Bond election called to meet record-setting growth
As Northwest ISD faces record-setting student enrollment growth, the district’s school board has unanimously voted to call a bond referendum that would build 12 new schools and additional facilities.
The board’s vote at its February 13 meeting approves the work of the community-led Long-Range Planning Committee, which is tasked with providing a recommendation for future schools, facilities and similar projects to meet enrollment increases. If approved by voters, the referendum would make room for over 8,400 students new to the district as it continues to experience fast enrollment growth.
With the board’s approval, the referendum will now appear before voters on May 6 for consideration. Voters will have the opportunity to cast ballots on three propositions: new schools and educational facility updates ($1,672,193,000), new high school stadiums and updates to existing stadiums ($301,555,000), and technology devices ($21,752,000). While the total amount of the bond referendum across all three propositions is roughly $1.995 billion, voters will not see that figure and will only see the monetary amount as divided into each proposition.
In 2021, Northwest ISD earned the title of the fastest-growing school district in North Texas, far outpacing neighboring districts in terms of annual student enrollment growth. District leaders track more than 100 housing developments within Northwest ISD’s 234 square miles and proactively plan for future schools to prevent or mitigate the amount of overcrowding in schools.
As part of the referendum, Northwest ISD would build a new high school, new middle school, four new elementary schools and two replacement elementary schools. Additionally, four early childhood centers in the proposal would provide education services to young learners across the district. The proposal also includes new extracurricular facilities, including home stadiums at Byron Nelson and Eaton high schools as well as the proposed fourth comprehensive high school.
If passed, most bond funds – more than 85% – would directly address enrollment growth. Notable projects proposed in the 2023 Bond Election include:
- High School #4: Located at North Riverside Drive in Fort Worth (near I-35W and S.H. 170), the district’s fourth comprehensive high school would alleviate overcrowding at Eaton and Northwest high schools. Those schools are each projected to exceed their designed capacities by 400 or more students by 2026, the projected opening of the new high school.
- Middle School #8: Four of the district’s six current middle schools are at or over capacity. The district’s eighth middle school would be located in the Pecan Square development in Northlake, providing relief for Pike Middle School, and is projected to open in 2026.
- Elementary Schools #23, 24, 25, 26: With the district’s unprecedented growth, Northwest ISD on average opens at least one elementary school per year. The next three elementary schools are slated to open in the Wildflower Ranch community (Perrin Elementary School) in August 2024, along the 287 corridor and in the Haslet area. The final new elementary school will be located in an area as necessitated by growth.
- Justin, Prairie View Replacement Schools: Justin and Prairie View elementary schools both feature outdated infrastructure and lower capacities than other district elementary schools. As part of the bond proposal, each of these campuses would have a new school built in line with the district’s current elementary design.
- Early Childhood Centers #1, 2, 3, 4: Four early childhood centers would be built across Northwest ISD, one in each geographic area of the district. To best use resources, the existing sites of Justin and Prairie View elementary schools would be used for two of these sites. The district owns a third site near Cox Elementary School, and a fourth location will be determined in the southern portion of the district. These facilities would also offer staff daycare to attract high-quality educators to Northwest ISD.
- High School Home Stadiums: To continue to instill a community atmosphere and eliminate time spent away from the classroom, Byron Nelson and Eaton high schools would each receive a home stadium for athletics and fine arts use, as would the proposed fourth high school. These stadiums would replace the existing sub-varsity stadium and feature enough seating to accommodate 6A crowds. Given its proximity to the high school, Northwest ISD Stadium will remain the home stadium of the Northwest Texans.
Beyond these major projects, several smaller projects are proposed to similarly help the district accommodate tremendous growth. At the high school level, for instance, the proposal includes the expansion of cafeterias and gyms at all comprehensive high schools, as they currently feature undersized core spaces for schools that each feature a 3,200-student capacity.
Additional information and the full proposal are available at www.nisdtxbond.org.
In compliance with state laws that took effect in 2019, voters will see the total bond package spread across three separate ballot propositions.
- Proposition A will include all new schools, expansions, facility updates and similar capital improvements.
- Proposition B will include any work at a stadium that holds more than 1,000 spectators (including Byron Nelson and Eaton home stadiums, the stadium for the proposed fourth comprehensive high school as well as renovations to existing stadiums).
- Proposition C will include funds to continue providing technology devices for teachers and students. The district currently issues a laptop to each teacher and a Chromebook to each student in grades 6-12. Students in grades 3-5 have access to a class set of Chromebooks, and students in grades K-2 have access to a shared Chromebook.
Long-Range Planning Committee
The Long-Range Planning Committee, which is composed of 57 community and staff members from across the district, formulated their proposal following five months of work where they analyzed current district facilities as well as enrollment and demographic trends.
“Working together, the committee had a lot of spirited conversations about what our district will look like in the coming years and how we do what’s best for kids,” said Joe Washam, a longtime Northwest ISD resident and member of the committee. “We’re all here because we believe in the students of Northwest ISD and want to continue to provide a top-tier educational environment for every child of our district.”
Dr. Mark Foust, Northwest ISD superintendent of schools, said the work of the committee steers the future of the district.
“I’m so proud of the work the Long-Range Planning Committee has done to provide our district with a vision for our future,” Dr. Foust said. “Since 1996, this committee has existed to analyze the growth and parity of our district throughout all 234 square miles. They have continuously provided a community perspective for what new facilities we should build to stay ahead of growth and put the interests of students first. I look forward to hearing our full community’s feedback on the proposals.”
One-Tenth of a Penny Tax Rate Change
If approved by voters, the bond referendum is estimated to increase the interest and sinking tax rate by one-tenth of a penny. This rate change would result in an increase of less than $5 per year to the average homeowner’s annual tax bill, as the average home property value is less than $500,000.
Northwest ISD’s current total tax rate of $1.2746 is the district’s lowest total tax rate since 1993. The current tax rate includes a maintenance and operations rate of $0.8546 (used to fund salaries, utilities and other day-to-day expenses) and an interest and sinking rate of $0.420 (used to pay down debt incurred from issuing bonds as approved by voters). If approved, the I&S rate would increase to $0.421, meaning the I&S tax rate is projected to increase $0.001.
Because of additional residential and retail development within Northwest ISD’s boundaries, the district can issue more bonds with minimal change to the tax rate.
Voters will have from April 24 to May 2 to cast ballots during early voting, or they can cast ballots on Election Day, Saturday, May 6. The last day to register to vote in time to participate in this election is April 6. New residents are encouraged to check their voter registration to ensure their current address is on file. Only registered voters who reside within NISD boundaries are eligible to vote in the May 2023 bond election.