by Victor Lopez
FORSAN--Almost $1 million, that's how much Forsan I.S.D. has to give back to the state, because of the Robin Hood Law. They've called an election to decide how to do it, but school officials are afraid the wording on the ballot could be confusing. So they want voters to know exactly what their options are.
Forsan I.S.D is a Chapter 41, or what's known as, a "property rich" school district. The recently built wind turbines in the area, are now playing a big part in determining how much money they have to give back to the state.
According to Superintendent Randy Johnson, "We're projecting about $1 million, for next year, which is a pretty big jump. Last year, we paid about $375 thousand. Most property values in the area went down because of the drop in oil prices. Ours went up because of wind turbines."
School officials need to figure out how to give that money back. Their solution? A Wealth Equalization Election on September 29th.
"People will not be voting on whether to send the money away or not. That's going to happen. The state will get their money, one way or another. The question is, will the district be allowed to have some options to look at, to decide what's best for the district," Johnson explained.
Johnson explained the first option, to give the money back directly back to the state, "Authorizing the board of trustees of Forsan I.S.D. to purchase attendance credits from the state with local tax revenues."
Or they can invest it in educational programs that will benefit other school districts in Region 18, as he explained, in option two, "Authorizing the board of trustees to educate students of other school districts with local tax revenues."
The wording, which is set by the state, can be confusing. That's why school officials want to make sure voters understand what they are voting for.
If the first two don't pass, Johnson says, there is a third, permanent option, "Our district would have a section cut off and sent off to another district. Most likely it would have to be a part of our district where there aren't many children in the area, because student numbers is a part of the overall formula."
It's that same formula that made them a "property rich" district to begin with.
"You take your tax values, divide it by the number of students you have in your district and the number that comes out, if it's over a magical line, you pay Robin Hood," Johnson said.
Regardless of how the vote comes out, Johnson says, "One way or another, we have to share the wealth."