FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — Fort Bend residents have something unusual to ponder as Election Day approaches.
The Fort Bend Independent School District wants to hire more police officers and increase teacher pay, but to do this more funds must be raised through the district's Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Tax Rate, which is one of two tax rates Fort Bend residents pay. The M&O tax rate is used to fund teacher pay, staff compensation and other district operational needs.
The district said this will not increase the tax rate for Fort Bend ISD residents and the approval of the VATRE would actually keep the current school district tax rate of $1.21, an amount the state wants to reduce.
This is the first time a VATRE will be on the election ballot for Fort Bend residents, but according to the district, this is nothing new for other Texas schools that have needed extra funds. In fact, more than 75% of Texas schools have had a VATRE election, FBISD said.
The district said if this voter approval of a tax rate passes, some of the main things that will happen include:
- Providing funding for safety measures, including assigning police officers to every elementary school campus (Currently, every middle and high school has an officer.)
- Allowing increased compensation for teachers, raising starting pay to $60,000
- Allowing for long-serving staff to receive four years-of-service supplemental pay for their commitment and dedication to FBISD
- Maintaining Programs of Choice
FBISD currently has a $47 million shortfall and said it will take two things to close this gap: new revenue and reductions. The district said the new revenue will come from the VATRE. As far as reductions, the district has already cut $15.4 million. The district said it plans to commit to future reductions of $22.9 million whether a VATRE is passed or not.
To accomplish this, the district said it is reducing staff through attrition, strategically abandoning programs that are not efficiently and effectively utilized, and consolidating underutilized schools.
Early voting ends Friday for Fort Bend County residents. Election Day is Nov. 8.
Click here for more information on Fort Bend's VATRE or watch the video below: