ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — A salary increase for Round Rock Independent School District employees will be up to voters to approve at the polls in November after the district’s Board of Trustees voted to call for a Voter- Approval Tax Rate Election, or VATRE, earlier this week.
On Monday the board called for the VATRE for the Nov. 7 election to provide staff members with salary increases. The board also approved a tax rate of $0.9190 for the 2023-2024 school year. The calling for the election follows months of exploration by the Board of Trustees and the approval of the 2023-2024 budget, which included considerations for a VATRE.
According to the district, a VATRE allows voters to approve or disapprove the tax rate adopted by the Board of Trustees.
If passed, it will allow Round Rock ISD to access the maximum amount of tax revenue from golden pennies, which is not subject to recapture and would remain with the district.
If approved by voters, RRISD says the VATRE would inject an additional $19 million into the District’s operating fund, which would be used to provide an additional 3% percent salary increase for all staff members on top of the guaranteed salary increases approved by the board in May.
This would bring the overall salary increase to 6% for teachers and librarians and 5% for all other staff members. Funding the overall salary increases would cost the district approximately $21 million.
The $0.9190 tax rate depends on the VATRE’s approval, which would be lower than the district’s $1.0626 tax rate for 2022-2023.
If the VATRE is not approved, the district would not be able to provide the additional salary increases due to various financial constraints. These constraints include the estimated $77 million in recapture payments the district will submit to the state of Texas this school year, the discontinuation of federal funding programs, the Texas legislature’s decision not to increase the basic allotment amount per student, state mandates the district will have to allocate funds to meet, and rising operating costs due to inflation, according to RRISD. In addition, if the VATRE does not pass, the district will face a $33 million deficit.
This is the first time in the school district’s history a VATRE has been called for.