Voters in Fort Bend ISD and Katy ISD rejected property tax rate increases on Tuesday. Both districts wanted to raise pay for teachers.
Katy's tax increase would have bumped up salaries for teachers and staff by 4 percent this year. Fort Bend would have increased starting pay for teachers, created a bonus program and placed a police officer at every elementary campus.
The defeat of the tax increase in Fort Bend is an especially hard blow for that district, coming off of a $47 million budget shortfall last year that it attributed to inflation, a slowdown in enrollment growth as well as increased funding needs for special education and other programs. The funds raised through the tax increase would have matched the shortfall. Katy ISD faced a $12 million budget deficit, which it attributed to inflation.
Appealing to voters, Katy ISD argued state funding for Texas public schools "remains stagnant" while Fort Bend ISD said its federal pandemic funds "would be applied to the shortfall gap instead of learning loss."
Districts across Texas continue to face enrollment nosedives or, in the case of Fort Bend and Katy, slowdowns in enrollment growth that started during the pandemic.