Voters in the Northwest School District Tuesday approved a $255 million bond referendum with an overall 57 percent vote in favor across the three counties the district spans.
The bond proposal passed with 56.5 percent and 60.5 percent majorities in Denton and Tarrant counties, respectively, but failed in Wise County as 55 percent of the voters opposed it.
In Wise County, 91 voters mailed in absentee ballots – 39 in favor, 52 opposed. Another 1,471 voted early, 626 for and 801 against. On Election Day, 1,242 voted – 584 for, 658 against – for a total of 2,760 votes cast locally, 1,511 against and 1,249 in favor.
Across the three counties, 25,341 of 42,000 registered voters cast their ballot – 14,454 for and 10,887 against. With this bond’s approval, the district has successfully passed seven bond issues since 1990, although the 57 percent is the slimmest margin of any of the seven.
“We are so appreciative of the continued support in our community,” Superintendent Karen Rue said in a press release issued by the district Wednesday. “Northwest ISD community members recognize the district’s fast growth and the need to create seats for new students in quality facilities with up-to-date security systems and technology.”
Depending on the overall economy, the interest-and-sinking (I&S) portion of the tax rate could increase to 7.75 cents. Raising it the full amount would bring the I&S tax rate up to 41.25 cents, while the maintenance-and-operations (M&O) portion of the tax rate remains at $1.04. The total NISD tax rate will not exceed $1.4525.
“We do expect to raise the tax rate, but if there is an upswing in the economy and we see appraised home values go up, we may not have to use the full amount,” said Lesley Weaver, the district’s director of communications. “We have already started seeing some home values going up, so that’s good news.”
The rate would be determined during the budget-writing process in August of every year bonds are issued, but the district takes measures to ensure it doesn’t vary drastically from year to year.
“The last forecast presented to the school board this last August showed the increase going into [effect] no earlier than August 2013, but hopefully it could be delayed a year depending [on] property growth and cash flow consideration,” said Jon Graswich, the district’s chief financial officer. “We work to stabilize the rate so that it doesn’t go up and down every year, by speeding up variable rate debt payments or using fund balance to set a floor and ceiling amount.”
As one of the fastest-growing districts in the area, NISD is projected to increase by an additional 5,800 students during the next five years. Approximately 1,800 student seats can be accommodated in existing schools, and the bond will provide for an additional 4,000 with a third comprehensive high school and the district’s sixth middle school slated for completion in August 2015 and August 2016, respectively. Both campuses will be located in the north Fort Worth/Haslet area.
The $255 million bond package will also fund updates to technology, safety and security, program enhancements and classroom space for math, science and environmental studies, facility enhancements and classroom additions to the Outdoor Learning Center, major building component replacements like HVAC systems, flooring and roofing, as well as building additions.
“Ten years ago, Northwest ISD served approximately 6,200 students. Today, that number has nearly tripled to more than 17,800 students,” Rue said. “With the passing of this bond, our students will continue to experience the same quality of education in facilities that meet our needs.”
Northwest ISD has experienced growth that has ranged from 8 to 19 percent annually over the last 10 years and currently operates 27 separate campuses in three counties (Denton, Tarrant and Wise) and 14 municipalities across 234 square miles.
In August 2013, NISD will open an elementary school on Litsey Road in Roanoke, near the Seventeen Lakes housing development. Construction will begin in December with funds from the 2008 bond referendum. The 103,926 square-foot campus features an expanded cafeteria and gymnasium, open space, enclosed courtyard, flex spaces and energy-efficient amenities.
For more information about the 2012 NISD bond referendum, go to www.nisdtx.org/bond2012.
NORTHWEST ISD BOND HISTORY
- 1990 – $22 million, 74 percent
- 1996 – $45 million, 74 percent
- 2001 – $162.7 million, 70 percent
- 2001 – $19.5 million, 67 percent
- 2005 – $224.5 million, 70 percent
- 2008 – $260 million, 72 percent
- 2012 – $255 million, 57 percent
- TOTAL – $988.7 million