A growing number of parents and taxpayers organized as Frisco United are up in arms over the historic property tax rate increase currently before voters.
While Frisco ISD’s top administrator claims the district’s budget has been “cut to the bone,” public data shows that’s anything but true, with full-time teachers making up less than a third of FISD’s total staff. When all funds are included, FISD also spends more per student than any other district in the region.
The Frisco United PAC – a grassroots organization funded by parents and taxpayers – recently published a video detailing FISD’s “excessive compensation” packages and “top heavy” nature. Their slogan reads, “Our teachers deserve better.” According to their video, district administrators have been saying “Yes” to themselves and “No” to teachers for “far too long.”
Frisco United is urging their neighbors to vote “NO” on the proposed 13 cent tax rate increase, the largest ever attempted by FISD. In addition to massive appraisal spikes felt across Collin County, Frisco residents are already facing skyrocketing property tax bills unless city, county, and school officials reduce tax rates.
FISD is proposing the opposite.
If the tax increase is approved, some residents will literally be taxed out of their homes. Collin County residents already pay the second-highest total property taxes in Texas.
The district has tried to justify the tax increase by claiming FISD receives less funding relative to most of its peers, and that “Robin Hood” unfairly recaptures millions in local taxes to help fund other districts in Texas. While this may be true, recapture only accounts for 0.5% of its budget.
FISD also has one of the lowest percentages of “economically disadvantaged” students amongst its peers. Districts receive more state aid for low-income students, of which FISD has relatively few. In other words, they aren’t receiving as much money as other districts, but that’s partially due to wildly different student populations.
The more significant fact is that when all funds are taken into account (including debt service to repay bonds) FISD spends the most per student of any district in the region, according to the Texas Education Agency.
In its own words, the district has set aside “excess” operating revenue in reserves, which is so large it nearly equals what they collect each year in property taxes. Despite being cash rich, they’ve borrowed excessive amounts of debt, and already raised local property taxes to do so.
This explains why critics who opposed the excessive bond package in 2014 were right.
After FISD hammered taxpayers will higher property taxes for debt – including $27 million for their “Taj Mahal” administration building – it’s now coming back asking for more to operate classrooms, despite having “excess” revenue and an overflowing reserve fund.
It gets worse. FISD trustees made the decision to hold the tax increase (TRE) election on a special ballot prior to November, where voter turnout from residents would be at its lowest. Holding the special election is also far more costly than placing the measure on November’s ballot, and just one more example of the school board’s fiscal irresponsibility.
Early voting is currently underway, with Election Day on Saturday, August 27th.