DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas Independent School District’s 2018-19 fiscal year officially began July 1. Included in the district’s $1.2 billion budget, $30 million for 3 percent pay raises for non-teaching staffers.
The raise would be a first in three years for those employees. But that pay hike comes with a condition: Dallas ISD voters must approve a tax hike to finance the raises. Dallas ISD trustees are expected to convene in August to approve a Tax Referendum Election.
The school district has proposed a 13-cent increase in its Maintenance and Operations tax. Currently, Dallas ISD tax payers are assessed $1.04 per $100 valuation of property. The planned increase would set the new rate to $1.17 per $100 valuation. According to Dallas ISD, a median home value within district boundaries is $184,000. “We think its a just case to be put in front of the voters,” Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said Monday.
Hinojosa said most school districts in the DFW area have issued TRE’s, in the effort to generate improved funding for public education. Dallas ISD’s enrollment data shows a declining population, yet 90 percent of all students are classified as low income. That’s a stark contrast to the rising property values of home, business and land owners within the Dallas ISD boundary lines, who’ve seen appraisal values soar. “We don’t want to be a tale of two cities, haves and have-nots. I think all of our students can have an equal opportunity in this city, if they have access to the resources the rest of the city has,” Hinojosa said.
Not everyone agrees with a district tax plan. Margaret Badgett once worked as a teacher for Dallas ISD, and retired as a lawyer. Badgett’s NE Dallas University Meadows neighborhood is a mix of families with children, and empty nesters.
Some families have bypassed enrolling their children in Dallas area schools for years. Badgett says her tax bill is already rising, and she would not support a voter approved tax hike to finance Dallas ISD. “If they (DISD) are not managing what they already have, and keep wanting more money, I have a problem with that,” Badgett said.
The Board of Education must provide a super majority vote to place a TRE on a ballot. Hinojosa believes trustees will cast that vote in August, then voters will decide the Dallas ISD tax fate in November.