Voters to decide fate of Northside ISD’s $992M bond

With its $992 million proposed bond issue, Northside ISD is eyeing improvements to all existing facilities, including Hobby Middle School (pictured). (Courtesy Google Streets)
With its $992 million proposed bond issue, Northside ISD is eyeing improvements to all existing facilities, including Hobby Middle School (pictured). (Courtesy Google Streets)

With its $992 million proposed bond issue, Northside ISD is eyeing improvements to all existing facilities, including Hobby Middle School (pictured). (Courtesy Google Streets)

Early voting starts April 25 ahead of the May 7 elections, which will include Northside ISD’s $992 million bond proposal.

According to NISD officials, approval of the single-proposition bond would not cause a new property tax rate increase despite state-mandated ballot language that says the contrary.

NISD is Texas’s fourth-biggest public school district with more than 102,600 students currently enrolled for the 2021-22 academic year. NISD voters have passed the school district’s last eight bond issues, dating back to 1995.

A 250-member citizen bond committee examined existing NISD facilities and got feedback from school district residents and employees to develop proposed projects.

District leaders said NISD’s biggest bond proposal to date will help the district to catch up with growth and address conditions at older schools, more than half of which are more than 20 years old.



“For decades, Northside [ISD] was characterized by very fast growth, and in order to keep up with that growth, we spent most of our voter-approved bond dollars on building new schools and adding onto existing schools just to accommodate new students,” Superintendent Brian Woods said in a virtual presentation about the bond.

The bond proposal includes $45 million to build one new elementary school, tentatively called Village at West Pointe West, in the fast-growing Alamo Ranch neighborhood area.

The bond includes several proposed projects for the eastern, older portion of the district, including:




  • $56 million to replace fine arts facilities at Clark High School;

  • classroom, gymnasium and cafeteria replacements at campuses, such as Colonies North Elementary School;

  • $24.8 million for magnet facilities upgrades at Hobby Middle School;

  • $8 million to modernize all school libraries; and

  • $6.8 million for new physical education sensory play areas at elementary schools.



Former NISD Superintendent John Folks echoed Woods’ sentiment, saying the most important thing about the overall package is that more than 90% of the money would go to fund needed repairs, expansions and improvements at all existing campuses and facilities.

“When I was superintendent, the school district was growing rapidly. Now that growth has slowed down, the district can catch up on improvements,” Folks said. “This bond will really do things for the older schools that need those things.”

The 2022 NISD bond also proposes a range of smaller projects districtwide, including:




  • heating/cooling/ventilation equipment replacements at campuses, such as Colonies North and Locke Hill elementary schools and Clark High School;

  • new rooftops at Hobby Middle School;

  • energy control upgrades at Hobby and Rawlinson middle schools;

  • electrical upgrades at Locke Hill Elementary School;

  • tennis court upgrades at Clark High, Rawlinson Elementary, and Hobby Middle schools;

  • new flooring at Locke Hill Elementary School;

  • waterproofing at Hobby Middle, and Rawlinson and Blattman elementary schools;

  • fire alarm replacements at Colonies North Elementary School; and

  • door hardware replacement at Colonies North and Blattman elementary schools.



Additionally, an approved bond would support surveillance camera replacements at various district facilities, access control and technology improvements, and new buses, NISD officials said.

The bond also would direct $23.7 million to develop a new district baseball/softball complex next to Sonia Sotomayor High School that is under construction near the Government Canyon State Natural Area.

NISD officials used an April 19 town hall, brief online videos and other avenues to emphasize the district has capacity to issue new bonds without a property tax rate hike due to projected property value growth and the school district continuously paying off existing debt.

However, voters will see ballot language include the statement “This is a property tax increase,” as the result of legislation passed in the Texas Legislature in 2019 that requires school districts to promote such verbiage regardless of a proposed bond's financial effect.

Several NISD residents have used social media to criticize the proposed bond, with some community members asking the district to be more forthcoming about the potential long-term fiscal effect, especially given recent increases in inflation and property appraisals.

“I have kids in NISD schools. I am not opposed to paying for their education and the education of other kids in my neighborhood. However, I want the actual numbers, not a pat on the head that feels disingenuous,” resident Dawn Potter Reynolds said.

Some critics said NISD should use federal COVID-19 relief money to address needed capital improvements, even though those funds are not applicable to construction projects.

Other critics said the $992 million price tag is simply too big and that NISD should pare down the bond package and wait to float a smaller proposal that is amenable to voters and taxpayers.

It's too much money on top of inflation and already ever-increasing property taxes. They need to make do with what they got,” resident Lauren Garza said.

Folks said NISD voters should be heartened by the district’s goal to not raise its property tax rate to support an approved bond.

“It speaks to Northside [ISD] being a good steward of taxpayers’ money,” Folks said.

Folks said the $992 million price tag should not scare off voters, even residents who are not parents or who do not send their children to NISD schools.

“It’s about making sure school buildings are up to standards,” Folks said. “It’s about society continuing to fund the things that are needed to help educate our kids.”

Folks said he is confident that NISD trustees and staff thoroughly researched the improvements required districtwide and that they did not decide to propose a nearly $1 billion bond lightly.

“I have enough faith in [Superintendent Brian Woods] and the board of trustees that they are looking at all the needs, and not the wants,” Folks said.

Early voting will be held from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. April 25-29; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. April 30, and May 2 and 3; and noon-6 p.m. May 1 at sites, including Cody Branch Library at 11441 Vance Jackson Road; Shavano Park City Hall at 900 Saddletree Court; UTSA Bexar Room at 1 UTSA Circle; and Wonderland Mall of the Americas at Crossroads (upper level) at 4522 Fredericksburg Road.

Bond details can be found at www.nisd.net/community/bond/2022.

By Edmond Ortiz
Edmond joined Community Impact as a reporter in August 2021, helping to launch new editions in the San Antonio market. Edmond covers various beats in the North San Antonio coverage area. He previously was the main reporter for Local Community News, covering several areas in and around San Antonio, first as a freelancer and then staff member. Prior to that, Edmond was a community news reporter for Prime Time Newspapers and the San Antonio Express-News, including editing two community weeklies. He's a San Antonio native, and studied mass communications at San Antonio College and Texas State University.