And If The City Of Cedar Hill Puts Lipstick On A Pig The CHISD Puts It On a Hog!
The Cedar Hill ISD tax Whop-Pertunity went down to defeat by a considerable margin Saturday, September 8, 2018, because many taxpayers were informed as to what was at stake. Unfortunately the flimflam worked in other cities. Thanks goes to those who spread the truth about the Whop_Pertunity! The CHISD will just have to get along with the millions of new tax money it will get from an 8% increase in appraisal values.
Did you get the 11″x17″ expensive A Swap-Ortunity mailing from the CHISD? And recently another one of the same sort. This is the CHISD PR machine at its finest. Do you know what this scheme represents? It sounds like magic. Taxes go down and the school system gets more money. How creative is that?
Well by now many in the city have been educated and caught onto what this scheme is all about.
The school system gets $5 million more in taxes to waste on themselves out of the district’s “maintenance and operation fund (M&O), or general fund”, while your taxes go down a penny/hundred. What a deal!
What has happened is the CHISD is collecting much, much more money into its debt reduction and interest payment fund or Debt Service Interest & Sinking (I & S) fund than it thinks it needs right now.
Your taxes include both M&O and I&S for a current total today of $1.52/$100 of your home appraised value. The CHISD wants to increase the M&O tax rate, which is at its limit now and needs a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) to increase the rate, by 13 cents/$100 of your home appraised value. They are offering to lower the tax rate associated with the I&S fund by 14 cents/$100, thus the phrase “penny swap”.
So, for the first year your tax rate will be $1.51/$100.
Here is what the CHISD does not tell you!
Without taxpayer approval, in the future, they can raise the I&S component of your taxes to its limit, which would be a 16 cents/$100 increase in your tax rate. So, any time they want to, without your approval, they can raise your tax rate to the I&S limit so that your tax rate could be $1.67/$100.
What the CHISD wants you to approve is a 15 cent/$100 prospective tax rate hike above the current tax rate.
This could be called a CHISD Tax Rate Whoppertunity.
Did you see the above information in the brochure? Nope, you did not! And, without this information and only the part the CHISD is promoting, the CHISD is in jeopardy of a Texas Ethics Commission violation.
Here is how it was put in the brochure. “A Penny Swap Election or Tax Ratification Election (TRE) allows residents to change the way their local tax dollars support their school district.” In other words, they are robbing Peter to pay Paul, you being Peter. Search for TRE on the web. The CHISD has to have an election because they are raising the M&O tax rate above the state limit.
So what is a penny/$100 of appraisal value. It is $30 on a $300,000 home or not much. So what is 15 pennies/$100 on a $300,000 home? It is $450.
This is a shell game. Did you see the headline on the mailing? THE LEADING CHOICE – “the city’s largest employer’. Is that good? It would be if all the employees were qualified teachers.
Once upon a time the state comptroller audited school systems and did a report on how many excess administrators a school system had. The audit was so embarrassing to school systems the comptroller stopped doing it when “The tough grandma”, Carol Keeton Strayhorn, went out of office. It is likely the CHISD is glutted with highly compensated administrators. One can get this information via an open records request of the CHISD.
So all of this begs the question of what has been happening to the $5 million each year all of this time if it was not needed for debt reduction? Should it not be returned to the taxpayer in a tax rate decrease of 14 cents/$100 and not just the 1 penny?
As promised here is some truthful information about the schools in CHISD, the largest tax hog in the city. These are the facts. Most private property owners, especially those who can afford it, send their children to private schools or a charter school. They, like many seniors, get nothing for their exorbitant school taxes.
The 5th and 8th grade unadulterated STAAR test results may take a while. The TEA at
Note: The Texas Education Agency currently does not have campus or district level results. Please contact your local school district or charter school for that information.
And so why would the TEA not have these test results readily available for someone that might want to compare school districts? The answer is obvious. They want the school districts to be able to use their PR personnel to put their own spin on the results no matter how poor they are. One has to understand that the TEA is in collusion with the school districts to try to flimflam the taxpayer into thinking they are getting their money’s worth when they are not. One can chase around on the TEA’s webpages and learn nothing about the quality of Texas’ public schools.
If you would like to complain about this situation send an email to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. He is the only top state government politician that actually has an email address. The rest have the text boxes they call email. Ask him why the TEA does not have statewide STAAR results posted.
An organization called GreatSchools rates public schools. Here is a link to its webpage.
“Where does GreatSchools get its funding?
GreatSchools receives generous support from leading foundations that share our goal of empowering parents to support their children’s education, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robertson Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. GreatSchools also generates funding through our advertising and content licensing programs.”
Here is a link to the GreatSchools ratings of schools in the Cedar Hill ISD. 1 is poorest and 10 is the best.
Past the two at the top, which are what schools were like in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, the rest of the campuses are rated 5 or below. Lake Ridge Elementary is a 2. One would have to do an exhaustive analysis to understand why the two at the top have been much ballyhooed by the city and school system. Other than the fact the best students have been cornered at these schools, some of their ratings may be suspect.
The others have pathetic ratings but one would never know it with all the PR that the city and school system use to cover up quality.
The superintendent two superintendents ago managed to get new school buildings built. He left for greener pastures before the test scores came in. Now, some of the poorest rated schools are in the newest buildings, showing facilities do not make for great schools, but the students in the buildings do. Taxpayer money down a rat hole!
So, what about TEA ratings. Well, the TEA is an organization that does its best to make Texas Public Schools look good. Just like the Cedar Hill ISD and the city of Cedar Hill does.
During the TAKS era CHISD got meaningless non-test related perks that allowed the district to move up in the ratings. There were *s next to the ratings to reflect the perks. Now, with the STAAR, sometimes it is difficult to tell what the measures are. One can only compare TEA measures for a well known excellent school with CHISD’s measures. Absolutes are almost impossible to find.
Here is a link to the TEA ratings for 2016.
From this link one can find the so-called PIR for the CHISD. Notice there are no absolute test scores. Everything is relative. Notice the Student Achievement standard, whatever that is, is not very high, being 60 out of 100. CHISD just squeaks by on this index at 68 while Highland Park ISD is 97. This should tell the observer something. Notice HPISD’s STAAR score index is almost double that of the CHISD.
Also, anytime any of the CHISD campuses are bragged about relative to other schools in the state remember that Texas ranks 43 in school systems in the country.
Then there is Highland Park ISD’s PIR.