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Cy-Fair ISD Wants To Drop Your 20% Homestead Exemption


GettaClue

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In the Superintendent's "state of the district" address on June 04, 2009, he has stated his intention to have the 20% homestead exemption eliminated, which would immediately result in an increase in taxes of approximately $248/yr. per $100,0000 home value.

In the address, Superintendent David Anthony said, "On June 15, I am going to recommend the removal of the optional homestead exemption, and it is my expectation that the board will take action on the item."

It is also the only item on the agenda of the CFISD Board of Trustees special-called meeting on June 09, 2009, at 6 p.m.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

In your opinion, is this the right course of action? Or should CFISD cut other non-essentials first? i.e.: the 100% Bus Rider policy (every child in the district gets a seat on a bus, no matter how close they live to the school); cut extra-curricular and sports programs; etc. Or perhaps, should a year-round calendar once again be implemented? (They're being used by more and more burgeoning districts around the country and with good success.)

Edited by GettaClue
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The Berry Center and Cy-Fair ISD's impressive facilities don't have much to do with the crisis that's prompting CFISD officials to put the optional Homestead exemption discount on the table. It has to do with State formula funding being messed up and Cy-Fair not getting its fair share.

I think as taxpayers we ought to hold each and every one of our elected officials and the CFISD Board of Trustees accountable for not getting it done. It is ridiculous that school districts like Spring ISD should receive so much more $$$ per pupil than CFISD. CFISD isn't getting it's fair share back from the state.

Since there doesn't seem much benefit (legislatively) for being a super large district like Cy-Fair, we should also explore breaking the district up into 2-3 smaller districts.

Hold them all accountable.

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The Berry Center and Cy-Fair ISD's impressive facilities don't have much to do with the crisis that's prompting CFISD officials to put the optional Homestead exemption discount on the table. It has to do with State formula funding being messed up and Cy-Fair not getting its fair share.

I think as taxpayers we ought to hold each and every one of our elected officials and the CFISD Board of Trustees accountable for not getting it done. It is ridiculous that school districts like Spring ISD should receive so much more $$$ per pupil than CFISD. CFISD isn't getting it's fair share back from the state.

Since there doesn't seem much benefit (legislatively) for being a super large district like Cy-Fair, we should also explore breaking the district up into 2-3 smaller districts.

Hold them all accountable.

Interesting concept. It is not our fault for spending too much money on our stadiums and schools. It is the STATE's fault for not helping us pay for it. Seems to me that if a school district builds far in excess of its needs, a non-resident of the district should not have to pay for it. This appears to be working out exactly the way it should...Cy-Fair residents paying for their excesses.

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Interesting concept. It is not our fault for spending too much money on our stadiums and schools. It is the STATE's fault for not helping us pay for it. Seems to me that if a school district builds far in excess of its needs, a non-resident of the district should not have to pay for it. This appears to be working out exactly the way it should...Cy-Fair residents paying for their excesses.

Typically, large projects like stadiums, school buildings, etc. are paid for through bond programs, which are voted on and approved separate and apart from the annual budget. Debt service and upkeep are still issues, but the actual construction isn't at fault here.

Also, when the superintendent, Dr. Anthony, testified at a legislative hearing about the funding situation, the first question legislators asked is if CFISD had a homestead exemption. When he answered "yes," they basically cut him off there. So in essence, they have to eliminate the homestead exemption before even starting a conversation about better funding models.

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Cy-Fair residents should be furious that other school districts are receiving so much more than they are in funding per student. Nearby Tomball receives $1300 more per student in State funding. Why is that?

With over 100,000 students in CFISD and equivalent funding (per student) to Tomball, would mean an additional $130,000,000.

Despite the funding shortage, CFISD has remained a respected school district. Seems like the state has been getting a bargain with Cy-Fair at CFISD taxpayer expense. Why aren't they getting their fair share back from the State?

Edited by mrfootball
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Cy-Fair residents should be furious that other school districts are receiving so much more than they are in funding per student. Nearby Tomball receives $1300 more per student in State funding. Why is that?

the way the law was developed it didn't account for growth so funding is frozen from ~2005 levels.

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Since there doesn't seem much benefit (legislatively) for being a super large district like Cy-Fair, we should also explore breaking the district up into 2-3 smaller districts.

Hold them all accountable.

I suggested this to their growth planning department 4 years ago and they looked at me like I had three heads. When they finally caught their collective breath, I got a sales pitch about "economies of scale." I in turn pointed out them that their "economies of scale" are now running head-long into "the law of diminishing returns."

Jaws dropped. After they finally stopped sputtering, I was told that while they had heard of districts consolidating to grow larger, they never heard of a district splitting to become smaller. They were adamant that the whole concept wouldn't fly, but couldn't come up with any reasons why that was so.

Instead, they went on and on about their plan for continued growth, as if anything else was simply unfathomable.

The only folks tougher than bureaucrats to get to thinking outside the box have to be educrats!

Edited by GettaClue
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I hope that everyone will do the same! The last thing any of us need right now is a 30% tax increase!

I'm personally pushing for them to eliminate the 100% Bus Rider policy and to re-implement year-round school before they try to foist any increases onto us.

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I'm personally pushing for them to eliminate the 100% Bus Rider policy and to re-implement year-round school before they try to foist any increases onto us.

Forgive my ignorance, but how would year-round school help the problem?

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Forgive my ignorance, but how would year-round school help the problem?

Because facilities are used year-round, it allows current resources to be fully utilized, so notably fewer new schools need to be built and maintained.

There is also much evidence that year-round education with several short breaks, rather than one long one each year, greatly benefits the learning process. For as much as we spend on the learning process, we should be doing year-round schools and most especially before more money is demanded from us.

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Maybe you can post those email addresses here. The more emails they get the better.

Emails are a great beginning!! But just as they are so easily written and sent, they are also easily ignored like so much annoying spam. This issue is one which is going to actually require us to get off our duffs and out from behind our computers if we're to truly create change.

If this isn't the issue to motivate us all do that, then I'm sure that anything ever will be.

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Because facilities are used year-round, it allows current resources to be fully utilized, so notably fewer new schools need to be built and maintained.

There is also much evidence that year-round education with several short breaks, rather than one long one each year, greatly benefits the learning process. For as much as we spend on the learning process, we should be doing year-round schools and most especially before more money is demanded from us.

I get your second point, but you lost me on the first? Year-round school would have no bearing on the number of kids going needed classroom space. It isn't like some kids go this week, and others go that week. You would still need to build new schools to meet growing attendance.

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No matter how this turns out, people are going to take major bullets. If the district cuts instead of eliminating the exemption, the district will essentially fall apart and things will not improve.

If the exemption is eliminated, that first year will be hard for many homeowners and the district may still scramble for a few years to get back on its feet.

Truth is that no other district in the area has that exemption. There are a couple of things that could happen to lessen the blow.

(1) While it may not fix things in the immediate future, reducing the exemption over the next few years may at least dull the impact a tiny bit. Instead of chopping the 20% at once, do it over 3 years.

(2) Many homes are being appraised at different values at this time due to the economy. If there was a way to ensure that the appraisal value of homes either decreases or at least freezes, it will also lessen the impact of the homestead being eliminated. However, this entails buy-in from the appraisal districts.

Regardless of how things end up, people will be heavily and negatively affected. As a result, some people in "power" will take major hits in the next year. It was a storm that was coming but the state will not budge due to the district exemption, something that was probably unnecessary to begin with.

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I stand corrected. I should have done the research about the number of districts with the exemption first. That makes it all the more harsh that Cy-Fair isn't getting due $$$ from the state.

It almost sounds like the state has something personal against Cy-Fair.

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I stand corrected. I should have done the research about the number of districts with the exemption first. That makes it all the more harsh that Cy-Fair isn't getting due $$$ from the state.

It almost sounds like the state has something personal against Cy-Fair.

Yeah, that's it. It's a conspiracy by a conservative GOP run state legislature against a conservative GOP heavy school district. I'd run with that one. It's got legs.

If you really want to find the source of your problems (since you refuse to blame the school board's Taj Mahal building practices), look at your state senator Dan Patrick, who was quoted thusly...

Patrick, whose district includes Cy-Fair, said he is optimistic the school system, Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott can work out a funding fix so Cy-Fair ISD can keep the optional homestead exemption.
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I get your second point, but you lost me on the first? Year-round school would have no bearing on the number of kids going needed classroom space. It isn't like some kids go this week, and others go that week. You would still need to build new schools to meet growing attendance.

Done properly, year-round tracks are set up so that a certain percentage of the school is off-track/on vacation at any given time. This frees up not only classroom space, but also space in the lunchrooms and media centers, offices, gymnasiums, parking lots, etc.

Example: Students attend class for nine weeks, then have three weeks off. While four groups of students are in class, a fifth group is always on break. This can increase a school's capacity by 33-percent, without overcrowding.

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Which parts of CFISD would benefit from year round schooling?

For a long time many Los Angeles USD schools had year round schooling. After an aggressive bond program, many of the year round schools are converting to traditional calendar schools once reliever schools open.

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The cost of air conditioning alone would bankrupt most districts. We're talking every school (over 70 schools) cranking up the AC in the hottest time of the year.

Jedijake, are you meaning every school in the district would do year round school?

AFAIK only a portion of the schools in a given district do year round school - i.e. in LAUSD only some schools do year round, and that is decreasing as new schools open.

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It wouldn't solve anything financially. There are several models of year-round school (6wks on/2wks off, 9wks on/3wks off, etc). However, like block-scheduling, the jury is still out as to the effectiveness.

Plus the opportunities for summer employment for both teenagers and teachers presents a major problem. (not to mention summer course work).

Year-round school programs would have to accommodate for teachers salaries. Sure, the naysayers who claim that teachers get paid too much for a 10-month job would argue that they'd still work the same amount of days. However, many teachers earn summer pay for other jobs to compensate.

I've seen benefits of year-round school, but there are many cons as well.

There's one other solution that nobody in Texas will ever want to hear about but has been bandied about from time to time. That is a state income tax. Don't get me wrong-it's not something I would jump up and down about, but it's something else to throw out there.

Texas, particularly the Houston area is doing MUCH better than most places in the country in these desperate times. However, areas like the Bridgelands were supposed to be blooming out of control at this point. That's where a great deal of projected growth was coming from. Those homes are not selling from what I read and growth has stalled. It was marketed as a "move up" community. Prospective new residents cannot sell their homes and therefore are not buying new ones.

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It wouldn't solve anything financially. There are several models of year-round school (6wks on/2wks off, 9wks on/3wks off, etc). However, like block-scheduling, the jury is still out as to the effectiveness.

Plus the opportunities for summer employment for both teenagers and teachers presents a major problem. (not to mention summer course work).

Year-round school programs would have to accommodate for teachers salaries. Sure, the naysayers who claim that teachers get paid too much for a 10-month job would argue that they'd still work the same amount of days. However, many teachers earn summer pay for other jobs to compensate.

I've seen benefits of year-round school, but there are many cons as well.

There's one other solution that nobody in Texas will ever want to hear about but has been bandied about from time to time. That is a state income tax. Don't get me wrong-it's not something I would jump up and down about, but it's something else to throw out there.

Texas, particularly the Houston area is doing MUCH better than most places in the country in these desperate times. However, areas like the Bridgelands were supposed to be blooming out of control at this point. That's where a great deal of projected growth was coming from. Those homes are not selling from what I read and growth has stalled. It was marketed as a "move up" community. Prospective new residents cannot sell their homes and therefore are not buying new ones.

Drove through Bridgeland the other day. You wouldn't know they were suffering through such hard times. New homes still going up. Nice homes.

Most large master-planned communities of similar scale started at the entry-level (i.e. The Woodlands, Cinco Ranch, Fairfield, etc) during downturns etc, but eventually moved upmarket a decade or three (in the case of The Woodlands) later. Bridgelands on the other hand starts at the same price points as the other major master-planned communities in their mature stages.

I think they'll be ok. If you're not familiar with the Caldwell companies, they're a major player in NW Harris County real estate and all of their residential communities are higher end properties which have sold well. They've said they intend to stick with the plan laid out by General Growth. Take it for what its worth. I wouldn't be surprised if GGP comes back (assuming they get their financial house in order) and buys a stake in this development. There will be a mall built there and there are just a handful of companies that develop these today.

I think you'll see an explosion in retail/commercial growth in 2011 once the 2010 census figures come in. A few years later you'll have a totally redone 290 with a tollway and commuter rail along with the Grand Parkway.

Don't weep for Bridgeland or Cypress, growth continues.

People do need to get more politically active though to ensure that we get our fair share returned this area. Ultimately, I want to see an effort to incorporate.

Edited by mrfootball
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A few years later you'll have a totally redone 290 with a tollway and commuter rail along with the Grand Parkway.

You might see construction on the GP by 2015, but certainly not 290 or HML. Commuter rail, maybe.

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Response from Scott Hochberg:

Thank you for your note regarding state funding for CFISD. I apologize for responding in a form letter, but the number of emails I have been forwarded prevents me from responding personally to each.

Unfortunately, the call to veto HB 3646 is based on inaccurate or false information. I have tried to find the source of this misinformation, but nobody has yet claimed it, and Dr. Anthony says the email that is being distributed calling for a veto should not be attributed to him.

Here are the facts:

1.) HB 3646 does not penalize CFISD. In fact, according to Commissioner of Education Robert Scott, CFISD will receive an estimated $27.6 million increase in its state funding per year over what it would receive otherwise. That's at least twice the increase per student that the surrounding districts, to which CFISD is being compared, will receive.

2.) Vetoing HB 3646 will not force a special legislative session. The money funding HB 3646 is federal stimulus money, and, if HB 3646 is not in place, Texas must distribute the money according to federal formulas, which will not benefit CFISD, or must return the money.

3.) Even if a special legislative session were called, it would not necessarily benefit CFISD. Districts that are getting less than CFISD per student outnumber those receiving more, so it's at least as likely that CFISD would end up worse off in the deal.

4.) In addition to the $27.6 million that CFISD will get from HB 3646, the Commissioner estimates that CFISD will receive another $27 million in one-time federal stimulus money flowing directly to the district between now and Sept., 2011.

5.) There is no "inaccurate data" used in HB 3646, in fact the bill does not contain the specific allocation that any district will receive. The bill increases the funding of existing formulas, but does not determine how much any specific district will receive. The allocation for CFISD, like any other district, will be based on data that CFISD submits to the Texas Education Agency regarding its student attendance and tax collections. If this data is inaccurate or does not match pre-year estimates, the district will settle up with the state after the school year ends, as always.

6.) I have never said that CFISD should eliminate its homestead exemption. In fact, I carried legislation to increase the homestead exemption for all Texas homeowners, at state expense. Nobody has been able to tell me why this comment is being attributed to me, and nobody I can find has heard me say or imply this.

7.) The districts that are being compared to CFISD as having more funding either have no homestead exemption or have higher tax rates, and therefore have more tax dollars. According to the State Comptroller, Klein, Tomball, Spring and Katy ISDs (and others) have no optional homestead exemption at all, compared with CFISD's 20% exemption. That gives those districts a 10% advantage in tax revenue right off the bat compared with CFISD. Spring Branch ISD has a homestead exemption, like CFISD, but it has a higher tax rate.

8.) HB 3646 does not increase gaps between CFISD and other districts. It lowers gaps that have historically been in place. It does not reduce money available to CFISD, but actually increases state funding by significantly more than it does for the other districts mentioned. Further, it contains an automatic "escalator" clause that increases CFISD's funding even further, without increasing funding for the other districts, if state property values increase faster than student growth, which has occurred almost every year.

Finally, if there is to be a tax increase in CFISD, you should know that eliminating the homestead exemption is not the district's only choice. The district could instead increase the tax rate, in which case the business community would share the increase with homeowners. The district would need to pass an election to increase the tax rate, while it would not need an election to eliminate or cut the homestead exemption.

I appreciate your interest in public education and that you have taken the time to write.

Sincerely,

Scott Hochberg

State Representative

District 137 - Southwest Houston

Original Email:

Forwarding...

Please FORWARD to your CY-FAIR email lists - all Homeowners, Business Owners and Voters MUST voice to VETO this bill.

We are in direct communication with Senator Dan Patrick

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I understand that CyFair ISD has a 28.8 million dollar shortfall, but one partial solution is to change the planned technology replacement and upgrade cycle that was described in their 2004 Bond Referendum as costing $57,200,000. Also, while CyFair ISD holds conferences, graduations, etc... in the Barry Center, the costs of such facilities and sports arenas may outweigh the benefits. It is nice to be able to build such facilities, and to buy the newest technology. But there is a tremendous difference between NEEDS and WANTS

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Isn't that interesting! Sounds like the state was hoarding money. Suddenly, in the heat of the moment, "unexpected" money shows up? Hmmm....

I was wondering if, had CFISD dropped the homestead exemption and STILL be terribly shorthanded by the state with funds, they would turn around and sue the state. Wishing to avoid this, magical money turns up.

Still, I wonder if that will be enough. The article states that there will be budget cuts. What kind of cuts I wonder?

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Isn't that interesting! Sounds like the state was hoarding money. Suddenly, in the heat of the moment, "unexpected" money shows up? Hmmm....

I was wondering if, had CFISD dropped the homestead exemption and STILL be terribly shorthanded by the state with funds, they would turn around and sue the state. Wishing to avoid this, magical money turns up.

Still, I wonder if that will be enough. The article states that there will be budget cuts. What kind of cuts I wonder?

The district is going to cut back on teacher health insurance

. The new bulletin comes out June 28th. Teachers already get bad health insurance, this just should make it even worse.

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The district is going to cut back on teacher health insurance

. The new bulletin comes out June 28th. Teachers already get bad health insurance, this just should make it even worse.

That'll never happen. Of any option, that's the one that will never be a consideration.

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It's over. The board voted 6-1 for keeping the exemption, nixing any type of teacher raise, and digging into deep budget cuts.

I don't think that anyone except maybe Dan Patrick and Dr. Anthony have any idea what will happen after next year. If the board keeps the exemption now, it will keep it forever.

Insolvency is a precursor to bankruptcy. Frozen salaries for several years is a precursor to not being able to make payroll. The only way to avoid those two is to make deeper and deeper cuts every year. School closures, doubling up on bus routes, and 35-40 students in a class or more will result heavily at the secondary level (elementary schools are bound to state minimum laws).

It's going to be interesting.

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It's over. The board voted 6-1 for keeping the exemption, nixing any type of teacher raise, and digging into deep budget cuts.

I don't think that anyone except maybe Dan Patrick and Dr. Anthony have any idea what will happen after next year. If the board keeps the exemption now, it will keep it forever.

Insolvency is a precursor to bankruptcy. Frozen salaries for several years is a precursor to not being able to make payroll. The only way to avoid those two is to make deeper and deeper cuts every year. School closures, doubling up on bus routes, and 35-40 students in a class or more will result heavily at the secondary level (elementary schools are bound to state minimum laws).

It's going to be interesting.

Oh well, at least you still got the football stadium. And, all your high schools look like the campus of Wake Forest University. That oughta count for something.

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Look, we can make accusations and be sarcastic all we want. The bottom line is that this is not a fix or any attempt to solve the situation. Instead of coming up with a solution that will perpetuate over the long haul, the problem was swept under the rug.

It is being reported that 75 positions will need to be cut. The number will be closer to 150 to 200 or more. Last year it was 400-450 positions. Sadly, MORE administrative positions were added (like science coaching teachers-not even sure what that means, especially considering that most hired to that position were under 30 years old-and there were at least 20 people pulled from the classroom for that position).

This isn't about people getting into a profession knowing this would happen. Tell that to people at GM or Chrystler. It also isn't about anything that has already been voted on through bond elections. This is about the fact that the severe problems will continue or get worse. You can only make cuts for so long before you have to shut things down completely. I am not saying the district will cease to exist, but the "sacrifices" that will have to be made year after year will cause the school system to look very different than it does now.

What amazed me is how poorly defended this exemption was last night. The people who spoke against the elimination seemed to either not have a clue about how anything worked or were so frantic in their speech that it came across almost comical. Yet NOBODY on either side talked about the ramifications for the future. I wonder where people think money will come from. Making cuts year after year won't create magical money. The exemption will have to be eliminated eventually and the area is doing FAR better than most areas in the country. (claiming bad economic times is not an excuse)

Klein, Tomball, and Spring ISD must be laughing hysterically at all of this since they don't have an exemption and never will.

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Look, we can make accusations and be sarcastic all we want. The bottom line is that this is not a fix or any attempt to solve the situation. Instead of coming up with a solution that will perpetuate over the long haul, the problem was swept under the rug.

It is being reported that 75 positions will need to be cut. The number will be closer to 150 to 200 or more. Last year it was 400-450 positions. Sadly, MORE administrative positions were added (like science coaching teachers-not even sure what that means, especially considering that most hired to that position were under 30 years old-and there were at least 20 people pulled from the classroom for that position).

This isn't about people getting into a profession knowing this would happen. Tell that to people at GM or Chrystler. It also isn't about anything that has already been voted on through bond elections. This is about the fact that the severe problems will continue or get worse. You can only make cuts for so long before you have to shut things down completely. I am not saying the district will cease to exist, but the "sacrifices" that will have to be made year after year will cause the school system to look very different than it does now.

What amazed me is how poorly defended this exemption was last night. The people who spoke against the elimination seemed to either not have a clue about how anything worked or were so frantic in their speech that it came across almost comical. Yet NOBODY on either side talked about the ramifications for the future. I wonder where people think money will come from. Making cuts year after year won't create magical money. The exemption will have to be eliminated eventually and the area is doing FAR better than most areas in the country. (claiming bad economic times is not an excuse)

Klein, Tomball, and Spring ISD must be laughing hysterically at all of this since they don't have an exemption and never will.

Klein, Tomball and Spring don't have the exemption? Is that correct? Is it correct that Katy too doesn't have the exemption?

I didn't realize our taxes were that much lower than the above referenced areas. More info please.

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  • The title was changed to Cy-Fair ISD Wants To Drop Your 20% Homestead Exemption

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