boards of trustees, they note that there are those in the community that go, ‘You know what? If you want to reduce our recapture, just reduce the tax rates,’ and that can be true, but not always,” explained Christy Rome from the Texas School Coalition, who gave the presentation to the board.

Rome compared it to a glass of water: the state legislature determines the maximum size of the funds a school can collect, also known as the district’s entitlement. This is like the state legislature determining the size of the glass.

“That takes on students in your district, number of students, the characteristics of students, the district characteristics,” explained Rome. “Also, one thing that determines the size of your glass is your district’s tax dollars. Sometimes that piece gets left out when people talk about entitlements, but if you were to have a lower tax rate, then that can shrink the size of your glass.”

Then funds get put in, like pouring water in the glass. The first source of that ‘water’ is local property tax revenue.

If the funds get to big, the school has to pay Recapture back to the state, like water in the glass spilling over the edges because it is too full. The goal is to get the glass as full as possible while minimizing the overflow.

Rome also emphasized that while many states determine school funding based on enrollment, Texas schools’ funding is based on attendance.

“The bottom line is attendance doesn’t always represent the cost this will have because whether the student is in attendance or not, you’re paying teachers,” explained Rome. “However, our system is set up in a way that is based on attendance, so the more students actually attend school, the better the numbers are.”

According to Rome, predictions of growth in Texas have not been accurate due to the Comptroller having to predict what would happen over the next two years during the pandemic, which she described as, “a time of great uncertainty.”

“I think we will see a huge increase in January, but I think we also will have a more conservative estimate because there are lots of folks who have said we’re heading into a recession,” said Rome. “That’s a difficult placement, and that’s why I think there are real concerns about sustainability of the property tax depression.”

With this better understanding of school finances and recapture, the board went on the adopt the tax rate for Maintenance and Operations (M&O) and Interest and Sinking (I&S) for the 2022-23 school year. The final tax rate for this year is 1.1746 for MISD, which is a decrease from last year.

The board also approved amendments to the budget for the 2022-2023 school year. These amendments involved moving where in the budget teacher salaries came from to help the district prepare for in a year when the ESSER funds, also referred to as “COVID dollars,” are no longer available.

Two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) were also approved. One with Sacred Heart Catholic Schools stated that both schools could use buildings on the other school’s campus as gathering and reunifying locations in case of emergency. The other MOU approved was with Denton County JJAEP, allowing MISD to send students there as a last resort for behavioral issues.

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