Proposition A - VATRE

A Voter Approved Tax Ratification Election (VATRE) is an election required by the State Legislature to ask voters to approve a modified tax rate to increase revenue for teachers and staff and address continued school growth.

 

A VATRE will generate local revenue for Comal ISD to:

  • Provide the district’s teachers and staff with additional compensation
  • Fund new teaching and staff positions to meet future growth in student enrollment
If this proposition is approved by voters on Nov. 2:
  • Teachers and staff will receive a 3 percent pay increase annually over the next four years.
  • Auxiliary personnel will receive a $1.50 hourly pay increase in 2021 and a 3% increase annually in the following three years.

The Board of Trustees approved a resolution that revenue generated by the VATRE would be used solely for teacher and staff compensation – not for buildings, buses or other district initiatives. See resolution approved June 24, 2021.
 
See the ballot language for this item and other propositions.

Why a VATRE?

Currently, Comal ISD has the lowest teacher pay for first-year teachers in the region, as well as the lowest pay for teachers with up to 15 years of experience.

salaries

However, Comal ISD students are among the best performing students in the region.

  • Math and reading scores for grades 3-8 are the second-highest in the region.
  • Comal ISD is one of only two districts with an A rating.


The district also has the lowest starting hourly rate for bus drivers and custodians, and one of the lowest rates for paraprofessionals.

See Pay Comparisons.

Over the years, Comal ISD has kept pace with student growth and classroom size, at the expense of teacher and staff compensation.

  • The district has not increased teacher and staff pay for two years.
  • Over 10 years ago, the district often looked to smaller, one-time bonuses rather than annual salary increases, keeping district salaries lower than other districts.
 

Current and Future Challenges

growth factComal County is the second fastest growing county in the United States.

  • This year, district enrollment is likely to exceed 27,000 students.
  • Over the next five years, we expect to see an additional 7,500 students.
  • By 2030, enrollment may eclipse 40,000 students.
  • Changes in Texas law limiting property tax funding may limit dollars to support students and schools.


600 districts factFunding for Texas schools comes from local property tax collections and state revenue.
Revenue from property taxes is used first to meet a set funding amount for the maintenance and operational costs (M&O) – which support school operations and teacher salaries.

 

Texas law now requires school districts to decrease their local tax rates once they reach a certain level of property value growth. With fewer tax dollars collected, a fast-growth district like Comal ISD cannot fairly compensate current teachers and be able to add new teachers and staff to meet the demands of growth.

 

How the Tax Rate Changes

The M&O Tax Rate dropped by almost 5 cents per $100 valuation this year.  If the VATRE is approved by voters in November, the current M&O Tax Rate for 2021 would increase by approximately 2 cents – to $0.9420 cents. This would provide funds to address staff compensation in our growing district.

 

See Tax Rate Change.

 

For the average home value in Comal County ($355,000), taxes will increase by $14 per month or $168 per year.

 

Also, Comal County taxpayers will continue to receive the benefit of the 20 percent local homestead exemption. For the average home value, this equates to $65 per month, or $780 per year, in savings.

homestead

Frequently Asked Questions

A Voter Approved Tax Ratification Election (VATRE) is an election required by the Texas Legislature to ask voters to approve a modified tax rate to increase revenue for a specific project or program. For Comal ISD, this revenue will be directed exclusively to teacher and staff compensation and to fund new teaching and staff positions to meet future growth in student enrollment.

If the Proposition A / VATRE is approved by voters on Nov. 2: 

  • Teachers and staff will receive a 3 percent pay increase annually over the next four years. 
  • Auxiliary personnel will receive a $1.50 hourly pay increase in 2021 and a 3% increase annually in the following three years.

Currently, Comal ISD has the lowest teacher pay for first-year teachers in the region, as well as the lowest pay for teachers with up to 15 years of experience. The district also has the lowest starting hourly rate for bus drivers and custodians, and one of the lowest rates for paraprofessionals.  

 

Additionally, district enrollment is likely to exceed 27,000 students this year. Over the next five years, we expect to see an additional 7,500 students, increasing the need for additional teachers and support staff.

More than 10 years ago, the district often looked to smaller, one-time bonuses rather than annual salary increases, keeping district salaries lower than other districts. Also, the district has not increased teacher and staff pay for two academic years.  
No, our Board of Trustees approved a resolution  last June that stated that any revenue generated by the VATRE would be used solely for teacher and staff compensation – not for buildings, buses or other district initiatives. 
Yes. Funding for Texas schools comes from local property tax collections and state revenue. Revenue from property taxes is used first to meet a set funding amount for maintenance and operational costs – which support school operations as well as teacher salaries. 
Recent changes in Texas law now require school districts to decrease their local tax rates once they reach a certain level of property value growth. With fewer property tax dollars collected, a fast-growth district like Comal ISD is challenged to fairly compensate current teachers and staff and be able to add new teachers and staff to meet the demands of created by growth. Additionally, as Comal ISD adds new schools to meet student growth, additional staff are needed and the district incurs additional maintenance and operations expenses to support the new campuses. 
Yes. If the VATRE is approved by voters, the current M&O Tax Rate for 2021 would increase by approximately 2 cents. For the average home value in Comal County ($355,000), approval of the VATRE would result in an increase of $14 per month or $168 per year. Remember that residents of Comal ISD receive a 20% local homestead exemption, so the average home valued at $355,000 saves $65 per month or $780 per year. 
No. Because the tax rate for homeowners 65 and older is frozen, they will not see an increase in their taxes as a result of the passage of Proposition A.
No. Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds are federal grant dollars specifically dedicated to expenses associated with learning recovery, technology for virtual learning, and additional health and safety expenses that are incurred by the district.  
If Proposition A is approved by voters on Nov. 2, the district expects to be able to provide 3% compensation increases to teachers and staff for up to three years based on current budget projections.
No, we cannot control the compensation increases by other districts. But it will provide our teachers and staff with consistent compensation increases that they can count on.  
No, salary increases for teachers and professional staff will exceed than the annual property tax increase. For example, the salary increase for a teacher with two years of experience, with a salary of $48,000, will be $1,440 annually. If the teacher owns a $200,000 home, the annual tax increase will be $112. For another example, a teacher with 15 years of experience, with a salary of $55,317, will see an annual compensation increase of $1,660. If they own a $300,000 home, they will pay an additional $168 per year in property taxes. While tax increases will vary with the price of homes, the additional compensation received by teachers at all pay levels will comfortably exceed the amount of property tax they will pay. 
Yes, more than 600 Texas districts have passed a VATRE. Some of these districts include our neighbors in San Antonio, Austin, San Marcos, Seguin and Marion.  
Due to new school finance laws passed by the state legislature, as property values grow, the maintenance and operations tax rate is being compressed. While districts like Comal ISD used to receive additional revenue to address growth and staff compensation, we are now on a “fixed income” that requires districts to choose between compensation for current staff or hiring additional teachers to address growth, which directly impacts students in classrooms.  
To meet the needs of nearly 27,000 students, the district employs more than 3,500 staff members. This includes 1,774 teachers and almost 1,500 professional staff including principals, counselors, nurses, librarians and other support staff. There also are 350 bus drivers, custodians, maintenance and other staff. While the district is growing, there is a tremendous demand for employees and Comal ISD must compete with neighboring districts who offer higher compensation for many of these positions. 
If Proposition A does not pass, there will be no compensation for the 2021-22 school year. At this time, the next opportunity for the District to present to voters a VATRE could be in November 2022 or 2023.