CHISD Board of Trustees Call for November VATRE
Cedar Hill ISD Board of Trustees Vote Call for a Voter Approved Tax Rate Election
Voters Asked to Consider Additional Funding for Teacher Salaries and Additional School Police Officers
(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) On Monday night, the Cedar Hill Independent School District Board of Trustees voted to place a Voter Approved Tax Rate Election (VATRE) on the November 7, 2023 ballot. The VATRE would generate approximately $6.8 million annually to Cedar Hill ISD and fund three district priorities: Safe & Secure Classrooms, Retain Quality Staff and Protect Financial Stability.
Priority 1: Safe & Secure Classrooms (TOTAL $623,200)
House Bill 3 is a new state law that takes effect on September 1. The law requires districts to provide an armed security officer at each school – but the new law did not come with enough financial assistance to pay for implementation. The Cedar Hill Independent School District is expected to receive approximately $225,000 from the state for House Bill 3 to fulfill mandates costing the district $848,200. These mandates include requirements to hire nine additional officers and their medical benefits leaving $623,200 unfunded. If approved by voters, the VATRE would fund the hiring of the additional officers and ensure CHISD is compliant with the new school safety legislation.
Priority #2: Recruit & Retain Quality Teachers (TOTAL $2,236,080)
Currently, Cedar Hill ISD has the lowest starting teacher salary in the Best Southwest, at just $57,000. The district has spent the last five years tracking teacher retention and resignations, data shows that 53% of CHISD teachers will leave the district within two years, and the number one reason they leave the district is due to Pay or Promotion.
“Teacher pay has been a key factor in hiring and retaining teachers throughout the state and continues to be a challenge in CHISD. Research confirms that qualified teachers have the largest impact on a child’s success in the classroom. Without the passage of the VATRE, CHISD will continue to struggle attracting and retaining the best educators for our schools. A qualified and caring teacher has the biggest impact on a student’s performance in the classroom. If we want our district to grow academically, we need the best and brightest educators in our schools,” said CHISD Superintendent Dr. Gerald B. Hudson.
If approved by voters, CHISD will use more than $2.2 million providing a mid-year stipend to be given in January 2024. Stipends and raises include:
$2,500 stipend with benefits for all teachers, librarians & nurses ($1.18M)
$1,000 stipend with benefits for all staff including bus drivers, custodians & paraprofessionals ($1.05M)
Priority #3: Protect Financial Stability (TOTAL $3,474,491)
The legislature has not added any meaningful new money to schools despite rising costs due to inflation. Without additional funding, it will be even more challenging to provide competitive compensation to CHISD teachers and staff. With the passage of the VATRE, CHISD will have the resources to sustain previous salary increases from 2022-2023 as a result of inflation:
3% raise for all teachers (2023-24 budget)
1% raise for all CHISD staff (2023-24 budget)
5% raise for all CHISD staff (2022-23 budget, previously supplemented from now-exhausted ESSER grant funds)
“The passage of the VATRE would allow us to provide our teachers and staff with a competitive salary that takes into account inflation and cost of living changes,” CHISD Board President Gayle Sims said. “We would also be able to strengthen school security by hiring police officers to support each elementary school, thus putting the district in compliance with House Bill 3.”
Tax Rate Information
Cedar Hill’s total tax rate has dropped 38 cents in the last seven years; and Cedar Hill ISD currently has the lowest revenue-per-student in the area, ranking 15 out of 15 in Dallas County. After two previous attempts in 2018 and 2022, Cedar Hill ISD has failed to pass a VATRE.
CHISD has proposed a tax rate of $1.1326 per $100 of taxable property value. If the VATRE passes, a $300,000 median priced home, with $100,000 homestead exemption, would pay $2,265 a year in the CHISD portion of the tax bill. That is $830 less than what property owners paid in 2022 thanks to tax compression and the proposed SB2 increased homestead exemption from the state. Therefore if the VATRE is approved by voters, this average homeowner will save at least $69 per month on the CHISD portion of their property tax bill and be able to fund additional CHISD campus police officers and provide competitive salaries for teachers.
Cedar Hill ISD property taxes for citizens age 65 or older would not be affected by the school district’s elections as long as a homestead and over 65 exemption application have been filed with the Dallas Central Appraisal District.
What is a Voter-Approved Tax Rate Election (VATRE)?
State law requires that school districts seek voter approval to raise their Maintenance and Operations tax rate above a rate set by state law. If the board adopts a tax rate that is greater than the calculated rate set by law, that triggers an election called a Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election (VATRE), which is held on uniform election dates (November). If the voters do not approve the measure, then the M&O tax rate reverts to the maximum rate allowed under state law. A VATRE is different from a bond election, in that bond funds can only be used for facility improvements and not salaries. A VATRE funds salaries and academic programs.
The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, October 10, 2023 and early voting in the November election is October 23 - November 3, 2023. The deadline to vote by mail is October 27, 2023.
Cedar Hill residents are encouraged to visit chisd.net and attend community presentations to learn more about the CHISD VATRE proposition.