Lockhart ISD raises teacher pay through voter approval ratification, decreasing school tax rate

With recent bills to increase public school funding stalled in the state legislature, many districts across Texas are looking for alternative ways to improve teacher pay.

In Lockhart, the board of trustees voted for raises through a voter approval ratification election in November, a move they say will bring in $3 million, all while decreasing the school tax rate. 

Lockhart ISD superintendent Mark Estrada joined FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss.


Mike Warren: Could you explain this process for us? How will the measure increase in pay while you decrease the tax rate?

Mark Estrada: Yes. Well, I know this can be confusing. This is really contingent on the voters approving Senate Bill 2, which increases the the homestead exemption from $40000 to $100000 by reducing this property value. It really gives the voters an opportunity to vote locally to reverse their support their schools through a voter approved tax rotation election.

Mike Warren: You know, what is the biggest financial difficulty for Lockhart ISD right now?

Mark Estrada: You know, right now we're one of 150 school districts in the state of Texas who were assigned state property values. And the way that the school funding formula works is that when you're assigned state property values, the state is essentially telling your community that the tax appraisal districts do not increase property values. And so that gap in collected taxes, the state takes away funding from the local schools. And that funding was over $3 million for Lockhart ISC last year and will be the same this coming school year. So by losing that state aid for our local school district, it has created a massive deficit for us.


Mike Warren: Talking more about this, what is the impact of this legislative gridlock over school funding and vouchers in Lockhart, and how is the district responding?

Mark Estrada: You know, the there's absolutely gridlock. You know, there's been a lot of talk about vouchers. There are fear is that every dollar invested outside of our public schools that are already underfunded is a dollar that is used inefficiently across the state. You know, the every opportunity we have to fund public schools, we believe should be capitalized on and the massive amounts of revenue that the state has currently, we believe should be supporting our public schools.

Mike Warren: To add to district budgets. State lawmakers are now requiring an armed officer on each campus for security. How's Lockhart handling this mandate?

Mark Estrada: Yes, sir. So school security, we know is incredibly important blocker And I see actually last year before the state mandated this created a plan, and we use our county constables we use a couple of different precincts in the county to help to ensure that we have an armed school personnel at every campus, and we actually accomplished that last year in combination with our school resource officers, with Lockhart Police Department.

Mike Warren: Okay, terrific. We are out of time for now. But Marc Estrada, thank you very much for joining us today.

Mark Estrada: Thank you for having us.