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Voters approve AISD property tax increase

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 by Kimberly Reeves

The Austin Independent School District’s proposition to pay for a teacher pay raise appeared to win an easy victory late last night, grabbing a consistent 60 percent of the voters. The measure would give AISD teachers a 3 percent raise, and increase the overall tax rate by $1.202 per $100 of assessed value.

Promoting the proposition fell to the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, which pledged its support in exchange for greater accountability in the AISD budget. Last night, AISD Board of Trustees President Mark Williams said he was pleased and surprised by the support.

“With the size of turnout in this election, we had no idea what to expect. We know we live in a community that supports public schools, but we didn’t know what that would translate into in tough economic times,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, the voters came out and supported the district and gave our teachers a pay raise. We want to thank them.”

Williams agreed the ballot language for the proposition was difficult to understand. The frequency of rollback elections is more common under the recent school finance legislation, especially with provisions that stop school districts from benefiting from property value growth. Williams said voters were educated about the issue and came out to support the school district and its teachers.

Provisions the Austin ISD will have to meet under its agreement with those who agreed to support Proposition 1 included prioritizing in the next year’s budget to include additional funds for algebra readiness, college readiness and college matriculation. AISD also agreed to prioritize budget expenditures according to a strategic plan.

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