Voters rejected three Bexar County school bond packages Tuesday that would have addressed growing student populations in Judson, East Central, and Southside school districts.
In Alamo Heights Independent School District, voters approved a tax rate decrease that will bring in more revenue for the district.
Results for the Comal ISD tax rate and bond issue election still trickled in late Tuesday night from a district that spans Comal, Bexar, Hays, Guadalupe, and Kendall counties.
Judson, Comal, East Central, and Southside ISDs proposed bond issues, while Alamo Heights and Comal ISDs asked voters to approve tax rate changes that will increase local revenue. School districts must seek voter approval to adjust tax rates that bring in more property tax revenue under a 2019 school finance reform law, House Bill 3.
Judson ISD voters rejected the proposed $302.5 million bond issue that would not have raised the district’s tax rate, set at $1.27 per $100 in property tax valuation. Superintendent Jeanette Ball said in a previous interview that she believed the bond issue was necessary for the district of about 24,000 students to build two new schools, update technology, and improve athletic facilities.
The $302.5 million bond package was divided into three propositions. About 55% of voters cast ballots against Proposition A, which would have devoted $252.3 million to building a new elementary and middle school and purchasing new buses. It also would have allowed Judson to install heating and air-conditioning in 16 school gyms that currently lack those systems and install maker space labs in 23 campuses. The maker space areas would have been flexible spaces where students could work together or on their own.
Roughly 59.9% of voters declined Proposition B, which would have funded $14.9 million in athletic facility improvements. The school district would have installed artificial turf fields at Wagner and Veterans Memorial high schools and replaced the turf at Rutledge Stadium; all three fields would have gotten new striping for soccer as well. Judson would have replaced track surfaces at Wagner and Rutledge Stadium and built new tennis courts at Kirby Middle and Judson Middle schools.
Proposition C would have allowed the district to spend $35.3 million upgrading technology devices for students to make sure every student has a device. It also would have funded improvements to the entire district’s wireless internet infrastructure and security systems. About 51.9% of voters rejected this proposition.
East Central ISD
Voters in East Central declined approving a $175.5 million bond issue, with 53.6% of voters casting ballots against the measure. The bond would have built two new elementary schools and a new middle school, in addition to a new career and technical education facility.
East Central ISD proposed the bond issue because it expects extensive growth in the next 10 years. The district projected adding more than 7,000 students in the next 10 years, reaching an enrollment of 17,200 students in 2030.
In addition to the new schools, the $175.5 million bond package would have funded renovations to Highland Forest Elementary, Oak Crest Elementary, Heritage Middle, and Legacy Middle schools. The district would have added pre-K and kindergarten spaces to Highland Forest Elementary and Oak Crest Elementary schools and a new restroom facility to Legacy Middle School. East Central also would have built a new warehouse facility to house its police department.
East Central ISD homeowners would not have seen an increase to their property tax rate right away. By 2025, the district would have raised its tax rate by $0.1075 per $100 taxable value, increasing the current tax rate of $1.088 to $1.1955. Homeowners would have seen an annual increase in property taxes of about $108 per $100,000 taxable value or about $242 for a home valued at $250,000.
Voters in Southside ISD overwhelmingly rejected the district’s proposed $52 million bond issue, with 68.5% voting against the measure.
The Southside school district proposed a $52 million bond package that would have paid for projects at six campuses without a tax rate increase. About 5,600 students attend Southside ISD.
The $52 million would have funded projects at Gallardo Elementary, Heritage Elementary, Freedom Elementary, Matthey Middle, Southside High, and Southside Early College High schools. All six campuses would have seen new furniture, and the three elementary schools would have added new playgrounds.
Every campus except Gallardo Elementary School would have received roof replacements. The bond would have paid for classroom renovations at Southside High, Southside Early College High, Freedom Elementary, and Heritage Elementary schools. A covered canopy also would have been built between the high school campuses.
Additionally, the bond package would have purchased emergency generators, repairing fences around schools, upgrading exterior lighting, and adding security cameras and front vestibules where visitors would have to check in before entering other areas of the campus. The $52 million would have paid for heating and air-conditioning repairs and replaced chillers, boilers and drinking fountains. The high schools’ athletic facilities would been upgraded, including renovated locker rooms and new bleachers, scoreboards, goals, and backboards.
Alamo Heights ISD
The Alamo Heights school district’s tax rate change easily passed Tuesday night, with 71.7% of voters casting ballots in favor of the rate decrease. The lower overall tax rate will bring in more revenue for the district of about 4,800 students.
Alamo Heights ISD will lower its current tax rate of $1.1964 per $100 property valuation to $1.1934. This change will generate an extra $1.4 million in property tax revenue that the district will use to raise salaries and improve students’ overall education.
Although Alamo Heights ISD is decreasing its tax rate, the change will generate new revenue for the district because it will not be subject to recapture by the state. Certain Texas school districts send some of their local revenue to the state under a law referred to as “Robin Hood” because these funds are redistributed by the state school finance system to help fund other districts. Alamo Heights has sent $622 million to the state under this legislation, according to the district.