Three school districts are asking voters to approve tax plans to supplement their budgets.
Dallas ISD and Richardson ISD are seeking tax increases while Frisco ISD is asking voters for a tax swap that would ultimately reduce the overall tax rate.
This year marks the third time in three years that the Dallas superintendent has tried to get the measure on the ballot. Now that it's there, it's up to voters to decide if it's needed and if the district will be good stewards of an additional $126 million dollars a year.
Bruce Coleman with the Southwest Coalition for Better Education says it was a tough fight trying to get the district to address deplorable conditions at South Oak Cliff High School that is currently under renovation. Now, he's focusing his efforts on the district's tax ratification election: a 13-cent tax increase that would add about $240 a year for the average Dallas homeowner.
“It's hard to ask for an increase of taxes when your enrollment is decreasing. So as a common sense person, what is the increase for?” he said. “You are losing thousands of students a year to charter schools. You are putting together a long-range plan to close additional schools.”
Coleman also believes the district has a history of poor accounting.
Richardson ISD is also asking voters to approve a tax hike of about $305 a year for the average Richardson homeowner.
As state school funding remains stagnant, Richardson, Dallas and about a third of other Texas school districts are looking for ways to close the gaps.
DISD School Board Trustee Miguel Solis says the Dallas tax increase would allow the district to improve teacher pay, expand early childhood education services and build on its successful programs that he says will help the district retain students and increase enrollment.
And more students mean DISD can offset money it pays to the state because Dallas is considered property wealthy, even though 90-percent of students are economically disadvantaged.
“Austin is not going to come and help us in Dallas, I can tell you that right now,” Solis said. “And we need to take it upon ourselves to be the superheroes our kids so desperately need.”
Property taxes are frozen for homeowners over 65 years old who have lived in the home since January 1, 2016, and have filed their homestead exemption.