Coming straight off of our 2017 San Antonio Bond Update event yesterday, San Antonio Independent School District is proposing a tax increase to fund the updating of aging schools in the district.
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Tax increase may come to SAISD
Board is considering about $500M in improvements
By Elizabeth Lepro STAFF WRITER
Faced with aging schools, some that haven’t seen major repairs in 40 years, the San Antonio Independent School District plans to ask for a 25-cent increase in taxes over five years to bring the schools into the 21st century.
The SAISD board held a special meeting Monday night to hear recommendations from the community-based Blue Ribbon Task Force. The task force, launched in May, recommended two separate tax increases, one to fund a $450 million bond for renovations at 13 schools and another to pay for a project that would modernize classrooms across the district and add enrichment programs.
“If our children are going to be competitive, there is no way that we can make that true unless they have the proper learning environment,” said Superintendent Pedro Martinez, citing the need to replace old air conditioning and sound systems and bring modern technology into classrooms.
The board approved a public meeting date, Aug. 15, to hear from the community and vote on the recommendations.
Once the board finalizes the details, the proposed increase and bond will be questions on the November ballot. As proposed, there would be a 13-cent increase in taxes in 2016 from $1.04 to $1.17 per $100 valuation, which is expected to generate about $15.6 million with matching state funds. To support the bond, taxes would increase by
an additional 12 cents over five years, starting in 2017.
That means that for the average home in SAISD — valued at $70,023 — the annual tax bill would go up $180.75 by 2020, from $999.62 to $1,180.37 without exemptions.
While the $32 million would go toward all schools in the district, the task force recommended 13 specific schools — seven high schools, four middle schools and two elementary schools — to receive the $450 million bond money.
A crowd of representatives from the Young Women’s Leadership Academy who attended the meeting Monday were already disgruntled to see their school’s name missing from the bond recommendation.
“When I saw on Facebook that this meeting was for a new bond and our name was nowhere on it, I was heartbroken,” said Karen Harris, a teacher at the all girls school.
Harris was one of about 15 parents, teachers and students at the meeting Monday night. Several said the superintendent had promised new paint, air conditioning fix-ups and exterior improvements that never came.
“I apologize because we should not have dropped that ball,” Martinez said.
After the meeting he said certain changes, such as removing the “Horace Mann Middle School” sign that’s still on the school, are barred by the Historic Preservation Society.
It isn’t just the YWLA that needs attention, said board member Debra Guerrero, who noted that schools throughout the predominantly low-income district are all playing “catch up.”
The meeting on Aug. 15, along with feedback from school representatives before the meeting, could change the specifics of the recommendations, but based on board members’ reactions Monday, it’s likely that voters will be facing two decisions regarding their taxes this November.
“This vote on Nov. 8 … is really about transformation,” board member Ed Garza said. “We’ve seen our district improve in the past 20 years, but are we happy with that?” firstname.lastname@example.org