Schools are supposed to be places of learning. But at least one district has made it more about wheeling and dealing.
In Houston Chronicle, readers learned about Barbers Hills ISD, a small school district located about 30 miles east of Houston, and its zeal for Chapter 313 agreements, which has enabled administrators to offer massive tax breaks to select businesses.
More from the Chron:
“Located in Mont Belvieu, a town dominated on one side by petrochemical plants, Barbers Hill has 34 active tax-break projects, by far the most of any school district in Texas.
“[The school superintendent] was a pioneer in realizing that there’s no financial downside for Barbers Hill — and plenty of benefits — by granting so many incentives.
“The nearly $900 million in tax breaks being handed out by Barbers Hill doesn’t come out of the school district’s budget. The economic pinch is felt at the state level.”
You read that right. Barbers Hill ISD has entered into nearly three-dozen economic development deals worth approximately $900 million. And you’re paying for it as a state taxpayer.
This story is yet another example of the Ch. 313 system’s brokenness and why the legislature should be prudent in these last few weeks as it decides the program’s fate.