Pflugerville ISD has eight props on the ballot. Here's what they're all about.
Pflugerville residents will be voting on eight school propositions this election. Pflugerville ISD Superintendent Douglas Killian says he's curious to see what voters end up supporting.
“That’s why there’s kind of a smorgasbord of things for you to look at," he said.
Early voting runs through Friday ahead of Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Here's what voters will decide on.
Prop A: Attendance Credit Election
This proposition is in response to an issue many Central Texas residents are familiar with: rising property values. Texas now considers PfISD to be a property-wealthy school district, which means it has to pay into the state’s recapture system, commonly known as “Robin Hood.”
The state requires the school district to hold an election asking voters whether it can start making the mandatory recapture payments. If approved, PfISD can start making those payments. Killian said he understands this might not be appealing to voters.
“As someone walking into the ballot box, you see we’re going to send money to the State of Texas … in the form of attendance credit payments. That’s not particularly attractive,” he said.
But, Killian pointed out, if voters reject the proposition, the Texas Education Agency will take matters into its own hands. TEA will identify a portion of land within PfISD to cut out and add to another district to bring down property values. PfISD students living in the area that is annexed will have to go to that school district instead.
Killian added that even if the TEA takes land out of the district, Pflugerville ISD would probably still end up making recapture payments in the years ahead.
“From what I’ve seen with housing prices and appraisals, and then also just all the number of businesses and warehouses that are being built, we would be over that [recapture threshold] again in the following year,” he said.
Prop B: Voter Approval Tax Rate Election
This proposition has to do with the two tax rates that comprise a school district’s total tax rate. There is the maintenance and operations, or M&O, tax rate that helps fund a district’s annual budget, including employee salaries. Then there is the interest and sinking tax rate, or I&S, that helps the district repay bond debt.
The Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees voted to reduce the I&S tax rate by 10 cents and to increase the M&O tax rate by 4 cents. Combined this reduces PfISD’s total tax rate by 12 cents when compared with last year. The proposed total tax rate for 2022-2023 is $1.2646 per $100 of taxable value. The district calculates homeowners would save $370 per year on a $300,000 home.
If voters approve Prop B, the district said it will bring in nearly $7 million that could be used for operating expenses — including teacher salaries and classroom materials.
Killian said if Prop B fails, the district is going to have to take a hard look at its finances.
“We would have to do something in the district to produce money — free up money — in our budget, which means that we would have to cut things, obviously, to be able to do the inflationary increases for our staff,” he said.
Props C through H: 2022 Bond Package
Pflugerville ISD voters will also be deciding whether to approve a $367 million bond, which is not expected to increase the tax rate. The package is divided into six different propositions. Voters can OK any number of the props or reject all of them. Killian pointed out that the bulk of the items included in the bond package are aimed at improving the district’s facilities.
“So most of them are renovations, in fact, or an update of some equipment for kids or for teachers,” he said.
Prop C is the largest part of the bond package at $190 million; it would, among other things, be used to fix aging buildings. Killian said more than half of the district's buildings were built before 2000.
“So with age obviously comes some maintenance issues and so we have some refreshes, some security and safety improvements on the campuses, some HVAC work, roofing, flooring — all that good stuff,” he said. “All the things that you would normally expect for buildings that are over 22 years old.”
Prop D, which is for $54 million, would help PfISD buy new technological devices for students and staff. The district could also use bond dollars to improve its technology infrastructure and make network security upgrades.
Prop E, at $3 million, is geared toward improving performing arts spaces. If voters approve this prop, the district could renovate the Pflugerville High School Performing Arts Center. Killian said that’s the district’s oldest auditorium.
Prop F is for the least amount of money: $400,000. This money would go toward stadium improvements, including replacing the scoreboard at Hendrickson High School.
Prop G, if approved, would allow the district to spend $76 million to build a new career and technical education, or CTE, center that would serve all students.
“Instead of building a fifth high school we would have a CTE center where kids could go to get advanced training in a number of career pathways,” Killian said.
And last, but not least, is Prop H. If voters approve this proposition, PfISD could use $43 million in bond dollars for teacher housing. Killian explained the district could go one of two ways if voters approve this proposition.
“We would either buy or build some type of apartment complex. You’d have a spread of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments,” he said.
The goal of the apartments is not to provide permanent housing, but rather to help teachers transition to the area. Killian said teachers would be able to stay in the apartments anywhere from a semester to a year or more.
“Then we would hope that they would move into the community here or around us and become permanent members of our communities,” he said.
Killian hopes providing housing would help alleviate the teacher shortage, which he said is especially bad in Central Texas. Again and again, teachers from other cities tell PfISD housing is the biggest barrier they have to accepting a job in the district.
“When we’re trying to attract [teachers] from the Dallas Metroplex, or from Houston, or even from San Antonio, the cost of living is quite high,” he said.
Killian said critics have said the district should just pay teachers more, but he said it doesn’t have to be an either or proposition.
“And it’s not really new. I mean this is something West Texas has been doing for a long time,” he said.
Other Central Texas school districts have also been exploring affordable housing options to attract teachers. Austin ISD officials had wanted to include $50 million in its 2022 bond program for teacher housing, but ultimately decided against it after concerns the plan was too vague. The district is instead working on plans to repurpose several buildings into housing.