SAN ANTONIO – Northside ISD taxpayers will head to the polls Saturday to vote on a nearly $1 billion bond proposal that will improve and renovate existing schools in the district.
The district has seen significant growth and expansion in recent years. NISD Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods said this bond proposal makes sure older schools in the district have a future.
“I would want folks to understand the proposal itself is 95 percent about investing in schools that are 40 years old or older,” Woods said. “The growth here really dominated what we were able to do with the funds our patrons approved. Now, we’re really prioritizing going back to those 40-, 50-, 60-plus-year-old schools and bring them up to a standard similar to what we’ve built in the last 20 years.”
The total amount of the proposed bond is $992 million. Woods said that amount would be borrowed and paid back over time.
“A bond proposal for a school district is exactly the same as a mortgage for you and I. Most of us can’t afford to buy a home with cash or our normal operating dollars, so we go approach a bank and seek to borrow money, and we pay that back over time,” Woods said. “A bond issue is a very similar thing. The difference is the school district has to ask voter permission in order to do that.”
But before voters decide the proposed bond’s fate, Woods wanted to clear up misconceptions about some of the language on the ballot, especially when it comes to the tax rate.
“We are telling our voters there will be no associated tax rate increase with this proposal. However, because of a change the legislature made in 2019, they inserted language for school districts, not for cities and counties, but for school districts that says that it is,” Woods said.
The language on the ballot has led to confusion. Woods said the district had not had a tax rate increase in the past 12 years.
“What we want to emphasize is there will be no tax rate increase as a result of a potential passage of this bond. We don’t control appraised values. That’s a separate entity. No school district in the state controls appraised values. What we do control is that tax rate, and we can promise it will not increase as a result of this proposal,” Woods said.
The proposed bond would pay for upgrading more than 20 existing Northside ISD schools, some of which are decades old. The largest part of the proposal allots $645.5 million to be invested in schools such as John Jay, Holmes and Taft high schools.
“Things like HVAC units and making them more efficient, replacing roofs so that they don’t leak in the future and put the rest of the infrastructure in the building at risk,” Woods said of the proposed improvements. “Replacing flooring that’s become problematic, repaving and drainage.”
The proposal also includes technology, security, transportation and library upgrades. A total of $45 million is slated for a new elementary school in the Village at West Pointe area. But Woods said this proposal is mostly about giving more opportunities for students in older schools to succeed.
“We’ve said for a long time that ZIP code shouldn’t determine the quality of the facility or, for that matter, a teacher that a child has. And we’re trying to make good on that promise in this way,” Woods said.
Below is a full summary of potential projects associated with the bond proposal: