School Finance School #1: Property Taxes


Hello! This is first in a series related to school finance. We are starting with the very basics first! (Handy English and Spanish talking points to chat about at the bus stop, or anywhere, are also available for download.)

  1. How are Austin ISD schools funded? Public schools in Texas are primarily funded through property taxes, state revenue (such as sales taxes and the lottery), and federal funds. In Austin ISD, $1.2 billion of our $1.3 billion annual revenue comes from our local Austin property taxes. AISD gets very little funding (relatively speaking) from state and from federal funds.
  2. How much property tax do I pay? AISD has a handy calculator at to let you know approximately how much property tax you pay, how much of it goes to AISD, and how much of it goes to the state to be redistributed to other school districts. So for example, if you have a house valued at $100,000 and have no homestead exemptions, you will pay AISD nearly $1200 ($1,193.19 to be exact) in property taxes.
  3. Does all of my property tax stay in AISD? No. In our example of a $100,000 house, of the $1200 you pay in property taxes, nearly $400 ($382.63 to be exact) leaves Austin ISD, and around $800 ($810.56 to be exact) stays in Austin ISD. 
  4. Where does the money that leaves AISD go? In our example, the $400 would go to the state, then ultimately should get redistributed to other school districts in the state that do not generate enough money in property taxes to pay for their own school districts. This process is called “recapture.” Recapture has a nickname, “Robin Hood,” because property-rich districts like Austin help fund property-poor districts.
  5. Why does any of this matter to me? Austin ISD’s revenue has a direct impact on what it can spend on teacher salaries, school facilities, technology, transportation, and opportunities for our children. Even if you do not have a child in AISD, the quality of our schools has a direct impact on your property values and the economic vitality of our city. 
  6. Where can I get more information? Austin ISD has a legislative issues webpage packed with info. Also, this Texas Tribune article gives a good overview on what we might expect in the next legislative session (which begins in January 2017) on recapture and school finance in general. As you will see, it is a complicated issue. More on this in future editions of School Finance School!
Action Items:

1. Share this post on social media.

2. If you are a property owner, try the handy calculator to see where your property tax dollars go.

3. At your next PTA meeting, share with others what you have learned from this blog post.

4. Download and print the handy English and Spanish talking points. Present these points at your next PTA meeting.

Note: Views in this post are those of the author only. They are written in the PTA spirit of engaging our community to help every child reach his or her potential. Please keep that in mind when responding. Thanks for your consideration!

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