Karnack ISD trustees earlier this month adopted a slightly surplus general fund budget for the 2019-20 school year, as well as a decreased tax rate.

This year’s total tax rate, made up of only maintenance and operations, is $0.97 per $100 of home valuation. The district’s interest and sinking rate is $0.

This means that for a $100,000 home, a district taxpayer will pay $$970 in taxes. The district’s tax rate has stayed at $1.04 for about a decade until this year when it dropped 7 cents.

The drop in the tax rate is due to a reform of the Texas school finance system which has been widely criticized in recent years due to its “Robin Hood” program, which affected Karnack ISD specifically.

As part of the landmark $11.6 billion House Bill 3 passed by the 86th Legislature in June, the state required districts to provide raises for teachers, provided an increase in state funding per student and reduced property taxes.

The district’s trustees also adopted a slightly surplus general fund budget on Aug. 22, with expenditures coming in at about $2.31 million and revenues coming in at about $2.33 million, leading to about a $25,000 in surplus, which the district moved to its Child Nutrition Fund to create a total balanced budget of about $2.4 million.

The district’s largest expenditure came in for salaries of teachers and staff at about $646,000.

The next highest expense on the budget’s line items is about $556,000 for “Contracted Instructional Services Between Public Schools,” which consists of about $465,000 for recapture that goes back to the state of Texas since Karnack ISD is considered a Chapter 49 district. The other $91,000 is for tuition fees to Jefferson ISD.

Karnack ISD was formerly classified as a Chapter 41 school district, making it part of the state’s controversial “Robin Hood” program, where property rich districts were required to send money back to the state each year to be distributed to property “poor” districts.

The Chapter 41 Education Code was repealed during the 86th legislative session and Chapter 49 now takes its place.

Under Chapter 41 policies, Karnack ISD was required to send back almost half of its annual budget, about $1 million, to the state each year for recapture.

This year, under Chapter 49, the district is sending about $465,000 back for recapture, or less than a quarter of its annual budget.

This year’s adopted budget also includes about $286,000 for plant maintenance and operations and about $249,000 for student transportation costs.