The Seguin ISD has placed on the ballot on September 10th a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) asking voters to increase the tax rate by two cents per $100 of property valuation. They state that this additional money is needed in order to fund raises for the district’s teachers and other employees.
There are many concerns present in our community as to the Board of Trustees’ financial management. These concerns make advocating for the TRE difficult at best. We want to make absolutely clear, however, that we stand as one with the employees of Seguin ISD. The mission of the Seguin ISD is to educate our young people. In order to do that effectively, we need to honor, value, and respect our educators. The Seguin ISD Board of Trustees should be making teacher compensation a top priority. Only after that is funded should they concern themselves with other things.
Most people live by a very simple rule: we pay for what we need first. Then we pay for what we want.
Educate Seguin reached out to the district and asked the district’s financial officer to answer some of our questions concerning the budget and the proposed TRE. He has refused a request to meet with us and refused to answer our questions via telephone. This leaves us with the limited facts we can gather from public documents and board meetings:
- The district’s budget for “Instruction” was over budget by $1.8 million last year. Since teacher pay and staffing levels were set in advance, teacher pay is not the cause. We observe that there are many large payments to “consultants” listed in the district’s check register over the last year. We suspect this is the reason for the deficit in this budget category.
- The Board of Trustees approved funds to pay for a variety of “supplemental” expenses last year such as:
- $21,000 for golf carts
- $15,000 for holiday parties
- $40,000 for additional payments to district attorneys
- $500 hotel rooms for board members and administrators
- The Board of Trustees also approved funds this year to pay up to $1.5 million for a new scoreboard at Matador Stadium. The teacher pay raises would cost $1.4 million this fiscal year.
Teachers should be a top priority, and their raises should be implemented immediately. The district and the voters can then have a conversation prior to the TRE vote on September 10 about how best to meet the district’s needs in the future. Approving the pay raises now demonstrates to district staff and the voters that the Board of Trustees is serious about educating our students and respecting our teachers and other personnel.
The narrative from the district is “if you support teachers, you should support the tax increase.” The community fully supports teachers, and we are certain it will do what is necessary. However, there are many questions about the district’s budget and the need for a TRE that they are refusing to answer. We will continue to ask those questions and we call on the district to answer them. We have a responsibility, as Educate Seguin, to educate the community on this issue. That’s our mission.
In closing, we will simply emphasize that our teachers should be a top priority. We have heard trustees say this themselves. Now they need to act on their words. We understand that there are many challenges in funding and that money for teacher pay needs to be available not just this year but into the future. However, we also know that the district has the funds available, right now, to give our teachers and staff the raises they need and deserve. There is no excuse for leaving them and their families to twist in the wind, waiting on the results of the TRE. We call on the district to align its budget with its stated priorities. Give our teachers and district staff what they deserve. Today. Do What’s Right.
Together, we can do better.