The financial ratings agency Moody’s said in a report Friday that Dallas County Schools could still end up in bankruptcy, even if it survives a November election vote that could shut the agency down.
The report said the finances at DCS, “will remain challenged” if DCS continues to operate and that ongoing cash shortfall, “…will require additional transfers from the DCS general fund and heightens the potential the district may file for bankruptcy.”
Meanwhile, Friday DCS board members voted to set in motion a tax hike plan that would generate a very small amount off additional revenue for the struggling agency. The increase would amount to about $3.50 per year for the average Dallas County homeowner in a county where the average home is valued at about $234,000.
The hike, if approved after public hearings, would take DCS to its maximum allowable tax rate of one cent per $100 of taxable value.
One DCS board member, Kyle Renard, defended the hike at a meeting Friday saying it was the equivalent of taxpayers giving up just one Starbucks coffee a year to help bolster DCS.
But critics argue the agency does not deserve additional funding given past financial mismanagement including millions of dollars lost on a controversial school bus camera program that put the district in danger of financial collapse.
On Twitter Friday, Dallas ISD board member Dustin Marshall reacted to the tax hike discussion saying, “Seriously??!? We should give them MORE taxpayer money?” Dallas ISD is a separate entity that contracts with DCS for bus service.
The Texas State Teacher’s Association (TSTA) said Friday that it will fight on behalf of DCS in the November election in an effort to save the jobs of drivers. That could bring political action committee funding into the race.
The November DCS election was triggered when the state legislature passed, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed, a bill that will let taxpayers vote on the future of DCS following concerns about safety and financial problems at the agency, which has run the buses in many Dallas County communities for decades.
TSTA President Noel Candelaria said his group will develop a “boots on the ground” style campaign involving bus drivers who want DCS to continue to operate.
“Talking to our neighbors, talking to churches talking in community events to make sure that we are getting the facts out about what it means to have Dallas County Schools be the best option to safely transport our kids to and from school every day,” Candelaria said.