Sulphur Springs Independent School District is asking taxpayers to approve a bond that will cost more than $280 million.

Although advertised as a $157 million bond proposal, the number spikes when estimated debt—combined principal and interest—is factored in over 17 years.

Texas law requires school districts to highlight the local tax liability increase that comes with passing a bond by including “THIS IS A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE” on the ballot.

Sulphur Springs ISD wants to use the bond to construct two new elementary schools. Both new schools would be the size of Sulphur Springs Elementary School, which currently has around 620 students enrolled.

The district also wants to renovate two existing elementary schools, Barbara Bush and Bowie, and its preschool, the Douglass Early Childhood Center. One renovation requested is a new playground for Barbara Bush.

Meanwhile, the district plans to retire the Johnson, Travis, and old Sulphur Springs Elementary Schools.

The ballot proposition reads:

Prop A—$157,150,000 for constructing two elementary schools, renovating two existing elementary schools and a preschool, as well as purchasing necessary sites for school buildings and levying the tax to pay for the bonds’ principal and interest.

Sulphur Springs ISD claims that because of taxed assessed values and paying off some debts earlier than required, it will only need to raise the tax rate by 1/4 penny per $100 of property valuation.

According to the Texas Bond Review Board’s data center, Sulphur Springs ISD has around $42.6 million in principal debt and $13.3 million in interest debt outstanding.

The district previously attempted to push for a $93 million bond in 2022 with many similar requests but instead sought a new Travis Elementary School campus and no additional elementary schools.

While it was defeated in May 2022, Sulphur Springs ISD came back later in the year with a stripped-down $81.5 million proposal. The second proposal was defeated narrowly, 50.6 to 49.4 percent, that November.

The 2024 Sulphur Springs ISD bond election will be held on May 4. Early voting runs from April 22 through April 30.

Luca Cacciatore

Luca H. Cacciatore is a journalist for Texas Scorecard. He is an American Moment inaugural fellow and former welder.