Voters in Prosper Independent School District approved three of four bond propositions on Tuesday’s ballot, obligating local property taxpayers to repay $2.7 billion in bond debt. However, they rejected a proposal to build the most expensive high school football stadium in Texas history.
With interest, the three bonds passed will cost Prosper ISD taxpayers $4.9 billion, according to estimates prepared by the district ahead of the election.
School officials said the bonds are necessary to accommodate the district’s growth.
Bond opponents argued that the projects included in the bonds are too extravagant.
Proposition A, shown on the ballot with a price tag of $2.4 billion but expected to cost $4.5 billion with interest, includes a new high school estimated at half a billion dollars before interest.
Proposition B authorizes the district to spend $140 million ($151 million with interest) on new technology devices for students, teachers, and staff.
Proposition D authorizes spending $125 million ($230 million with interest) for a Performing Arts Center.
The bond that failed, Proposition C, would have authorized spending $102 million ($188 million with interest) for athletic facilities, including a new $94 million stadium.
Prosper ISD property taxpayers already owe $2.6 billion in school bond debt principal and interest.
“We need smart spending that maximizes benefits for our students without unnecessary burdens on our finances,” said Doug Charles, a Prosper resident who opposed the high costs of the proposed bond projects.
A majority of district residents who voted disagreed with Charles.
Almost 20 percent of the district’s registered voters participated in the bond election, casting just over 10,300 ballots.
Prosper residents said they were bombarded with pro-bond marketing—mailers, flyers, emails, robocalls, social media posts—produced and distributed using district taxpayers’ money.
One Prosper mom said she received six robocalls recorded by district principals encouraging parents to vote in the bond election.
Prosper ISD teachers reportedly received “prizes” from their principals for showing an “I Voted” sticker.
Superintendent Holly Ferguson sent a letter to “Prosper ISD Families” after early voting ended, encouraging them to participate in the “zero-tax-rate-increase election.”
While not explicitly telling people to vote for the bonds, messages from Ferguson and other district officials suggest support. The board of trustees voted unanimously to place the bonds on the ballot.
Even if the tax rate is not increased when a bond passes, bond debt increases the local property tax liability by the bond amount plus interest. Thus, all bonds are property tax increases.
Unofficial results show:
- Prop A PASSED: 66% (6,786 votes) For; 44% (3,550 votes) Against
- Prop B PASSED: 65% (6,676 votes) For; 35% (3,634 votes) Against
- Prop C FAILED: 46% (4,767 votes) For; 54% (5,533 votes) Against
- Prop D PASSED: 57% (5,860 votes For; 43% (4,443 votes) Against