As taxes rise on all fronts, Central Texans voted down several proposals for increased school spending on Tuesday, saving hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
In Leander Independent School District, located in the suburb of Austin, voters narrowly defeated two spending propositions for various facilities and vehicles that totaled a whopping $738.9 million, which would have been repaid by increasing property taxes on local citizens. Leander ISD officials have already racked up some of the highest debt among school districts across the entire state, forcing citizens to pay hundreds of millions purely in interest on loans. The debt per student amounts to nearly $27,000, while the outstanding interest on bonds totals more than $300 million already.
“Billion dollar debt defeated by 215 votes!” posted local citizen Mike Sanders.
Candidate Dorian Chavez, running for nearby Cedar Park City Council, also cheered for the defeat, saying, “The people have spoken! They are tired of what is happening in our schools and the leadership is not trusted!”
However, Leander ISD’s Proposition B for technology improvements did pass, at an estimated $33.3 million cost to taxpayers.
Nearby in Georgetown ISD, Propositions C, D, and E each failed, which called for renovations to the performing arts center, a new district swim center, and a new tennis complex—at a cost of $31.75 million.
An editorial in the Williamson County Sun called the bond for the Proposition D swim center “premature” since the Georgetown taxpayers have already paid for two swimming pools and acquired a third from a developer. Prop D was, therefore “A big ask” for Georgetown taxpayers.
However, Georgetown ISD’s Prop A and Prop B—which did pass—will cost the taxpayers an estimated $349.9 million in funding for new schools and technology upgrades.
Georgetown ISD Superintendent Dr. Fred Brent said, “I’m proud of the citizens’ group who made the recommendation for projects that align with student needs and am grateful for the community’s support of projects that secure the academic future for students in Georgetown ISD.”
Brent also expressed his disappointment with the failures of Propositions C, D, and E, saying “Our students work hard in fine arts, swimming, and tennis – all being recognized at the State level in recent months – and supporting them is still important. I do regret that we cannot move forward with these projects at this time. However, the district will continue to explore avenues that meet the needs of our athletics and fine arts programs.”
Twenty-five miles northeast of Georgetown, Bartlett ISD’s Proposition A—a bond for school facilities and vehicles—was voted down, saving local taxpayers $20 million.
Across the Central Texas area in Elgin ISD, voters rejected Proposition B, bonds for district stadiums costing $7.24 million, though they did approve two other propositions for school and recreational facilities that will cost $182.76 million.
The past months have seen a rising battle between parents and school boards across the state and nation, including in nearby Austin suburb Round Rock. With the pushback against critical race theory, pornographic materials in school libraries, boys using girls’ restrooms and competing in girls’ sports, questionable and wasteful spending, and corruption in administration, taxpayers have become increasingly aware and engaged over their children’s education and their hard-earned dollars.