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The original item was published from 9/2/2011 2:26:00 PM to 9/17/2011 12:05:03 AM.

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Cedar Hill News

Posted on: September 2, 2011

[ARCHIVED] CHISD Board calls elections for tax ratification and bond

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The $53.5 million bond election is for facility improvements. The 13-cent Tax Ratification Election (TRE) is to make up for lost revenue from state budget cuts.

The CHISD bond and TRE proposals are based on recommendations from Cedar Hill residents. A 90-member Community Advisory Committee (CAC) worked together for three months this spring to draft recommendations for consideration by the Cedar Hill ISD Board of Trustees. In May, the Committee recommended that the School Board seek both a Tax Ratification Election and a bond election in November. The CAC also presented the School Board with a priority list on how those tax dollars should be spent if voters approve the measures.

The CHISD Board carefully studied the Committee's recommendations over the summer and on Monday, August 29, 2011 officially called a Tax Ratification Election and Bond Election to put before voters on the November 8th ballot.

"The TRE and bond packages came from recommendations developed by the Community Advisory Committee, which represents a cross section of Cedar Hill citizens including parents, students, employees, and community members. The School Board wanted to ensure that these packages reflected the desires of the community, and I believe we've accomplished that," said Billie Ballengee, co-chair of the CAC.

The state cut $4 billion from public education during the special session of the Legislature this summer, which translates into a $3.2 million state-funding shortfall for Cedar Hill ISD. A 13-cent tax rate increase would raise $3.885 million. If approved, a portion of the funds provided by the additional tax dollars will be designated for reinstating the following teaching positions:

* Elementary schools - 12 teachers reducing class sizes to 22:1 student/teacher ratio
* Intermediate schools - 3 teachers
* Middle Schools - 7 teachers
* Ninth Grade Center - 1 teacher
* Cedar Hill High School - 5 teachers

The CAC recommends that $420,000 of the proposed funds generated by the approval of the TRE be spent on a science/math initiative. The initiative will add science labs on elementary campuses, additional science technology, professional development for math and science teachers, and student field experiences in science. Additionally, the CAC recommends spending $400,000 to fund a K-12 Foreign Language Curriculum. Furthermore, both of these items were recommendations from the 200-community member Strategic Planning Committee that met during the 2009-2010 school year. Finally, $425,000 of the funds generated will be allocated to purchase necessary curriculum and hire staff to establish a nontraditional technology based learning school at the Belt Line Education Center.

The $53.5 million bond program provides funds for facility repairs and updates in the form of infrastructure improvements and classroom technology upgrades at every school campus. The funds generated will also provide energy management systems that will make school buildings more energy efficient and less expensive to operate.

Those improvements include:

Aging Campuses and Infrastructure - $30 million
* Repairs and updates at identified campuses
* Major renovations at Cedar Hill High School including expansion of the Career and Technology area
* Expand Bray Elementary campus to accommodate 400 students
* Demolish former administration building due to mold

Energy Efficiency - $14.75 million
* Install energy management systems on all school campuses
* Install geothermal heating and air conditioning units on identified campuses

Technology - $5.5 millon
* Upgrade network switches and wireless access district wide
* Upgrade classroom technology to be used by students

Equity - $2.5 million
* Upgrade baseball/softball complex at Cedar Hill High School to correct inequity issue in the softball program as required by Federal law
* Renovate outdoor play area at Joe Wilson Intermediate School

Safety and Security - $750,000
* Add security cameras, exterior lighting, and burglar alarms at identified campuses
* Replace wood cedar chips with rubber on playgrounds
* Relocate police headquarters to Belt Line Education Center

The impact of an approved tax ratification election would raise the property tax rate by 13 pennies per $100 of property value, which translates to $11.27 per month on the average Cedar Hill ISD home with a taxable value of $104,071.

Approval of the bond election would lead to a tax rate increase of no more than
10 pennies, or $8.67 per month on the average Cedar Hill ISD home with a taxable value of $104,071.

If Cedar Hill voters approve both the tax ratification and bond elections, the cost to property taxpayers would be $19.94 a month on an average Cedar Hill home that has a taxable value of $104,071. Even with the proposed joint increase, the new tax rate will be 17 cents less than it was five years ago.

Neither of these measures would impact residents aged 65 and over because their property taxes are frozen.

For more details on the proposed TRE and bond packages, visit

CHISD has 8200 students and is rated as a Recognized school district by the Texas Education Agency. The Texas State Comptrollers Office awarded Cedar Hill Independent School District a five-star rating in its Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST). This award was given to only 43 Texas school districts. FAST identifies school districts that use best practices to operate efficiently, while achieving strong academic performance.

The district has maintained an AA- financial bond rating from Standard and Poor's the past two years.

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