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independent school districts, they’re called, and each district is responsible for raising about half of its educational funds from local property taxes. Poor districts with little valuable property usually ,tax high and spend low. Rich districts can often tax low and still have enough funds to spend high. Rich districts that wish to tax high and spend high can have exceptionally fine facilities and well paid teachers. For a statewide program to be truly equal, funds from those rich districts would have to be recaptured and distributed among the poorer districts. Representative Kubiak believes that the ideal way to bring about equal education is for the state to provide all the funds for education, but Texans are very protective of local control. His bill, which for the most part was written by his House Education Committee two years ago, would have the state finance 80 percent of the cost of education as compared to the state’s current 52 percent. Kubiak’s, as well as the TSTA and TEA bills, use the traditional concept of funding on the basis of the number of teachers required for the classrooms. Kubiak would emphasize lowering the teacher-pupil ratio in kindergarten through the third grade. The poorer districts would get extra state money through two “leeway” categories, which could channel up to $200 per pupil to below-average districts. The higher a school district’s local revenue, the higher share it would have to pay to qualify for leeway funds. Briscoe’s plan uses something called the calculates the amount of money a district needs to spend per pupil based on the costs of education in the 42 best districts in the state. All districts would be brought up to the spending level of Briscoe’s 42 best districts. The bill uses a base figure of $635 a year per student, which TSTA critics and others say is not sufficient to do a quality job. The Truan-Johnson bill also uses the weighted pupil approach, but ‘it sets the WPA figure at $700 a year. This bill, which came out of a study by a Texas subcommittee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is the most expensive of the five bills. Briscoe’s bill would provide larger sums for the education of students enrolled in more expensive vocational education programs, and Kubiak has expressed fears that educators will start trying to shove great bunches of students into vocational education in order to get more state funds for the district. The Truan-Johnson bill would provide extra allocations as well to disadvantaged, gifted, migrant, and bilingual students as part of the WPA. The minority legislators’ bill would also limit the amount of local funds that could be used to “enrich” a particular district’s school program. Enrichment would be limited to 5 percent more than the amount of state aid the district received through the foundation program and the state-fund enrichment program. This is a key item in terms of equal education, because under past plans money has tended to flow away from problem areas rather than toward them. Under the old funding method, the more a rich school district put into a program, the more it was rewarded with state money. Truan and friends argue that unless you limit the amount of money a district can use to enrich its programs, the rich will just continue to siphon off the education money and the poor will just get the dregs. ANOTHER PROBLEM in Texas has been those school districts that have sufficient wealth but don’t tax enough to provide good programs. The people who devised Briscoe’s school plan originally intended to require local districts to meet a statewide average tax effort of 60 cents per $100 market valuation. A district could raise more but not less than 60 cents. Then the state would make up the difference between the funds raised and the amount it would take to boost the district to the funding level of the top 42 districts. If a district didn’t raise at least 60 cents on each $100 valuation, the state would withhold its matching funds. But Briscoe backed off from requiring stingy local districts to spend more. As introduced, his bill includes a “hold harmless” clause which guarantees districts that they will receive no less than they have received in the past from the state. Briscoe told reporters he’s confident that most districts will want to spend more on education, but he won’t force them to. “It’s a matter of belief in local control,” he explained. The Truan-Johnson bill holds firm on the local fund requirement. Contrary to his staff’s recommendations, Briscoe did not include state aid for local school construction. Dr. Richard Hooker of the governor’s office told the House Education Committee that construction costs would be part of the state school program by 1981. The Truan-Johnson bill is the only one that would provide construction aid. The questions of how much the various school bills would cost and, for that matter, how much the state can spend without passing a new tax bill have yet to Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone 477-0746. Contributing Editors: Steve Barthelme, Bill Brammer, Gary Cartwright, Joe Frantz, Larry Goodwyn, Bill Hamilton, Bill Helmer, Dave Hickey, Franklin Jones, Lyman Jones, Larry L. King, Georgia Earnest Klipple, Larry Lee, Al Melinger, Robert L. Montgomery, Willie Morris, Bill Porterfield, James Presley, Buck Ramsey, John Rogers, Mary Beth Rogers, Roger Shattuck, Edwin Shrake, Dan Strawn, John P. Sullivan, Tom Sutherland. We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with her. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that she agrees with them, because this is a journal of free voices. Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three week interval between issues twice a year, in July and January; 25 issues per year. Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. Second class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Single copy \(current or two years, $18; three years, $25. \(These except APO/FPO, $1 additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. Change of Address: Please give old and new address, including zip codes, and allow two weeks. Postmaster: Send form 3579 to Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701. THE TEXAS OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co. 1975 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher A window to the South A journal of free voices Vol. LXVII, No. 7 April 11, 1975 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorporated the Austin ForumAdvocate. EDITOR CO-EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR EDITOR AT LARGE Kaye Northcott Molly Ivins John Ferguson Ronnie Dugger BUSINESS STAFF Joe Espinosa Jr. C. R. Olofson Keith Stanford