UPDATE: Northwest ISD told voters the tax rate would not increase instead of a decrease. On May 1, voters in Dallas-area Richardson and Northwest Independent School Districts went to the polls and approved colossal new debts they will have to repay with their property taxes.

In Richardson, 63 percent of voters approved a $750 million bond. According to Texas Scorecard investigations, Richardson citizens’ property taxes have increased by 75 percent since 2013. 

“Despite low academic achievement and declining enrollment, RISD has used our tax dollars to pay for slick marketing materials to ‘inform’ us about the bond,” Richardson resident Lynn Davenport told Texas Scorecard. “They flouted the legislature which required tax increase language on the ballot by using deceptive semantics, telling the voters this would be a ‘no tax rate increase’ bond.”

“Our tax rate may remain the same, but we all know increasing property values leads to higher taxes,” Davenport added. 

Local citizen Eric Stengel, who ran unsuccessfully for the Richardson ISD board of trustees, told Texas Scorecard, “While I am optimistic as a parent that the passage of the $750 million bond propositions will be put to good use, I’m pessimistic about the long-term consequences of educational finance in Texas schools.”  

“Austin and the Legislature must think of better ways to fund public education as the status quo of increased property appraisals. And lower reimbursement rates from Austin are a zero sum game, forcing many homeowners out of their house,” Stengel said.

In Northwest ISD, located in the northwest Tarrant County, three of four bond propositions won. Propositions A and C won by 56 and 51 percent, respectively, while Proposition D—$19 million to purchase technology—passed with 57 percent of the vote. 

The total cost for Northwest’s bonds is $717 million.

Voters did, however, reject the $8.2 million bond for stadium improvements.  

Since 2013, Northwest ISD taxpayers have had a 55 percent increase in tax payments. While the district claimed the proposal would not increase the tax rate,  that does not take into consideration the property values that have been going up in recent years.

Tera Collum

Tera Collum has 13 years experience as a government and economics teacher in Texas public schools. She recently was the director of The Travis Institute of Educational Policy and Teachers for Texas.