Pastors for Texas Children honored First United Methodist Church-Dallas senior minister Andy Stoker with its “Hero For Texas Children” award Thursday. Pictured, from left, Stoker, Dallas Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa, and Pastors for Texas Children executive director Charles Foster Johnson. (Photo courtesy Angela Patterson/FUMC-Dallas)

It may have been unusually — for Dallas — chilly Thursday morning, but the warmth inside First United Methodist Church downtown was effusive when an organization of faith leaders held a breakfast gathering to talk about their unified efforts to advocate for public education.

Pastors for Texas Children members were also there to honor the church’s senior minister, Andy Stoker, with their “Hero for Texas Children” award, recognizing him for leading his church in work to provide assistance and care for children in Dallas ISD schools. (more…)

Even people who follow public education are often unaware of how the General Land Office and the Texas Land Commissioner and the State Board of Education can impact public school finance.

And that is, in part, because up until this year, things between the two entities and the services and funding they make available to school districts were pretty copacetic. But now current Land Commissioner George P. Bush wants to make a change, and it’s put him at odds with pretty much every single member of the State Board of Education.

You see, the School Land Board — a three-person board lead by Bush — oversees the largest educational endowment in the country. The board has decided it will bypass the State Board of Education’s Permanent School fund and put $600 million directly into another fund that goes directly to schools. The SLB will also invest an additional $55 million.

This change could impact how much Texas schools can spend on textbooks, among other things.

The education board also uses the $41.4 billion PSF to back construction bonds so that school districts and charter schools can earn lower interest rates. (more…)

Hurricane disaster preparedness

Marines patrol past a flooded house in Houston last year.  Just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in damage to your home. Credit: Marine Corps

We hate to sound all public service announcement-y, but now that this year’s hurricane season is off to an active start, FEMA wants to remind you during September’s National Preparedness Month that “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.”

How do you prepare for any multitude of disasters? FEMA and ready.gov offers these four steps to disaster preparedness:

  • Make and practice your plan.
  • Learn lifesaving skills, such as CPR and first aid.
  • Check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face.
  • Consider the costs associated with disasters and save for an emergency.

There are countless online resources for emergency preparedness, so we’ve assembled a basic outline of what to do, plus links to helpful resources. There’s plenty you can do now to be prepared in case a disaster strikes locally. (more…)

Even though housing sales in Texas fell 3.2 percent, demand is still strong, the Texas A&M Real Estate Center’s June Housing Insight revealed. The same report revealed that Dallas’ affordable housing problems aren’t anywhere close to abating.

The report said that the Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index reached its highest level since 2008 last month, largely thanks to construction employment and wages. The index measures current construction activity in the state.

Housing shortages seem to have spurred an increase in supply activity, as the inventory of vacant developed lots rose 3.3 percent in Dallas-Fort Worth. However, single-family housing construction fell 1.8 percent in the second quarter. Texas is still at the top of the market with 16 percent of the national total for permits, though, and Dallas-Fort worth comes in at a strong second to Houston’s permit activity with 3,295. (more…)

When it comes to property taxes, Texas homeowners pay some of the highest residential property taxes in the country, the research group Attom Data Solutions said last week.

According to economist Daren Blomquist, only New Jersey, Illinois, and Vermont posted higher effective property tax rates last year than then 2.15 percent Texans paid.

The company’s analysis showed nationwide that property taxes levied on single-family homes totaled $293.4 billion, up 6 percent rom $277.7 billion in 2016, for an effective average tax rate of 1.17 percent. (more…)

(Photo by iStock)

It’s Election Day for both party primaries, and if you haven’t voted yet, you have about seven hours left to do so. A whole slew of local and statewide races are on both ballots, and many of your seemingly not-big-deal votes actually do have wider-reaching implications.

We’ll be talking returns over on our Facebook page beginning at 7 p.m., and will have a comprehensive write up later this evening once winners are looking firm. So go vote, grab a glass of wine, and fire up the Facebook.

Don’t have Facebook? Hate social media? Feel free to comment on this post about what you’ve seen, reactions to returns, etc.

The bones of the Baer Barn B&B in Fredericksburg are steeped in history — the original structure was built in 1860. But this historical shelter has seen a little bit of new construction and a great deal of upgrading, making it a seamless combination of old and new. (more…)

Come March, a unique East Texas property will be available via auction, which is quickly becoming the best way to pick up big, beautiful real estate. The iconic Timber Creek Ranch in Winnsboro is up for auction, and CandysDirt.com is hosting a pre-auction preview and barbecue there this Saturday, February 24, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It may be your only chance to see 428 acres of pure heaven.

I know we say this all the time, but this truly is one of the finest ranches in Texas. And one of the few with full lake access.

“Timber Creek Ranch ranks among the finest working and recreational ranches in Texas, and its lake frontage is especially unique,” says Kyle Crews, Executive Vice President of Allie Beth Allman & Associates.

(more…)