In November of 2020, voters rejected an almost $1 billion bond—and tax increase—from Northwest Independent School District, just outside of Fort Worth. NISD has cut the amount to $746 million, eliminated the tax increase, and will try again on May 1. 

The district says it will be able to pay for the bonds with the current tax rate:

“NISD will be able to issue bonds without an increase to the tax rate because of increased revenue from growth in the area, rising taxable assessed values (set by county appraisal districts), and because the board of trustees has paid down existing debt.”

According to data from the Tarrant Appraisal District, Northwest ISD’s average property tax bill for homeowners has skyrocketed 55 percent since 2013—from $2,487 to $3,856.

It jumped more than 4 percent in one year alone—up from $3,685 in 2019. The property tax rate in 2019 was $1.42, compared with 2013’s rate of $1.4525, when the district’s average property tax bill for homeowners was $2,487.

Year-to-year comparisons of property tax rates are meaningless, as property values fluctuate. 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 bond—which taxpayers must repay with interest—has four proposals.

Proposition A would charge taxpayers $712 million to build three new schools, replace three current schools, and buy new land and buses. It would also add classrooms for full-day pre-kindergarten and pay for improvements to Northwest High School. 

Also included are capital improvements and renovations to facilities, replacing lifecycle infrastructure and elementary playground equity and safety, program standardization in middle schools, and technology infrastructure.  

Proposition B would spend $8.2 million to renovate the track and field complex and replace the lighting at NISD’s stadium.  

Proposition C would spend $5.7 million to improve tennis courts and tracks at middle schools and add tennis courts to Medlin Middle School.

Proposition D, almost $20 million, would buy new devices for students and teachers for replacements and potential growth in the district.  

Early voting begins on April 19 and ends on April 27. The bond election will be on the May 1 ballot.

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.