The Keller ISD is being squeezed between a rock and a hard place. The rock is rapid, suburban enrollment growth that has prompted the North Texas district to build 22 new schools since 2000. The hard place is the antitax sentiment of conservative politicians and voters who either think quality education grows on trees…or simply don’t care.
The district, which has been given an excellent efficiency rating by the state comptroller, already had cut more than 200 jobs, increased class sizes, reduced its number of athletic teams and taken other costcutting steps to save about $16 million, or about half of a revenue shortfall anticipated for the next two years.
School officials asked local voters to cover the other half with a 13 cents per $100 valuation increase in its local property tax rate, but local voters rejected the proposal last Saturday. Leading the antitax campaign were the antigovernment, Tea Partytypes whose support of the governor and legislative majority is largely to blame for the revenue shortfall the district is trying to bridge.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also chimed in with a letter to the editor of the Fort Worth StarTelegram against the local tax proposal.
So, what now?
According to news reports, more Keller employees will lose their jobs, fine arts and music programs will be reduced, class sizes will increase for high school students and several thousand kids will lose regular bus service to school.
Maybe the Tea Party will volunteer to help out with car pools.
Elections have consequences.