As Coppell ISD navigates budget challenges, district officials have been discussing calling for a voter-approval tax ratification election, or VATRE.

The district had a projected budget shortfall of $13 million in fiscal year 2023-24, but officials said it is coming in closer to $10 million as the year wraps up.

The details

The VATRE would raise the tax rate, resulting in a $147 annual tax increase per household and generating $2.4 million per year for the district, Chief Financial Officer Diana Sircar said.

One of the first steps before calling for a VATRE is conducting an efficiency audit, which is designed to provide information to voters and compares prior year information, Sircar said.

The board approved the efficiency audit at an April 22 board meeting.

Also of note

Prior to discussing the VATRE, district officials reached out for community input through an online survey in March and a community event April 4.

Chief Communications Officer Angela Brown presented the results to the board of trustees at an April 8 workshop.

About 250 people answered the survey and 45 attended the community dialogue event, Brown said.

The results of the online survey indicated the top six community-recommended strategies for generating revenue for the district included:
  • Expanding open enrollment
  • Expanding business partnerships
  • Increasing facility rentals and rental fees
  • Additional fundraising
  • Charging for prekindergarten and day care
  • Increasing marketing and advertising efforts
The district does many of these already, Brown said.

“We have lots of business partnerships, we do facility rentals constantly, we do fundraising, and we do marketing and advertising, so we’ll continue to talk about those things,” Brown said.

When asked about cost reduction strategies, survey results indicated the top community recommendations included:
  • Consolidating campuses and administration buildings
  • Reducing or eliminating technology devices
  • Increasing energy efficiency
  • Shifting to a four-day school week
  • Reducing staff positions
  • Spending less on athletics
Community members who attended the in-person dialogue echoed sentiments from the survey with a few differences, such as advocating for an attendance campaign to help generate revenue and exploring using volunteers for district positions, Brown said.

Looking ahead

If the district decides to pursue the VATRE, the election has to occur in November, and the board of trustees must call for it by Aug. 19, Sircar said.