Two San Antonio school districts that saw bond elections fail last November will try again, with new bonds approved for the Nov. 8 election.
East Central Independent School District is seeking approval for a $240 million bond election, while Judson ISD will ask voters to approve a $345.3 million bond, each of which would fund new school facilities and spend to bolster safety and security. Each district’s board of trustees approved putting the bonds on the ballot in late August.
It’s unclear how the districts will encourage voters to approve these bond packages a year after they rejected smaller proposals last year.
Judson ISD voters rejected a 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. The new bond proposal will increase the district’s tax rate by $0.01.
Several calls to the district on Monday were not returned.
Speaking at a school safety summit earlier this month, Judson ISD Superintendent Jeanette Ball pointed to state-mandated ballot wording that says a bond could result in a tax increase as making it harder for such measures to win approval.
“The fencing that we needed, the infrastructure for the technology that was needed for cameras, all those things, that was part of our  bond,” said Ball.
In a press release announcing the new bond measure, Ball stated “the safety of our students and staff are of incredible importance to us and this bond addresses that.”
Voters in East Central voted down a $175.5 million bond issue last November. An East Central spokesman Brandon Oliver said growth in the district has its schools bursting at the seams. As an example, he noted that Tradition Elementary, built with money from the district’s 2016 bond, is already 120% over capacity.
East Central ISD
East Central ISD’s $240 million bond package would allocate $104 million for two new elementary schools, one on the north side of the district and another on the south side, plus $96 million for a new middle school.
According to Oliver, because of ongoing talks with architects, a yet-to-be-determined amount of funds would go toward adding “security vestibules,” which he described as an additional layer of security, at the entrances of East Central and CAST Lead high schools, Legacy Middle School and Tradition Elementary.
With the intention of increasing student capacity at East Central ISD, the bond would allocate $14.8 million for renovations and the addition of kindergarten and pre-k to Highland Forest and Oak Crest Elementary schools. An additional $1.6 million would fund renovations and new restrooms at Heritage and Legacy Middle Schools.
East Central ISD would allocate just over $3 million to add a new warehouse and police headquarters at the transportation facility, $8.2 million for a new transportation facility, $6.4 million for a new career and technical education multi-purpose facility, and $6 million for land acquisition for possible future campuses, Oliver said.
If approved, residents in the East Central district would see their tax rate increase to $0.06 per $100,000 property valuation, up from the current rate of $1.0706. This would result in an annual increase of about $70 for a home valued at $100,000, according to the district’s 2022 Bond Facts at a Glance, which also noted “no increase for the first two years.”
The fact sheet also states that homeowners who have qualified for and received the “Over 65 Homestead Exemption” will not see a tax increase as a result of the proposed bond program unless significant improvements are made to the home.
After voters rejected Judson ISD’s $302.5 million bond issue in 2021, this year’s two-part bond will raise $345.3 million.
Proposition A dedicates $172 million to safety and security, including upgrading and implementing gates around campuses, adding security cameras, alarm upgrades, access control and automatic lockdown capability.
Proposition B would allocate $173 million to build a new elementary school, a new middle school and a transportation facility.
Early voting begins Oct. 24 and election day is Nov. 8.