What's next after Red Oak ISD bond package fails?

Chris Roark
Waxahachie Daily Light
Wooden Elementary, pictured above, and Eastridge Elementary would have received additional space to handle growth had the $230.1 million bond passed last weekend.

Red Oak ISD officials are asking themselves two questions after voters rejected the $230.1 million bond package last weekend – why and what’s next?

On May 7 residents voted against four propositions the Citizens Facility Planning Committee had recommended to address growth and aging facilities around the district.

Proposition A, which totaled $156.8 million, failed with 53.7 percent of the voters (1,784 votes) against it and 1,534 voting in favor.

Proposition A called for constructing and upgrading school buildings. The most expensive item on the list is a new $85 million middle school on the west side of the city. Other items include additions at Wooden and Eastridge elementary schools, a new career and technology building and more.

ROSID Superintendent Brenda Sanford said she was surprised the bond didn’t pass but said there was some information circulating that may have confused voters.

“I really felt that Proposition A, which was 94% related to growth, I felt this one for sure would pass,” Sanford said. “We will have to be better in the future about presenting the facts and packaging the propositions.”

The district had pushed for the ability to handle the growth they said is already here. According to the district, ROISD has added 550 students since last year and is expected to add another 1,000 students by 2026. From 2020 to 2024, the city of Red Oak is projected to add 8,665 new residents.

The district said out of seven campuses, five are at 92 percent capacity or higher as of November of last year with the current zoning. Wooden and Schupmann elementary schools are at 88 percent and 81 percent, respectively.

With no changes in facilities, all but Red Oak Elementary are expected to be more than 110 percent capacity by 2026, the district said.

Since Proposition A did not pass Sanford said the district will be looking at portable buildings to address capacity.   

“We cannot fund new buildings and large renovations without a bond,” Sanford said. “We will look at any smaller projects that can be funded just as we always have in the past.” 

Brenda Sanford

Proposition B, at $45 million, was rejected with 60.5 percent of the voters voting against it (2,006 votes) to 1,311 voting in favor.

Proposition B called for improvements to Goodloe Stadium, including new locker rooms, restrooms, concessions, press box, new visitors side seating, more seating on the home side, additional parking, added circulation roads, new visitors bus and officials parking area and a new scoreboard.

Proposition C ($9.3 million) failed with 60.5 percent voting against it (2,006) and 39.5 percent (1,310) voting for it. The proposition would fund a new JV track/turf field at the high school to reduce transit to Goodloe for practices and to help with scheduling issues. It also includes upgrades to the 12-year-old tennis courts and year-round turf for baseball and softball.

Proposition D ($19 million) failed with 58.3 percent (1,937) voting against it and 41.7 percent (1,385) voting for it. Proposition D would have funded a new transportation facility. District officials said the facility and the parking area is inadequate and have flooding issues.

Sanford said the district will be engaging with voters to find out what their concerns were and why they voted against the proposals.

“I believe that there were several contributors, such as some might not have agreed with the way the propositions were packaged, some might have felt there were too many propositions at one time, some might have felt with recent tax appraisals that it was not a good time,” Sanford said. “Also some might have received misconstrued information regarding tax rate hikes and the purpose of some of the propositions. From all of this, we will learn how to better package and present information in the future.”

Officials had said leading up to the election that if the entire bond was successful the district’s total tax rate would increase from $1.3256 per $100 valuation to $1.3666. The owner of a home with a net value of $310,000, after a homestead exemption, would pay $10.59 more per month in school district taxes. Residents ages 65 and older with a homestead exemption would not see an increase above the amount of the first year unless significant home improvements are made.

From the beginning of the process an organized group showed strong opposition to the bond package, citing already high tax bills.

“Too many hands in the taxpayer pockets is likely going to continue sinking more and more bonds if taxing entities don't start slashing budgets this summer and giving residents bottom-line tax decreases across the board,” said Amy Hedtke, who organized a Facebook group that opposed the bond package.

Widespread opposition

ROISD wasn’t the only district in North Texas where bond elections did not pass. All three proposals for the $79 million bond in Ferris ISD failed.

Proposition A, which 388 votes to 335 votes, called for $53 million and will include a new elementary school, a career and technology education (CTE) facility at Ferris High School, district-wide safety and security improvements, HVAC upgrades across the district and improvements to Lee Longino Elementary and Ferris Junior High School.

Proposition B, which failed 438 votes to 282 votes, called for $12 million and includes a community performing arts center at Ferris High School. The facility would feature an 800-seat auditorium and a UIL stage with full lights and sound.

Proposition C failed 464 votes to 253 votes. It called for $14 million and includes an indoor multiuse facility, baseball and softball turf and a baseball and softball fieldhouse with concession and restrooms.

In Navarro County voters in Corsicana ISD rejected two propositions that totaled $72.9 million. Proposition A, which failed 55.3 percent to 44.7 percent, called for mostly high school renovations. Proposition B, which failed 64.7 percent to 35.3 percent, called for a multipurpose facility.

In Tarrant County, voters in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD turned down the $275 million bond proposal 66.6 percent to 33.4 percent. Proposition A called for new schools, land purchase and renovations.

In Denton County, Little Elm ISD voters rejected a $398.5 million bond package, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent. It called for new schools, a high school addition, more space and programming.

Among North Texas districts that passed bond packages were Argyle and Krum ISDs in Denton County.