ASATRAdditional State Aid for Tax Reduction
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With ASATR gone, Godley ISD could lose around 15 percent of its current operating budget, Dear said.
That small group of districts, which does not need ASATR funding to survive, "won the lottery," he said.
"We thought we could see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Superintendent Jo Ann Bludau, explaining how she thought the district would no longer need ASATR after 2014.
The system has become so convoluted that even as Texas City ISD receives ASATR payments that have made up as much as 30 percent of its revenue, the district has also paid as much as $14 million per year to the state under Texas' Robin Hood system, which requires districts that collect more local property tax revenue to subsidize those with much less.
This year, district officials say the roughly $11 million they've received from ASATR makes up 16 percent of their revenue - a year after sending the state $1.4 million under Robin Hood.
Without the money they get from ASATR, Texas City ISD and other small, vulnerable districts throughout Texas say they might not be able to survive.
Lusignolo makes the case that she needs that $11 million of ASATR money to do things like start pre-K students at former La Marque ISD schools on the right foot - by funding a full-day pre-K program, instead of the current half-day program.
More than a decade after creating ASATR, some lawmakers have returned to the task of trying to reform the school finance system - without a mandate from the state Supreme Court, which last year upheld the system as constitutional.
Without any action by the Legislature, ASATR funding is set to expire in September.
Huberty's proposal would replace ASATR with a two-year "hardship grant" program to keep financially struggling districts from plummeting down a funding cliff.
Lynn Moak, a former state deputy education commissioner, said legislators have a long history of using programs like ASATR to make school finance reforms acceptable to the losing districts.
ASATR, which cost more than $400 million this year alone statewide, doesn't seem likely to live past its expiration date.