A coalition of more than a dozen community organizations announced Thursday that it will campaign to put a question on the November ballot, asking voters in the Dallas Independent School District to approve a property tax increase that would help fund schools.
The group, called "Strong Schools, Strong Dallas," is pushing for a Tax Ratification Election – or TRE – that would give the district additional money to spend on personnel, in-school programs and other teaching resources. The money could not be used to repair or build schools.
"There is no cavalry coming from Austin or D.C.," said Allison Brim, education campaign director for the Texas Organizing Project and a member of Strong Schools, Strong Dallas. "If anything our budgets may shrink from those directions for our Dallas ISD schools. In the meantime, the needs are growing."
They point to recent news that several Dallas ISD schools may lose their librarians to budget cuts as an example of why this extra money is needed.
"The TRE could be an opportunity to generate more revenue, to do it here locally, to have control over it here locally," said Brim. "And to make sure that every child in Dallas ISD has the necessary resources to succeed academically."
Taylor Toynes, another member of Strong Schools, Strong Dallas, says he understands the phrase "tax increase" leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. But as a product of Dallas ISD schools himself, he says he can't stand by and watch kids suffer because their schools don't have enough resources.
"I just want our children to be in the best position that they possibly can to thrive and succeed in this world," said Toynes, who is also the founder of "For Oak Cliff," a community group that strives to improve that neighborhood. "What are we gonna do? How are we going to fund our kids? They can't fund themselves. It's gonna take us adults to bite the bullet."
At this point, the group has not committed to specific dollar amount. They say they want to get input from the community to get a better idea of what could pass.
A spokesperson for Dallas ISD says the district is aware of Strong Schools, Strong Dallas' efforts and is willing to engage with them.
The final decision on whether to place a TRE question on the ballot lies with the Dallas ISD school board. They would not make any moves on this issue until later in the year.
An attempt to put a TRE question on last year's ballot failed.