A leader among school districts across the state and nation, Garland ISD’s more than 100-year history has been filled with excellence and innovation in financial management. The district’s Board of Trustees is continuing that tradition of innovation with an extremely unique Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election (VATRE) that will generate additional funds from the state while also reducing the burden on local homeowners. If approved, the district’s VATRE will not only provide the needed funds for GISD to continue preparing students for college, careers and life well into the future. It will also lower the district’s property tax rate by nearly 5 cents. Trustees unanimously called the VATRE Aug. 11, and it will be included on the upcoming November ballot. Election Day is Nov. 3, with early voting running from Oct. 13-30.
“If voters approve the VATRE, homeowners will see a lower property tax rate in 2020-21 while our school district will benefit from an almost $42 million increase in funding annually,” said Board President Johnny Beach. “These funds would be used to provide competitive teacher salaries, expanded Pre-K offerings, additional academic and fine arts opportunities, and more.”
Earning numerous awards for transparency and responsible business practices, GISD is one of just a few North Texas districts to have never held a VATRE. Rising operating costs and no new funding from the state led Trustees to call for the election, which will allow GISD to maintain its high-quality programming for all students.
A VATRE benefits districts by adjusting property tax rates. Since Maintenance and Operations (M&O) funds are used for daily operating costs, this rate is increased. The Interest and Sinking (I&S) rate, used for big-ticket items, is then decreased. Voter approval for GISD’s VATRE would actually make the 2020-21 property tax rate the lowest it has been since 2014-15.
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“GISD offers an unparalleled education,” said Superintendent Dr. Ricardo López. “We have invested in technology devices and hotspots to ensure our more than 55,000 students can stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also invested in special education and dyslexia services to ensure our students have the support they need to succeed. Additionally, we have invested in college and career training programs, as well as providing free PSAT, SAT, AP and IB tests, to ensure our students have opportunities after high school. This VATRE would not only help us continue to take care of our students. It would also help us take care of our more than 7,500 staff members.”
“In these critical times, this approach will benefit taxpayers and keep the district strong,” added Trustee Linda Griffin. “Our focus remains equity and inclusion for all students—serving a diverse community with a shared vision to provide exceptional education across the tri-cities.”
On the ballot in November, GISD’s VATRE will be labeled as a tax increase. This is a requirement of House Bill 3 and refers to the higher M&O rate. With the lower I&S rate, GISD voters would not see an increase. Their total property tax rate would be nearly five cents lower than 2019-20 and nearly 12 cents lower than 2018-19.
For information about registering to vote and voting locations, please visit www.votetexas.gov. To schedule an informative presentation for local clubs or organizations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-487-3256.