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Voters in the Weatherford, Brock and Millsap school districts overwhelmingly passed Tax Ratification Elections (TRE) today (Saturday, Sept. 11). School districts around the state have felt major budget constraints due to funding formulas set by the Texas Legislature in 2006 with House Bill 1.
Under the concept of the TRE, a school district can transfer some funds from its Interest and Sinking (bond money) budget to its Maintenance and Operation budget, which pays for salaries and instructional programs. Local school districts have been resorting to layoffs and cuts in funding to find ways to keep their budgets balanced, and have had to dip into fund balances as well.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that the Tax Ratification Election for the Weatherford ISD passed by 85 percent," said Dr. Deborah Cron, superintendent of the Weatherford ISD. "That is a great feeling - it's a real community support for our schools."
The Weatherford ISD measure passed 1,492-250.
"What this election will allow us to do is to continue looking at what's best for kids," Cron added. "Had it not passed we would have had to go in and make cuts - we had already cut $2.1 million out – we were very fearful those cuts would impact what teachers were able to do in the classroom. So it's going to allow us to support teachers the way they need to be supported and continue to keep kids first."
The Aledo ISD passed a similar measure two weeks ago, but Dr. Cron warned that the passage of TREs is not a permanent solution to the funding issues school districts face in Texas.
"This is an answer as long as the current finance system is in place, because we are now at the Maintenance and Operations cap of $1.17. Thankfully, when many school districts get at that cap, educators fully expect we'll be back at the courthouse allowing that group to judge and determine what needs to be changed. That's generally what the legislature has to have happen before major overhauls are done, so I thinks it's really a matter of time," Cron said.
"We'll be okay for several years now, and it's such a relief to be able to focus on what we need to do instead of worrying about where the dollars are going to come from. We're going to continue to be very vigilant with our spending and be very conservative because we have to have these dollars last a long time, and I do want our community to know that we'll continue that conservative approach."
Voters in Brock passed their proposition 209-88, while voters in Millsap approved 300-244.