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For Cost Of A ‘Latte A Week,’ Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Could Get $17M A Year

Voters will decide whether to raise the overall tax rate by 11 cents to generate more money for the school district.

There’s something on the ballot in North Texas that isn’t getting a lot of attention. It’s an election to raise taxes in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district.

The district wants more money to reduce class size, upgrade technology and expand programs, like giving every kid a portable electronic device.

Spokeswoman Angela Shelley Brown says the measure would also give teachers raises and help the district keep up with other North Texas school districts.

“DFW is a very competitive region and we’re average to just below average and our school board has said that they want to be above average in salaries for employees.”

If voters approve the measure, the Carrollton-Farmers Branch district would receive $17 million a year.

It’s called a tax ratification election. Districts can hold these elections if they want to go above the tax rate set by the state. Voters will decide whether to raise the overall tax rate by 11 cents, from $1.28 to $1.39 per $100 of property value.

District officials say that amounts to a latte each week.

“So if you have a $200,000 house with a taxable value of $200,000 and this would equate to a $222 increase per year, which is $18.33 a month or $4.58 a week,” Brown says.

But not everyone’s happy about the potential tax hike. A group called CFB Citizens United says the district is getting more money because property values are going up. Opponents also say the district doesn’t need more money at a time when student enrollment is going down.

In August, several of opponents, including Carrollton resident Tom Mayfield, spoke out against the election at a school board meeting.

“I feel like the district is top-heavy,” Mayfield says. “I’m all for teachers getting pay raises and adding more teachers to provide better education to our students, but I just think the district needs to take a close hard look at how they’re divvying up all the funds.”

Elida Muñoz who’s lived in Carrollton since 1974 said she and her husband are on a fixed income and thinks the district already has enough money to pay for its needs.

“How about working on a budget like those of us do in our homes? I mean, when things get tough, you know, we cut down,” she says “And we don’t go out as much or don’t eat out as much. That’s how everybody does it.”

Several districts across North Texas have held tax ratification elections recently – and most of them have been successful. School officials say if the state isn’t going to pony up more money for education, they have to find other ways to get it.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.