The nearly $1 billion bond package proposed last year failed in November. After meeting with the community to find out why the package failed, it was reduced by about $240 million and is up for a vote again on May 1. Early voting begins on April 19.
“We proactively met with people to see what their concerns were,” Kara Looney, a member of the long-range planning committee and parent of four students in Northwest ISD told The Texan. “Most of the concerns were because it was a big number, and I understand that.”
However, Looney believes the school district needs the bonds in order to keep up with the growth of the school district. Demographers predict the district will grow by about 4 to 5 percent each year.
In order to trim the previous package, the focus was changed from a five to seven year planning horizon to the needs of the district in the next three years, Looney explained.
The bond package consists of four propositions. The largest reduction was for projects in Proposal A, including the removal of one planned elementary school.
Voters will be asked to vote for or against the following propositions.
- Proposition A: Focused on school facility and capital improvements totaling $712,400,000
- Proposition B: Stadium renovations totaling $8,200,000
- Proposition C: Middle school recreational facilities totaling $5,700,000
- Proposition D: Technology devices for students and teachers totaling $19,400,000
The Wise County Conservatives, a local advocacy group, recommends that residents vote against the bond package.
“The reality is there is not a clear relationship between the money spent and the outcomes. We don’t need the best facilities; we need the best instruction,” Andy Hopper, a leader in the conservative group told The Texan.
Hopper’s also concerned with the level of debt in Northwest ISD, which is currently nearly $2 billion. Furthermore, he believes that the bond package election should be held in November when voter turnout is higher.
When asked if she understands that voters might be hesitant to approve a large bond package with the economy still recovering from COVID-19 shutdowns, Looney said she does but “the housing market hasn’t slowed down so there won’t be a slow down in growth of the district.”
A voter-approved tax rate election (VATRE) was also held in November 2020, but the new tax rate failed. No new VATRE vote can be held until 2022, according to Lesley Weaver, the Northwest ISD executive director of communication.
She added that because the VATRE failed in November, about $10-12 million has been cut from the district’s operating budget.
Even though new housing is going up rapidly in the district, Weaver says the tax base is not growing fast enough to maintain programs at the current tax rate. The current rate in Northwest ISD is $1.42 per $100 valuation.
A $399 million bond package was passed by the district’s voters in 2017. Weaver said the district has a history of paying off debt early.
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.