Hays County school districts put bonds on May ballot to tackle rapid growth
In response to the region's exponential growth, Hays County CISD, San Marcos CISD and Dripping Springs ISD have put millions of dollars in bonds on the May ballot. If approved by voters, the bonds will allow the districts to expand and build schools.
The number of people living in Hays County has nearly doubled since 2010, and school districts are growing by hundreds of new students a year.
Hays CISD Chief Communications Officer Tim Savoy said the district has 700 more students this year than last year, and the district is projected to add around 1,000 students a year for the next decade.
“That means every year we’re growing the equivalent of adding an entire elementary school,” Savoy said.
Dripping Springs ISD is expected to exceed capacity at its elementary, middle and high schools during the 2023-2024 school year.
San Marcos CISD projects it'll have about 100 to 300 new students every year for the next five years.
With so many new students in each district, Savoy said there are growing pains. Building a new school means attendance zone maps have to be redrawn, and students may suddenly be zoned to a different school.
“It’s one of the hardest things that school districts have to do,” Savoy said. “And that’s because parents and students get endeared to a particular campus … but you have to make changes.”
School districts turn to bonds when there isn't enough money in the annual budget to pay for all the projects proposed.
When voters approve a bond proposition, the school board then borrows funds by selling bonds to investors and eventually paying the money back plus interest. If for some reason the school district is unable to pay it back, the district increases its property tax rate.
If approved, San Marcos CISD's bond proposal would result in a property tax increase, but the exact percentage is still being finalized. Dripping Springs ISD and Hays County CISD don't anticipate the bond election will result in any tax rate increase.
Texas voters have been hesitant to vote in favor of school bonds in recent years. Fewer have passed in Texas since 2020.
Hays CISD's proposed bond would allow for a new elementary school to be built near Lehman High School, off Bunton Lane. The bond totals $361 million and is split into four propositions:
- Prop A: $211 million for new school buses, improving and expanding current schools and building new school buildings
- Prop B: $94 million for renovations to fine arts, athletics, and career and technical education facilities
- Prop C: $4 million for technology upgrades
- Prop D: $52 million for outdoor multipurpose pavilions
The San Marcos CISD proposed bond would allow the district to build a new Mendez Elementary School building and would include renovations and expansions at several elementary, middle and high schools.
- Prop A: $148 million for new school buses, improving and expanding current schools and building new school buildings. It would also include districtwide improvements to safety infrastructure and technology.
- Prop B: $980,000 for the renovation and replacement of field turf at San Marcos High School’s Rattler Stadium
- Prop C: $17 million for the construction of a natatorium at San Marcos High School
The Dripping Springs ISD proposed bond is one proposition that totals $223.7 million. It includes building a new elementary school and a new special education facility, as well as expanding and renovating one elementary school, two middle schools and one high school.
The bond would also fund the design of a new elementary school, middle school and high school and allow for security and technology updates for all campuses.
The deadline to register to vote is April 6. Early voting starts April 24, and Election Day is May 6.