An election to decide whether more funding should be provided for teacher pay was approved by voters in two area school districts.
The proposition passed overwhelmingly in the Keller school district, while in Azle the totals were closer:
Azle: 726 for, 612 against or 54 percent for and 46 percent against.
Keller: 5,487 for, 1,313 against or 81 percent for and 19 percent against.
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In Texas, a school district’s overall tax rate has two sides: maintenance and operations, and debt service.
State law says a district can’t collect more than $1.04 per $100 of assessed valuation on the maintenance and operations side without going to the voters for approval.
Azle and Keller schools said they can add millions of dollars to their budgets by swapping money from the debt service side of the tax rate to the maintenance and operations side.
District leaders said the move is a viable option for districts as they pay off their debt and communities experience increased property values. Azle school leaders want to generate $2.5 million by moving 13 cents from the debt service side of the total tax rate to the maintenance and operations side.
Azle’s total tax rate is $1.3290 per $100 valuation. If voters approve the proposal, the total tax rate would remain the same. However, tax bills may not drop because of increased property values.
That money would help pay for teacher salaries, facility maintenance and academic programs in career and technical training that allow Azle students to graduate with professional certifications.
At Keller schools, officials want to raise $19 million while dropping the total tax rate through an effort coined “Tax Rate Swap & Drop.”
The district said it has evolved from a fast-growth district to one that doesn’t have growing student attendance dollars boosting daily operations.
Under the proposal, Keller’s overall tax rate would go from $1.52 per $100 valuation to $1.51. The district would raise the maintenance and operations portion of the tax rate by 13 cents and then lower the debt service side by 14 cents.