After hearing what the district’s long-range planning committee has found about keeping up with the massive growth in Northwest ISD, board trustees voted unanimously to put nearly $2 billion worth of bonds on the ballot for May 6.
“This bond is really addressing all of the growth that is coming in our district,” Assistant Superintendent of Facilities Tim McClure said. “Eighty-six percent of what’s in this bond is really addressing all of the growth that we continue to see coming in our district. And then about 9% is taking care of what we have in capital improvements. So, all told, about 95% is really just for preparing for those additional students or taking care of the spaces that we have today to serve the students we have today.”
McClure also stated the long-range planning committee unanimously approved the recommendation for the bond package, which by law must be broken up into certain categories.
“Proposition A would handle all of the general projects. So anything that is classroom related, any growth and equity needs, and any maintenance projects are in [Proposition A],” McClure said.
Facilities in Proposition A include four new elementary schools, a replacement for Justin Elementary and Prairie View Elementary schools, a new middle school, a new high school, and four new early childhood development centers.
McClure went on to inform the board that anything that deals with a stadium or athletic venue that seats more than 1,000 people has to be on a separate proposition. Proposition B includes funding for three new stadiums at Byron Nelson High School, V.R. Eaton High School and High School No. 4 as well as renovations to the Northwest ISD Stadium at Northwest High School.
“One of the loudest amount of comments that we’re hearing is the discussion around the stadiums. What do we do when we have that fourth high school when we currently play Thursday night games through Saturday games running three high schools through one stadium?” McClure told the board.
He also mentioned many people feel that by having to drive to the central campus stadium, it does not feel like a home game.
“People really want to be able to experience a home game if they go to Eaton or Byron Nelson,” he said. “Some of those families are a little disappointed that they have to come to a central-located campus for those games when they could be held in their backyard, so to speak, at the campus level.”
In the most recent bond package in 2021, a proposal to renovate the NISD Stadium was voted down by voters.
Proposition C deals with technology devices.
“Anything that is a technology device, not infrastructure, not the cybersecurity, but a device, has to be broken out as well,” said McClure.
Of the $1.995 billion, Proposition A totals $1.672 billion; Proposition B totals approximately $301 million; and Proposition C totals just over $21 million.
NISD passed a $746 million bond in 2021 to accommodate its rapid growth. That money is being used to build six new schools, maintain existing buildings, make technology upgrades, and renovate recreation facilities.
The need for more than a billion dollars for even more facilities and renovations wasn’t lost on Board Trustee Jennifer Murphy.
“One of the major questions we have with a bond election is, 'OK, how long is this going to sustain you? Because it’s a lot of money, so, how far is this going to get us?'” she asked McClure.
While McClure answered by stating staff does not like to speak about bonds in terms of years, he did say he would rather talk in terms of seats.
“We’ve seen our growth for the district over the last 20 years average about 1,000 to 1,100 students every year. So if that’s our average, this bond could last us seven to eight years,” McClure said. “Recently, that number has grown. Leading into COVID[-19], we were up to 1,600, 1,700 and 1,800 students. We’re seeing that number spike post-COVID to 2,500. So if the average is now between 1,500 and 2,000, then that’s maybe four to five years this [bond] should last us.”
Election day for the 2023 bond is May 6. Early voting will run April 24 to May 2. The voter registration deadline is April 6.