Superintendent Mark Estrada
This November, two items will be on the ballot that impact Lockhart Independent School District and the community.
The first item on the ballot is a $71 million bond that would provide three things: a new elementary school, the land upon which to build the new elementary school, and a two-storied wing at Lockhart High School that would provide capacity for an additional 500 students. Because of the work that the Lockhart ISD Board has done to pay down debt, the district now has the capacity for these three bond items with no increase in the school tax rate.
The second item is on the ballot is a Penny Put-Back through a Voter Approved Tax Ratificiation Election (VATRE). Texas Education Agency compressed our maintenance and operations tax rate–the part that pays for student safety, teacher salaries, purchasing supplies, utilities, and other school operations–by 1.74 pennies this year. If voters approve the VATRE, one “golden” penny would be put back into the maintenance and operations school tax rate, generating nearly $1 million that the school district would use to pay for school safety and increased teacher pay. Taxpayers would still receive a school tax rate decrease of .74 pennies.
While the school tax rate will not increase, due to new properties within the district and increased property values, the average homeowner will see a monthly school tax bill increase of $8.33 per month if the bond and VATRE are approved. It would be $7.00 per month if not approved. The difference is $1.33 per month.
Lockhart ISD has the lowest debt-per-student ratio compared with similar school districts including Luling ISD, Hays CISD, Seguin ISD, San Marcos CISD, Bastrop ISD, Prairie Lea ISD, Del Valle ISD, and Manor ISD. If the voters approve the bond, Lockhart ISD will still have the lowest debt-per-student ratio in comparison.
Additionally, for persons 65 and older, the Texas Constitution allows those who have qualified homestead exemption to be exempt from an increase In school district property tax increase.
If voters decide not to approve the bond, the district will have to allocate some of its maintenance and operations budget to purchase portables to provide classroom capacity for students. Currently, Lockhart ISD has 6,466 students and is at 97 percent capacity for students preK-12th grade. In 2024, Lockhart ISD would be at 102 percent capacity.
If voters decide not to approve the VATRE, the maintenance and operations rate will decrease by 1.74 pennies rather than .74 pennies. The district would not receive the nearly $1 million it would have received if voters had chosen to put the golden penny back.
The community is invited to learn more about the Lockhart ISD Bond and Penny Put-Back through a VATRE at an upcoming information session at 8:30 am on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 419 Bois D’Arc Street in Lockhart. The meeting will take place in the boardroom on the second floor.
Early voting takes place Oct. 24–Nov.4. Election day takes place November 8. #ShowUpLockhart to vote and participate in this this community decision on how to respond to the growth we have experienced and the growth that is on the horizon.
To learn more, visit https://www.lockhartisd.org/bond-vatre-2022.