A Public Hearing & Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees of BHISD will be held on Monday, October 24, 2022, beginning at 6:30 PM at the J. Justin Jenson Conference Room.
Barbers Hill ISD’s longtime Grounds Supervisor Jimmy Hook was named the City of Mont Belvieu’s Volunteer of the Year on March 21 during the annual West Chambers County Chamber of Commerce luncheon honoring local volunteers.
Hook’s volunteer career started over 20 years ago by mowing the lawns of neighbors. Since then, his spirit of service has led him to volunteer with various organizations within our community such as Old River VFD, United Methodist Army, Bridgehaven Children's Advocacy Center and more.
At Barbers Hill, Hook is the special events grounds coordinator for many district events including Fall Fest, graduation, bonfire, campus water days, Christmas parade, football games and many other events. His positive and effective collaboration with other district and community stakeholders ensures the success of these events.
“Jimmy was one of my first hires and one of my best,” Barbers Hill Superintendent Dr. Greg Poole said. “He epitomizes the ‘Can Do’ attitude of Barbers Hill.”
A 1983 graduate of Barbers Hill High School, Hook has worked for the district since 2007.
Barbers Hill Superintendent Dr. Greg Poole was recently recognized by the Texas High School Coaches Education Foundation for distinguished service on the group’s board of directors.
Dr. Poole has served as a director for the Texas High School Coaches Education Foundation since 2020.
Formed in 2008 as a 501(c)3 charitable non-profit organization, the Texas High School Coaches Education Foundation accepts donations from a broad range of donors to provide professional education programs to reinforce and strengthen professionalism in high school coaches. Funds raised are also used to enhance the Permanent Injury Program, Memorial Benefit Program and Benevolence Fund for high school athletes in Texas.
“I am glad to share my expertise as a former coach and the current executive director of the largest education foundation in the nation to further the noble cause of benefiting student athletes of Texas,” Dr. Poole said.
Dr. Poole has served as Superintendent of Barbers Hill ISD since 2006.
Since the implementation of the Texas school financing system known as Robin Hood three decades ago, Barbers Hill ISD has remitted nearly one-third of a billion dollars in recapture payments to the state.
That means roughly 30 cents of every tax dollar Barbers Hill collects is spent elsewhere, and not always on educating students. That recaptured money -- $305 million so far -- could have easily paid for the three or four of the new schools the district has built recently.
Recapture -- called Robin Hood because “rich” districts must give money back to the state to be redistributed to poorer schools -- began as a limited revenue source for education funding. However, recapture has grown exponentially statewide, and Barbers Hill’s annual payments have risen 117 percent since its inception.
In fact, this year’s payment of $22 million to the state is the highest ever, more than double last year’s payment.
Statewide, recapture will reach nearly $5 billion in the current school year, a staggering increase over estimates of $3 billion, which would also be a record amount. Recapture is expected to exceed $5 billion in the budget cycle currently under consideration.
Before this year, recapture had never exceeded $3 billion statewide in a single year. While recapture payments rise, the state’s portion of funding public education continues to slide to close to 30 percent, while the local share has risen to nearly 60 percent.
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. Over time, recapture has grown so large that the state uses those dollars to support a considerable amount of the state’s funding obligation for education, therefore lessening the state’s contribution to public education.
According to a report from Texas School Coalition, the state recaptured an additional $1.4 billion that it did not allocate to schools and did not return to taxpayers.
In 2019, the Legislature enacted House Bill 3, which guaranteed a 3% funding increase for all school districts. Since that time, however, inflation has driven costs for salaries, fuel and utilities 12% or more higher.
Loss of local control
Recent legislation has added insult to injury by further eroding local control.
When legislators approved House Bill 3 in 2019, they enacted Formula Transition Grants that further reduces a district’s revenue with no provision for voter input – as is the case with Barbers Hill ISD.
The Legislature capped the allocation of FTGs at $400 million this year, which is $231 million short of the true cost of the grants.
Under current law, the only way that school districts will be able to overcome the loss of funding when their FTGs expire is to hold a Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election, or VATRE election, to increase their local property-tax rate for Maintenance & Operations.
An increase in the Basic Allotment of $6,160 per student (an amount that hasn’t increased since 2019) or other infusion of state funding could help replace FTG revenue. However, putting more state funding into the system and reducing the FTG by the same amount is not a net increase for schools. It would simply be a different way of supplying the same amount of funding.
“Barbers Hill has one of the lowest tax levies in the Houston area, and we have never failed a bond or TRE (Tax ratification Election) vote,” Barbers Hill Superintendent Dr. Greg Poole said. “House Bill 3 redistributes more of our money via Robin Hood to other districts.”
Blessed by a robust oil and gas tax base full of corporate giants such as Enterprise and ExxonMobil, Barbers Hill has fared better than most districts because of its remarkable tax base and the fact that it is a destination school district with rapidly increasing enrollment. From the beginning of Robin Hood to today, Barbers Hill’s enrollment has increased by 280 percent to more than 7,400 students.
While not immune from the effects of recapture tax dollars and the decline in state funding, Barbers Hill has been able to avoid many of the cuts seen in other districts through aggressive tax incentives and the creation of an education foundation, which has grown to $128 million since it was created in 2010. Presently, the foundation is the largest in the state and No. 1 in the United States in assets per pupil.
“We are fortunate to have a robust foundation and have acted as good fiduciaries in managing the district’s resources,” Assistant Superintendent of Finance Becky McManus said. “However, we cannot sustain the rapid growth of recapture which is at an all-time high of $22 million this year.”
“Ronald Reagan believed strongly in two concepts regarding government: 1. Less is better, and 2. Decentralization is better,” Dr. Poole said.
“It is disturbing that the trend in public school financing in Texas continues to violate those tenets. Our voters have less say, and our revenues guaranteed to us by the Texas Constitution continue to be redistributed in increasingly larger amounts.”
Barbers Hill: A Tradition of Excellence
Established in 1929, Barbers Hill ISD has a rich tradition of community involvement and school pride. The fabric of the district’s story is interwoven with that of the petrochemical industry, beginning with the discovery of oil in the early 1900s, through the development in the 1950s of the Mont Belvieu salt dome.
Today, the district serves more than 7,000 students and employs over 1,200 teachers and staff.
As Barbers Hill approaches its centennial year, the district continues to have phenomenal growth driven by academic, athletic and financial successes.