Throughout Texas, May 1 is turning out to be a day that school districts will ask voters for more of their money to build, renovate, and buy technology. In North Texas, Richardson Independent School District is putting a $750 million bond package on the ballot.
RISD has broken down the bond into two propositions. If approved, the largest proposition will cost $694 million and pay to renovate aging campuses, repair schools, and move the district to a middle school model instead of a junior high model. Of that amount, $139 million would be spent on teacher and student support. This includes instructional materials, digital teaching applications, textbooks, library books, improving digital network equipment, providing more digital teaching applications and career and technology curriculum, and equipment for the fine arts and athletic teams.
The second proposition is for $56 million for new computers, laptops, and tablets for students and staff.
According to data from the Dallas Central Appraisal District, Richardson ISD’s average property tax bill for homeowners has skyrocketed by more than 75 percent since 2013—$2,328 to $4,091.
On the ballot, RISD is claiming that there will not be an increase in the tax rate. However, year-to-year comparisons of property tax rates are meaningless, as property values fluctuate. For example, according to DCAD, RISD’s property tax rate in 2019 was $1.41835 and was lowered to $1.4047 in 2020, but RISD’s average property tax bill for homeowners increased by more than 5 percent.
As property values rise, in order to keep tax bills stable in the aggregate by collecting the same overall revenue from properties taxed the previous year, local officials must cut their property tax rate enough to offset increases in appraised value. Such a rate is called the no-new-revenue rate.
To deliver property relief, officials would have to cut their property tax rate even more.
The district will begin conducting public meetings about the bond election on April 12, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Richardson ISD administrative building. Interested citizens may attend this meeting or others that are scheduled throughout April.
Richardson ISD also has a “Let’s Talk” forum page, where you may leave comments about the bond or other Richardson ISD topics.