Voters pass $250M Hays CISD bond, funding new schools and facilities

Schematic design shows what the third high school for HCISD could look like. (Photo: Hays CISD)

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Voters in Hays County have passed a $250 million bond election for the Hays Consolidated Independent School District.

Voters said yes to the two propositions. Proposition 1, worth $189 million, will be used to build a new high school and two elementary schools. Proposition 2, for $60 million, will fund other facilities and equipment for a number of students programs as well as maintenance and security.

Prop 1 passed with 1,252 votes (60 percent) versus 850 votes against (40 percent). Prop 2 passed with 1,362 votes (65 percent) versus 742 votes against (35 percent).

The large bond has sparked controversy within the community, even spurring some residents to step outside of their comfort zone and run for a school board trustee position. “The bond was a big deciding factor for me,” said Michelle Carey who is running for the district one seat. “I am not thrilled with how the budget process has moved with the bonds. I understand that through bonds is how we fund our schools, but I think we can do better.”

Carey says she understands there needs to be a bond, but says she doesn’t approve of the current process leaders are using. “I’m struggling with watching what’s happening ever since the bond went on the ballot, how people responded and how the funding started shifting. I feel like we need a line by line by line budget understanding,” she said.

Others who are current board members say the bond is necessary for the school district to grow. “If the bond did not pass, we would have a lot of issues with being able to accommodate students,” said Hays CISD Board of Trustee Willie Tenorio Jr.

In 2006, the Hays CISD had fewer than 12,000 students. Fast forward 10 years — at the beginning of last school year, enrollment reached nearly 20,000. That 64 percent in enrollment growth is what caused the district to look at a bond to fund new schools and fix older ones.

With the bond, Buda Elementary will be moved from a flood plain to a new location. “We will be able to rebuild that school with a larger capacity. With some rezoning, we would be able to relieve some of the growth from some of the other schools nearby,” said Hays CISD Board of Trustee Teresa Tobias.

Tobias says the third high school will finally mean relief in the overcrowding hallways on high school campuses. “At this point, if the third school is built in 2019, we would open with three 6A schools. We would not even lower in classification, that’s how large we are. We are looking at having about 6,000 high school students at that point,” she said.

One of the new schools will be built in a different location and will allow students in Kindergarten and fifth grade to be in the same building.

The addition of a new high school is something the district has been discussing since 2014.

The final bond package did not include the administration building.

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