Crane ISD hit hard by state funding cuts

A combination of depressed property values and the state eliminating a type of school funding has prompted Crane ISD to not renew some of probationary contracts for next year.

Superintendent Janet Hunt said people in the agreements were told Friday that the district would not renew their contacts for the 2018-19 school year. There were 29 teachers on probationary contracts in the school district.

“I truly wish that the people who made the decision to cut school funding were made to be present when,” it was time to tell people they will not have a job next year, Hunt said in an email.

“This is a difficult task at best, but in a small town it is terrible,” she wrote.

Hunt could not be reached for comment on how many people were notified Friday and what types of positions they held.

In a statement, Hunt said Crane is not the only district struggling with budget issues due to state funding for public education being cut.

In 2015-16, Crane’s tax base was $1.5 billion, so its tax collection was around $16 million.

In addition, the state sent the district $7 million so Crane’s total budget was $26 million, the statement said. However, due to the state recapture program known as Robin Hood, the district sent back $8.3 million to the state.

In 2016-17, the tax base sank to $850 million, so tax collections shrank proportionately to $9 million. The state sent the district $8.3 million, so their total budget was about $20 million, the statement said. Crane ISD had to return $2.7 million for recapture.

In 2017-18, the district’s tax base was still around $850 million, but the state cut its additional state aid for tax reduction by $5.2 million giving Crane no foundation money from the state. The statement said that left the district with a $12 million budget. Its projected expenses are going to be more than $16 million.

“So the combination of depressed property values and the state doing away with ASATR has been a ‘double hit.’”

But the statement said the district remains hopeful that the future will bring some relief.