Enriching lives. That is the work of RISD. We have excellent people and facilities, but we are still faced with insufficient funds to provide our teachers and staff the resources they need to take care of business.
The summer has passed, and we are no closer to a fair, adequate and equitable system for funding public education in Texas. Our state political leadership has decided to “table” this crisis until the next legislative session, or until a lawsuit winds its way through the courts.
In the interim, the needs of RISD students and staff increase, federal and state authorities continue to impose unfunded mandates, and the burden of paying for public education shifts more directly onto the shoulders of local taxpayers. And there is no end in sight.
The RISD Board of Trustees has eliminated more than $50 million from our operating budget in the past five years. Unfortunately, there must be further reductions – approximately $8 million next year. We are faced with such drastic options as consolidation of schools, elimination of long-standing curricular and extracurricular programs, and increasing class sizes.
After lengthy study and debate, our Board voted to reduce the optional homestead exemption on single-family residential property from 15 percent to 10 percent. Further reductions in this exemption will likely be considered in the future, not because this is an easy source of money, but because the state refuses to pay its fair share of public education. Please remember:
- RISD’s maintenance and operation (M&O) tax has been “capped” for the past several years, placing RISD on a “fixed income.”
- $.25 of each $1 collected by RISD in M&O taxes is sent out of RISD under the Robin Hood system.
- Any M&O funds received by RISD due to increased property values are sent to the state and are not available to RISD.
- Only a handful of school districts in the Metroplex provide a local optional homestead exemption. Of those, Coppell eliminated their exemption this summer, and Irving reduced their exemption from 10 percent to 5 percent.
- If you are more than 65 years old, your RISD taxes are frozen.
Please know that we continue to be your advocate in Austin for a finance system that is fair to RISD taxpayers. We continue to scrutinize budgets and evaluate programs. And most importantly, we strive to ensure that RISD takes care of business.
We need your ideas and assistance…at home and in Austin.