When you go to the polls Nov. 7 – or during early voting – on the $750 million Fort Worth ISD bond proposal, leave your “No New Taxes” signs, T-shirts and caps behind. There aren’t any new taxes involved.
The Fort Worth ISD has designed a way to funnel money into the school system without changing the current $1.352 per $100 of assessed property evaluation tax rate. It’s called a Penny Swap, permissible under Texas law with the added incentive that it brings additional state dollars to the table.
There are two propositions on the ballot. Proposition A gives the school district permission to make the swap. Proposition B is a $750 million bond dedicated primarily to meeting growth needs, new schools and classrooms and critical upgrades to existing high schools.
School taxes are collected through the property tax and are divided into two categories – Principal & Interest funds, used to retire debt, and Maintenance and Operations funds, which cover basically everything else. Additional funding comes from the state.
What the Fort Worth ISD is proposing is to switch 2 cents from the P&I funds to the M&O funds. Fort Worth can do that because of its high bond rating and because property values in the district are strong and growing.
“If we do that, we’ll raise $3 million dollars here locally and the state will give us $8.5 million dollars to match that $3 million, so it’ll be $11.5 million for each penny we’re proposing,” Superintendent Kent Scribner told the Chamber of Commerce State of Education luncheon Oct. 13. “We believe that is a responsible way to invest in our students.”
We agree. The Fort Worth Business Press recommends a “yes” vote on both Proposition A and Proposition B.