Four districts are asking voters to borrow tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to build new schools or expand existing ones. Superintendents say major upgrades are necessary to keep pace with the explosive population growth in the area.
Liberty Hill ISD has bond propositions totaling nearly $492 million. Hays Consolidated ISD wants to borrow around $238 million. School-related propositions in Jarrell total about $113 million and in Burnet County $52.5 million.
Among the highlights of these proposals are a second high school in Liberty Hill, which the superintendent says will need to open by 2025 if the current pace of growth continues. That district also wants to build two new elementary schools and a middle school.
In Hays County, school officials want to build a brand new elementary school in the Sunfield section of Buda. A new elementary school is also proposed in Jarrell. In Burnet County, the district plans to expand Bertram Elementary’s capacity by 250 students.
In all four of these districts, voters will decide whether to borrow money to improve athletic facilities. There are also technology upgrades and renovations to older buildings planned for several schools.
Superintendents cite soaring enrollment as the reason these projects can’t wait.
"The amount of growth we're going to have won't allow us to move it down the road," said Liberty Hill ISD Superintendent Steven Snell. "We have a great timeline planned out should the enrollment projections stay on course, which we're very certain that they will. Lots of work has been put into the analytics behind the bond that made these decisions. So we know when houses are going to be completed, where they're going to be, and where we need those classroom spaces for those students."
District officials say another reason to tackle these projects sooner rather than later is the high cost of construction. They say building materials and labor are at a premium right now, and the demand and cost for them is only expected to go up in the years to come.