For third consecutive year, Harris County Department of Education trustees approve budget with tax rate below effective rate

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July 18, 2017 by HCDE-Texas

Working together with administration to keep property taxes low, Harris County Department of Education trustees on Tuesday approved a $114 million total budget that will reduce the tax rate to $.0051. The 2017-2018 budget supports HCDE’s core services such as school-based therapy, special schools, after-school programming, Head Start, and adult education.

“I’m proud of this budget because it puts students first while maintaining our commitment to keeping property taxes low for the homeowners of Harris County,” said Board President Louis Evans. “Our annual budget is an expression of our values as an elected board and as an administration. That’s why it includes funding for three new projects: a ground-breaking recovery high school, a debate program for at-risk teens, and site improvements for Head Start and Adult Education facilities.”

Property tax revenue, which amounts to about $10 for the average homeowner annually, generates $22.6 million of the overall budget. The rest of the budget is funded by grants, fees, and revenues from HCDE’s purchasing cooperative.

This year, HCDE’s budget includes funding for three new initiatives while holding the tax rate, which is officially adopted in September, below the effective rate for the third consecutive year:

  • County’s first public recovery high school: The budget includes funding for a public recovery high school to help students who have completed a substance abuse or dependency rehabilitation program. The school will be available to all 25 school districts in Harris County on a contractual basis and will serve 30 students when it opens in late 2017. HCDE will renovate a 20,000-square-foot HCDE school facility located in the Greenspoint area in north Houston at 11902 Spears Road.
  • CASE Debates, in partnership with Houston Urban Debate League: The CASE Debates Initiative is a joint project between HCDE’s Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids, or CASE for Kids, and the Houston Urban Debate League, or HUDL. HUDL currently operates solely within Houston Independent School District, where the organization has a successful track record providing debate programs and camps. The HCDE partnership expands the HUDL model to serve at-risk teens from 20 high schools in five Harris County school districts.
  • Capital improvements: The budget includes facility improvements needed at the Baytown Head Start center, which served 176 students in 2016-2017. Also included are improvements to the Adult Education Crosstimbers center, which is expanding its focus to include workforce development.

Several of HCDE’s core services support special needs students from 25 Harris County school districts. HCDE school-based therapists provide 100 percent of therapy services to special needs students in eight area school districts, including Cy-Fair ISD, Houston ISD, Katy ISD, Spring Branch ISD, and Spring ISD. Fees to school districts have not increased for three consecutive years and remain below the industry average, made possible by the property tax allocation. In all, more than 7,700 special education students are served on 550 campuses throughout Harris County.

Additionally, HCDE operates four schools designed for students with severe emotional disturbances and impairments, and adjudicated youth who need intensive counseling. One-hundred percent of Harris County school districts pursue HCDE contracts, whether through tax-revenue-subsidized seats in special schools, therapy services, or the Choice Partners purchasing cooperative.

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