Two new elementary schools and renovations and additions at the junior highs are part of a $199 million bond package that will go before voters in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district.
School leaders say the bond proposal is important because the district continues to age and grow, with H-E-B projected to increase by more than 2,600 students in the next decade.
“Student enrollment and growth are driving the need for this bond election,” said H-E-B Superintendent Steve Chapman.
Voting starts Monday for the May 5 election.
If the bond package wins voter approval, homeowners will see a 9.4-cent tax rate increase phased in over two years — 4.3 cents in the first year and 5.1 cents in 2019.
The current tax rate is $1.26 according to the school district’s bond website.
The tax increase would be $13.71 a month ($164.52 a year) for a home valued at $200,000 and $29.37 for a home valued at $400,000 ($352.44 per year), according to school district estimates.
A PAC supporting the bond called Vote Yes HEB ISD Bond was formed, and former school board president Ellen Jones said 16 members are getting the word out to voters.
“I am not worried about people in our communities supporting the bond. I am worried about people getting out there to vote,” Jones said.
City and school district elections often have low turnout, she said.
Bob Stewart, who lives in Bedford, questioned the need for the bond election saying that the district needs to cut unnecessary spending and focus on funding for academics in the classroom.
“Young people’s tax bills have gotten out of hand because of increasing tax rates and increases in property valuations,” Stewart said. “Elderly people have an easier burden because of homestead exemptions.”
Growth in the district
The H-E-B school district takes in portions of north Arlington, east Fort Worth, Colleyville, Hurst, Euless and Bedford.
Viridian, a master-planned community in north Arlington that is home to H-E-B’s Viridian Elementary School, is pushing the growth, and new development is also taking shape in the Bear Creek Founders Parc developments in Euless.
Founders Parc will bring new students to H-E-B schools, and new homes are also coming to the area of Fort Worth served by the school district, he said.
The new elementary schools will be in east Fort Worth at Precinct Line and Trammel Davis Road and in Euless at Midway Drive and International Boulevard.
The two elementaries will be similar in design to Viridian Elementary, the last school built in the disrict, in 2013. Viridian is close to its capacity of 850 students, Chapman said.
District leaders point out that H-E-B's overall tax rate of $1.26 per $100 valuation is lower than neighbors' and that its debt service — the repurchase of previously issued bonds — has decreased during the past six years.
Chapman said the school district is having community meetings and making presentations to organizations including Lions clubs and the H-E-B Chamber of Commerce and has a section on its website dedicated to the bond.
If the bond gets voters' OK, $130 million would pay for building two new elementary campuses and adding classrooms and science labs at the junior high campuses, some of which were built in the 1970s when the H-E-B area was starting to sprout.
An additional $49 million would be used to convert West Hurst Elementary to house a special education program now scattered throughout the district, Chapman said. Students who attend West Hurst Elementary would go to other elementary schools in the district, and Chapman said the district will create new attendance zones.
Central Junior High would get an orchestra hall, saving students in Suzuki Strings from having to walk across the parking lot to Keys High School.
Also at Central, a multi-level cafeteria would be renovated to give students more space.
And at Euless Junior High, school officials want to move the entrance to the back of the building because of the ongoing Texas 183 expansion.
David Garcia, deputy superintendent of business services, said $20 million would take care of upgrading wiring and computer networks and buying portable devices such as tablets for students and teachers. The technology would be paid for in six years, he said.
“We spent the last year talking to students and teachers about the technology they want to see. Teachers want devices so that they aren’t tied to their desks,” Chapman said.