Frisco ISD explores cuts after voters reject tax hike

No tax increase for Frisco ISD

FRISCO -- The superintendent at Frisco ISD said Monday the district will not see cuts this school year after voters rejected a 13-cent tax increase over the weekend.

However, Dr. Jeremy Lyon did add the school board plans to begin the challenging work in September to address an anticipated $30 million shortfall in the 2017-18 budget.

On Saturday, nearly 60 percent of voters in Frisco rejected a tax ratification election (TRE), to increase the maintenance and operations budget from $1.46 per $100 assessed property value to $1.59.

Much of the increase would have gone to increasing teacher pay and hiring additional teachers to keep student-to-teacher ratios in check for the fastest-growing district in the state.

"The vote that was cast on Saturday was not a vote about our teachers," Lyon said. "The results we’ll live with, and we’ll move forward."

Frisco is far from alone in districts that have sent TREs to voters in recent years.

Voters in New Waverly ISD, about 60 miles north of Houston, approved the same measure on Saturday. District officials there called it "a massive win" on their website Monday.

Dallas ISD administrators pushed for a TRE election in November, but the idea was rejected by the school board earlier this month. That vote led to a major shakeup in school board leadership a week later.

Lyon said many districts are looking to a TRE because of messaging they are receiving from the state.

“If you have an opportunity to take care of your school funding needs locally, you need to do that,” Lyon said.

That sentiment comes, in large part, after the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously in May that school financing in Texas is flawed, but constitutional.

"We are going to turn directly back to the state legislature, and advocate and ask for that support,” Lyon said.

There is also an expected push from lawmakers in Austin to require stricter requirements on ballot language during the 2017 legislative session, which could make crafting a TRE more difficult for school districts.

Frisco United, which led the campaign against the tax measure, says voters sent a message to administrators to more effectively manage existing resources.

"No negative impact should come from maintaining our existing tax rate,” a spokesperson told News 8 in a statement Monday.

Lyon says the school board will begin the difficult work in September to identify cuts for the 2017-18 budget.

Possible cuts include reducing fine arts programs and a reduction in middle and high school coaching positions.

"To get to $30 million, we’ll probably get close to students, but we hope to not negatively impact who we are,” Lyon said.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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