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Texas Voters Back More Money for School Maintenance

Seventy-five state school districts put bond measures on the ballot this year, and at least 50 percent of those proposals passed.   November 22, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 

The news about deferred maintenance in the nation’s K-12 public schools in the last 20 years has been unanimously bad. An ever-increasing number of districts have been overwhelmed by a growing backlog of work orders for failed HVAC systems, roofs and plumbing components combined with shrinking budgets resulting from taxpayers refusing to increase public funding for much-needed repairs. 

But for one state, 2023 has brought some encouraging news at the polls. 

Seventy-five Texas school districts put bond measures on the ballot this year, asking voters to allow districts to borrow nearly $18 billion, according to the Texas Bond Review Board. At least 50 percent of those proposals passed, and some 30 percent failed, according to an early analysis of results by The Texas Tribune. Failed bond proposals included the construction of new athletic facilities, such as swimming pools and football stadiums, and some new school buildings. 

This year’s voter approval rate is a turnabout from November 2021, when only 46 percent of school bond proposals passed, the first time in more than 10 years that more school bonds failed than passed. Historically, school bond proposals in Texas have passed at a rate between 70 and 80 percent. 

The November 2021 election followed a 2019 state law requiring school districts to call bond elections “tax increases,” even if the district kept its tax rates the same. Observers suggested the new requirement led to the decrease in voter approval. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor for the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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