By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

AUSTIN – Bills have been filed in both the Texas State Senate and Texas House of Representatives to help put the smaller school districts on an equal playing field with larger school districts when it comes to funding public schools.

State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and State Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) filed legislation earlier this week “… aimed at addressing the arbitrary small school adjustment formula in our state’s school finance system,” according to a press release from the state senator’s office.

“It is my mission to help provide a quality education for every student in this state, no matter the size of the school district. I believe a change to the small school adjustment formula would represent a step in the right direction and address some of the current inequities in the system,” Ashby stated in the press release.

Under current law, funding is disproportionately allocated to those districts over 300 square miles while those districts covering less than 300 square miles receive less funding even though the districts may be responsible for the education of an equal amount of students and according to the media release “… puts hundreds of school districts at a financial disadvantage.”

The two pieces of legislation, House Bill 1390 and Senate Bill 678, would help remedy the issue, according to the press release.

“I believe it is unfair for a small school to be penalized and funded differently based on the size of their school district. Creating an equal multiplier in the formula across the board will provide many schools with additional funding, which will go a long way in helping to improve the education of our students,” Nichols said.

“The small school adjustment was originally intended to encourage school districts to consolidate,” the press release stated. “However, as a school is often the heart of a community and a vital part of the economy, many districts have chosen not to consolidate. This legislation would allow communities the option of maintaining local governance of their school board without having to work around a punitive formula.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.