Trustees reacted positively to a Citizen's Bond Committee recommendation that totaled just under $850 million.
Trustees reacted positively to a Citizen's Bond Committee recommendation that totaled just under $850 million. Credit: Emily Donaldson / San Antonio Report

Northside Independent School District is considering a bond election totaling more than $800 million for new schools and renovations of existing ones — a proposal that, if approved, would be the largest in the district’s history.

The highest-priced bond passed by district-area voters to date was $692.67 million in 2007. The new proposal, as discussed by NISD trustees, totals $848 million.

Trustees discussed the possibility at a board meeting Wednesday night, reviewing suggestions from the Citizen’s Bond Committee, which has been meeting since November to formulate a potential slate of bond projects.

The timeline is tight for trustees, leading up to a deadline of Feb. 16, the time by which trustees must make a decision to call for a bond election or pass it off until a potential election in November. Texas law allows school bond elections to be called only in May or November.

The committee, broken up into six working teams, unanimously supported proposals for a bond totaling more than $800 million. Individual teams differed slightly on specific projects to include, but overall supported bond totals ranging from $806.5 million to $841 million.

All teams supported a proposition for a $280 million expenditure that would 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 nearby Farm-to-Market Road 471 North and the other in the Village at WestPointe North area. All four proposed campuses would be located on the rapidly growing west side of the district, where NISD projects a surge in student population.

All six teams on the committee also recommended more than $290 million in renovations and upgrades to existing school buildings.

Superintendent Brian Woods told the board Wednesday night that the bond proposition was split up with roughly 65 percent of proposed funds going to renovating existing buildings and the remainder going to new schools.

The committee’s work comes as the result of a districtwide survey, issued to community members, staff, parents, and voters. According to a district presentation, survey results indicate the majority of district stakeholders would support a bond ranging from $700 million to $800 million to renovate instructional spaces, replace roofs and air conditioners, and construct new schools.

The district projects that with an $848 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 by 2.5 to 3.5 percent.

NISD last called a bond election in 2014 and successfully passed its referendum of $648.34 million. A Nov. 2 district presentation stated that 41 percent of the 2014 bond projects are still in progress, with 4 percent remaining. Projects still underway include construction of Dr. Linda Mora Elementary School, which is projected to open in the fall; a future elementary school for the Rancho Del Lago area, projected to open in 2020; and renovations to a number of other buildings.

Dr. Linda Mora Elementary School
Dr. Linda Mora Elementary School is slated to open in fall 2018. Credit: Courtesy / Northside Independent School District

The district, Texas’ fourth largest, saw immense growth in the past decade, from an enrollment of 85,546 students to 106,066 in the current school year.

Trustees will next take action to vote on whether to call a bond at the next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 23.

Board President M’Lissa Chumbley addressed the bond committee with optimism for the proposed bond issue.

I know we will be able to count on you when we call for this, too, and I think that is even more special to us that we know that we have your support on this,” Chumbley said.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.