David Wilbanks, AISD Place 4

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To: david@wilbanksforaisd.com <david@wilbanksforaisd.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at 07:10:33 AM CDT
Subject: Five questions
Mr. Wilbanks,
Since  there is a very confining two-minute time limit for speakers I am forced to send you an e-mail with my questions.
Here is my two major problems with the 4% raise.
1. As Dr. Reich stated at the May 18 meeting, we are already at the top of the chart [setting the standard concerning salaries]. By giving another 4% [for the fourth? year in a row]  you are NOT just staying competitive [as Ms. McMurrough stated], but actually causing ISD inflation. Think about it, you are already on top and setting the price even higher. If the only way you can get people to come and/or stay is to overpay over everyone else's price, there must be something else that is wrong, and I say fix that. I also have to question the "heart" of people that are only going where the top dollar is. For paying the top dollar, are we on top of all the ratings? NO, we are not. There are other districts that are paying less and rated higher [obtaining more from their employees]. [I am NOT trying to imply AISD is doing bad, certainly a whole lot better than say FWISD, but others are doing better with less dollars.]
2. ESSER funds are limited and not forever lasting. So you may think $8.6 million deficit for FY23-24 already accounting for ESSER and vacancy funds might be good, but when no more ESSER funds are available, you are talking an already vacancy adjusted $33 million deficit for future years. The raises accumulate. The ESSER funds expire. We are being set up for a disaster.
1. Do you see how a 4% raise is causing ISD inflation?
2. Do you believe there might be better solutions other than just giving a 4% raise?
Another thing discussed at the May 18 meeting, with no fanfare, was the debt service fund having a $10.6 million surplus. The debt service fund should basically have a cushion (for protection of soft tax collections) then basically aim for annual zero balances for debt service expenditures [The district should already have a good idea what the value of those expenses will be tor the year]. In my mind that is another 3-cent reduction that should be coming off the total tax rate.
3. Do you think the district should be investigating lowering the taxpayers' tax rate by looking at lowering the debt service piece?
The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers make payments to the AISD for taking properties off the tax rolls for stadiums. I believe both pay a six-digit figure. In theory, how school funding works, the M&O total dollars are not affected by whether these properties are on the tax rolls or not, but the debt service piece certainly is. In fairness to the taxpayer these funds should be going to the debt service fund, not the general fund.
4. Do you believe that in fairness to the taxpayers, these stadium payoffs for taking properties off the tax rolls should be added to the debt service fund, helping to lower the total tax bill to taxpayers?
5. Do you believe two minutes is the correct time limit for AISD speakers?
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: David Wilbanks <dwilban@gmail.com>
To: THE SPECTATOR <arlspectator@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at 01:49:58 PM CDT
Subject: Re: Five questions
Thanks for the email. I have a busy week at my day job and with functions meetings every hight this week. I do plan on responding to your email before our Board Meeting on Thursday. However, it might not be until later tomorrow night. 
Sorry for the delay. 
David Wilbanks
To: david@wilbanksforaisd.com <david@wilbanksforaisd.com>
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2023 at 09:59:49 AM CDT
Subject: Two questions
Mr. Wilbanks,
The FY2023-24 Budget discussed at last night's board meeting has the taxpayers spending greater than $6.1 million on recapture/"Robin Hood".
Question 1:  Is this efficient use of taxpayers' dollars?
Question 2: What options are available to reduce that amount to $0?
From: David Wilbanks
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2023 at 03:44:16 PM CDT
Subject: Re: Two questions
Thank you for coming and speaking last night. To answer your first question, recapture IS NOT an efficient use of taxpayers' dollars. That money was earmarked to educate students. Recapture has grown tremendously in the last couple of years because of rising property values and declining enrollment due to increased charter schools in places like Arlington. We have a ton of new charters because Arlington is an ideal location in the heart of the Metroplex. As recapture grows, it is increasingly being diverted for the state to use as a slush fund to plug other parts of the state's budget and it no longer goes to fund what it was intended for: Funding schools in your community. 
We can't easily lower our tax rate because we would have a smaller pool of money but still be subject to recapture. Plus that would lower the amount of money that is not subject to recapture under our guarantee yields. That money gives us the extra revenue each year to give raises to teachers without ending up in a deficit. Even giving 4% raises like we did last night does not keep up with inflation. 
The possible fixes are all legislative:
  • raise the basic allotment
  • raise the guaranteed yield each year
  • stop the growth of charter schools. 
  • provide better property tax relief by having the state kick in more revenue to buy down the property tax rate through compression. 
The system is broken. Just look at the chart on this page showing the skyrocketing increase in recapture money. (graph from:  https://recapturetexas.org/)
David Wilbanks