Years of debate over increasing Dallas Independent School District taxes came to a head Thursday night as trustee approved a measure that will put the question before voters in November.
Rising test scores and a strong ‘B’ grade on the new state evaluation demonstrate that Dallas ISD is making progress that justifies the investment, according to Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.
“The Dallas school district has improved no matter which way you look at it, whether you compare with districts in the county, or in the state or urban districts,” Hinojosa said.
The 13 cent tax rate increase would raise an additional $126 million each year for Dallas ISD. It would offset the $65 million the district must now return to the state because of rising property values in the Texas “Robin Hood” funding formula that takes money from wealthier areas.
The increase would cost the owner of a $185,000 home $240 more next year.
Hinojosa said the money would continue and expand 4 key programs that helped improve the district, early childhood education, college credit high schools, teacher pay and choice schools. It could also help reverse declining enrollment by luring back families who send kids to private and charter schools.
“It does provide a specific opportunity to recapture our students and that’s one of the reasons we put it together,” Hinojosa said.
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The School Board rejected the measure two years ago but board member Justin Henry replaced tax opponent Bernadette Nutall.
“We know our kids can succeed. We know how to help them get there. But we need resources to do that,” Henry said. “We have to prove that we can deliver for our kids.”
Trustee Joyce Foreman voted against the measure before and said it is still a mistake.
“Many of our residents are not able to pay the taxes that they have, so we’ll have more and more people losing their homes to taxes,” said Foreman. “Valuation of property is going up every year from about 7 to 10%, so every year people are paying more based on that.”
The Dallas School Board voted seven to one to approve sending the measure to voters in November.