Tuesday, May 10, 2016

RISD Bond Election Analysis

RISD election map
Dark Green: YES. Bright Green: No.

Richardson ISD voters approved a $437 million bond proposition in the May 7 election by an overwhelming margin, 67% to 33%. Turnout was 9,507 voters. Diving into the details, there are a few interesting, if maybe not surprising, details.

One obvious conclusion is that the tax rate increase, the lack of certainty about how to address overcrowding in Lake Highlands, and those "indoor football fields" were not controversial enough to threaten passage of the bond.

Even the turnout of 9,507 voters, low by recent historic standards, suggests a lack of controversy. In 2011, the last time RISD put a bond proposition before the voters, 18,667 voters turned out. There were also city council elections that year, which would have boosted turnout, so I don't put too much significance in the relatively low turnout this year.

With a passage of 67% to 33%, you might guess that there weren't too many precincts that opposed the bond. You'd be right. Only 5 of 74 precincts voted against the bond (colored bright green in the map above). Two of those were small precincts and the votes there were split. The "no" votes carried the two precincts by one and two votes, respectively. There's probably not much of a story to be learned from those precincts. One larger precinct, 2511, also voted against the bond by a single vote. That's the precinct with Dartmouth Elementary. I don't know of any local school issues there. There might be a story there, but I don't know what it is.

That leaves two precincts whose stories are easier to explain.

In precinct 2066 the bond attracted only 47% support (135 out of 289 votes). That's in the attendance area of White Rock Elementary in Lake Highlands. WRE is the RISD school with the most pressing capacity issues. The bond contains money for school expansion in the Lake Highlands area, but the RISD still hasn't decided exactly what to do with it. The uncertainty appears to have driven down support for the bond, at least around WRE. On the other hand, nearby precinct 1049, also in Lake Highlands but not part of the WRE attendance area, gave the bond 82% support. The politics are complex, but the message from both precincts might be, don't mess with my school.

In precinct 1504 the bond attracted only 37% support (88 of 236 votes), the worst percentage support by far all across RISD. Precinct 1504 lies east of Abrams Rd between Spring Valley Rd and Centennial Blvd. That's just east of where the RISD is building a new operations center. It's likely the neighborhood doesn't want the service center nearby and took it out on the bond, even though the service center is not part of the bond. That precinct's vote has the features of NIMBYism.


Mark Steger said...

I'll add these "eyeball" observations without claiming there's anything behind them other than, perhaps, my own imagination, seeing patterns in clouds. I did a quick look at the distribution. The precincts in north Dallas west of Coit carried the bond with big margins. The precincts east of Greenville Av and south of LBJ did also. Could that mean that the wealthier precincts were more likely to support the bond? If so, Prairie Creek/Canyon Creek was an exception, underperforming its north Dallas neighbors. In the City of Richardson, the lowest margins of victory (still all in favor) were in the north, on both sides of Central Expressway. In Lake Highlands, except for the precincts that feed into White Rock Elementary, all carried the bond by bigger margins than the precincts in the City of Richardson did. Overall, I'd say the farther you live from Central Expressway, the more likely you were to support the bond. I wonder if there's a causal relationship there, too.

Mark Steger said...

Eric Nicholson in "The Dallas Observer" gives a lot of background on the neighborhood surrounding White Rock Elementary, perhaps helping explain its vote. (And, oh yeah, he links to "The Wheel" :-) )

"Lake Highlands Finds the Secret to Great Public Schools: Getting Rid of Poor Kids"