What’s on your ballot this November?

It’s that time of the year once again — November election season! 

Next month, you will have an opportunity to cast your vote on a number of important measures that will shape the future of your community and our state.

On Nov. 7, Texans everywhere will vote on 14 proposed constitutional amendments, ranging from a long-overdue cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers to property tax relief. In some places, there will also be unique items for voters to weigh in on – like bond elections, school board elections, and Voter Approval Tax Rate Elections (VATRE), all which have profound implications for your community’s public schools.

First, make sure you are registered to vote by the Oct. 10 deadline. You can check your voter registration status, download a voter registration form, or change your name or address on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.

In next week’s Hotline, we’ll take an in-depth look at the 14 proposed constitutional amendments. But this week, we want to remind you that even though statewide offices aren’t on your ballot this year, Texas voters like you have a lot to decide at the polls.

School Board Races

School board races have become the front lines in the fight to protect public schools and to (ensure that educators have a voice on the job. There are consequential school board races happening in Cy-Fair, Aldine, and elsewhere.

  • Cy-Fair ISD: Trustee Positions 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District will be on the ballot to serve a four-year term. Cy-Fair AFT has proudly endorsed the following candidates:
    • Position 1: Tonia Jaeggi
    • Position 2: Julie Hinaman
    • Position 3: Leslie Martone
    • Position 4: Frances Ramirez Romero
  • Aldine ISD: Aldine ISD will hold a school board election for Positions 1, 2, 6, and 7. Aldine AFT has proudly endorsed the following candidates:
    • Position 1: William “Randy” Bates
    • Position 2: Paul Shanklin
    • Position 6: Dr. Kimberley Booker

Bond Elections

We are also watching consequential school bond elections happening across the state, including communities like Aldine ISD.

Bond Elections FAQs

  • Are for building new school buildings
  • Affect the school district’s Interest & Sinking (I&S) budget
  • Cannot be used for staff pay or other day-to-day operating expenses
  • Adds to a school district’s debt

Aldine ISD: On Aug. 15, Aldine ISD Trustees approved three bond referendums totaling $1.8 billion to be considered by the community in the Nov. 7 election. The school bond will focus on safety and security, facility enhancements, and instructional technology and is divided into three propositions that will fund major projects throughout the district:

  • Prop A: Proposition A covers campus rebuilds, campus redesigns and renovations, safety and security, facility improvements and high-priority maintenance, technology infrastructure, and transportation.
  • Prop B: Proposition B will cover instructional technology.
  • Prop C: Proposition C will call for the construction of an Education and Performing Arts Center.

Voter Approval Tax Rate Elections (VATRE)

We are also watching Voter Approval Tax Rate Elections (VATRE) happening in Round Rock ISD (Proposition A) and in Fort Bend ISD (Proposition A). Bond elections and VATREs are held for different reasons and affect different aspects of a school district’s budget.

A VATRE is an election allowed by the state Legislature to approve a tax rate increase that generates additional revenue for public schools. If a school district adopts a maintenance & operations (M&O) tax rate that exceeds the maximum amount allowed by state statute, a VATRE must be held to gain voter approval to raise the tax rate. 

VATREs are an especially important tool for school districts to meet the needs of their communities since the state of Texas has abdicated its responsibility to our public schools, school staff, and students, with lawmakers having left Austin in May without passing any new funding for schools or badly needed educator raises.

Voter Approval Tax Rate Elections FAQs

  • Are for adjusting a school district’s tax rate.
  • Affect the school district’s Maintenance & Operations budget.
  • VATRE funds CAN be used for staff pay and day-to-day operating expenses.
  • Does not add to a school district’s debt.

While VATREs are no substitute for the Texas Legislature fully funding public education, voters will have an opportunity to support their public schools through these VATRE elections. 

In Round Rock, for example, Proposition A, endorsed by Education Round Rock, would generate an additional $19 million in funding for the school district. The additional funding received by the school district would make it possible for Round Rock ISD to provide teachers and librarians with a total 6% raise and all other staff members with a total 5% raise (including what the district approved in its budget in May). 

Stay tuned for next week’s Hotline for a breakdown of the 14 proposed constitutional amendments that Texans will be voting on Nov. 7.

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