Oil, Gas Boom Makes Some Texas School Districts Rich But Uneasy

Lauren Williams's picture
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

School districts can get rich just as fast as the people in the oil bidness, and the poor-to-rich whiplash can have some weird aftereffects.

Texas public schools get about half of their money, on average, from property taxes. And when the property turns out to be sitting on top of the Eagle Ford Shale play, the sudden changes in wealth can produce fiscal temblors in the schools.

Some, like the Dilley Independent School District, see an influx of money and get to keep it. Others, like Cotulla ISD, see the money come in but don’t get to keep it for very long.

Dilley, southwest of San Antonio on Interstate 35, has seen property values balloon to about $275 million from $130 million two years ago, according to Nobert Rodriguez, the superintendent. It is by most measures a poor school district — one that gets money from the state to supplement what can be raised from local property taxes.

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