The board on Aug. 4 approved the Sept. 13 election.
“The board is placing school funding in the hands of voters,” explains S-TISD Superintendent Randy Hoyer.
Voters will be asked to approve a 7-cent increase — from $1.10 to $1.17 — which funds salaries, utilities and day-to-day operations that support campuses.
To compensate, the district plans to lower the interest and sinking rate — which is used to pay its service debt — from .30225 cents to .29659 cents, which the district says will result in a net tax increase of six cents. This will make the overall tax rate $1.46659.
The $1.17 rate — the maximum rate allowed by the state Legislature — matches the tax rate levied by school districts in Sinton, Mathis and Odem-Edroy.
“With the tax increase, the district also gets more state revenue,” Hoyer says. “It’s a win-win situation for us.”
Which is timely, he says, because S-TISD, as well as many other districts, has found itself underfunded because of state financial cutbacks.
“The revenue is not able to keep up with our needs at the moment,” Hoyer says. “We have a very old high school here. Things fall apart.”
Particularly critical, he explains, is a leaking high school roof.
Voter approval of the tax increase — based on a 96 percent tax return — would give S-TISD an additional $175,800 in state funding and approximately $100,500 in local funding as a result of increases in estimated property values.
For a homeowner whose house is valued at $68,900 — the average market value of Skidmore residences — the proposed increase would mean an additional $88 in taxes per year, which the district notes would translate to about 24 cents a day, or $1.70 a week.
Six years ago, the district’s voters approved a similar increase.
Faced with the need for funding, a district has three sources of additional funding, Hoyer says. It can wait for Austin lawmakers to increase funding, it can increase its enrollment — both are beyond the district’s control — or it can seek voter approval for a tax ratification election.
In 2008, an 18 percent turnout of voters approved a similar increase.
If voters Sept. 13 turn down the increase, Hoyer says the district will be forced to “make systemic changes to the way in which we offer instruction, “such as increased class size and possibly reduced course offerings in order to balance educational and fiscal responsibilities.”
The district plans to use its web page, outdoor marquee, legal notices and mail-outs to get its message across to voters.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5222, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.