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Northwest ISD to consider VATRE to combat school funding crisis

Northwest ISD to consider VATRE to combat school funding crisis
An image of the Texas Capitol with the text "Texas School Funding Crisis" overlaed on top

As school districts across the state feel the effects of the Texas school funding crisis, Northwest ISD is in the process of analyzing a potential VATRE – Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election. If approved, these funds would be used to balance the district budget to protect class size ratios and student programs as well as continue to provide teacher and staff raises.

If Northwest ISD calls a VATRE and is successful, the district would generate an estimated $15 million in additional funding that is not subject to recapture. This means all additional funds raised would stay within Northwest ISD, instead of a portion being sent to the state’s general fund.

What’s Happening: School districts across Texas are facing significant budget shortfalls because of a lack of action from state leaders to increase public education funding despite significant inflation. While Northwest ISD expects to adopt a deficit budget of $14 million, some districts expect to adopt deficit budgets exceeding $100 million.

What Are State Leaders Doing: State leaders have approved $4 billion in funding increases to Texas schools but have refused to provide it despite the state’s $33 billion budget surplus, some of which comes from recapture payments sent by school districts. Governor Greg Abbott has remained firm in his stance that he will not approve additional funding for schools unless any such legislation includes his additional legislative priorities.

What is NISD Asking Voters: If an election is called by trustees and approved by voters, the M&O tax rate would increase by 3 cents from the proposed 2024-2025 rate of $0.6669 to $0.6969. This represents an annual tax increase of $120 per year – or $10 per month – to a home assessed at $500,000 with a homestead exemption on file.

What The Funds Are For: By generating $15 million this year, and more each year going forward, Northwest ISD can continue to provide current class sizes and student programs while funding teacher and staff raises. As the district continues its exponential growth, the new funding would increase per year to benefit student programs and competitive salaries.

Why It Matters: Without additional funding, Northwest ISD will face the same circumstances neighboring districts have: increasing class sizes, cutting student programs and reducing overall staff – including both teachers and non-teaching staff alike.

Northwest ISD continues to work to maintain or reduce class sizes, which provides a stronger learning environment for students. Northwest ISD also plans to expand its student programs, such as award-winning career and technical education programs, to prepare students for success after high school, whether in college or the workforce. A lack of funding would reverse both these plans.

No district that borders Northwest ISD has a lower maintenance and operations – or M&O – tax rate than its current 2023-2024 rate of $0.6692 per $100 of taxable property. This figure marks the district’s lowest M&O tax rate in more than 30 years. In Texas, a school district’s M&O tax rate funds day-to-day operations, such as salaries, student programs and utilities.

What’s Next: Northwest ISD will conduct an efficiency audit to prove it uses taxpayer dollars wisely. At the board’s August 13 meeting, the district plans to present trustees with an option to vote to call a VATRE for the November ballot. To learn more about the potential VATRE and Northwest ISD’s tax rate, visit