Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the tax rate.

Round Rock ISD voters will be asked for the first time to approve a tax rate increase by means of a voter-approval tax rate election, or VATRE, on Nov. 7 to fund compensation increases for teachers and staff.

What's happening

Trustees called a VATRE on Aug. 21,to fund additional compensation increases for teachers and staff.

Maritza Gallaga, RRISD’s interim chief of public affairs and communications, said in May that the district has no record of a prior tax rate election, the mechanism by which Texas school districts can levy a higher tax rate to generate more property tax revenue.

The tax rate election would be a balm to the district’s ongoing problem of funding, as its recapture payments have ballooned from the $14.8 million budgeted toward payment for the 2021-22 school year to more than $77 million for 2022-23, according to the district.

Put in perspective

Without the higher rate, RRISD Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez said the district would have to make difficult decisions about staffing, class sizes, electives available to students, and athletic and fine arts programs, among others.

“As you know, 85% of our budget is in people,” Azaiez said in May. “We’re really talking about eliminating positions. We need $12 million more dollars.”

After the tax rate election was called in August, Azaiez told Community Impact that the district would likely not choose to eliminate entire programs, such as electives or athletic and fine arts programs, should the measure fail. Rather, budgets for these programs would be reduced overall to address the $33 million budget shortfall projected if the additional tax revenue is not approved. Some support staff positions would also be eliminated, he said, to avoid eliminating teacher positions.

The breakdown

The proposition would see three “golden pennies” in addition to the five already incorporated into the tax rate, added to increase the amount of tax revenue kept by the district. Golden pennies are used to keep tax revenue local with $0.01 per $100 valuation not subject to recapture, or repayment to the state.

The district levied a tax rate of $1.0626 for fiscal year 2022-23, and should the VATRE pass, will levy a tax rate of $$0.9190 for 2023-24.