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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stunner! State Rep. Jason Isaac says he can't support DSISD tax measure


Education is a priority for my family and the constituents I represent, but I cannot support giving more of our tax dollars to a district that should make better use of the money they already have


Note: We received this letter from Mr. Isaac earlier this afternoon. We say "Stunner!" in the headline because it is rare for a state rep to publicly step into a local tax election, especially a local school tax election. And again, because it's not considered to be smart politics. Give Isaac a hat tip for stepping forward to voice his opinion.

Send your comments and questions to State Rep. Isaac at
Jason.Isaac@house.state.tx.us or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the letter

Letter to the Editor

As a parent and a taxpayer in Dripping Springs, I am concerned about the 12.5 percent DSISD property tax increase on the November 8th ballot known as Proposition 2. Both of my children attend public school in Dripping Springs, and my wife and I are both actively involved in volunteering and coaching in the district. I understand the financial situation DSISD faces as well as the impact that higher taxes have on my family and the community, and I do not believe that a property tax increase is the necessary or appropriate course of action.

At a time when families and businesses across the state are spending their money carefully, it's only fair to ask school districts to examine their own expenses as well. In 2005, school districts were directed by the state to spend at least sixty-five percent of their budget in the classroom. Yet, according to Protect that Classroom, DSISD spends less than twenty-five percent of their money on teaching our students.

This means that over three-quarters of their funds are spent on administrative costs, debt and other non-classroom related expenses, way out of proportion with what the state and parents like myself expect from our schools. Although the District claims to spend close 54 percent in the classroom, that number ignores an entire sector of spending, such as repaying bond debt. Regardless of the math used, DSISD is still well below the statewide bar and should continue to strive to become a more efficient and effective district.

The district has recently laid off custodians and librarians while writing a check to the superintendent - who has voluntarily resigned - for $151,500 on his way out the door. Yet, instead of examining the imbalance between their classroom spending and administrative expenses, DSISD is turning to the taxpayers for a bailout.

I kept my promise to reign in inefficient government spending at the state level and pass a balanced budget without raising taxes this past legislative session. But, passing a significant local tax will undo any progress that we have made when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

Education is a priority for my family and the constituents I represent, but I cannot support giving more of our tax dollars to a district that should make better use of the money they already have. For this reason, I oppose the DSISD Proposition 2.

Jason Isaac
State Representative
House District 45 - Serving Blanco, Caldwell and Hays counties
512-463-0647
Jason.Isaac@house.state.tx.us

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Maybe if Representative Isaac had done a better job in Austin - raising taxes wouldn't be necessary.

Like anyone cares what he thinks at this point. He is so irrelevant.

Craig Young said...

Sweet!

Les said...

I got mine is what he's saying. Too bad you didn't. Selfish & short sighted. Go back to your trucking job and move your trucks, educators have failed with your education. Isaacs should have grounds to ask for a refund for what was paid for his education.

Conservative and Christian said...

The lefty nuts here will not give him credit for anything since he is a conservative and a Christian. That is just the way this Blog has become. Most conservatives have given up on the RoundUp and have decide to let the liberals duke it out with each other rather than be attacked for any of their conservative opinions. I'm starting to feel like they have the right idea.

Fiscal Con said...

"Better late than never."

Guess Isaac is looking to get reelected.

Independent voter said...

Here's my hat tip to Mr. Isaac. I don't care if the posters here are lefty nuts or right wing nuts, what counts for me is that you stepped up to the plate and announced your opinion in a straightforward fashion. Thank you. I strongly agree with your position.

Val said...

DSISD taxpayers need all the help we can get. I'm with "Independent Voter" in thanking Rep. Isaac for making a strong statement about the impacts of this tax increase on people in the district. Maybe his leadership will encourage some undecided voters to see the issue in a different way.

A quick note about the intro to the letter - about this being "risky" for Rep. Isaac to get involved. I think the bigger risk is for a big tax increase to pass in this district w/o Rep. Isaac having publicly stood up against the increase. Rep. Isaac did the right thing.

Anonymous said...

What does being a Christian have to do with anything? Are you really going to get into a debate about "how would Jesus have voted on this proposition?"

I'm a Christian too. But this issue is about our children and their education. And about our tax rates. Please keep our churches out of it.

Please.

68titan said...

More Taxes means more spending. Cut the spending and You can cut the taxes. It's called accountability people. Way to go Isaac!

Anonymous said...

It is a bold move by Isaac. Nice to see a locally elected official step outside the conventional political posturing.

Anonymous said...

First, if the proposition is raising the rate from $1.49 to $1.62, I question the basis for this opinion if the math for the percent increase is incorrect (or skewed for impact). Second, I didn't find a Project Classroom website. I've seen other figures that aren't favorable for DSISD when it comes to spending, but they aren't so out of line when it comes to comparable districts. Furthermore, the district has had to deal with mold remediation at one school and dramatic growth which greatly impact debt. Nonetheless, the district maintains the highest financial accountability ratings as well as strong results by the students. Considering the cuts that have been made because the state didn't shore up funding and what is being proposed, I'm shocked any parent would take a stand against Prop. 2. It's easy to point out the pay for the superintendent, but he's still working and that pay isn't out of line with comparable districts. It's all a matter of context....

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jason Isaac!!!! I couldn't be more proud that I voted for you.

Anonymous said...

I thought elected officials were not allowed have a public opinion on bond measures, is this an ethics violation?

Legislative Watcher said...

Can anyone name another politician who stepped-up to say what Isaac did?

Did Patrick Rose, Bert Cobb?

Did any of our Hays County commissioners?

I respect Isaacs for publicizing his comment, no matter what the reason. He took a big risk politically and I appreciate it.

So should all of you nitpickers!

the hacker said...

"is this an ethics issue?"

Former Rep. Patrick Rose supported the Road Bond Package and so did Comm. Will Conley.

Try to file a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission. The commission takes such complaints and throw them into the round file.

There is little ethics here in Texas. Our officials are similar to those in Illinois, except many of the ones in IL have been brought up on charges.

Texas protects its own --- except there is no protection for the people.

Val said...

In response to Anonymous statement "Nonetheless, the district maintains the highest financial accountability ratings as well as strong results by the students. "

The problem with the "FAST" rating DSISD uses as a measure of fiscal efficiency doesn't include debt, which makes it somewhat irrelevant as a real indication of fiscal responsibility. Especially in a case where a district has almost maxed out its debt as with DSISD. DSISD has .45 of $100 valuation debt repayment rate. The max. allowable under law is .50 of $100. For DSISD taxpayers it means DSISD will probably try to get the rate raised to the "maximum amount allowable" during the next election cycle. Which would bring us to the maximum total tax rate allowable by law in Texas.

This ties into a detailed analysis I've just performed on ISD tax rates across Texas, only 9 districts among 1,000+ school tax rate exceeds $1,62. $1.62 puts DSISD in the Top 1% of school tax rates in Texas. Here's the link to the report: http://www.stopthehaystaxincrease.com/2011/11/04/fun-facts-about-isd-tax-rates-in-texas-dsisd-to-be-in-the-top-10-highest-taxed-districts-if-increase-passes/

I know school funding can become an emotional issue, but the numbers are the numbers. We pay much higher school taxes than 99% of Texas. I can't reconcile "financial efficiency" with this numeric reality.

Marissa Atkinson, Realtor said...

The State didn't uphold their end of the bargain and give the districts money they were promised and set budgets for.
Your wording of 12.5% increase is misleading. It's an increase over the current school tax yet is worded to give the reader the impression it is an increase over the WHOLE tax rate. Not fair.
The payoff to a "voluntarily" resigning superintendent was the only way to get rid of a rotten egg. Better some money now than the wasted money he would have cost staying out his contract.
In 2005, money was being spent on school facilities, not on operations. This bond is for operations budget, something that can't be reduced any more. Once money is spent for buildings, it's done. We can't take it back. Now we need money to not borrow from a bank, which would be much more costly.
Check out the fact sheet on the districts website before tooting your own horn.
Or better yet, alot our kids the same per student dollar amount as Lakeway, Austin, Westlake, etc so we won't need to increase taxes.
Why Mr Isaac are our children worth less than another, wealthier district?

Marissa Atkinson, Realtor said...

Mr Isaac, where is the money the state promised the district? If the State paid up, we wouldn't need to ask taxpayers for more money.

Explain to us why our kids are worth less than other area districts. If we received as much per child as Westlake, Austin and Lakeway where property values are actually higher than DS?
An increase would keep us from borrowing money from the bank which would cost the taxpayers more in the long run.
Lastly, where were you during the school board meetings? If you live in district and have a strong say in what goes on here, why didn't we see you advocating against and countering the arguments of the ISD?

When we are all doing well, no one cares how the State or ISD spends their money. Why doesn't the State care all the time? Has anyone ever considered combining 1A & 2A ISD to increase their resources and decrease overhead (ie administration)? Tell everyone how much DSISD loses to fund those smaller schools who receive more per child than we do.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't it Mr. Isaac who bragged during his campaign that if elected he would do away with the public school system? How he got elected I'll never know.

Val said...

"If we received as much per child as Westlake, Austin and Lakeway where property values are actually higher than DS?"

Per student revenue 2009-10
---------------------------
DSISD $11,156 (at current $1.49)
Lakeway $11,650
Eanes $11,592

Property values are higher in the other ditrsicts but their tax rates are lower. Are we trying to outspend everyone? Is that the goal? I'm not sure we can all afford it.

We're not underfunding DSISD. A comparison of tax rates across ISDs in Texas show clearly that's isn't case. Even before this tax increase DSISD tax rates are higher than 85-90% of Texas school districts. And we could get into the topic of skyrocketing property appraisals but that's another can of worms.

The State funding cuts affected all of Texas ISDs, yet DSISD wants a tax rate that would make our tax rates higher than 99% of them.

Independent voter said...

Hey y'all, Isaac begins his opinion piece by saying he is speaking as a parent and a taxpayer. I respect that. How many other elected officials (also parents and taxpayers) do you see speaking up publicly? I wish more would bring out their best arguments and may the best honest one win on election day. For me, the arguments against DSDISD's tax hike proposal are more convincing.

Anonymous said...

@ Marissa Atkinson, Realtor who said....

In 2005, money was being spent on school facilities, not on operations. This bond is for operations budget, something that can't be reduced any more. Once money is spent for buildings, it's done. We can't take it back. Now we need money to not borrow from a bank, which would be much more costly.

Once money is spent for buildings there are buildings which are assets at least. Money spent on operations is gone. If you can't afford to maintain operations this year, what will you do next year when you have the same or greater obligation? Is your answer going to be going back to the homeowners who will already be bearing the prior tax PLUS the additional debt service due to a bond?

Explain to us why our kids are worth less than other area districts. If we received as much per child as Westlake, Austin and Lakeway where property values are actually higher than DS?

Someone has already posted the numbers to illustrate that Dripping Springs students aren't being valued less. Homeowners here are being asked to provide more on a per student basis than 90% of the homeowners anywhere else in the state.

Mike Davidson said...

Representative Isaac, less than 5 years ago, moves into a strong public school district that has focused on providing a solid education for its school children for many years. He runs for and is elected to the Legislature and, in addition to failing to provide money on the state level in support of public schools, he does virtually nothing and his performance as a legislator is an embarrassment. Now, when the local school board, in an effort to continue to support the children in the DSISD, attempts to shore up the DSISD budget shortfall, he says he can't support the tax measure.
What a sad comment on Mr. Isaac, his ethics, his character and his intellect. I'm glad for his children's sake that he lives in the DSISD, because the residents of the District will continue to work very hard to see that all of our kids, including Mr. Isaac's, receive a solid education. This is in spite of Mr. Isaac's ineffective term in the House.

An Old Drip

Val @ Stop the Hays Tax Incresae said...

Let's address the prior points stripping out the guilt and emotion which serves mostly to deflect from the facts:

2010-11 (TEA Budgeted figures)
---------
DSISD Tax rate: $1.62 (will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011, so lets' use it)
Revenue per student $10,042
Spending on Instruction $4209
Percent on instruction 41.9%
----------
Wimberley ISD (comparable) Tax rate: $1.23
Revenue per student $9,968
Spending on Instruction $4749
Percent on instruction 47.64%
---------
Eanes ISD (so-called “rich district”) Tax rate: $1.20
Revenue per student $10,373
Spending on Instruction $5,134
Percent on instruction 49.49%
-----
Lake Austin ISD (Lakeway, so-called “rich district”) Tax rate: $1.31
Revenue per student $10,417
Spending on Instruction $4,707
Percent on instruction 45.18%
---------
DSISD, you'll note spends the smallest percentage of all on instcrution. Why is that? I challenge you to find a district that spends a smaller percentage of its dollars on instruction. The picture of financial wont and deprivation is not accurate. Plus the 2012 DSISD budget shows spending on instruction inexplicably to drop to $3,953 per studentt. Curious, that.

Casting the taxpayers as villains is an insult, one needs to look rather at how existing funds are appropriated and spend a few more dollars on the very children you speak of caring about so deeply.

Mike Davidson said...

It is always wise to take a deep breath before posting a response on a blog. Unfortunately, I didn't do that last night when I posted. I do not know Mr. Isaac personally but many of my long time friends that do know him tell me that he is a man of high integrity and character, and is very bright. I apologize to him and to his family for my negative comments about him personally.
I still strongly disagree with his decision to come out publically aganst the DSISD tax measure, but I'm sure his position is based on his strongly held principals...as is mine.
We Americans should be able to discuss our differences on political issues without attacking one another personally. I did not do that, and for that I apologize, Mr. Isaac.

An OLd Drip

Anonymous said...

I don't know if we will ever see the end of the "Support our Children at Any Cost" crowd, such as Mr. Davidson, in this area but DSISD has sure helped many of us to recognize that the Fox is in the Hen House. Just look at you recent TAX Bill and you will see that roughly 75% of your property TAX goes to your local School District for so-called Education. That is an insane amount and about triple what I paid in the State I came from. Supporting schools with a property TAX is an absurd idea based on some mythical idea of "local control" when it should be with a sales TAX where everybody gets to contribute. How many of you think for a second you have any control over the DSISD or WISD? Our schools are now little more than social experiments, and a sports clubs.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Mike Davidson for being a stand-up guy in posting the above retraction. Your long service in and around the DS community is valued, as is the contribution of your wife, who was a librarian in the District. With your son-in-law currently serving on the DSISD Board of Trustees, your family's tradition of service continues. Your opposing view to that of Rep. Isaac seems well-entrenched in supporting increased public school financing, which is OK. But, it appears to be increasingly in the minority.

Anonymous said...

Before anyone casts a vote, please go to the new high school and look at the tennis courts. If you are objective at all, you will witness taxpayer abuse and Westlake envy.

Anonymous said...

“Property values are higher in the other districts but their tax rates are lower. Are we trying to outspend everyone? Is that the goal? I'm not sure we can all afford it."
If our property values were higher our tax rate would be lower, but when you lower the value of X then Y may need to be raised to equal the same $$$. It would also help if there DS more commercial development as is the case in Lakeway & Eanes.

Val @ Stop the Hays Tax Incresae said...

"If our property values were higher our tax rate would be lower, but when you lower the value of X then Y may need to be raised to equal the same $$$. It would also help if there DS more commercial development as is the case in Lakeway & Eanes. "

What about the other 90% of the schools districts, poorer, richer, & about the same, that have a lower tax rate?

Let's focus on a Wimberley as a good peer comparison.

2010-11 TEA Data
DSISD Tax rate: $1.49 (Possible 1.62 retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011)
Revenue per student $10,042
Spending on Instruction $4209
Percent on instruction 41.9%
------
Wimberley ISD (comparable) Tax rate: $1.23
Revenue per student $9,968
Spending on Instruction $4749
Percent on instruction 47.64%

If we use the DSISD's current $1.49 rate and Wimberley's $1.23 rate, we see that Wimberley collects 21.67% less property less tax, and spends 11% more on instruction than DSISD. This points away from a property valuation issue, and to a spending issue. And darn it all, the DSISD 2011-12 budget shows a year-to-year reduction in per student spending on instruction. A tax increase and less spending on instruction - could it be any worse?

If the tax rate is increased to $1.62, then only 9 other ISDS in the entire state will have higher tax rate. Doesn't that point to something?

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with having quality facilities, from tennis courts to a performing arts center. These are legacy investments that will benefit generations of students to come.

What I do have a problem with is the District cutting front-line student services, but making no cuts whatsoever in administration (I think I'm gonna puke on the next person that tries to justify cutting catered meals & hotel/meal reimbursements for Austin-area conferences as cuts in administration).

The DSISD has launched an all-out propaganda campaign to validate a tax increase. Don't believe me? Pull out your current property tax statement. DSISD taxes are not listed on it because the District didn't want people to have "sticker shock" just before the election. Instead, the District is going to spend an additional $5,000.00 paying the County Tax Assessor-Collector to send out DSISD tax statements separately.

Is there anyone out there - anyone at all - who wants to try to defend that kind of tactic from the District?

Sometimes, government simply goes too far. DSISD has, & it's got to stop! Jason Isaac has simply become a public face & voice to express what many taxpayers feel. He didn't call the District out for hosting, for example, a "community leaders" breakfast, but purposely not inviting Rep. Isaac, County Commissioner Wisenhant & others they thought might oppose the tax increase.

How in the world can you support giving more money to the District when it has failed to be good stewards of the money it has now?

Kathi said...

Jason is a liar. He knows that the school is rated as spending 55% in classroom instruction. Shame on him! This isn't a bailout, but a lifeline to try to save the additional $3.1 cut for next year Isaac & cronies passed .
What would you cut to cut another $3.1 out of Dripping Springs ISD budget if the props don't pass? Note that it will take multiple cuts- no one thing will make up for the full cost.
1. Transportation (buses) will save around $1 million a year- good luck getting your kid to Middle School- 1200 students going to a school with only 1 access point and no one in walking distance, but the SCHOOL will sava money. If any group has to go somewhere (if we don't cut them all) their parents can take them.
2. All extra curricular activities ( sports, band, choir, art, theater, etc.) Kids don't REALLY need all that extra stuff on their college applications, do they? They can just go to community colleges.
3.Fire teachers and increase the size of classes to 30-40 or even 50 if we can fit that many in a room 5th through High School, get waivers in elementary and have the max of 24 per class K-4. Fewer teachers save money, don't they? If some kids fail because they didn't get good instruction, maybe the state will "up" what they pay us per student.
4. Not run air conditioner? After all, most of our schools didn't have a/c when we were growing up!
5. Cancel building insurance and hope that we don't get hit with a tornado or fire?
6. Fire all the nurses and librarians- won't save that much money, and maybe someone can get a child to Seton SW in time. What do kids need a librarian for anyway? They can figure out what books they want to read and their teacher can be trained to check them out to them.
7. Shutter one of the elementary school. Of course, they'll have to bring in portables and "lunch" will have to start around 9 AM, but think how much money they could save. Maybe they could even sell the closed campus to a charter school!
8. Who needs superintendents anyway. Don't companies with multi-million dollar budgets run themselves? So we miss a few deadlines for reports, oh well!
9. Stop all outside watering. When the dust gets so bad that the schools are getting dirtier, I guess the teachers can stop class earlier so they can sweep and dust. Then, when it starts raining again occasionally, we can purchase plants all over again. The trees are the pesky ones- if we lose mature trees, they're thousands to replace, but maybe we can find that money in the future.
10. Fire all experienced teachers and have only 1st year teachers, they're cheaper.
11. Is there a way to let anyone thinking of moving to Dripping Springs not to do so because our schools are maxed and we can't afford to take any more kids in for which the state doesn't pay? I'm guessing the real estate companies won't like it, neither will the Chamber of Commerce, but it will be cheaper to put up signs & run ads in the local papers than to add students.

Kathi said...

Isaac doesn't seem to think that the $2.1 million he helped to cut from Dripping Springs ISD was real money. He helped to cut another $3.1 million next year. For a district the size of DSISD, $5.2 million is devastating. As to the pay for Dr. Herrick,the timing wasn't great,and though Dr. Herrick did resign, it wasn't really a "free will" thing-anyone who has paid attention knows that, so I think that Isaac is being disingenuous, at the least. When someone resigns under pressure, it is typical to give a severance pay. I wish it hadn't happened, but the reality is that when you're looking to change directions a bit, it is sometimes better to go ahead and change directions. If Isaac wants to punish our kids by keeping that $3.1 cut for ~$150,000, shame on him.

For us, this will amount to about a $10 a week increase. We figure our daughter is worth $10 a week, and when we realize that this won't just pay for her, but for all the 4,000+ students (including Jason Isaac's TWO children) we couldn't even consider doing anything but voting FOR both propositions! We see this as saving our future by investing in their schooling now.

We'll make sacrifices to save that extra $10 a week, but we believe that is is important, and where your treasure is, your heart is indeed there.

Anonymous said...

Kathi - You're certainly passionate, but terribly misinformed. Starting your comments with personal attacks only validates Rep. Isaac's position.

Instead of using the typical, & now very, very stale scare tactics of "the sky is falling" on our schools, or the tried & true "c'mon, it's for the children" line, why don't you address the hard data pointed out in previous comments (like Val's)? The truth is you can't answer those challenges without invoking a cliche.

As for administrators, they can all go; but they won't because most of them will never leave the nest on the ground they have here. There are only four of them in the whole district that are really worth a damn anyway. Your concern with reports being filed on time (gotta love that bureaucracy) is underwhelming.

Be very clear on this point: the community is what makes our schools great. When DSISD keeps looking at the community like an ATM machine, it's time to take back control and demand greater fiscal responsibility!

Judy said...

I'm with Mike and Kathi - at best Isaac is being disingenuous. He knows the reason bond debt is not included in those FAST ratings is that they cannot be. Bond debt fluctuates greatly from district to district and year to year, depending on growth and construction. The only way to make a fair comparison is to leave them out. It's not a conspiracy to hide numbers - those are readily available. All the figures on the DSISD website have to be verified by an independent assessor.
Be suspect of numbers skewed to make someone's point seem better-founded and posters like Val who conduct their own "study" to compare district expenses.
If these measures don't pass, you will see teachers being let go, programs cut, class sizes increase (even more than they have already). Teachers may see a pay cut (having already lost sick days, health care cuts, and frozen salaries).
There are surely some places the district can cut their budget, but having cut 8% of operating budget last year, and an additional 10% this year, these are cuts every student will feel in some measure. Could you cut 18% of your operating budget (apart from mortgage debt)?
I lay most of the blame at the feet of the Texas Legislature, who in 2006, restructured how districts would receive their funding, and promised to "hold harmless" the districts and continue to fund public education. The legislature broke their promise to the children of Texas.
DSISD is using all tools available to preserve the excellent education we provide our children. There have been cuts, and there will be more. Raising the tax rate is one more tool that may be used now, and set aside later. NO one likes paying more taxes, but if you want to be angry with someone, be angry with Jason Isaac and his Tea Party cronies who sacrificed school funding on the altar of their ideology.

Anonymous said...

Kathi?!?!? Would that be Kathi Thomas??? Bitterly partisan, venom spewing democrat Kathi Thomas??? Who doesn't even have kids in DSISD? Who is the lap/attack dog of Board Trustee John Adams (and formerly for Patrick Rose)??? Are you that "Kathi" with an "i"???

It just seems important that if you're going to make such a personal attack, and then try to back it up with your doomsday forecast of what will happen to the school district, that perhaps the readers should have some context for your views.

I don't think anyone can argue that DSISD is a quality school district. Still, in the bottom line, we have a school district that is under-performing in the area of fiscal responsibility. Why is it so out of line for the taxpaying community to demand better performance instead of throwing more money at bad management?

Anonymous said...

Judy is making the very point that Val and others are making.

"If these measures don't pass, you will see teachers being let go, programs cut, class sizes increase (even more than they have already). Teachers may see a pay cut (having already lost sick days, health care cuts, and frozen salaries)."

Does anyone from the tax and spend crowd even understand that there have been ZERO cuts in administration? But, you still keep talking about cuts that directly affect students before you even consider cutting the fat in administration and other non-student service cost centers.

"Could you cut 18% of your operating budget (apart from mortgage debt)?"

Well, I guess I wouldn't have to if all I had to do is drain more money from my neighbors, instead of making the necessary adjustments to operate with what I've got on-hand. Do you really think there are taxpayers in the DS community who haven't lost jobs or had their income reduced over the past couple of years?

I support the DSISD, but that doesn't mean carte blanche support. If the current leadership can't figure it out, I'm sure the community can find someone who will.

Anonymous said...

Judy wrote:

"All the figures on the DSISD website have to be verified by an independent assessor. Be suspect of numbers skewed to make someone's point seem better-founded and posters like Val who conduct their own 'study' to compare district expenses."

NOW HEAR THIS * NOW HEAR THIS... The "independent assessor" Judy refers to is the DSISD's Bond Counsel and the District's own "business office". DO NOT fall for the propaganda that the District is transparent about its dealings. Not only is it not transparent, it actively works to keep information from the public. The superintendent issue is just one example of how secretive the DSISD has been in conducting its business.

Voting "NO" on this tax increase is the only way the voters are ever going to get the DSISD's attention. Yes, it will be a painful, stinging bitch slap, but District officials haven't listened to any other message the communbity has tried to send it!

Val @ Stop the Hays Tax Increase said...

I'm happy our community is finally having this discussion. I think we can figure it out together. Regarding this statement: Studies skewed to make numbers look good

The numbers I've cited all come directly from TEA Budget Reports. I haven't done any math except calculate percentages. I wasn't sure the audience wanted all of the underlying data (All supporting reports have always been available on the stopthehaystaxincrease.com website), but let's get it out there.
---
All Texas ISD rates are listed here. If you have a free time, look for the needle in the haystack, the 9 ISDs with tax rates that excceed our $1.62 proposed rate.
---
Annual funding revenue per student has year-to-year from $9090 per student in 2002-03 to $11,291 in 2009-10. TEA Budget Reports: 2009-10 | 2008-09 | 2007-08 | 2006-07 | 2005-06 They've made it easy by putting the "Revenue per student" number as the top line item.
---
The DSISD 2011-12 budget shows instruction spending dropping from $4,498 in 2010-11 to $3953 per student in 2011-12, a 12% reduction
---
There are many more reports. If I need to post more links to more, no worries. I can do it. I'm glad we're finally talking about the numbers.

Val @ Stop the Hays Tax Increase said...

Broken link in prev. post, sorry! Here's the correct link:

The DSISD 2011-12 budget shows instruction spending dropping from $4,498 in 2010-11 to $3953 per student in 2011-12, a 12% reduction

If you prefer the full 100+ page 2011-12 DSISD budget it's here.

Judy said...

Even if you cut every administrator at central office and every principal, you would not make up the 18% we would have to cut to bridge the funding gap the state dropped in our laps. So enough about administration, which did sustain cuts. Those who say there were zero have not looked at the facts. Yes, there could be deeper cuts in many areas, and let's bring them on, but to color the entire picture in that hue is to distort.

Posts here have touted secret negotiations to pay off the superintendent. But personnel deliberations are appropriately held in closed session to protect the rights of the personnel. Decisions made in those sessions are public record. Anyone who has been to a school board meeting in the past year knows why the superintendent has been asked to leave. It's bad timing for the election, but it's a decision that has been overdue. It's time for new leadership, nonetheless. The decision is unrelated to the election issues.

People keep trying to adhere to some purist "If the Tea Party backed it, it must be so" stance, but fail to consider that politics writ large may fail when applied across the board, especially for investments that only pay off in the long term, like public education. The Conservatives never met a tax hike they'd consent to. Their all-or-nothing approach is evident in the "district needs to be bitch-slapped" comment.
Your inability to envision any incremental process or any middle ground on the "absolutely NO new taxes" stance will wind up bitch-slapping the students and teachers of the district.

Val @ Stop the Hays Tax Increase said...

Who's in the Tea Party? Another diversion from the root issue, let's get back to it. Judy is mistaken. DSISD has published that the Texas cuts will amount to 6.4% for 2012-13, not 18% in as she indicates. Here is the DSISD Document with the section highlighted. There's no 18% cut, so based on Judy's reasoning, yes, it would be possible for the district to exercise reasonable fiscal restraint and responsibility so taxpayers who are hurting during a recession are not further injured by the very people they pay to be the trusted stewards of their money and their children.

If the argument for a tax rate increase is the state funding cuts, which don't take effect until next year, 2012-13, then why did DSISD set the ballot up so the tax increase would be retroactive to Jan 1st of this year, 2011, a year that was fully funded? Taxpayers have both a right to ask and a right to an answer without being guilted, haranged and labeled.

c said...

"Maybe if Representative Isaac had done a better job in Austin - raising taxes wouldn't be necessary."

Do you expect Isaac to reform the public school financing mess on his own in the legislature?

"The lefty nuts here will not give him credit for anything since he is a conservative and a Christian."

What does being a Christian have to do with the issue of public school financing---or with governance in general?

According to our US Constitution---nothing!

Conservative and Liberal views are equally valid in terms of self governance because, according to our US Constitution, EVERYONE has a voice in the governing process.

Even in a majority rule, the minority is protected against abuse of basic rights.

Val @ Stop the Hays Tax Increase said...

My apologies. I got the html wrong for the link above. Here's the good link => DSISD shows 6.4% Texas funding cuts for 2012-13, not 18% cut.

KP said...

I care what he says and he is so VERY relevant!

Anonymous said...

Judy - Maybe cutting every administrator won't make up the 18% shortfall. But, by your own admission, they could have cut deeper in administration; & didn't. Why should the community give the District more money with which to do a half-ass job?

The superintendent problem has been shrouded in secrecy. Immediately after the announcement of his retirement, the Statesman requested the separation agreement between Dr. Herrick and the Board; & was flatly told one didn't exist - an outright lie that has now been well-documented. Even today, the District is trying to avoid disclosing material related to the issue (material that can in no way be construed as a personnel record).

You write, "It's bad timing for the election, but it's a decision that has been overdue. It's time for new leadership, nonetheless. The decision is unrelated to the election issues." How in the world can you make that statement? If the Superintendent has been ineffective for more than a year, why would we raise taxes before taking a fresh, disciplined look at the District's spending. Further, once you total the Superintendent's payoff, plus additional line item payments to him, plus the cost of a search firm, plus legal fees, plus the compensation package & relocation expenses to hire a new superintendent, we're going to spend roughly 20% of the proposed tax increase on the superintendent position. That's just poor fiscal management any way you cut it, but especially so in this current economic climate.

It's unclear how you draw your "tea party" analogy, except that it appears you disagree with tea party principles & the comments criticizing the District, & have thus lumped them all together as being wrong. Good luck with that!

The "bitch-slap" comment appears to express the sentiment of wishing it wasn't necessary, but that it may be unavoidable in light of the District's refusal to hear any other message from the public. It seems you're reading what you want into these comments.

Finally, you write, "Your inability to envision any incremental process or any middle ground on the 'absolutely NO new taxes' stance will wind up bitch-slapping the students and teachers of the district."

Could you tell us, please, exactly what middle ground has been offered to the voters? Where is the proposed incremental tax increase, or even an increase that doesn't take our rates directly to the constitutional cap? If you could point out A.N.Y. incremental or intermediate proposal from the District, that would be dandy!!!

DSISD Taxpayer said...

Ironic that Judy mentions the first people to be targeted for cuts are the students and teachers. Exactly the WRONG place to cut. But it shines a light the root of the problem, doesn't it?

Why have none of the DSISD folks addressed the very real budget numbers showing spending on the instruction declining in 2012-13, even *with* this tax increase? Explain this, please. Where's the money going? Maybe that's where Herrick's juicy severance package came out of: classroom spending in 2012-13 ;-).

Anonymous said...

The tax increase lost by a big margin. The debt bond was passed. I hope all who voted against the tax increase pay close attention to the school board's reaction. If they follow through with cuts in the budget they should not be made in the bedrock teaching and classroom instruction areas.

Val @ Stop the Hays Tax Increase said...

The unofficial, but final results for the Nov. 8, 2001 election from the Hays County Elections Office

PROPOSITION: DSISD TAX RATIFICATION
FOR 694 votes, 25.98%
AGAINST 1,977 votes, 74.02%
Total votes cast 2,671

PROPOSITION: DSISD BOND
FOR 1,420 votes, 53.28%
AGAINST 1,245 votes 46.72%
Total votes cast 2,665

Anonymous said...

DSID does take monetary donations or call it a user tax/fee based on the number of children you have using the school system. You can always donate your dependent deduction that you get from IRS.

Anonymous said...

After reading this all through, what does not make sense is why the State figures DO NOT SHOW TOTAL FUNDS RAISED IN DISD! Stating tax rates and the amount spent does not really mean anything if the total amount is not compared too. The total amount is effected by property values and the mix of families with kids versus NOT having kids etc. Sheez folks....How can anyone make a decision without the FULL FACTS? I do not know if DISD is to blaim or not... but we sure did a good job of ignoring the bottom line information. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

When it is all said and done, Texas has a lousy and unfair way to fund schools. I suggest everyone deal with that when the opportunities arise. I wonder what Mr. Isaac has thought of in those terms. Why are we funding so many illegal folks education? Sorry.. no excuses there. BTW, Texas ranks per capita spening near the bottom 43rd compared to the other states. Oh another fact... Over the last five years NOT including 2011, we lost 1/3 of our teachers due to poor pay and conditions...not counting retirment etc. Keep in mind, we have a large tax payer subsidized workforce and Texas has exploded with that. No wonder folks...we are spending more money because less are paying for education. It is an ugly reality, but this small tax increase to ASSURE your kids get what they need is small potatoes. Wake on the next election. Both parties do not care about us. Cutting the budget only and not SOLVING our problems....will be doom in my opinon.

Anonymous said...

Comparing one broken system to another is not going to end well. Most you have NO CLUE what it is like teaching in the current system. One big problem is the laws passed. No child left behind should be, if your serious about an eductation, we will help provide that, but IT IS A NOT A RIGHT TO CHILDREN AND PARENTS WHO DO NOT CARE TO REALLY TRY. We made a huge and costly mistake bringing in pre-K and forcing everyone to go to a college prep type system. Folks, there will always be 30 percent or so on average students that DO NOT CARE AND WILL NEVER CARE ABOUT EDUCATION. Thus educating subsidized Illegals and the "Don't take Education SERIOUSLY crowd" is why it is costing you allot of money. Why.... just look in the mirror and the folks you elected. Our education system is compared to ... lets say China... they do not even educate AT ALL over 50 percent of the population. I would say, the movement has used education like everything else.... a screen to what is really happening and thus creating a bubble of education like for real-estate and military. This will never be fixed and yes Dripping Springs.. like for that last 20 years you will continue to spend more on education because your political heroes designed it that way. DISD I am pretty sure can help a little....but most of the high cost is not because of DISD issues.... We should only educate those who are WILLING TO ROLL UP THEIR SLEEVES and WORK. STOP the subsidy of low income jobs and pay the real price of the product. Bring the outsourced factory jobs back. Those go to the ones who do not want a college education and not willing to work for it. All in all, the solution to the high education taxes is far beyond DISD. Voting it down did absolutely nothing but hurt your own community. Start by voting out every incumbent out of office...every last one. Now that will do something.

Anonymous said...

DISD may have a few issues, but the big issues are we are not respecting our teachers nor are we pushing our own kids towards excellence. My kids went to DISD and then on to UT and Texas A&M...yes I know... conflict there. But throughout this excellent system of education (DISD), many many kids and their parents.. really did not get it. They blaimed the teacher and the admin for their issues. They were lazy and more occupied with other areas in life. I voted to support the district and I do not even have kids in it anymore. But I do know two things, this district does an outstanding job considering many parents and kids whine allot and do not work very hard on excellence, and taxes have always been high. Why..... like previous posts have said, stupid stupid laws and very unfair tax system. I think many of you made a mistake and went after the wrong issue. The laws are pushing our schools to have to spend more and many get allot or money from the state based on race and economics. Sorry, DISD is being left out to dry by the State. unfortunately, you that are trying to punish the district will find that out soon enought. DISD can do a few things, but pales in comparison to what need to really be done.