Last week, I wrote a very quick blog article on the Keller Independent School District (ISD) tax rate election (TRE) which failed to pass property owners this past Saturday. After a hard push by the Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, the TRE failed with 54 percent of the vote.
Prior to the election, Keller ISD released a link on their website declaring the proposed cuts to their budget if they were not able to generate the needed revenue from the TRE to counteract the $16 million per year shortfall that the district would experience due to cuts to the Texas state public education budget. The district was working to counteract the effects of the heavliy favored interest in not raising the local property rate from $1.04 per $100 valuation of a homestead to $1.17, the highest allowed under current state law.
Since the failure of the election, I have been curious as to what other school districts must be thinking. Keller was the first to put their election out to the public, even after making several significant cuts to their budget, which included teaching positions. Not being able to turn to a bond election to help offset recurring costs, the district bid on the tax election and lost in a close race. What must other districts be thinking?
Keller is not the only school distict facing such cuts. Fort Worth, Dallas, Arlington, and Plano, all large North Texas districts, have publicized their impending cuts to their budgets, staffs, and positions; all are still waiting for the Texas legislature to make a sound decision regarding the state budget and the future of education for the next two years. What if they don’t come through?
As we have seen, the Tea Party has gripped the legislators in Austin and is now working effortlessly to tap in to the local elections and school boards to make their version of change occur. As such, it appears that their version of change includes cutting everything and raising nothing.
What this means for sure is that other disticts may not be so quick to ballot their TREs, or even future bonds, for fear that the influence of the Tea Party has mobilized to prevent the passage of necessary taxes to raise revenue. If this remains so, and the Tea Party continues their grip on education, what will this mean for the future of our state and our students?