Just a year after it passed a $1.6 billion bond, it looks like the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees was not prepared to go back to the voters, hat in hand, to ask for a 13-cent tax ratification hike that would have raised more than $100 million for three specialized programs. Oak Cliff’s representative Audrey Pinkerton was one of the trustees who opposed the idea, which did not get the six votes needed to be placed on the November ballot.
Pinkerton was joined by trustees Lew Blackburn Bernadette Nutall and Joyce Foreman in opposing the proposal. Dan Marshall, Erwin Flores, Jaime Resendez, Miguel Solis and Dan Micciche supported the tax, which would have permanently raised the state’s cap on operational taxes from $1.04 to $1.17 in Dallas, a figure that was last boosted a decade ago.
Pinkerton had expressed some doubts about the plan, saying she wanted to ensure the district was using its existing funds well before asking the taxpayers for more money.
DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the tax was necessary to bring in more students and give them a better chance at success. “Voters deserved a chance to help our students,” he told WFAA. “Now we must go back to the drawing board to identify ways to find over $100 million to expand programs that are directly benefiting students in unprecedented ways.”
The $100 million in tax dollars would have included $32 million to expand a program that allows students to earn up to 60 hours of college-level credit while still in high school, which is already in place at seven DISD schools, including South Oak Cliff High School in our neighborhood. Another $40 million would have funded the district’s early education initiative to provide prekindergarten for all 3 year olds. The rest of the funds would have benefited the Accelerating Campus Excellence program, which pays high-performing teachers and administrators bonuses to work at low-performing DISD campuses.
“There’s no doubt the programs are worthwhile,” Pinkerton said last week. “Some frame the issue as should we or shouldn’t we expand these programs. I frame it differently. I’m asking, ‘Can we expand these programs by shifting dollars from other expenditures that don’t impact student learning?’ “