On November 8, voters in 59 school districts across the state will find proposed bond spending totaling more than $15 billion at the bottom of their ballots. If approved, residents in these districts will be required to repay these bonds—with interest—through increased taxes.

This latest request comes on the heels of more than $16.7 billion in school bonds proposed this past May, of which more than $10.4 billion was approved.

The combined $31.7 billion on the ballot this year dwarfs the $7.6 billion in school bonds on the ballot in 2016, and it brings the total amount taxpayers have been asked to approve since 2016 to $99.8 billion.

For most of the 59 school districts with bonds on the November ballot, this isn’t the first time in recent years they have asked voters to greenlight additional spending. Since the beginning of 2016, 44 of these districts have proposed bonds totaling $11.3 billion, $6.8 billion of which was approved by voters in 34 districts.

However, since 2020, voters in 22 of these districts have rejected 39 proposed bonds totaling $3.2 billion. In May of this year alone, taxpayers in 17 districts voted down 30 proposed bonds totaling $2.4 billion.

Should every one of the 106 separate bonds on the November ballot pass, the 59 school districts proposing them would nearly double their outstanding debt, which amounts to $16.3 billion in principal and interest. Specifically, 42 of these districts are asking voters to increase their outstanding principal debt by more than 100 percent, while 21 are proposing increases of more than 200 percent, and 14 of more than 300 percent.

Texas school districts collectively owe $113.3 billion in tax-supported bond debt (principal only), more than twice the $54.3 billion owed in 2008. This amounts to $20,878 in debt per Texas public school student, as opposed to $11,633 per student in 2008.

The chart below shows the total bond package amount, outstanding principal debt, and potential percent increase in debt for each of these 59 school districts should all proposed bonds receive voter approval.

JurisdictionTotal Proposed Bonds (Principal)Outstanding Debt (Principal)% Increase
Corrigan-Camden ISD$25,165,900 $1,655,0001520.6%
Marfa ISD$57,000,000 $4,910,0001160.9%
Trenton ISD$58,000,000 $5,790,0001001.7%
Paradise ISD$58,500,000 $8,805,000664.4%
McCamey ISD$71,811,709 $10,970,000654.6%
Pittsburg ISD$88,350,000 $16,415,000538.2%
Anna ISD$873,735,000 $187,437,991466.1%
Texarkana ISD$181,860,000 $41,165,000441.8%
Splendora ISD$225,000,000 $52,550,000428.2%
Brenham ISD$136,000,000 $34,102,261398.8%
Era ISD$13,900,000 $3,790,000366.8%
Fort Stockton ISD$100,000,000 $27,335,000365.8%
Rankin ISD$123,000,000 $35,695,000344.6%
Point Isabel ISD$29,000,000 $9,870,000293.8%
Canutillo ISD$264,000,000 $95,894,627275.3%
Quinlan ISD$25,000,000 $10,435,000239.6%
Plano ISD$1,495,638,000 $625,625,000239.1%
East Central ISD$240,000,000 $111,218,479215.8%
Cedar Hill ISD$217,800,000 $101,107,516215.4%
Columbia-Brazoria ISD$79,000,000 $36,980,000213.6%
Lake Travis ISD$704,000,000 $350,735,000200.7%
Greenville ISD$136,500,000 $70,845,000192.7%
Tuloso-Midway ISD$98,500,000 $52,014,996189.4%
Terrell ISD$115,000,000 $60,889,200188.9%
Bonham ISD$60,000,000 $31,950,000187.8%
Sulphur Springs ISD$81,500,000 $46,610,000174.9%
Dripping Springs ISD$481,135,000 $276,864,934173.8%
Magnolia ISD$232,000,000 $138,065,000168.0%
Austin ISD$2,439,000,000 $1,491,870,900163.5%
Taylor ISD$82,470,000 $58,624,916140.7%
Poth ISD$19,500,000 $14,178,000137.5%
Marion ISD$50,000,000 $36,380,000137.4%
Spring ISD$850,000,000 $638,585,000133.1%
Kaufman ISD$89,900,000 $69,525,000129.3%
Lamar CISD$1,716,506,501 $1,337,905,000128.3%
Angleton ISD$196,250,000 $160,075,000122.6%
Rio Vista ISD$12,000,000 $9,835,000122.0%
Brownsboro ISD$24,000,000 $20,146,875119.1%
Callisburg ISD$18,600,000 $15,775,000117.9%
Lockhart ISD$71,000,000 $61,939,961114.6%
Gregory-Portland ISD$242,000,000 $212,260,000114.0%
Brock ISD$64,600,000 $61,602,639104.9%
Red Oak ISD$94,000,000 $94,795,00099.2%
Waller ISD$368,125,100 $377,370,00097.6%
Winona ISD$23,500,000 $25,020,00093.9%
Little Elm ISD$289,500,000 $330,441,40887.6%
Texas City ISD$158,600,000 $187,250,00084.7%
Birdville ISD$359,776,090 $440,840,00081.6%
Seguin ISD$138,500,000 $174,289,80979.5%
Sheldon ISD$247,700,000 $378,569,99665.4%
Pflugerville ISD$367,604,000 $581,800,00063.2%
Judson ISD$345,299,900 $580,839,08659.4%
Stephenville ISD$39,980,000 $74,895,00053.4%
Cleveland ISD$115,000,000 $307,549,98937.4%
Corpus Christi ISD$220,000,000 $706,410,04631.1%
Sands CISD$85,000,000 $0
Wills Point ISD$40,000,000 $0
Marlin ISD$32,000,000 $0
Kenedy County Wide CSD$1,500,000 $0

Six school districts account for more than half of the proposed spending in the November election: Austin ISD and Lake Travis ISD in Central Texas, Plano ISD and Anna ISD in the Metroplex, and Lamar CISD and Spring ISD in the Houston area. Listed below are the amounts each of these districts is requesting to build new schools or make improvements to existing ones; the total bond package amount and current outstanding debt (principal only) are also included.

  • Austin ISD – $2.316 billion ($2.439 billion total); $1.491 billion outstanding debt
  • Lamar CISD – $1.311 billion ($1.717 billion total); $1.388 billion outstanding debt
  • Plano ISD – $1.164 billion ($1.496 billion total); $626 million outstanding debt
  • Anna ISD – $794 million ($874 million total); $187 million outstanding debt
  • Spring ISD – $681 million ($850 million total); $639 million outstanding debt
  • Lake Travis ISD – $550 million ($704 million total); $351 million outstanding debt

Each of these districts is also proposing millions in bonds for technology upgrades or new facilities for extracurricular activities, including four new stadiums. Following the passage of legislation in 2019, school districts must divide proposed bond spending on different projects into separate ballot measures.

While most of the proposed bonds are for construction of new schools or renovations to existing ones, some of the other requested expenditures are listed below.

  • Stadiums and athletic centers – $1.3 billion, 26 districts
  • Security – $2.692 billion, 19 districts
  • Technology – $533 million, 13 districts
  • Transportation – $1.192 billion, 6 districts
  • Event or multipurpose centers – $207 million, 3 districts
  • Performing arts centers – $168 million, 3 districts

Pflugerville ISD and Rankin ISD are asking voters for $44 million and $4 million, respectively, to construct or purchase affordable teacher housing. Rankin ISD is also requesting $12 million to purchase and renovate the local golf course so they can host tournaments.

“Texas has some of the highest local debt in the nation. School bonds are a significant way in which we add to that debt,” said Texans for Fiscal Responsibility President Tim Hardin. “To avoid confusion, the legislature added language to bonds that tell taxpayers that passing a bond will raise your property taxes. Texas taxpayers should reject more local debt in favor of schools exercising fiscal responsibility and cutting budgets.”

The complete list of proposed bonds can be found here and at the Texas Bond Review Board’s website. All figures in this article were derived from reports generated from the Texas Bond Review Board’s database.

Darrell Frost

Since graduating from Hillsdale College, Darrell has held key roles in winning political campaigns, managed a state legislator's Capitol office, and taught at a classical charter school. He enjoys participating in outdoor activities, playing the harmonica, and learning about the latest scientific developments.