Arlington’s $966 million school bond will go to voters this November

The Arlington school district is considering asking voters for a $965.9 million bond, the largest in the district’s history.
The Arlington school district is considering asking voters for a $965.9 million bond, the largest in the district’s history.

Arlington could be rebuilding four schools and adding softball fields to all of its high school campuses, pending voter approval of a $966 million bond in November.

The Arlington school board voted unanimously Tuesday to place the bond on the Nov. 5 ballot, less than a week after approving a 7-cent tax cut mandated by the state.

Administrators do not expect to increase the tax rate for the bond.

The district plans to rebuild Carter Junior High, Berry Elementary, Thornton Elementary and Webb Elementary and close Roark and Knox elementary schools.

The schools the district plans to replace average 61 years old.

Money would also be used for renovations to accommodate state-mandated pre-kindergarten classes and to upgrade playgrounds, gymnasiums and athletic fields.

The upgrades to athletic fields include replacing the artificial turf on some fields and constructing the softball and football fields.

The district expects to lose access to UT Arlington’s Maverick Stadium, where it has played high school football games. But it plans to build a new football stadium when the university’s field is no longer available.

A decision on a site for the new field should be made soon, said Kelly Horn, executive director of the school district’s Plant Services Department.

The bond will go to voters as the 2014 school district bond comes to a close.

Board member Aaron Reich said that the bond has resulted in improved student performance that will be reflected in the district’s evaluations scheduled to be released Thursday.

“For anybody that is wondering from the outside, the reality is the impact of the bond has been really positive and substantial for our students,” Reich said.

He added that the updated facilities are needed to continue success.

“Many of the things in our plan include things like world class facilities,” Reich said.

While there are no new taxes expected with this bond and the district cut taxes by 7 cents, homeowners will likely still pay higher tax bills because of rising property values.

With the new rate, the owner of a $211,000 house — the average in the district — can expect to pay $2,740 through the next year in taxes with a homestead exemption.

The 7-cent rate cut comes from a tax relief and education funding bill passed by the Legislature this year.

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James Hartley is the Arlington city government reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He is passionate about local politics, true stories, movies and baseball. He has worked for the Tyler Morning Telegraph, D Magazine and the Dallas Observer. You can connect with James on Twitter @ByJamesHartley or Instagram @JamesTakesPhotos. Want reporters like James to help you stay informed about your community? You can help the Star-Telegram continue to offer great local, political, sports and culture news by purchasing a digital or print subscription today.