school boardIt was one of the more odd school board meetings I’ve covered, and I once watched a superintendent get fired over a $50,000 corrugated metal building, and sat through a back and forth about two percent versus whole milk that ended in tears.

But last Thursday’s regularly called Dallas ISD board of trustees meeting ranks right up there, to the point where I partly took the weekend to figure out how to cover it (I was also waiting for a trustee to return an email where I had requested comment, but that’s neither here nor there).

In the end, it was Facebook that gave me an idea of how to cover this. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, what happened. I think. I mean, I was covering it and live tweeting it, but I’m still a bit flummoxed.

The evening began with two students from Sunset High making impassioned — and eloquent — pleas for the board to address campus safety. Several more parents were on hand to advocate regarding Hogg and Ben Milam elementary schools, which are currently part of a very preliminary plan to possibly consolidate campuses, among other things.

The board pretty much ran through the rest of the agenda — including discussion about approving the purchase of school buses that can happen now that voters approved a proposition for that in the midterm elections.

Then came a usually fairly innocuous item, asking the board to approve the staffing formulas for 2019-2020. These models are generally based on what district staff feels the district can afford, and what will keep the district in compliance with various laws and best practices.

The staffing formulas are usually presented during the board briefing, and then are again presented (with any potential changes the board might have asked for, or any other revisions) to the regular board meeting a couple of weeks later, and voted on.

But District 7 trustee Audrey Pinkerton had opted to hold some public town halls between the board briefing and the board meeting, and had created an amendment after hearing concerns about the student to counselor ratios, as well as the safety monitor ratios.

But it was the timing of her amendment that seemed to tee off several of her fellow board members, and indeed, it seemed that many of them didn’t even have a copy of the amendment when it came up on the agenda — the board had to move on to several other items before coming back to it because staff needed time to make copies of it, and judging from several comments by trustees and staff, staff got the amendment sometime Wednesday afternoon or evening, and trustees got it Thursday morning. (more…)

TREIn a bid to reassure voters, Dallas ISD trustees took the unusual move adopting a resolution that pledges to spend the first projected surplus a tax ratification election, or TRE , could produce on specific initiatives, including one that strategically increases employee salaries.

But the move was not without a lot of debate.  

Trustee Audrey Pinkerton put for a proposed resolution that would have the entire projected $126 million the 13-cent tax increase would generate in the first year be earmarked for those pay raises, with the board pledging to support the other three initiatives — racial equity initiatives, expanding school choice, and expanding pre-K.

But trustee Edwin Flores put forth another resolution that would have the board pledging to spend the entire $126 million on all four initiatives.

And yet another version authored by Lew Blackburn, dubbed the “compromise resolution,” combined the language of Pinkerton’s resolution with the language of the Flores resolution.

This was my attempt to marry two fairly similar resolutions,” he said. Flores said his resolution was modeled on the district’s strategic initiatives for the TRE, and said he wanted to align it with the entire presentation regarding the initiatives.

Legally, a current board cannot bind — or make promises for — a future board. But the resolution circumvented that by only committing the funds that would be generated from the TRE in the first year. (more…)

Editor’s Note: On Aug. 16, the Dallas ISD board of trustees voted 7-1 to put a 13-cent Tax Ratification Election (or TRE) on the Nov. 6 ballot. District 7 Trustee Audrey Pinkerton has proposed a resolution regarding the funds garnered from that property tax rate increase, should voters approve it. We asked her to explain it, and she obliged. 

By Audrey Pinkerton
Special Contributor

This Thursday, DISD trustees will vote on a resolution related to the Tax Ratification Election (TRE) on November 6. Here’s why that vote is critical to the future of the district.

By now you’ve probably been told that DISD needs more money. And you may be wondering why since your DISD property tax bill keeps going up. Unfortunately, due to the state’s convoluted school funding system, there’s a big disconnect between what you pay and what DISD gets.

At a series of community meetings in August, Superintendent Hinojosa laid out the case for a tax rate increase: without more state funding, the district won’t be able to cover its costs next year. He showed a 5-year plan to raise the tax rate now, set money aside for future cost increases (primarily to keep up with wage inflation), and borrow from those reserves starting in 2020. It’s a prudent plan that insures financial support for the district without relying on a largely unsupportive state legislature. (more…)

Today is the last day to register to vote, which means in 29 days, nine hours, and 15 minutes, we will all be hitting refresh repeatedly on our computers and/or flipping back and forth between all the TV stations covering the midterm elections.

But something else is on that ballot besides Beto or Ted, Lupe or Greg, and so on and so on. Four ballot measures directly related to how Dallas ISD will be able to continue it’s impressive and monumental spate of improvement will also appear on every Dallasite’s ballot, and we’re betting you’ve only heard of maybe one of them.

And that’s OK. There’s been a lot of information in the past few months, and a lot to digest both public school related and completely unrelated. But we’ll be taking a look at those measures and helping drill down to make sense of them this week so that before you hit the early voting location of your choice, you feel comfortable with your choice of yay or nay. (more…)

Dallas isd

Historic and projected state contribution to public education (courtesy Center for Public Policy Priorities)

As Dallas ISD advocates begin ramping up the campaign to pass a 13-cent Tax Ratification Election (or TRE) in November, news that will likely irritate more property owners came down the pike during a state budget hearing: The state will contribute less toward public education in the next two years.

In yesterday’s budget panel meeting, Texas Education Agency commissioner Mike Morath confirmed that his agency’s budget request for the Foundation School Program for the next two years asks for $3.5 billion less in general revenue for schools, and will instead shift more of the burden to local property taxes. (more…)

TRE

Dallas ISD trustees Dan Micciche and Justin Henry talked to supporters of a Tax Ratification Election before Thursday’s board meeting (photo courtesy Rob Shearer).

It took three tries, but a 13-cent Tax Ratification Election (TRE) was passed by the Dallas ISD board of trustees in a special called meeting Thursday night.

The vote (which was seven for, one against, and one absent) will place a measure that will increase the district’s maintenance and operating tax rate from $1.04 to $1.17.

There has not been an increase since 2008.

A cheer from the gallery went up as what various advocates had been asking for — a chance to put a potential property tax increase on the ballot — finally passed after three tries over as many years.

If voters approve the measure on Nov. 6, it will provide an additional $126 million every year to support early learning, racial equity, and choice school programs, as well as compensation. (more…)

Real EstateDallas ISD is holding public information meetings for a proposed Tax Ratification Election to be held in November, a Desoto man has been tapped by Governor Abbott for a spot on a real estate advisory committee, and we take a look at how the market did in the area in July in this week’s real estate news roundup. (more…)

property taxIt’s a drum several Dallas ISD trustees have been beating for a while — a Tax Ratification Election that would allow the district to increase services and programs at dozens of at-risk schools with the money raised by increasing property taxes rates.

But they’ve yet to get it on the ballot. (more…)