Education News

Katy ISD trustees put $840.6 million bond package on November ballot

The largest bond package in the history of the Houston-area school district would fund new schools, renovations to existing campuses and upgrades in security, technology and athletic facilities.

Katy ISD Bond Board Meeting
Katy ISD
A community member speaks in favor of a proposed $840.6 million bond package at the Katy ISD school board meeting on Monday, July 31, 2023.

Katy ISD voters will decide in November whether to approve a record $840.6 million in bond proposals, which the fast-growing school district west of Houston wants to use for new campuses and building renovations, security and technology upgrades and improvements to its athletic facilities.

Katy ISD trustees voted nearly unanimously Monday to accept the largest bond package in the district's history and place four related propositions on the Nov. 7 ballot. The district serves parts of Fort Bend, Harris and Waller counties and has an overall enrollment of more than 95,000 students, with that number projected to exceed 106,000 by 2031.

Because of population growth and escalating property values in the area, the suburban school district has the fiscal capacity to authorize the bond package without increasing its property tax rate of $0.39 per $100 valuation, according to a presentation made by a community bond advisory committee.

"People move here because of the schools and people continue to move here, which is why we need to renovate our aging campuses and build new schools," a Katy community member said at Monday's school board meeting before trustees voted. "Please support the bond package and put it in front of the community."

The bond package includes four propositions that will be on the ballot. Proposition A is to authorize nearly $723 million for four new schools in Katy ISD, the purchase of additional school sites, renovations and expansions for 26 existing campuses, 84 safety and security updates, 62 building component replacements and new buses.

Proposition B is for more than $83 million in districtwide classroom and campus technology upgrades, while Proposition C is for nearly $4.2 million in improvements to competition swimming pools in the district. Proposition D is to authorize nearly $30 million for repairs to Rhodes Stadium as well as upgrades to campus athletic facilities across the district.

All six of the community members who spoke about the bond package expressed support for it, with three of them highlighting a need for increased security measures.

Six of Katy ISD's seven elected board members voted to accept the proposal by the bond advisory committee, which noted that not passing the bond package could result in campus overcrowding and potential cost increases in the future if interest rates and construction expenses go up. That also could put strain on Katy ISD's general operating fund.

Board member Morgan Calhoun initially voted to approve the bond package but later asked to have her vote changed, adding that she made a mistake. Calhoun said she doesn't want the district to take on more debt.

After approving a bond package totaling $748 million in 2014 – the current record for the district – Katy ISD voters approved $609.2 million in bonds in 2017 and a $676.2 million bond package in 2021.

"It feels like we've maxed out our credit cards," Calhoun said. "Instead of paying the bill, we're maxing out more credit cards. This is concerning."

The bond advisory committee noted in its presentation that because of the population growth and rising property values in the Katy ISD, the district also would have the capacity to authorize an additional $850 million in bonds in 2026 without needing to raise its current property tax rate.