By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 3, 2015) — Voters in Stephenville ISD and Dublin ISD overwhelmingly approved tax ratification elections Tuesday, bringing in more than $1.1 million combined for the two largest school districts in Erath County.
Dublin will received approximately $800,000 in added state funds with the tax swap, while Stephenville will receive an additional $360,000 that superintendent Matt Underwood says is earmarked for technology improvements, primarily for plans of moving the district closer to a one-to-one computer-to-student ratio as early as third grade.
Stephenville ISD voters passed the measure 1,351-541, or 71.41 percent to 28.59. Dublin ISD voters in Erath County cast 301 votes for the measure and 174 against. There are also two precincts in Comanche County affected by the Dublin vote, but not with enough votes to change the ultimate outcome.
“I’m obviously pleased with the outcome and with the turnout in an off election year,” said Underwood, who was at the Erath County Courthouse when returns were finalized. “We had a big push from the SISD staff that helped a lot.”
Approval of the tax swap allows each school to move money from its debt fund to its operations fund. The state matches more in operations funding, thus bringing additional dollars to schools. Tax ratification elections have become the norm, passing in more than 500 school districts in recent years, including in Comanche as recently as September.
Both districts are moving approximately $0.13 per $100 valuation from debt to operations.
Dublin has not earmarked its additional funds for anything specific, but moving money to operations makes it available for use, whereas money in the debt fund can only be used for debt payments. Such fund swapping can only be done with voter approval.
“It’s just a continuation of the tremendous support we receive from our community and shows the direction our schools and community are headed in,” said Dublin superintendent Dr. Rodney Schneider.
In Stephenville, Underwood says this strategy will continue into the future.
“I think this (result) shows we did a good job getting the mess out that this is an increase in funding from the state revenue side and will not affect local taxpayers in what their final tax bill will be,” said Underwood. “It’s a strategy we intend to use for years to come.”