The bond will appear on the ballot as three separate items: Proposition A would allocate $681 million to fund campus improvements; Proposition B would fund the construction of a new $141 million academic and arts center; and Proposition C would allot $28 million to fund districtwide technology upgrades.
“This bond will impact the entire district, with safety and security being our priority. And then [we’re] really focusing on prioritizing needs,” SISD Superintendent Lupita Hinojosa said. “Every student, every staff member is going to be touched.”
A 50-member bond steering committee made up of SISD trustees, community members, district leaders, parents and students met six times over the summer to identify specific projects and create the bond proposal. SISD trustees called the bond election in a unanimous vote during their Aug. 9 meeting.
The last time SISD held a bond election in 2016, the $330 million proposition was approved by 72% of voters and funded the $38.9 million Planet Ford Stadium as well as technology and safety upgrades.
Spring resident Amelia Cerecedes, who has two children in SISD, said while she voted in favor of SISD’s bond in 2016, she does not fully support the 2022 bond.
“They wasted $38.9 million on the stadium, which I was not aware of when I voted for it at the time,” Cerecedes said via email. “They should have renovated the schools instead.”
While some SISD voters such as Cerecedes fear a bond would increase their property taxes, SISD Chief Financial Officer Ann Westbrooks said taxpayers would not see a tax rate increase due to the bond.
If all three propositions are approved by voters in November, Westbrooks said the bond would raise the district’s $0.40 per $100 valuation interest and sinking tax rate—which pays for voter-approved bonded indebtedness—by $0.05. As a result, the district’s total tax rate for fiscal year 2022-23, which trustees set at $1.2546 per $100 valuation on Sept. 13, would increase to about $1.30—$0.0128 less than the FY 2021-22 tax rate.
According to district officials, the average home value within SISD’s boundaries was $178,682 in 2022. Based on this figure, the average SISD homeowner would pay about $89.40 more in annual property taxes if the bond package is passed.
“You always want to take care of your homeowners of your community,” Hinojosa said. “You don’t want to create a burden for them, and so ... we are really projecting an offset in our tax rate.”
SISD’s $850 million bond proposal is divided into three propositions due to changes made to the Texas Education Code after the 86th Texas Legislature in 2019. Districts are now required to separate projects into general-purpose and special-purpose propositions as well as include ballot language notifying voters if property taxes will increase.
The largest proposition of the three, Proposition A accounts for about 80.1% of the total bond funds requested and would allocate funds to rebuild Spring High School—the district’s oldest school—as well as renovate Westfield High School and Reynolds and Jenkins elementary schools.
Before it was determined which school renovations would be prioritized under the 2022 bond, the bond steering committee and an independent firm assessed the campuses that were not able to be renovated with 2016 bond funds, Hinojosa said.
“For Spring High School, there were great needs,” Hinojosa said. “So they did a complete assessment, and immediately, it rose to the top.”
According to Mark Miranda, executive chief of district operations for SISD, district leaders will collect parent and student input before planning the renovations for the Westfield, Reynolds and Jenkins campuses.
“We’re going to work with ... those three campuses to determine their highest priority needs,” Miranda said. “The bond steering committee really felt like it was important for us to connect with those three campuses and really kind of do something that’s unique to them.”
Facility maintenance at various schools would also be addressed through this proposition, such as roofing and flooring replacements; heating, ventilation and air conditioning repairs and replacements; campus repainting; and marquee replacements.
Proposition A would also fund the purchase of 25 new school buses, 35 special education school buses, 19 district police vehicles and 16 maintenance vehicles.
Cerecedes said she worries about the impact Proposition A would have on property taxes.
“I do want to see the upgrades done for Spring High School, but I can’t afford to pay more in property taxes,” Cerecedes said. “The value of everyone’s home went up so much.”
Of Harris County’s 1.8 million parcels, more than 97% of residential properties and more than 95% of commercial properties saw value increases year over year in 2022, according to Harris County Appraisal District data. This is the highest percentage of increasing property values since at least 2011 with Harris County properties rising an average of 21%.
Districtwide safety and security upgrades would also be funded through Proposition A. Planned projects include the installation of shooter detection systems; upgraded security cameras; and additional security vestibules, metal detectors, gates and fencing. Video phones will also be installed at campus entrances so visitors can be identified before being admitted, Miranda said.
Nicole Johnson, who served on the bond steering committee and is the parent of a student at Roberson Middle School, said she believes Proposition A will help ensure the safety of SISD students and staff.
“We believe that all the components in its entirety are vital to this community and its campuses,” Johnson said at an Aug. 9 board meeting. “Connectivity issues and updating the newer technology at the older campuses needs to be addressed so each campus will meet the state’s new standards and will also be [as] safe as possible.”
SISD’s other two bond propositions—B and C—account for 16.6% and 3.3% of the total bond funds, respectively.
Proposition B would fund the construction of a new academic and performance center that would be used for district events, such as graduation and convocation; academic, athletic and performing arts events; UIL competitions; and expos.
Focused on technology advancements, Proposition C would allocate funds for initiatives such as replacing teacher laptops, adding laptop charging stations to classrooms, upgrading computer labs, enhancing districtwide cybersecurity and updating the district’s telephone system.
During an Aug. 9 board meeting, Donald Davis, a bond steering committee member and former SISD trustee, expressed his hope the bond would be approved.
“This team voted and decided that this plan ... is the best recommendation for our school district at this time,” Davis said. “I want to say ... I strongly support these recommendations.”
Hannah Brol, Vanessa Holt, Jake Magee and Kayli Thompson contributed to this report.