Fort Bend

Fort Bend ISD wants voters to approve property tax increase to help with staffing, armed security

The increase would generate more than $35 million through a property tax increase of 4 cents per $100 of property valuation.

Fort Bend ISD Administration Building
Ariel Worthy/Houston Public Media
Fort Bend ISD Administration Building

Fort Bend Independent School District is asking voters to approve a property tax increase next month to give staff raises and add armed security at all elementary schools.

The increase would generate more than $35 million through a property tax increase of 4 cents per $100 of property valuation.

Steve Bassett, deputy superintendent for the school district, said the increase is needed to retain teachers.

"We have over a hundred teaching vacancies now," he said. "And if we are not able to do more on the teacher pay side, we're going to have hundreds of vacancies next year."

Even if the proposition passes, residents could still see lower property tax bills, if measures taken by the state legislature are also approved by voters.

Fort Bend ISD passed a 1.26 billion-dollar bond in May for construction and technology improvements. However, by law, bonds cannot be used for teacher pay or security guards.

The starting salary for Fort Bend ISD teachers is $59,500. Meanwhile, starting teacher pay is $62,400 in Katy ISD and $62,500 in Lamar ISD for teachers without a master's degree.

The proposed tax increase has sparked discussion on social media. Some residents have raised concerns about the school district's spending, while others argue the tax increase is necessary to keep classrooms staffed.

Adeel Akhtar, the father of a Fort Bend ISD middle schooler and a 5th grader, has lived in the district for 15 years. He said he's already seen his youngest child's classroom size increase in the past year, and is supporting the proposed tax increase.

"In my opinion, Fort Bend ISD is facing its greatest challenge in the 15 years that I've lived in the district," he said. "And that challenge is we are unable right now to hire new teachers to fill the openings that we have and then we're unable to keep the wonderful teachers that we already have."

Houston Public Media also reached out via Facebook to residents who opposed the measure, but several declined or did not respond to inquiries.

Zayda Rodriguez, a teacher who's worked in Fort Bend ISD for ten years, currently teaches Spanish at Hightower High School in Missouri City. She said she has not considered leaving the district for a raise, but hopes that staff salaries will increase and that the administration will recognize teachers' dedication.

"I hope that the district understands that the teachers that stay here at Fort Bend want to stay here – for the community, the kids, the administration," she said.