Sugar Land, Texas – Sugar Land City Council recently approved joint resolutions with Fort Bend ISD to encourage the Texas Legislature to oppose revenue caps on cities and eliminate the A-F Accountability Rating System.
The first resolution supports legislation that adequately funds public education and advances the principles of local control, allowing for locally elected officials to make decisions in the best interests of school districts and city residents. The resolution specifically opposes legislation that erodes the authority of local government and the rights of local citizens to make decisions for their school districts and communities.
Examples include revenue caps on cities. Revenue caps do not provide meaningful tax relief, would restrict the city of Sugar Land’s ability to meet local needs without raising the tax rate and divert attention from the real cause of higher property taxes -- the Texas Legislature’s repeated failure to adequately fund their share of public education, instead pushing the costs down to local taxpayers.
In a ruling last year on the state’s public school funding system, the Texas Supreme Court urged state lawmakers to implement “transformational, top-to-bottom reforms that amount to more than Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid,” adding that shortfalls in resources persist. A recent study by the National Education Association found that Texas ranks 38th in the country in per-pupil public-education spending.
“The education of our children is the most important investment that a parent and a community will ever make,” said Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman. “Without our strong public education system, we cannot have the excellent quality of life that our citizens enjoy. It is important that we as community leaders work together to ensure the proposed legislation does not adversely affect the quality of education for our children or the quality of life for our citizens.
“The Sugar Land City Council is absolutely for lower property taxes, and we want to target those tax reductions to residents. As such, the City has increased the homestead exemption from one percent in 2007 to ten percent in 2016, which would equate to a 3 cent decrease in taxes. But Senate Bill 2 is not the answer. You cannot provide real property tax relief or tax reform without addressing how the state funds public schools, which is the largest item on anyone’s property tax bill. Additionally, changes in Senate Bill 2 condensing the budget adoption timeline would limit the public’s opportunity to review and provide input – another detrimental effect.”
The second resolution asks state representatives to eliminate the rating system that assigns A through F grades to Texas schools and replace the measures with a more meaningful accountability system.
Local leaders want a system that relies on multiple assessments and more accurately reflects student learning, informs teachers and reports academic progress to parents to meet the needs and interests of every student. The new system should encompass multiple considerations, reflect greater validity and more accurately reflect student achievement and learning through rigorous standards.
“It is critically important for our school district to work together with our city officials to plan wisely and push forward legislative agendas that are in the best interests of the children and all constituents in our community,” said Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees President Kristin Tassin.
The resolutions were developed during an historic meeting of Sugar Land City Council and Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees on Feb. 13. The meeting demonstrated the strong commitment of elected and appointed leaders who work together to meet needs identified by the local community.