In the upcoming election to decide on shutting down Dallas’ failing bus agency, Texas’ most powerful teachers union is backing bus drivers over taxpayers.

Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) says it will campaign on behalf of Dallas County Schools in a state-mandated election this November, in an effort to save the jobs of the agency’s unionized bus drivers. Due to gross financial mismanagement, the taxpayer-subsidized bus agency is nearly bankrupt.

Last week, DCS officially ordered a special election allowing Dallas County voters to decide whether to keep the failing bus bureaucracy open or wind it down.

The state legislature mandated the election amid calls by lawmakersschool officials, and taxpayers to shut down the troubled agency that’s been rocked by a multitude of scandals – from covering up drivers’ safety violations, to financial mismanagement and misuse of taxpayer money, to allegations of corruption.

TSTA President Noel Candelaria said his union will work with DCS drivers in a “boots on the ground” campaign to get out the vote in favor of keeping the agency open.

“On the ground” may be a safer place for some drivers than behind the wheel of a bus.

A new report shows that driver safety violations continue to be a problem for the agency. From October to May, DCS bus drivers were issued 39 tickets, and at least 13 were fired, for running through red lights or past other school buses’ stop arms. That’s on top of the hundreds of tickets the agency racked up – and covered up – over a three-year period from 2014 to 2016.

The union’s campaigning might persuade voters to overlook dangerous drivers, ethically challenged administrators, and incompetent financial management – but that wouldn’t be enough to secure DCS’s future. Moody’s reported last week that the financially struggling agency could still end up bankrupt even if it’s not shut down by voters in November.

Desperate for cash, board members voted to increase the agency’s property tax rate to the maximum allowed – one cent per $100 in valuation – though from the current 0.009271 rate, the increase won’t generate much additional revenue. DCS taxes all Dallas County property owners, whether they use the agency’s services or not, forcing residents in some school districts to subsidize others.

A public hearing is required before the bureaucrats can implement the tax hike.

Even with TSTA money and organization behind them, DCS will have a hard sell convincing Dallas County voters to keep throwing their tax dollars into the financially unsound and scandal-plagued bureaucracy. The election is set for November 7.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.