Update (11/23/08): See election results here.
Oops!! Been a little busy lately, you know with the election and all. How ’bout that Barack Obama??
As if we are not electioned out, there is one starting today.And based on the election results, I don’t see anything changing in the legislature or at the SBOE, in fact, I see things only worsening. All the more reason for us to get out, voice our opinions, and let those in their elected offices know he we feel. Unfortunately, we should have done that yesterday, but alas, it did not, I must warn you NOT MUCH IS GOING TO CHANGE WHEN IT COMES TO OUR CHILDRENS’ EDUCATION.
I want to remind everyone that today starts the early voting for the tax roll back election for schools. Early voting started today, with the election set for November 22. I have provided some background information below on the election. Through the duration and up until election day I will keep you all up to date. Please remember to cast your vote in this very important election.
Humble Independent School District enrolls 34,000 students and serves a 90 square-mile area that includes the communities of Atascocita, Humble, Kingwood, Fall Creek and Summerwood – among others.
As of the end of September, Humble ISD’s enrollment was already at 99.9% of its peak projection for the school year. School districts across Texas are in a financial crisis brought on by a seriously flawed state system of funding schools. State legislation (House Bill 1) originally understood to hold school districts harmless at 2005-06 funding levels also meant that the state’s funding for public schools is frozen at 2005-06 levels even as costs for fuel, utilities,employee compensation, insurance and the like continue to rise. There is no inflation factor and school districts do not benefit from local property value growth. The state takes away a dollar in state aid for every local school tax dollar gained from increased property valuations and new properties on the local tax roll.
Humble ISD operates five high schools: Atascocita, Humble, Kingwood, Kingwood Park and Quest. The district includes seven middle schools and 24 elementary schools. Additional schools are under construction and others are planned as about 1,500 new students enroll every year.
School districts across Texas warned legislators in 2006 that the HB 1 funding plan only provided a short temporary fix to the financial crisis. Though the Legislature provided funding for much needed teacher salary increases and high school program improvements, a long-term, permanent fix to the school funding crisis was not addressed in the 2007 legislative session. The long-term impact of implementing HB 1 led to the serious escalation of the funding crisis.
What cuts have been made in the past?
• Eliminate elementary honor choir
• Eliminate elementary art
• Reduce elementary counselors, librarians and nurses
• Secondary teaching schedules move to 6 of 7 rather than 5 of 7 classes.
• Reduce central support and administrative staff.
Budget cuts totaling $27 million have been made over the last seven years. Most recently for 2008-09, $9 million in cuts were made resulting in:
• Increased class size
• Reduced number of para-professionals
• Reduced number of kindergarten aides
• Reduced number of substitutes (needed when classroom teachers have professional development training)
• Eliminated instructional technologists at secondary schools
• Reduced two assistant superintendent positions
How much revenue does a one cent increase in the tax rate mean to Humble ISD?
One cent generates roughly $1.0 million in local revenue. Some additional state funding is provided to school districts whose voters approve an increase in their M&O tax rate. This is an incentive for increased local effort. Hence, a 13 cent increase would generate approximately $17.5 million in additional operating revenue for Humble ISD.
Why didn’t Humble ISD include funds for additional teachers and other staff, as well as for salary increases, in Bond 2008 last May?
It would have been illegal. Employee compensation and/or additional staff cannot be part of a construction bond package. Costs for construction and costs for day-to-day expenses such as employee compensation are paid for with two different portions of the overall tax rate–and this is carefully regulated.
What tax increase is Humble ISD asking voters to approve?
13 cents. This would increase the total tax rate to $1.52 per $100 valuation.
What does this mean to homeowners?
The owner of a $100,000 house would pay about $11 per month more in school taxes for maintenance and operations if the proposed increase is approved.
What will Humble ISD do with the funds if voters approve the tax rate increase?
If voters approve the tax rate increase, Humble ISD will receive about $17 million needed to balance this year’s budget. As about 87% of the school district’s budget is for personnel, the funds will be used primarily for employee salaries and to keep existing programs for students in place.
What will Humble ISD do if voters do not approve the tax rate increase?
If the rate increase is not approved, the district will implement another $17 million in budget reductions this year. This is the equivalent of about 331 teaching positions.
What could $17 million more in cuts include if the tax election fails?
• Eliminate all high school sophomore athletic teams
• Remove athletics from the school day
• Reduce middle and high school visual arts, choir, orchestra, and theater courses, and extracurricular activities
• Reduce number of high school dance classes and extracurricular activities
• Reduce number of middle and high school band classes and extracurricular activities
What is a tax rollback election?
The name is something of a misnomer as it allows voters the opportunity to increase the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) tax rate to the tax rate cap set by the Texas Legislature in 2006. A school district’s tax rate has two parts. One portion is for debt service and includes paying off bonds. It is called the Interest & Sinking (I&S) tax rate. The other part is for maintenance and operations (M&O). It pays for teacher and staff salaries and other day-to-day operating expenses. This election relates to this portion of the tax rate. The M&O rate would increase to $1.17, which is the state cap.
Could this election have been held at the same time as the general election in early November?
No. This election could not be called until the Harris County Appraisal District provided Humble ISD with its certified tax rolls. November 22 was the earliest date the tax rate rollback election could be held after the tax rolls were received from HCAD.
If this proposition is approved by local voters, will the Legislature still need to address school funding across the state?
Yes. Voter approval of this proposition allows Humble ISD to balance its budget this year without making additional cuts beyond the $9 million in reductions already made for 2008-09. The Texas Legislature created the current school finance system. The Texas Legislature must fix it. For more information visit humble.k12.tx.us, click on Focus on School Finance.
Are other school districts in planning tax rollback elections?
Yes. HB 1 was adopted in 2006. In 2007 – one year after the finance plan was adopted – 119 school districts held elections to increase their tax rates. At this writing in 2008, more than 100 school districts are planning elections.
How will taxes be affected for those over 65?
School district taxes on resident homesteads are frozen the year a tax payer turns 65 and files the appropriate exemption forms.
Key problems with the Texas school funding system
• HB1 froze operating funding for public schools at 2005-06 levels.
• HB 1 results in inequitable differences in Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA) funding from school district to school district.
• HB 1 provides no revenue increase for inflation. As new local revenue from increased property appraised values and new properties is realized, school districts lose the same amount in state aid under HB 1. The allocation for fuel has not been increased since 1984 when gasoline was $1.13 a gallon.
WADA funding comparisons
Deer Park ISD………………….$5,630
Spring Branch ISD……………$5,092
If Humble ISD received the same target revenue per WADA from the state as Katy ISD, it would receive an additional $9.2 million in state aid in 2008-09.
What is Humble ISD’s recent tax rate history?
Year M&O Rate I&S Rate Total Rate % Change
* House Bill 1 went into effect.
Town Hall Meetings
7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21
Kingwood High, 2701 Kingwood Dr., 77339
7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28
Kingwood Park High, 4015 Woodland Hills Dr., 77339
7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30
Atascocita High, 13300 Will Clayton Parkway, 77346
7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13
Humble High Auditorium, 1700 Wilson Road, 77338
Humble ISD Board of Trustees
Dave Martin, president
Daniel G. Huberty, vice president
Keith Lapeze, secretary
Dr. Bonnie Longnion, parliamentarian
Charles Cunningham, member
Brent M. Engelage, member
Robert Scarfo, member
Dr. Guy Sconzo
What will your ballot say?
[ ] For
[ ] Against
Approving the ad valorem tax rate of $1.52 per $100 valuation in Humble Independent School District for the current year. A rate that is $0.12995 higher per $100 valuation than the school district rollback tax rate.
On November 4, you may vote at the following locations:
• North Belt Elementary School
Precincts 45, 83, 363, 380, 742, 799, 840, 841, 847
8105 North Belt Drive, Humble, TX 77396
•Oaks Elementary School
Precincts 351, 388, 658, 659, 674
5858 Upper Drive, Humble, TX 77346
•Foster Elementary School
Precincts 199, 469
1800 Trailwood Village Kingwood TX 77339
•Kingwood Middle School
Precincts 340, 357, 590, 635, 636, 758
2407 Pine Terrace, Kingwood 77339
•Creekwood Middle School
Precincts 459, 563, 612, 670, 760
3603 Lake Houston Parkway Kingwood TX 77339