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Why You Should Care About Austin School Board Elections – Even If You Don't Have Kids

The Austin ISD school board meets tonight to discuss a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
KUT News
There are five seats up for election on the Austin School Board this year.

The number of households with children in Austin is decreasing—especially in the city’s urban core. That means there are more people eligible to vote for Austin ISD School Board trustees who don’t have any children in their neighborhood schools.

Here are a few reasons why you should still care about these school board elections, even if you don’t have kids. 

Property Taxes

Austin school board trustees can directly impact your wallet. Trustees approve the Austin ISD property tax rate—the largest portion of your annual property tax bill. This year, the Austin School Board approved a $1.3 billion budget. The owner of the average priced home will pay nearly $4,000 in taxes — about $300 more than last year. The trustees needed to make up for funding they lost due to a decline in student enrollment.

But what if you don’t own property? These property tax rates still affect your rent. Those who own rental real estate pass some of their tax liability down to their renters. As their property taxes increase, so does your rent.

Economic Growth

Right now, 60 percent of Texans who graduate high school aren’t ready to do college-level work.

“Therefore they do not enter workforce to get them a good job with a good wage," said Bill Hammond with the Texas Association of Business. “Today, in Texas, about 60 percent or more of jobs being created require some post-secondary education, at a time when only one-third are graduating ready to be successful for a career or college. That’s a tremendous mismatch, and we need to improve it dramatically.”

That mismatch means these students are often stuck doing low-paying work, which can increase a reliance on the social safety net. It also leaves a lot of higher paying jobs open, and those businesses struggle to hire employees who can help their companies grow and thrive. 

“We’ve got 40,000 open jobs right now. Sixty percent of those jobs require associate’s or bachelor’s," said Gilbert Zavala with the Austin Chamber of Commerce. "Good school leaders mean good schools who will produce college-ready talent and that will attracts employers. Employers need talent to power future economic growth for them. And, our region benefits from that, because then there's more jobs for people that – even if you don't have kids in school – you're benefiting."

When a company can't find local talent that's qualified to fill those job positions, they hire people from outside Austin. That means more people moving here, and we all know how Austinites hate that.

Five school board seats are up for election this year: four district seats and one at-large seat.

Everyone who lives in the Austin ISD zone is able to vote for that seat. Three of the current trustees are running unopposed – Ann Teich in District 3, Amber Elenz in District 5 and Yasmin Wagner in District 7.

In District 2, current trustee Jayme Mathias is running against Andy Anderson, and Cindy Anderson is running against David Quintanilla for the at-large position.

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