A winning weekend for most local bond measures in Texas


Most of the $8.5 billion of bond proposals in Saturday’s Texas local bond elections were successful, including nearly $884 million that were rejected last November.

The proposals included about $6.5 billion of school district bonds, $1.6 billion for cities, $319 million for counties and $139 million for community colleges.

Three school districts that saw their bonds rejected in November’s record-turnout presidential election won support for nearly all of their bonds in Saturday’s vote, which drew much lower turnout.

This rendering depicts the new Health Sciences Center at Temple College that will be financed by bonds voters approved Saturday.

Temple College

Voters in the Northwest Independent School District in suburban Fort Worth again rejected $8.2 million for stadium improvements but approved more than $738 million of bonds in three other proposals. In November, district voters strongly rejected nearly $1 billion of bonds.

Spread across Denton, Tarrant and Wise counties, Northwest ISD is one of the largest and fastest growing in the state with 19 elementary schools, six middle schools, and four high schools.

The district said the bonds were needed to keep pace with growth.

“The projects in the bond will go a long way to serve our current 26,000-plus students and those who will be coming in the next several years,” said NWISD Superintendent Ryder Warren.

Ponder ISD, another Denton County district north of Dallas expecting explosive growth, won strong support for $75 million of bonds rejected in November. Unofficial records show the proposal with 78% approval.

Wichita Falls ISD near the Oklahoma border came back to voters Saturday with $13.8 million of bonds for athletic facilities that were rejected in November when $276 million for two high schools won approval. The athletic facilities will adjoin the new schools.

Under Senate Bill 30 approved by the Texas Legislature in 2019, school districts must list proposals by category, including sports and recreation, performing arts, teacher housing and certain technology acquisitions and updates. Before that law was enacted, school bond proposals were all or nothing.

Richardson ISD, an established suburban district adjoining north Dallas, enjoyed 63% approval for $750 million of bonds for school buildings and equipment.

“The items in Bond 2021 will benefit all RISD campuses, allow the district to move toward a middle school model and full-day pre-Kindergarten for every RISD family, build new classrooms to accommodate student growth, and kick off a long-range facilities vision to address RISD’s aging school buildings,” said RISD Superintendent Jeannie Stone. “We are committed to being good stewards of the tax dollars entrusted to us, and this approval of Bond 2021 will not require an increase to RISD’s tax rate.”

McKinney ISD in Collin County north of Dallas won voter approval for $275 million of bonds for capital improvement and technology projects.

In the suburbs west of Houston, voters in the Katy ISD approved all four propositions for $676.23 million of bonds to finance more than 400 projects, including five new schools, renovations for older campuses, safety improvements and technology upgrades.

“With the passage of the four 2021 bond propositions the district and campuses are well positioned to continue effectively managing our region’s fast growth, updating safety measures and providing building and technology improvements across more than 88 campuses and facilities,” KISD Superintendent Ken Gregorski said in a written statement announcing the results.

In Central Texas, north of Austin, Liberty Hill ISD passed all four bond proposals worth $491.7 million. The bond money will finance new facilities in the fast-growing district.

Another Austin-area district, Bastrop ISD, won approval of $183.7 million after bond proposals in 2016 and 2017 failed.

In Hays Consolidated ISD south of Austin, voters approved $189 million of bonds for schools but rejected about $17 million for stadiums and athletic projects.

In the high plains of West Texas, voters in Lubbock-Cooper ISD approved $420 million of school bonds to build three campuses, including a high school, a stadium and other athletic facilities.

“This is a culmination of two years of planning — of careful planning — and we’re excited to be able to provide quality education facilities without having to increase the tax rate to meet the growing needs of our district,” LCISD Superintendent Keith Bryant said in a prepared statement after the results were announced.

Bonds for fast-growing suburban cities also won strong support. The Dallas suburbs of Irving, Plano and Grand Prairie accounted for nearly $1 billion.

Irving’s 12 proposals worth $563 million passed easily, with none receiving less than 58% support. The city on Dallas’s western edge had originally scheduled the election for November but cancelled those plans at the last opportunity.

About $2.5 billion of bonds from 29 issuers expected to come up for a vote last November were pulled from the ballot.

In Plano north of Dallas, voters Saturday approved $364 million for streets, parks, recreation centers, public safety and other projects.

Voters in Grand Prairie, one of the Mid-Cities between Dallas and Fort Worth, approved $75 million for economic development. The bond proceeds will go toward conference hotel facilities, restaurants and land purchases.

In Georgetown, a rapidly growing suburb north of Austin and the seat of Williamson County, voters approved $90 million of bonds for transportation projects.

In Bell County, north of Williamson County, about 55% of voters approved $124.9 million of bonds to expand and improve Temple College, a community college in Temple. A new Health Sciences Center would address a shortage of health care workers as well as providing updates to several college buildings that are five to six decades old.

Voters in Galveston County south of Houston approved $13.9 million of bonds to refund College of the Mainland’s 2017 maintenance tax notes. Although the proposal was labeled as a tax increase, backers said the issue would reduce the community college’s interest cost.

While most counties won approval for road bonds and other routine projects, Coryell County near Ft. Hood Army Post lost its bid for $30 million of bonds for a new jail. About 72% of voters opposed the project designed to relieve overcrowding and the need to send inmates to other counties’ lockups.

In a bond-related referendum, voters in San Antonio approved a proposition allowing the city to use bonds for affordable housing. The city charter had limited the use of bonds for other uses.

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