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Dallas ISD’s mission to save the district – Part One: How the vote failed

ROBYN H. JIMENEZ | 9/18/2017, 11:42 a.m.
Possibly the most contentious issue the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees has had to deal with in the past two ...
Dallas ISD Board of Trustees. Standing, from left: Dustin Marshall, Joyce Foreman, Miguel Solis, Bernadette Nutall and Lew Blackburn. Seated, from left: Audrey Pinkerton, Dan Micciche, Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, Edwin Flores and Jaime Resendez.

Other portions of the TRE would have gone to support additional education resources, as well as raises for educators, administrators and other staff.

In “Round Robin” method, trustees had an opportunity to ask questions and make statements regarding the proposal.

Foreman brought attention to Robin Hood/recapture in regard to the 6 cent and 13 cent proposals.

She also pointed out that the district had the money before it purchased a $47 million building “in cash” that did not benefit the children in any way. Those dollars could have gone into the classroom, she declared. She went on to state that $20 million was put into TEI, but last year, 40 percent of the teachers did not get a raise.

Trustee Dustin Marshall spoke in favor of the 13 cent tax proposal, listing the many organizations that also supported the TRE proposal. He spoke against the tax swap, mentioning that millions of dollars were needed for school buildings and stating that it was simply “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” He then declared that the swap would reduce the district’s ability to obtain a bond.

“This option is a cop out,” Marshall said “It’s a political opportunity for trustees to claim they’re supporting additional funding for the district when they’re really playing a shell game with our money.”

He further stated that the money received from the swap would not be enough to address the true needs of the district, especially those schools with “the highest opportunity gap.”

Dr. Lew Blackburn reminded the board they had agreed on a set of priorities for the district last year and then brought them before the public. They agreed to and are already funding the collegiate academies, ACE, programs to address schools that were chronically under-performing, early learning programs, TEI and public school choice. Furthermore, to stop funding those programs would contradict the board’s claims of concern for its students.

“Do not think that we’re broke with a $1.4 million budget,” he stated.

He also pointed out that they had agreed not to raise taxes, reminding them that, “in 2015, the voters agreed to approve a bond election if there was no tax increase.”

Nutall clarified the Robin Hood/recapture, stating that with the 6 cent TRE, Dallas ISD would receive $72 million, but pay $13 million back to the state. Based on the increased property taxes, the state would give Dallas ISD less money each year.

At 13 cents, the district would receive $123 million and pay $37 million back to the state. Again, the state would give the district less money based on the increased property taxes.

However, with the 2 cent swap, Dallas ISD would not send any money back to the state because there would be no tax increase. Moreover, the district would receive $42.5 million from the state based on current property taxes.

A few trustees also seem to be concerned that the tax swap would not allow the district to repay its debts as quickly as it had been doing. However, attendees were assured that the district would definitely pay its debts. Foreman also wanted to make it clear that the district was not “strapped for cash.” Officials in that department confirmed her statement.