San Antonio ISD Addresses Questions Regarding Bond Money Usage Amid School Rightsizing Discussions
Strict laws governing the expenditure of school district funds, coupled with the intricacies of financing public education, have led the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) to clarify some of the most pressing questions about the use of bond money.
Public school districts like SAISD operate with limited tax dollars primarily sourced from local property taxes and state funding. To fund major capital projects such as new school construction, building renovations, or the purchase of new buses, these districts must seek voter approval in the form of a “bond election.”
Despite recent legislative changes in Texas that mandate a “property tax increase” statement on every bond ballot proposition, many school districts do not necessarily have to increase their tax rates when issuing bonds. Most Texas school districts carry debt from bond elections to finance vital infrastructure improvements.
In 2020, San Antonio ISD secured approval from voters for a substantial $1.3 billion bond package aimed at renovating 36 schools and enhancing technology and security across all campuses. With 12 schools currently under construction and other projects in varying phases, some have questioned the fate of bond money allocated to schools that may face closure or consolidation.
The district has provided answers to address these concerns:
- Allocation of Bond Money for Closed Schools: If the Board of Trustees approves the rightsizing recommendation that includes school closures covered by the 2020 bond, the funds designated for those buildings will be redirected to other schools. These funds will be used to assess and implement necessary upgrades in the remaining school facilities. Bond money can only be expended on building renovations, improvements, or new facility construction.
- Using Bond Money for Resources: Bond dollars are strictly earmarked for building projects, land acquisition, or purchasing/retrofitting buses. They cannot be allocated to staff salaries, resources, curriculum materials, or any purpose other than those explicitly listed.
- Reallocating Bond Funds: It is within the district’s legal purview to reallocate bond funds without taxpayers’ approval on a special ballot. The 2020 bond proposition was approved for the construction, renovation, and equipping of school buildings but did not specify particular campuses. Proposed projects often change due to unforeseen circumstances or rising construction costs. Recommendations for reallocating bond funds will undergo scrutiny by the SAISD Citizens Advisory Committee and the Board of Trustees before any decisions are made.
- Bond Money Following Students: Bond money will remain within the San Antonio ISD for campus improvements. It does not follow students who leave the district.
As SAISD continues its commitment to enhancing education infrastructure and resources, these explanations provide clarity on the responsible and transparent use of bond funds during the process of rightsizing the district’s school facilities.