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Dallas School Board Decides Not To Call A Tax Ratification Election


A Dallas school district tax ratification election will not be happening in November. The Dallas school board did not approve an election that would have asked voters for millions of dollars in additional funding. 

The board considered three different tax plans during its special meeting Friday night— but all failed to secure the required six-vote super-majority. 

A 13-cent tax proposal failed by a 4-4 vote. A smaller 6-cent tax proposal also failed -- 5-3. A 2-cent tax swap failed, too.

Instead, the board unanimously approved keeping the tax rate at its current level — $1.28 per $100 of valuation, the district announced in a statement Friday night. That's the third-lowest among districts in North Texas, according to the Dallas Morning News

“I’m disappointed in the board,” DISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa told the Morning News. “This is very disappointing because we went to great lengths to put numerous plans for their consideration — and none of them passed. I’m disappointed in myself, because I couldn’t convince them on any of these. But I’m disappointed at them, in their actions.”

Dallas trustees couldn’t get the votes for a TRE last year, either. Fort Worth ISD trustees approved a tax ratification election earlier in the week.

Three tax plans were on the table

The biggest was 13 cents per $100 of assessed property value. That would have raised $120 million for the district. To the average Dallas homeowner, that’s an added $220 in taxes a year.

Option No. 2 was a 6-cent boost that would have raised $70 million. Trustee Dustin Marshall favored either of these choices. He wants more money for ACE schools, which stands for Accelerated Campus Excellence, and other needs.

“In order to scale those programs, we’ve had to make some very difficult cuts, including librarians and compensation increases. So there are a lot of different areas that we’ve had to cut back in order to scale our most effective program I would like to see that funding reinstated,” Marshall said.

The third option was a 2-cent tax swap, which works differently. A small portion of the district’s tax revenues are reserved to pay off debt. A swap would have moved that money to another pot where it could be spent for programs or, say, librarians. But it would have made future bond plans tougher.

That’s why Marshall wasn't a fan. 

Trustee Audrey Pinkerton was, however. It wouldn't raise taxes, she said, and what’s more, it would have supplemented the $60 million recently found or re-routed from the annual district budget.

“The tax swap would give us another $42 million and so a total $107.5 million for strategic initiatives and programs that directly impacts the students. I think that’s enough,” she said.

Our original story, previewing the vote:

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.