DALLAS – Voters across Texas approved most of the $8.2 billion of bond proposals on local ballots Saturday, but one of the state’s fastest growing school districts saw its $572 million proposal defeated.
Round Rock Independent School District north of Austin failed to win voter approval on all three of its propositions, which would have included a sixth high school, a career tech center and new elementary schools.
In San Antonio, voters approved $850 million, the largest bond proposal in the city’s history and the largest on the May 6 ballot in Texas, for an ambitious program that includes revitalizing the landmark Hemisfair Park and an initiative to create more affordable housing.
Six propositions pledged bond proceeds for streets, bridges and sidewalks; drainage and flood control; parks, recreation and open space; library and cultural facilities; public safety facilities; and neighborhood improvements. All six propositions passed with approval ranging from 67% to 79%.
San Antonio voters also approved a $450 million bond proposal for Alamo Community College District and for three school districts. Voters in the Alamo Heights Independent School District approved $135 million, while those in Southside ISD passed $59 million. Judson ISD voters approved $60 million.
On the northwestern outskirts of San Antonio, voters in Boerne ISD approved $175 million, while those in the Comal ISD north of San Antonio okayed $263.5 million.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, voters in Lewisville ISD approved $737.5 million of bonds, which was the largest school bond proposal in the state. The bond package provides $249.1 million for improvements to existing schools and facilities; $205 million to build new facilities; $99 million for technology; and $45 million for athletics.
Nearby Northwest ISD won approval of $399 million of bonds for schools in Tarrant, Denton and Wise counties.
In the affluent Dallas suburb of Plano in Collin County, voters approved $224 million of projects for the fast-growing city that is home to major corporations, including the new campus of Toyota Motors North America.
Also in Collin County, voters showed strong support for $600 million of bonds for expansion of Collin Colleges, the community college system.
In the Houston area, 63% of voters in the Clear Creek ISD favored a $487 million bond proposal for new schools and renovation and expansion of those 40 to 50 years old.
"We are appreciative of the community's support of our schools, our teachers and our students," Superintendent Greg Smith said in a prepared statement after the results were known. "We are ready to get to work on these important projects that will undoubtedly improve the learning and working environment for teachers and students across this great school district."
The Round Rock bond proposal was the largest ever for the district and the first to be defeated in decades.
Organized opponents questioned the cost of the issue – nearly twice as much as the 2008 proposal – and whether proponents had followed the rules in their campaign.
Catherine Hanna, chairwoman of the pro-bond Classrooms for Kids PAC, told the Austin Statesman that those advocating for the bond package dealt with misinformation disseminated publicly, particularly in the Travis County part of the school district, where the bonds received less voter support than in the Williamson County portion of the district.
On the south side of Austin, another fast-growing district, Hays Consolidated School District, won support for $250 million of bonds.
Neighboring San Marcos CISD earned voter approval for $107 million of bonds while the city of San Marcos also passed $22 million of bonds.
On the Oklahoma border, voters rejected by 145 votes Sherman ISD’s $308 million bond proposition. The proposal included the construction of a new high school, a second middle school and two new replacement elementary schools, as well as improvements to athletic facilities and district-wide technology upgrades. Passage would have cost the average homeowner an added $200 in property taxes.
The district said the next time it can try to pass another bond will be in November.