Early voting ended May 3 for a number of North Texas school board and bond elections. Here's a look at some of the items on Saturday's ballot.
A new voting system
In the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district, a new voting system called cumulative voting is in place for the May 7 school board election.
Here’s how it works: Five candidates are running for three seats on the board. A voter is allowed as many votes as there are open seats. In this case: three votes. A voter can cast those votes in a number of different ways. For example, a person could cast all three votes for one candidate. Another option: a voter could cast two votes for two candidates and one vote for another candidate. A voter could instead cast one vote each for three different candidates. The three candidates who get the most votes will serve on the board.
This new voting system in CFB ISD is the result of a voting rights lawsuit.
Local attorney Guillermo Ramos sued the district in April 2015 claiming the district violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with its at-large voting system. The district settled the suit, and as part of the settlement, one board member stepped down and Ramos replaced her. He became the first Latino trustee to serve on the board and is on the May 7 ballot.
How unusual is this cumulative voting system?
Other Texas school districts and cities have adopted this system, but Carrollton-Farmers Branch is the first school district in North Texas to implement it. The Amarillo school district has used this system since 2000.
Other school board elections
Twelve candidates are vying for four seats in the Dallas school district.
Mike Morath’s District 2 seat became vacant when Morath accepted the position of state education commissioner late last year.
District 4 trustee Nancy Bingham and District 7 trustee Eric Cowan are not running for re-election. Incumbent Lew Blackburn, who represents District 5, is seeking another term.
Three seats are up for election and all three are being contested, which is rare. Three of the candidates have the same campaign manager.
School district bond elections
A $220 million bond package is on the ballot in McKinney ISD. Of that, $50.3 million would go toward a new stadium and event center, which would seat 12,000 people. If built, it would replace the current Ron Poe Stadium, which was built in 1962 and seats nearly 7,000 people.
Supporters say a new stadium is needed to accommodate future growth and attract people to the district. in recent years, several Texas cities have generated headlines for their large, modern sports facilities, including neighboring Allen and Frisco.
However, opponents have questioned whether a new stadium is necessary and say that money could be better spent in the classroom.
If approved by voters, the rest of the bond package would go toward other upgrades. About $51 million would pay for additions and renovations at six different schools. A little more than $62 million would pay for improvements to roofs, heating and air conditioning units, and plumbing and electrical systems. There are also plans to spend $35 million on technology and more than $6 million on security.
Voters are looking at a $437.1 million bond election in Richardson ISD. The bulk of it, or $215.71 million, would go toward maintenance, technology and equipment. Another $107.27 million would pay for construction and renovation costs, including new classrooms. And $114.1 million would cover items such as a multipurpose center at every high school and technology upgrades in classrooms.
Ten candidates are vying for three seats -- District 2, District 3 and District 4.
Election Day is May 7.