Following a trend of school districts around Texas issuing more debt and increasing taxes, another Houston-area district is considering asking voters to approve a record-high school bond.

“When the Fort Bend ISD asked voters to approve a bond in 2014, they got what they asked for but didn’t ask for what they needed,” read a piece in the Fort Bend Star. “District officials said that decision left a half million dollars worth of ideas and improvements on the table four years ago.”

Unsurprisingly, the cost of those “needs” has increased substantially since 2014, to a whopping $1.7 billion.

The package the district is considering has yet to be laid out in detail, but what has been released shows it consists of six new schools, existing campus upgrades, security enhancements, and programs to accommodate the growth of the district.

FBISD trustee and former board president Kristin Tassin is already selling the package to the public. Observers may remember Tassin as the challenger to State Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Southside Place) in the most recent Republican primary. Tassin, who ran on a platform of property tax reform, now wants to raise taxes on FBISD taxpayers. “The number is big and shocking and we will have to raise taxes to support it. It is nothing we want to consider, but it is what we are faced with,” she said.

The new bonds would be tacked onto an already high debt amount. According to its most recent public financial report, at the end of 2017 FBISD had just over $1 billion in total debt. Initial estimates for the new bond show that, if approved, taxpayers in a $300,000 home would see an additional $300 on their annual tax bill.

The district has until Aug 20 to call for an election if they intend to place the bond package on the November general election ballot. The last opportunity the board would have to vote on that is Aug. 13.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.