Wednesday, October 5, 2011

HCDE #6 - Double Taxing Since 1911

In previous posts I have written about how the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE), which opened back in 1889, has continued to collect property taxes in Harris County even after all its students moved away from HCDE and into "Independent School Districts." All other counties in Texas except Harris and Dallas  closed their county school boards decades ago.  A reader asked me to find out how long she had been paying taxes to two school districts - paying for two school boards, two highly paid administrations and two district infrastructures. So I did some research.

I have only had time to research 20 of the 24 Harris County Independent School Districts.  So far, it seems that the taxpayers in Waller ISD have been double taxed the longest - an even 100 years!!!!! According to the Waller ISD district site,
1911 - The Waller Independent School District was formed by election (54  votes for, 7 votes against).
La Porte ISD was not far behind. According to Wikipedia,
La Porte Independent School District was formed in 1916
That leaves the taxpayers of La Porte ISD coming in second paying two school district taxes for 95 years!

June 23, 1931
Map of Harris County School Districts
Made for Harris County School Board
 In the county archives you can find a Harris County School Board Trustee's map from 1931 that shows the "Independent School District" boundaries that already existed at that time. It contains an interesting quote:

  NOTICE:"This map is the property of the County School Trustees of Harris County,
 State of Texas, and is not to be copied for any purpose, and is for the exclusive official
 use of members of the board, and is not to be permitted out of their possession."
                                                                                                                     June 23, 1931 

Sounds like the HCDE board members in 1931 were just like ones today - paranoid that that taxpayers would find out how few schools they operated and would complain about paying for two school districts.
 A quick look at the 20 ISD's tells us just how long taxpayers in each district have been double taxed:

                                                                      # of Years ISD
ISD Formed        School District    + HCDE Taxed                 Source_____
1911                  Waller ISD                                  100  years                          Waller ISD site
1916                  La Porte ISD                                95                                     Wikipedia
1917                  Alief ISD                                      94                                     Alief ISD site
1918                  Katy ISD                                      93                                    Wikipedia on KISD
1923                  Houston ISD                               88                                       HCDE site
1923                  Humble ISD                               88                                       Wikipedia on HISD
1930                  Deer Park ISD                            81                                       DPISD site
Pre-1931           Galena Park ISD                       80                                        Map from 1931
Pre-1931           Aldine ISD                                  80                                        MAP from 1931
Pre-1931           Crosby ISD                                 80                                        Map from 1931
Pre-1931           Goose Creek ISD                        80                                        Map from 1931
Pre-1931           Pasadena ISD                             80                                        Map from 1931
Pre-1931           Spring ISD                                  80                                      Map from 1931
1935                  Channelview ISD                      76                                         
1937                  Pearland ISD                              74                                        Wikipedia on PISD
1938                  Klein ISD                                     73                                       KISD site
1939                  Cy-Fair ISD (CSD)                     72                                         CFISD site
1945                  Spring Branch ISD                   66                                          SBISD by phone
1948                  Clear Creek ISD                         63                                        CCISD by phone

1977                  Stafford MSD broke from Houston ISD and Fort Bend ISD to form the
                            only "municipal school district" currently in Texas.

While researching, I found another fact that was interesting . In 1923 it took  a Special Act of the Texas Legislature, for Harris County District 50 to become the Humble Independent School District. "This gave the (independent) school board more authority, and removed many of the rules imposed by the Harris County School Board." I guess even back then the HCDE Board wouldn't listen to the people and the people had to go over their heads to the state legislature to make the changes needed.

It is remarkable to me that in the past 63 years, the people of Harris County have not been able to elect 7 decent, honest people to the HCDE Board at the same time. 7 board members who would move HCDE's programs where they belong -- to non-profits and Texas Educational Service Centers -- and put an end to this century long double tax burden on the people of Harris County.  


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