The Everman school district is holding a tax ratification election Saturday to raise money to hire more teachers while simultaneously lowering residents' property taxes.
If the measure passes, the maintenance and operations tax rate would go up 13 cents, but the debt service, or interest and sinking tax rate, would go down 14.5 cents.
The total tax rate for Everman property owners is $1.2925 per $100 of assessed value. If the measure passes, the tax rate will drop to $1.2775 per $100 of valuation.
Everman schools would get $2.7 million in extra state aid simply by shifting money from one side of the budget to the other.
A sense of urgency in Everman's classrooms has pushed this election to September from the usual November or May dates
The tax ratification election "is all about reducing class size, and I don't want to wait until November to do that," Superintendent Jeri Pfeifer said last week. "We're up 280 students over this same date last year, and we're ecstatic about these wonderful new students. We just didn't have time to anticipate them."
Last year Everman had about 5,000 students. Now that mark is almost 5,300.
Most of the elementary classes have student-teacher ratios of 24-to-1, and classes for grades five and up are closer to 30-to-1, Pfeifer said.
The district lost $2 million for this year in state budget cuts and cannot afford to add the staff that's needed.
Two technical issues could hurt the election's chances.
The state's required wording on the ballot only tells half the story in tax elections such as Everman's, which would not raise the total tax rate.
It will read as a vote to set the tax rate at $1.4225 because only the 13-cent increase to the maintenance and operations tax rate is listed. Unmentioned will be the companion 14.5-cent decrease in debt service.
The second factor could be the change in usual polling places; all balloting must occur within the school district because there is no concurrent municipal election.
"We think we're doing a better job communicating than we did the last time," Pfeifer said. "Our parent meetings have had excellent questions."
The district's last tax ratification election, two years ago, would have switched the two parts of the rate evenly. It failed by only eight votes.
"Some teachers are saying, 'What are we going to do if it doesn't pass?'" Pfeifer said. "Of course we'll plug in any revenue we might get from these extra students. But we would just have to take it as far as we can."
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657