Status of school bonds in Texas independent school districts, 1942-1943




Williams, Frank Leon, 1903-

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School bonded indebtedness and its servicing constitutes one of the major expenditures of the average public school. In many school districts this item of expenditure is second largest of the entire school budget, being exceeded only by the expenditure for teaching services. Revenue for the financing of school district bonded indebtedness in Texas comes entirely from local revenue for this purpose as provided for through taxation of personal and real property within the district. Prior to 1945 Texas school law provided that no school district could levy and collect for total school purposes, without special legislative action, more than one dollar per one hundred dollars property valuation. From this maximum of one dollar per one hundred dollars property valuation not more than fifty cents shall be used for the purpose of financing school bonded indebtedness. Any part of the maximum one dollar tax revenue which is not specifically allocated to the financing of bonds may be used in supplementing other revenue for the purpose of financing the total educational program within the district. This means that any district which collects the full one dollar school tax, but does not have sufficient bonds outstanding to require the full fifty cents for annual principal and interest payments, will have a proportionally greater amount to use on the remainder of its school program. As a consequence of this plan of financing, some school districts in Texas which are fortunate enough to be free of bonded indebtedness are privileged either to spend the full tax dollar on their educational program or to levy and collect a lesser rate of taxes on their property. The other extreme of this situation is that many schools, because of a large volume of outstanding bonded indebtedness, must use the entire fifty cents allowed under the law for servicing their bonds and, consequently, have only fifty cents remaining with which to supplement other income for their total financial program. Between these two extremes lie all the other school districts in the state. Of the total of 1,115 independent school districts in Texas for the school year 1942-1943, there were 331 which levied and collected the full, legal fifty-cent tax for the purpose of servicing their bonds. The remaining 784 had a financial advantage, and were able to offer a better educational program to their children, because of lesser bond servicing needs. This condition, therefore, constituted at that time and continues to constitute, a major cause of educational inequalities in the state of Texas