Voters Approve One Bexar County School Construction Project, Strike Down Another
Updated Nov. 6 with election results.
The Southwest Independent School District’s $75 million bond passed on Tuesday night, paving the way for a new indoor pool south of Highway 90. Southside ISD’s $17 million bond to upgrade athletic facilities was struck down.
The Southwest and Southside independent school districts have bond elections on the November midterm ballot.
Southwest ISD is asking for $75 million, while Southside is asking for $17 million. Officials at both school districts said approving their bonds will not increase property tax rates.
Southwest would use the bond to build an indoor swimming pool, purchase school buses, add air conditioning to elementary school gyms and renovate two of the district’s oldest campuses.
Superintendent Lloyd Verstuyft said if Southwest puts the bond off much longer, the state most likely won’t chip in. The district’s property wealth is increasing as industries like Toyota move into the area, reducing the state’s obligation to contribute.
“In 1999, when we did our first bond, the state support was about 85 percent based on our wealth at that time,” Verstuyft said, “and it over the years has dwindled to about 15 to 20 percent right now.”
Verstuyft said adding a swimming pool is important because right now there are very few public pools south of Highway 90.
“Our students and our community, I believe they deserve to have these types of facilities in their backyard,” Verstuyft said. “Kudos to Palo Alto College, they have a natatorium that multiple South Side ISDs use, but when multiple entities use that your schedule times are very limited.”
San Antonio has agreed to contribute about $4 million to build Southwest’s indoor pool, which would be open to the public during the summer.
Southwest ISD, located south of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, enrolls almost 14,000 students.
Last year, Southside residents approved a $60 million bond to build an early childhood center and renovate the district’s other campuses, including converting Losoya to a middle school.
The 2018 bond would add an additional $17 million to upgrade athletic facilities.
Superintendent Mark Eads said a lot of the upgrades were originally on the 2017 bond, but the school board opted to wait to trim some of the cost.
“We’ve had a lot of great things happening the past year and a half at Southside ISD,” Eads said, “and so we felt like it was a good time (for a bond election).”
District spokesman Randy Escamilla pointed to the district’s first class of seniors graduating with associate’s degrees from Palo Alto as an example of academic progress, and the varsity football team’s district championship as an example of athletic success.
Eads said Southside’s school board was also able to lower its debt tax rate three cents in August because the district has paid off earlier bonds and property values have gone up.
“We are able to still lower the rate by three cents and still cover this bond,” Eads said.
If approved, Southside will use the bond to build six tennis courts and a 65,000 square foot indoor practice space at the high school.
“We believe that we’re the only 5A school in the state of Texas that does not offer tennis as an extracurricular activity for their students,” Eads said, adding that the bond would allow the high school to have boys and girls tennis programs.
The indoor space would be used district-wide when the heat or air quality made it difficult to be outdoors.
The district would also update locker rooms at the high school, add a practice field and athletic field at LoSoya Middle School, and renovate the weight room and track at Mathey Middle School.
Southside, located south of Harlandale ISD, enrolls around 5,000 students.
If voters approve the bonds, Southwest ISD taxpayers will continue to pay a dollar $1.47 per $100 of value. Southside’s rate will stay $1.58.
Camille Phillips can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @cmpcamille