Comal ISD hopes multi-million dollar propositions pass for improvements, teachers’ pay

The district grows by 1,000 students per year and will have grown by 7,500 students over the next five years

Comal Independent School District – Comal Independent School District is hoping voters will approve a multi-million-dollar bond that would include building new schools and upgrading several infrastructure projects.

As the second fastest-growing school district in the nation, with a population of over 27,000 students, school officials say this bond package will target their concerns with growth and capacity.

Proposition A on the ballot is not bond-related but is a Voter-Approved Tax Ratification Election.

“A less than 2 cent tax increase on the maintenance and operations side from 92 cents last year to 94 cents, so just under 2 cents,” said Steven Stanford, the communications director for the district. “So, that will increase revenues for our maintenance and operations side by about $9 million.”

That money will go toward a 3% annual increase for teachers and staff and a $1.50 increase for hourly employees.

It will also add more jobs.

“We are adding about 1,000 students per year and when we add a thousand students per year, we have to hire new teachers for those new students,” he said. “We’ll actually generate funding to provide that 3% annual increase for the next 3-4 years, so we won’t have to come back each year with a new election. This will generate revenue to provide those compensations increases as well as hire additional teachers for growth.”

Stanford said having this proposition will allow them to overcome a financial obstacle they’ve been faced with since 2019.

“Right now, because of the legislation and school finance changes that occurred in 2019, it put us on a fixed income because our appraisal values do go up, but our tax rate comes down so it became a choice between hiring new teachers or providing compensation…Prop A will allow us to do both,” Stanford said. “The number one reason why our students are doing so well is because of our teachers and that is why we have Proposition A so we can take care of our teachers and their compensation as well as hire new teachers so we don’t have overloaded class sizes.”

Propositions B through E are all bonds, totally an estimated $527 million.

State legislation is why the bond is presented on the ballot in four different parts.

“The state legislature said you must break up your bond packages and group the projects based on the kind of project they are,” Stanford said. “In B, we are dealing with schools, busses, land and traditional things you’d see in a bond package. In C, there are items related to athletic fields, weight rooms, locker rooms and things that support programs for students who participate in extracurricular activities related to athletics. D deals with stadium expansions and that is separated because it said any type of facility with more than a thousand seats have to be a separate package. E is for technology for teachers and students. In the past, all of this would be grouped together into a large package but now the legislature said we want to give voters a choice to fund one or another if they choose.

Click on each link to see details about each bond.

There are some questions Stanford said the district has been getting about concerns regarding the propositions.

“So it talks about a 14% increase on revenue on Prop A,” Stanford said. “A lot of people think their own tax bills will go up 14% but it will not. It is talking about the overall revenue increase for the district prior to the removal of state funding.”

Another concern is about homestead exemptions.

“There have been rumors that we are going to delete the over 65 homestead exemption,” he said. “We don’t have the ability to do that because that is a statewide exemption provided. We don’t have any control over that.”

Another question they are getting is about using the bond money to pay for raises and new positions.

“We cannot do that because it is against the law,” he said. “We can’t comingle the money from the two buckets. We can’t do Debt Service taxes and move that over to the Maintenance and Operations budget to pay salaries.”

Last but not least, district officials want to ensure voters are voting in the county they live in.

“We are a large district of 589 square miles,” Stanford said. “Our borders go into Guadalupe County, Hays County, Bexar County, Kendall County and Comal County. Vote in the county you live in.”

For the benefit of both staff and students, the district hopes voters go to the polls during early voting and on Nov. 2.

“Should Prop A pass, then employees will see an immediate increase in their salary and their December paycheck they will receive a retro payback to the beginning of the school year,” Stanford said. “Should the bonds pass, the next thing to do is to go out and sell the bonds in January and once we have the funding, we can start construction on many of these projects.”

About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray joined 10 News as an anchor in March 2022.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.