Recapture & Charter Schools

The real problem with recapture: Almost $4 billion annually, paid by 160 “property-wealthy” school districts, no longer goes to help low-income public schools around the state. 

  • Because of charter school growth, nearly all of the local tax dollars recaptured by the state go to unaccountable charter schools with self-appointed boards that produce no shortage of financial improprieties and self-dealing scandals. 
  • Unchecked charter school growth fuels the increase in recaptured local dollars from so-called “wealthy” districts that are deemed wealthier every time a new charter opens up in their district because of student enrollment transfers. That’s why taxpayers pay more and more property taxes every year but see no new additional resources in their local public schools. 
  • By 2023, nearly 18% of the state’s funding for public education, when including recapture, will go to charter schools, up from 8% in 2014. 

When school budgets get tight, property-wealthy districts are often quick to blame the primary equity tool of the school finance system—recapture. Recapture, also known as the “Robin Hood” program, is not the problem. The state Legislature’s chronic underfunding of public schools is what made recapture necessary in the first place.  

Instead of providing all schools with adequate levels of funding, the Legislature has used recapture to justify bringing the top down rather than the bottom up. By deeming some districts as “property-wealthy” while not providing enough funding to anyone, legislative leadership has sowed division among districts.

In order to increase school funding so that all districts can support high-quality education for all students, Texans must reject these divisions and demand a finance system that meets the true costs of providing a solid public education. 

How does recapture work?

Local property dollars are collected to meet the allowed funding entitlement. The experts at Every Texan use the example of a bucket. If a school is able to collect more than its entitlement, then the state “recaptures” or collects that excess revenue. Those recaptured local dollars are supposed to fund other less wealthy public schools, but now almost the entirety of recaptured dollars goes to charter schools.

Action Needed

Increase the basic allotment and include an annual adjustment for inflation and growing student needs, which would allow more districts to keep otherwise recaptured local dollars.

Pause the expansion of charter school campuses, which would also halt the expanding portion of state funding required for charter schools that is almost entirely funded by recaptured dollars.

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