In Dallas ISD And Across North Texas, School Bond Packages Pass Easily | KERA News

In Dallas ISD And Across North Texas, School Bond Packages Pass Easily

Nov 3, 2015

School bond packages won easily in Dallas, Highland Park, Grand Prairie, Rockwall and Allen ISDs.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the biggest Dallas school bond package in history. The $1.6 billion measure passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

At Trinity Groves in West Dallas, it was time for bond backers to celebrate at the Dallas ISD election night party. Greiner Middle School’s mariachi band was one of the night’s performers, where some school board members, business leaders and Superintendent Michael Hinojosa showed up. This victory margin was bigger than the 2008 bond package he also helped pass.

“I thought it was going to be a closer vote but I think people really want us to be successful and I’m pleasantly surprised that we are at this point,” Hinojosa said.

Wilton Munnings, president of the Dallas Black Chamber, was at the party. He’s glad voters agreed to support the district. The Dallas ISD bond package will pay for nine new schools, more than 300 extra classrooms, expanded cafeterias and technology upgrades and programs.

“It’s like taking care of a house,” Munnings said. “If you don’t maintain it, there are things that will happen to your building. It’ll cost you more in the end. It was a responsible thing to pass this bond and take care of the issues that are out there. They’re not going to go away.”

Neither will the opposition, says Bill Betzen, one of several leaders who called this bond plan a bad idea. Opponents felt the bond package neglected needs in certain parts of the district.

“We were two weeks late in starting our campaign,” Betzen said. “Two of the people I spoke with were angry at me and said ‘why didn’t you tell me this two weeks ago.’ Because they had mailed in ballots in response to the huge mail out the opposition did.”

Board President Eric Cowan said despite the bond victory, he takes Betzen and other opponents seriously.

“When people say ‘we don’t trust you,’ we want to take that opinion in context and look toward the future to rebuild those relationships,” Cowan says.

Betzen said he’s waiting. Some bond-funded work could begin this spring. 

Dallas ISD bond election results

For: 60 percent

Against: 40 percent

Bond packages win easily across North Texas

Other area school districts had successful bond elections.

Highland Park ISD

For: 55 percent

Against: 45 percent 

In Highland Park, voters said yes to largest bond package in the school district’s history.

The $361.4 million dollar program will pay for rebuilding three elementary schools, renovating a fourth one, and buying land to build the first new elementary school since 1949.

The money will also help pay for several other school renovations and expansions, as well as technology upgrades.

Board President Joe Taylor says the district continues to grow -- all of its schools are at or above capacity.

“But frankly, even more importantly, it is about the quality of the facilities and making sure that we were having the opportunity to put facilities in our communities that reflected the communities and provided the next generation of kids with the outstanding opportunities that we all expect,” Taylor said.

Allen ISD

For: 75 percent

Against: 25 percent

In Allen, voters approved a $272 million bond program, also the largest in that district’s history. The biggest portion of that will pay for a new elementary school, a new STEM facility, and a new Lowery Freshmen Center – a school just for ninth graders.

The rest of Allen’s bond program will cover renovations, technology, security upgrades and more land.

"The school has been renovated seven times since 1960, so architects determined that it really was not able to continuing renovating, so we're going to build a new school next to that, and then tear down most of that school,” Allen district spokesman Tim Carroll said.

Rockwall ISD

For: 65 percent

Against: 35 percent

Over in Rockwall, voters in that school district election approved the sale of $257 million in bonds. On the list of projects: a new college and career academy, renovations at two elementary schools and two new elementary schools.

Grand Prairie ISD

Tax Prop 1

For: 69 percent

Against: 32 percent

Prop 2 

For: 76 percent

Against: 24 percent

Prop 3

For: 75 percent

Against: 25 percent

And in Grand Prairie, voters said yes to a $91 million bond package and a tax ratification election. The bond will pay for school renovations while the tax ratification will allow the district to collect additional state funding. That money will be used on other needs like teacher pay, early childhood education and technology.

A closer look at the North Texas school bond packages

Here's a look at what voters decided Tuesday:

Dallas ISD

The proposed bond package: $1.6 billion

What it's for:

  • Create nine new schools, 326 classrooms, expanded cafeterias and technology upgrades and programs.
  • Pinkston High School would be rebuilt from $464 million allocated to new school construction.

Highland Park ISD

The proposed bond package: $361.4 million

What it’s for:

  • The biggest block of money would pay for renovations and additions to four schools.
  • Rebuilding three elementary schools and constructing the first new one since 1949.
  • The rest would pay for more land, technology upgrades and additions to extracurricular programs.

Allen ISD

The proposed bond package: $272 million

What it’s for:

  • A large portion of the package will be used to rebuild the Lowery Freshman Center, which Superintendent Lance Hindt estimates has been renovated seven times since it opened in 1960.
  • The proposal would also pay for a new elementary school in Northwest Allen and a satellite building for Allen High School’s STEM program.
  • The rest of would go toward renovations, technology and security upgrades and more land. Allen’s last bond program passed in 2008. Since then, the district has grown.

Grand Prairie ISD

The proposed bond package: $91 million

What it’s for:

  • It would pay for new schools and renovations of existing buildings.
  • The bulk would go towards Grand Prairie High School, with money also going to the following schools: South Grand Prairie High School, the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Austin Elementary, Bowie Elementary and Garner Elementary.

Rockwall ISD

The proposed bond package: $257 million

What it’s for:

  • A big portion will go towards building a new college and career facility, replacing an elementary school, major renovations to another, and future construction of two new schools.
  • The rest will go to security and technology, new school buses, and other upgrades.