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School funding elections see mixed results in the San Antonio area

Comal ISD paid for the construction of Davenport High School through a bond approved by voters in 2017.
File Photo | Camille Phillips
Texas Public Radio
Comal ISD paid for the construction of Davenport High School through a bond approved by voters in 2017.

Voters in Bexar County’s wealthiest school district overwhelmingly approved a tax rate election Tuesday night, but voters in three other Bexar County school districts rejected their districts’ requests for bond funding.

Meanwhile, voters in one of the fastest growing school districts in the San Antonio area were willing to fund some of their district’s proposals, but not all of them.

Alamo Heights ISD

Alamo Heights Independent School District’s tax rate election was approved by 72%. The district plans to use the funding to make salaries more competitive.

The measure will boost Alamo Heights’ local revenue through a slight increase in the district’s tax rate for operating schools without increasing the overall tax rate thanks to a decrease in the tax rate that pays back bonds.

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Bexar County Bond Proposals

All three Bexar County school districts with bonds on the ballot Tuesday night lost their elections.

Southside ISD’s $52 million bond for campus renovations and new school buses was soundly rejected by voters, with 68% voting against the measure.

In comparison, Judson and East Central’s bond elections were fairly close races. Both districts are forecasting enrollment growth and were counting on the bonds to build new schools. Officials in both districts said they are headed back to the drawing board to figure out bonds voters will approve.

Judson ISD had three bond propositions on the ballot, one for school facilities, one for athletic facilities and one for technology worth a combined $302 million. Voters rejected all three, even though they came without a tax increase.

“The results of this election reveal that we have additional work to do to determine our community’s priorities for our students and schools, and we are committed to evaluating the outcome of the election and seeking additional feedback from Judson ISD stakeholders,” said Judson Superintendent Jeanette Ball in a statement.

Judson’s $14.9 million proposition for athletic facilities saw the strongest opposition, with 60% voting against it.

The district’s $35.3 million proposition for technology saw the most support, with just a small majority of 52% voting against it.

East Central ISD’s $172 million bond proposal lost with 54% voting against it.

Brandon Oliver, East Central’s communications director, said the district plans to go back to the community to come up with a new bond they’re willing to approve.

“We are currently at 10,000 students. By 2030, our demographers have it as 17,000 students,” Oliver said, adding that Tradition Elementary built after the 2016 bond is already close to over capacity.

“In the meantime, we're going to have to utilize every part of the school property (for instruction), even areas that aren't necessarily dedicated for instruction, such as cafeterias, gyms, and so forth,” Oliver said.

Comal ISD

Comal ISD voters, meanwhile, were willing to fund some of the fast-growing district’s propositions, but not all of them.

The district is primarily located in Comal County, but has a footprint in four other counties, too. It currently has 26,000 students, and expects to have 39,000 students by 2030.

Comal ISD voters narrowly approved a two cent increase in the district’s tax rate, which district officials said will be used to make salaries more competitive.

Voters also passed a $411 million dollar bond for new schools and buses and a $34 million bond for technology, but they struck down bond proposals for recreational facilities and stadiums.

Even though Comal ISD is located primarily in Comal County, strong support from Bexar County voters was enough to change the outcome of the tax rate proposition. Their ballots shifted the final tally from 51% against the tax increase to 51% in favor of it.

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