Sherman schools could be forced to give some of its money back. Sherman Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Tyson Bennett recently explained the potential for the district to enter into a state of recapture for the 2018/2019 school year.

“Recapture is basically the concept of taking from the rich and giving to the poor,” Bennett said. “Unfortunately, it actually doesn’t necessarily work out like that because you think about that in terms of rich as in people and poor in terms of people but it’s actually talking about property wealth.”

Legislation involving the recapture program was enacted in 1993 as defined in Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code. The legislation was part of a plan by the state to equalize wealth levels among property wealthy districts to be redistributed to others.

Two main funding elements impact recapture — the district’s prior year adjusted state certified property values, and weighted students and average daily attendance.

“Weighted students and average daily attendance considers the different special programs that you’re serving in your school district and as you can see, we’re increasing in our prior year’s adjusted state certified property values,” Bennett said. “As that happens, we move closer and closer to that recapture level.”

Bennett said the projected adjusted state certified property values for the district for the 2018/2019 school year are $3,045,360,574 and the WADA is 9,290. These two numbers are calculated to reveal an equalized wealth level of $327,811, which exceeds the level of $319,500 that is set by the state.

Bennett used the Austin Independent School District as an example, explaining AISD has been in recapture for years.

“They’ve paid back nearly $1.5 million in property tax wealth, while over half of their students are economically disadvantaged,” Bennett said. “So, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have wealthy families. It’s wealth represented in property.”

Bennett said in 1993 there were 33 districts in Chapter 41 recapture.

“That was only 3 percent of all districts,” Bennett said. “In 2017, there were 379 Chapter 41 districts, roughly 3o percent or a 1,000 percent increase.”

Bennett attributed this exponential increase to the state-wide property value increase and the fact that the funding elements and thresholds for recapture haven’t been updated in years.

“If they don’t change and property values increase state-wide, you get more and more districts moving into Chapter 41,” Bennett said. “In reality, districts have paid back over $2 billion to the state just in 2016 and 2017 with no additional funds being provided to public education.”

Bennett explained when money is recaptured, but there is no increase in public education funding, the finances can be diverted to other programs within the state.

“It’s being spent elsewhere,” Bennett said.

Denison Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Randy Reid said Sherman’s neighbor to the north is not expecting to surpass the equalized wealth level for recapture in the near future. Although Denison’s property values are also on the rise, Reid said the adjusted state certified property values for 2016 totaled $149,383,3625 and the WADA for the 2016/2017 school year was 5,826, leaving the district far more room to grow before hitting the equalized wealth level cap for recapture.