San Antonio’s largest school district is proposing its largest bond ever. Northside Independent School District, a fast-growing district that has added more than 40,000 students in the past 16 years, will ask voters to approve a bond of nearly $849 million in a May 5 election.

The bond will fund four proposed campuses to accommodate student growth on the west side of the district. Roughly $280 million of the proposed amount will contribute to the construction of a new high school near Galm Road, a middle school in the Kallison Ranch area, and two new elementary schools, one of which would be located near Farm-to-Market Road 471 North and the other in the Village at WestPointe North area.

The district’s board of trustees voted Tuesday night to call for a bond election. NISD Superintendent Brian Woods estimated that roughly one-third of the bond funding would be directed to new schools with the remaining two-thirds dedicated to updating the district’s existing 119 campuses.

“One thing I would add on it is that the board historically has tried very hard to maintain all the old facilities and that we try really hard to have equity in our district,” NISD Board President M’Lissa Chumbley said about the breakdown of funds.

The Northside Independent School District board calls for the longest bond in the history of the district.
The Northside Independent School District board room is full as it calls for the longest bond in the history of the district. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Some of those updates would include infrastructure, roofing, safety and security, and technology. In addition, the bond package would put funding toward additional transportation resources.

The Citizen’s Bond Committee, which helped determine a list of projects for the bond proposal, was comprised of volunteers living in the district. The committee agreed almost unanimously on most projects presented on the final bond proposal. Woods said the main subjects of disagreement came on a proposal to update the main playing field of each high school to synthetic turf and whether or not to include shade structures on the playgrounds of all the elementary schools. Ultimately, trustees decided both were important to include in the bond.

The district initially sent out a little more than 400 invitations to sit on the bond committee. At any given committee meeting, between 250 and 300 volunteers attended, district spokesman Barry Perez said.

Voters will be able to decide on the bond question on a May 5 ballot. In the days leading up to the bond election, the district plans give presentations detailing which bond projects would impact individual schools.

The district projects that with an $848.91 million bond, the average homeowner with a home value of $264,869 would see a cumulative monthly impact on his or her property tax bill of $22.19, totaling $266.28 annually. This estimate assumes home values will increase 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent.

Woods said that in the last seven fiscal years, the district has not seen a tax increase.

“This is not a fluff bond. This is something that we need as a district,” Trustee Gerald Lopez said. “This is a necessity.”

Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.