Early voting started today for the November 7 election. One of the items on the ballot for Bellevue ISD voters will be two propositions. This situation is the result of being a property rich school district according to the Texas Education Agency. I had a chance to visit with Bellevue Superintendent Dean Gilstrap about the problem, and he said there are about five solutions to the problem and none of them are good.
The issue is the result of the new brick plant built out on highway 287 north of Bellevue. During the first year, Bellevue received additional funding from the brick plant and was able to make needed improvements to their facilities and technology. But in the second year, TEA declared them property rich. What that means to Bellevue taxpayers is that now Bellevue ISD will receive 80,000 dollars in state aid, but they will have to send $200,000 back to TEA.
The Bellevue School Board has chosen to allow the voters to decide in a couple of ways to keep more money in the district. They have placed two options on the ballot for the November 7th election. They are asking voters to allow Bellevue ISD to buy another school districts Weighted Average Daily Attendance (schools are funded based on this formula) using some of the $200,000 that would have had to send back to the TEA or purchase it from the state. An affirmative vote will allow Bellevue ISD to at least keep some of the brick plant money.
Mr. Gilstrap told me that this year, they had to approve an $166,000 deficit budget. Their deficit is the result of just ordinary operating expense; they are not buying a bus or anything substantial.
The recommendation is to vote yes on both propositions. One of The alternative solutions is that TEA can come in and consolidate the district with another district. Local voters will have no voice in that decision.
This problem is just another example of how messed up public school funding is in Texas. If our Senators had spent more time on this, it could have been handled. The house did their part. You would think bringing industry into Clay County would benefit our taxpayers. Sadly, the state has figured out a way to get their hands on the cash.