DALLAS – Texas voters will consider giving their local schools more than $2.5 billion of bond authorization in sixty districts across the state Saturday.
This year’s ballot proposals are the most since May 2010, when 68 districts sought bonds, according to the Web site texasisd.com.
However, this round will not represent the largest amount of bond requests. Last November, the Houston Independent School District alone requested nearly $1.9 billion of bond authorization.
It was successful.
Austin Independent School District’s request for $895 million is the largest on the ballot and the largest in the district’s history. Like other districts seeking voter approved bonds, Austin is struggling to cope with rapid growth amid sharp cutbacks in state funding.
The funding cuts from the 2011 Texas Legislature prompted a verdict in Austin state district court that the lawmakers’ demand for higher performance standards amid lower funding was unconstitutional. That ruling is on appeal as the current session of the legislature considers restoring about half of the $5.4 billion cut in 2011.
While Texas districts must share property tax revenue for operations, taxes dedicated to local bond issues are not shared. Most school districts in the state issue bonds backed by the Texas Permanent School Fund for triple-A ratings.
Following Austin among the large ballot proposals is Clear Creek ISD near Houston, which is requesting $367 million.
Goose Creek Consolidated ISD is requesting $270 million. Birdville ISD in suburban Fort Worth is seeking $183 million for new schools and maintenance, while Tyler ISD in East Texas needs approval for $161 million.
Tomball ISD near Houston needs $160 million, while McAllen ISD on the Mexican border is proposing $159 million of bonds.
Tomball ISD is the fastest growing school district, based on percentage, among seven counties surrounding Houston, including Harris, Chambers, Galveston, Liberty, Waller, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties, officials said.
In the Panhandle, Amarillo ISD is asking voters to approve $99 million for the district’s outdated schools.
Texas school district bond elections are restricted to the second Saturday in May or the general election in November.
The turnout on Saturday is expected to be drastically lower than November’s election, which included the presidential ballot and other statewide candidates and issues.