DISD superintendent wants 13-cent tax increase for school funding

For the third time in three years, Dallas ISD's superintendent wants to put a property tax increase before Dallas voters.

It comes as property values have been on the rise, but Dallas ISD is not seeing any additional revenue.

As Dallas homeowners write larger checks this year for property taxes, some may wonder why the district is making the case for a 13-cent tax increase.  One reason is that for the first time DISD is considered property rich. Therefore, it’s subject to the state's robin hood funding system.

DISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Hinojosa is proud of the district’s progress in his three years back.

“The state is going to give us report cards,” he said. “And we're going to look pretty good.”

But you don't get something for nothing, especially merit pay for teachers.

“It costs us $15 million new dollars every year,” Hinojosa said. “We don't have a funding source.”

The tax referendum would also fund early childhood education for 3 and 4-year-olds. The district is opening its first standalone pre-school this year near the Medical District. The money would also go to fund more district-run choice schools, which are popular with parents.

If approved by the school board, voters would be asked in November to approve a 13-cent tax increase. For owners of a $250,000 home, that would add up to $325 a year. It would bring in $120 million a year for the district.

It’s money Hinojosa says the district needs in part because of the robin hood plan.

“It is frustrating for taxpayers thinking it goes to schools when it goes to the state pot,” the superintendent said.

This year, DISD is considered property wealthy despite the fact that 90 percent of its students live in poverty. It is an issue lawmakers have faced repeatedly in the past.

“We now have to rethink the concept of Robin Hood,” said Texas Senator Royce West. “When you start taking money from those districts with complex problems, it's a problem. "

Hinojosa does not want to depend on the state to fix the funding problem, which is why he's once again asking the school board to put a tax increase on the ballot for voters to decide. He's hoping the third time will be the charm.