Monday, April 4, 2016

Will the RISD Bond Pass?

Someone asked me if the Richardson ISD bond will pass in the May 7 election. Well, that's not a question of fact. It's a matter of speculation. We're all entitled to offer an answer that can't be proven wrong, at least for another month. What follows was my off-the-cuff answer.

I think the RISD bond will pass. There's never been a bond that didn't pass, so history is on the side of this one, too. I can't remember the last time a school board trustee lost a re-election bid, which is an indication that RISD voters are generally satisfied with the school district. The bond has $215 million for maintenance needs. No one has spoken out against that. The bond has $107 million for classroom construction. The only concern with that is how the money will be spent in the Lake Highlands area — that's not determined yet — not that classroom construction isn't needed. So about 3/4 of the bond money is uncontroversial and should get voters' support even if there is opposition to the remaining 1/4.

I was also asked, if the bond fails to pass, what would be the reason? If the unlikely event the bond fails to pass, it will be for two reasons. One reason is those multi-purpose fields, which might have a hard time passing in a standalone proposition. But providing kids shade from the Texas sun and shelter from thunderstorms is not a universally unpopular idea. Even the multi-purpose fields might have passed on their own, but maybe not.

The other reason is if the school district decides to do something really unpopular in Lake Highlands. But I don't expect that to happen. The district is working hard to find a solution that meets as many careabouts as possible. Voters understand that a "no" vote means delaying construction, which would also be unpopular.

There doesn't appear to be anything else being talked about that could get a majority of voters to turn down this bond. But...there could be a reason that isn't being talked about. An unknown number of voters might reflexively vote "no" simply because of the tax rate increase required with this bond. I have no way of estimating how big a percentage that might be — people aren't talking about it, remember? In the end, if the bond fails to pass, that might turn out to be the hidden reason why.