APS Column: Quality schools make Austin special

Published 5:02 pm Friday, September 30, 2022

Dr. James Herrick

I have lived in Austin for more than 50 years, leading a dental practice and raising three children with my wife, Mary. I am blessed to be able to call Austin my home. I take great pride in how our community works together when facing a new challenge.

In that spirit, I want to make sure everyone is informed about an important community decision — the Nov. 8 referendum to increase the school operating levy. 

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Our schools have served students well for generations. Mary and I graduated from Austin Public Schools, our children graduated from Austin Public Schools, and we are the proud grandparents of two seniors who will graduate in the spring. Quality schools were one of the reasons I wanted to raise my family in Austin, and they remain an attraction for young families to this day.

Currently, our district’s operating levy is the lowest in the region, at $42.70 per student. Without increased funding, the students of tomorrow will not have the same opportunities that we have been so fortunate to receive. That’s why the district has proposed an operating levy increase of $470 per student on the ballot this November. 

If the operating levy increase is approved, it will help alleviate a $3 million operating deficit the district is facing next year. Increased funding will ensure that students can explore the arts, get involved in athletics and receive extra support services. It will also ensure students have vocational opportunities and the chance to earn college credit while in high school. These are the kinds of programs that give our students a head start, helping prepare them for productive and fulfilling lives after graduation.

If the referendum passes, the average homeowner in the district with a $170,000 home would pay an estimated tax increase of $12 per month. Everyone needs to decide whether the value of this investment is worth the cost. I encourage everyone to visit AccelerateAustin.org to learn more about the referendum and how to make your voice heard this November.