UPDATE: On Friday evening, April 19, Hood County sheriff’s deputies arrested the “No Bond Bus Tour” driver, Steve Biggers, on charges related to the vehicle’s recently obtained temporary permit. According to multiple sources, deputies intercepted the bus on its way to a scheduled stop, told Biggers the paper tag was improperly affixed to the bus, and accused him of tampering with a government document. This is a developing story.

A “No Bond Bus Tour” seen driving around Granbury Independent School District is cautioning voters about a May school bond election that will drive up local property tax burdens by more than $300 million.

The campaign features an eye-catching yellow school bus emblazoned with the slogans “If You Know, You No” and “Caution High Taxes Ahead.”

The can’t-miss vehicle is making daily “bus stops” around the district to share information about Granbury ISD’s latest bond proposal—their third try in three years.

Granbury residents Eva Royer and Tim Bolton are the main organizers of the campaign, funded by the Granbury Families PAC.

The campaign kicked off in early April—one month ahead of the May 4 election.

With a background in marketing, Royer developed creative ways to get the facts out to local voters about the school bond.

Campaign materials include signs, shirts, stickers, fact sheets, mailers, videos, and a website.

Royer also incorporated less traditional marketing tools to grab voters’ attention, such as caution tape, tree ribbons, placing ads in a local movie theater, and the school bus.

The bus tour was the brainchild of resident Steve Biggers.

Biggers has a friend who owns a school bus, and he asked to borrow it.

“It’s like a mobile billboard,” he said.

Volunteers are also block-walking to inform their neighbors about the tax impact of the proposed bond.

“We’re not against children, education, or schools,” Royer told Texas Scorecard at a recent bus tour stop. “But we need the district to be good stewards of our money.”

All school bond debt is repaid with property taxes. Granbury ISD taxpayers already owe more than $104 million in bond debt principal and interest.

The district’s Bond 2024 website lists the items included in the new proposition.

A website, Granbury Concerned Citizens, hosted by Granbury Families PAC, contains more information about whether the district needs those items right now and whether district taxpayers can afford them.

The advertised cost of the bond is $161.5 million.

But with interest, the bond will increase local property taxpayers’ burden by $315 million—almost double the amount voters will see on the ballot.

Texas law requires school districts to highlight the tax impact of bonds by including language on the ballot stating, “THIS IS A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE” in capital letters.

Royer said Granbury ISD is downplaying the tax increase language by printing all the ballot language in capital letters.

The district states in its bond materials that the school tax rate will not immediately increase as a result of passing the bond. However, higher appraised property values result in higher tax bills even if the rate stays the same, and the district can increase the tax rate at any time in the future to cover the cost of repaying the bond debt.

Voters have rejected the district’s last two bond proposals: a $394 million bond package on the May 2022 ballot and a $151 million bond in November 2023 that failed by a handful of votes (although voters did approve a tax rate increase on the same ballot).

Earlier this year, trustees voted 5-2 to call a special election in May to push another bond, rather than wait until November when Granbury ISD holds its school board elections.

Trustees Melanie Graft and Karen Lowery voted against calling the bond election.

Other trustees and Superintendent Jeremy Glenn are supporting the bond.

A pro-bond PAC, For Granbury ISD Kids, received contributions from Trustees Nancy Alana, Courtney Gore, Mike Moore, and Barbara Townsend; and from the superintendent’s wife, Karisa Glenn, a teacher in the district. School building contractors Stantec and CORE Construction also gave money to the pro-bond PAC.

Glenn currently receives a salary of $203,000. His latest five-year contract includes a $25,000 longevity bonus if he stays until June 2026.

During his tenure as superintendent of Waxahachie ISD, Glenn was credited for passing a tax rate increase and a $125 million bond, including a $118 million high school.

Biggers said a third failed bond would be a blow to Glenn’s record at Granbury ISD.

Early voting in the special bond election is April 22-30.

Election Day is Saturday, May 4.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.