Big Spring ISD inching toward 'property rich' status

Rising property valuations aren't just a headache for homeowners — even a taxing entity can feel the pinch.Significant valuation increases the past few years might finally push Big Spring Independent School District into “property-rich” status, which would result in less state money for the district's budget and BSISD having to disburse some of its revenue to poorer schools across Texas.The district's tax rolls increased from $1.2 billion in 2011 to $1.6 billion last year, prompting the Texas Education Agency send BSISD a letter saying the district was approaching the property-rich threshold.“It's not a final ruling by any means,” BSISD Business Manager Debbie Green said of the TEA letter. “It's just a preliminary notice that we're teetering on the edge.”The thought that a school district in which more than 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals would be considered wealthy might be laughable to some, but such is the nature of school equity funding in Texas these days.In response to lawsuits from poorer school districts, Texas adopted a system a few years ago in which districts that exceeded a certain ratio of property valuation per student would be required to send some of that money back to the state.If Big Spring joins the rank of so-called property-rich schools, it would make Howard County public school districts a perfect three-for-three in that regard — both Forsan and Coahoma have received that designation in recent years.