Push for McAllen ISD tax election fizzles

Trustee Sam Saldivar Jr. at Monday’s meeting. (Screengrab)

A push to approve a voter approved tax ratification election at McAllen ISD died with a whimper and some angry feelings Monday.

Trustee Sam Saldivar Jr., who asked for the board to consider the election, quickly called for a meeting on the topic to be adjourned Monday afternoon, saying that the way the item appeared on the board’s agenda did not reflect a detailed written request he submitted to Board President Tony Forina and Superintendent J. A. Gonzalez last week.

Monday was the last day for the board to call an election that would have given the voters the option to increase the tax rate in order to fund additional security measures and establish a free pre-K program.

Saldivar said Monday’s agenda omitted a request for discussion with legal counsel on language related to the election.

“It does not reflect what I specifically asked for in writing,” he said.

Saldivar seemed fairly upset over the way things played out, but said he was hesitant to expand on his objections over fear of embarrassing the board. He did, however, decry a lack of communication over the agenda, mentioning Superintendent Gonzalez in his criticism.

“It represents somebody else’s opinion, and that that individual under board policy never bothered to call me to discuss it,” he said. “And never afforded me — the person requesting the item on the agenda — which by the way is unprecedented in my 13 years on the board. This has never happened. And a person putting an item on the agenda would get a phone call from the superintendent. I didn’t get a phone call.”

Multiple attempts to reach Saldivar failed Monday. It’s unclear whether he meant the agenda represented Gonzalez’s opinion or someone else’s.

Asked for comment, a district spokesperson noted that the election would no longer be possible this year and wrote that district leadership would “continue working together for the betterment of our school community.”

Gonzalez was not available to respond to Saldivar’s comments, the spokesperson wrote. He was in meetings.

Trustees began considering a tax ratification election earlier this summer during a struggle to approve employee pay raises.

The election would have given voters the opportunity to approve a 3.76% increase setting the tax rate at $1.0964.

Had the voters approved the change, additional funds it generated would have gone solely toward security upgrades and the establishment of a universal Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 program available at no cost to families of students.

Board support for the election was tentative from the get-go. By a workshop last week, most trustees other than Saldivar seemed to be aligned against calling the election, voicing support for other options to find funds.