DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) –  School district leaders in Dallas, Plano and Richardson are sounding the alarm about a key part of the School Finance Reform bill being hammered out at the State Capitol in Austin.

They say they’re very concerned they may end up receiving far less money than they were first promised by state lawmakers.

They say any optimism they had initially has faded and call the whole process a “shell game.”

“If you take money from here, and put it here, that’s not transformation.  That doesn’t help kids, that hurts kids,” Plano ISD Superintendent Sara Bosner said.

Plano, Dallas and Richardson school district leaders — along with a representative of the Dallas Regional Chamber and former chair of the Plano Chamber of Commerce held a news conference Friday.

Other districts across the state held news conferences of their own as well.

While they like version passed by the House, they’re concerned about the Senate’s version of the school finance bill.

That’s because it would change the way the state develops its funding formulas from using the prior year’s property tax values and instead using the current year’s.

School district leaders say under that scenario, they would receive less state funding.

“So many people are calling it an accounting ploy,” said Richardson ISD Superintendent Jeannie Stone. “They’re going to give money in this hand and then turn around and take it out of your wallet while you’re not watching.”

The House and Senate met last night to hash out an agreement on school finance and their negotiations continue.

School district leaders say they like the House bill for another reason: They say it gives them flexibility to give raises to all employees and offer incentive pay.

The Senate version would give all teachers and librarians an across the board $5,000 pay raise.

School district leaders prefer the House bill.

Richardson ISD says under the House’s version, it would receive nearly $24 million dollars more next year than it received this year.

But under the Senate’s version, after taking into account a $5,000 across the board pay raise for every teacher and librarian, it would have only $1 million more next year than this year.

At Plano ISD, Superintendent Bonser says the district would receive between $25 and $40 million more next year than this year under the House bill.

But under the Senate’s version, she said the district would actually receive $1 million dollars less next year than what it got this year.

She warned about potential cuts to make up the difference.

“You would look at things that are not essential and I mean we think they’re essential but they’re not required and so you have to look at a combo of teacher cuts and program cuts because you can’t get to $35 million without doing that,” said Bosner.

CBS 11 reached out to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s spokeswoman on the matter, but there has been no response yet.

House and Senate negotiators met Thursday night about school finance reform and those negotiations will continue.

They must reach an agreement by Saturday night May 25 and each chamber must vote on this by the final day of session, Memorial Day.

 

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