Join us for a November 17 Update
Please join us for our upcoming update for members on Wednesday, November 17, at 2:00 p.m. We'll gather on Zoom to discuss the outcomes from the special sessions, the impact of the new legislative maps for the session in 2023, outcomes and lessons learned from the school district elections in 2021, and of course recapture. Hope to see you there!
What the voters had to say
Some of you may have barely noticed that yesterday was Election Day, while others were intensely aware as many districts had items on the ballot.

As was expected, state turnout was pretty low, with only 9% of registered voters casting ballots statewide (down from the 12% turnout in the 2019 constitutional amendment election and up compared to 6% from 2017). All the same, voters had the opportunity to have their say.

Texas Constitutional Amendments
All of the eight proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution were approved by voters by really wide margins (some as high as 88%!), so thanks to the Texas Constitution for bringing us all together and proving there are at least some things on which most of us can agree.

School District Bond Elections
For the most part, school district elections did not see as high of a passage rate as the Constitution. It seems the widespread support from voters for school district bond propositions has waned a bit. For quite some time, you could pretty well hang your hat on the assumption that about 80% of school district bond proposals would receive approval from voters. Those numbers didn't hold true in this election. Results are still coming in at this time and these results should be viewed as “unofficial” for now, but right now the numbers tell us the rate was pretty far south of 80%.

Out of the 61 districts we’re aware of with bond elections this November, 35 districts (57%) saw at least one proposition pass. Out of the total of 109 propositions proposed by districts statewide, 51 (47%) were approved by voters. In total, $5.3 billion was approved of the $8.7 billion proposed, coming in with 61% approval of the total dollar amount.

You can see all the details behind that here: November 2021 Bond Election Results

Keep in mind that this spreadsheet is still a work in progress. If you see anything missing or in need of updating on the list, please let us know.

While passage rates closer to 60% compared to 80% may seem alarming (especially for districts in the 40%), the fact that 60% were approved shows that overall there is still a strong sentiment of support among voters statewide when it comes to their local public school.

Voter-Approval Tax Rate Elections (VATRE)
What was once a TRE has now become a VATRE. To our knowledge, there were a total of 18 districts that sought approval from voters for additional Tier II pennies on the M&O side of the equation. This type of election enjoyed the same approval rating to which school districts are accustomed—15 of the 18 (83%) received approval from local voters.  That 83% approval rating is more than twice the percent of such elections that passed in 2020. Last year, voters only gave approval in five of the 12 VATR Elections.

It's worth noting that among the list of 15 districts that successfully adopted a rate that exceeds VATR are seven districts that are members of the Texas School Coalition.

You can see all the details behind that here: 2021 VATR Election Results

This spreadsheet is also still a work in progress. If you see anything missing or in need of updating on the list, please let us know.

VATRE Impact on FTG
If you are a Formula Transition Grant (FTG) district, you are well aware that the Legislature adopted a ceiling of $400 million for FTGs on a annual basis. And if you are an FTG district, you may want to send a thank you note to some of the 15 districts that successfully passed VATREs yesterday. Keep in mind that increasing a district's tax rate reduces the amount of FTG that district will draw down. That's the reason why some FTG districts have decided to wait to have their VATRE.

So the message that is hidden in code and many acronyms is this: about half of the districts that passed VATREs yesterday were FTG districts and that is going to help mitigate the proration that is coming to the remaining FTG districts.

Stay tuned for more information for how much it will help once the dust settles. At this time, it seems there will still be proration of FTG amounts, but following the election, it will be less so than before.

Looking to the next election
With the 2021 elections officially behind us all but behind us, all attention can now turn the March 1, 2022 Primary Election. Believe it or not, but that election is only 118 days away. Filing will soon be underway and we will learn more about who may or may not be returning and who may be vying to fill some of those empty seats. We'll provide more info on this topic at our update on November 17. Join us!
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