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Forney, Texas News

Forney ISD Announces Tax Rate Decrease and Calls for Crucial School Funding Referendum

Forney Independent School District (ISD) has announced a continuation of its trend of reducing tax rates for the fifth year in a row. Over the past five years, the tax rate has been decreased by a cumulative 25 cents per $100,000 in assessed valuations, showcasing the district's commitment to financial responsibility.

The tax rate for the 2023-2024 academic year is now set at $1.28, marking a reduction of 6.5 cents from the previous year. This ongoing reduction underscores the district's dedication to alleviating the financial burden on local residents.

In a unanimous decision, the Forney ISD Board of Trustees has initiated a Voter Approval Tax Rate Election (VATRE), also known as the School Funding Referendum. This measure is set to appear on the November 7th ballot, allowing voters to participate directly in shaping the district's financial future.

The School Funding Referendum's approval would bring tangible benefits to homeowners. For those under 65 with a homestead exemption, property taxes are expected to decrease, leading to an average annual savings of around $450.

Senior citizens aged 65 and above, benefitting from the senior citizen homestead exemption, will not experience any increase in their tax levy, and some may even see a reduction.

The funds generated from the referendum, if passed, will be allocated towards several key areas:

  • Increasing teacher and staff salaries to address the national teacher shortage and promote retention. This includes a $3,600 stipend for the current year, with potential for competitive raises in the future.
  • Adding armed police officers at each campus to enhance student and teacher safety, particularly during a shortage of law enforcement personnel.
  • Funding additional staff positions to accommodate the growing student enrollment, which has been increasing by more than 1,500 new students annually.
  • Ensuring sustained funding for academic programs, fine arts, athletics, and extracurricular activities.
  • Expanding career pathways and job training programs to prepare students for the workforce.
  • Continuing college preparation programs and partnerships with institutions like Texas Tech University and Dallas College.
  • Providing educational and enrichment opportunities for the entire community.

While the district has secured facilities through recent bond referendums in 2019 and 2022, these funds cannot be used for expenses like teacher salaries, security personnel, and program expansion. This underscores the necessity of voter-approved funding through a VATRE or School Funding Referendum.

Despite efforts by the district's State Representative, the State Legislature has not adjusted the per pupil allotment since 2019, resulting in insufficient funding to cover rising costs. The district's tax rate of $1.28, 25 cents lower than five years ago, reflects a series of tax cuts endorsed by district leaders.

Forney ISD aims to provide voters with comprehensive information leading up to the election. Early voting for the School Funding Referendum will take place from October 23rd to November 3rd, with Election Day scheduled for November 7th.

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