When John Moores gave the University of Houston $51.4 million last October, the donation was front-page news—the largest individual gift ever made to a public university. But when Texas A&M kicked off a $500 million fund drive in March by announcing an even larger gift—$52 million from a former student named Dwight Look—the news rated little more than a squib in most papers. What gives? Although the Aggies describe Look’s gift asa the biggest ever, they aren’t hyping it, because the exact amount is impossible to determine: The donation is in the form of one thousand acres of undeveloped land on the Pacific island of Guam. Indeed, one A&M spokesman says that the university doesn’t want people to “get the impression that A&M just go $52 million in cash.” The property will be transferred by Look, who is an engineer living in Guam to A&M’s development foundation over a seven-year period. So, how much is the lad really worth? A source at Century 21 Realty Management on Guam said that the property is not on the astronomically priced beach-front (where land can sell for $1 million an acre). That means at least $40 million for the Aggies, but unless A&M can get a top price for the land, the U if H give will still top it.
A tiny change in school-finance law has given school districts more leeway to hike taxes without facing a taxpayer revolt. Here’s what happened. In the past, if school districts raised their tax rate by more than 8 percent, taxpayers could petition for an election to determine whether the entire increase should be rolled back and disallowed. But last year the Legislature decreed that school districts can now raise their tax rate by 8 cents instead of 8 percent before facing the threat of rollback elections. The old ceiling would have allowed the average district to raise taxes by around 4 cents without running into a roll-back, so the new one is twice as liberal. If you multiply that