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Dallas School Board Approves Record-Breaking Bond Proposal

Carrington Tatum /
Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa

The Dallas school board has approved the largest bond proposal in Texas history. Voters will consider a $3.7 billion package this fall.

The plan, worked out over the past several years and tweaked this summer, is more than twice as big as any previous bond package from the Dallas school district. Approved by an 8 to 0 vote Thursday, its focus on racial equity will put funds in low income parts of town that have long deserved more. Trustee Dan Micciche said this package may finally get things right.

"For decades we have bond programs that were insufficient to meet our needs. While this is a big bond, it is consistent with our needs. It is about time the city make the commitment that our kids deserve the same kind of facilities that kids in the suburbs have," Micciche said.

This package includes a performing arts center and a natatorium, though their location hasn't been determined.

Trustee Joyce Foreman said she is worried about timing, in a pandemic. She did not cast a vote.

"We need a bond, but maybe not this bond," Foreman said. "We’re calling an election for the largest bond ever during the greatest time of risk and uncertainty probably in our country."

Frequent board critic Bill Betzen often sides with Foreman, but not this time. He said he likes the plan. He said the district must carefully manage COVID-19 though, not just for the health of the kids and teachers, but the success of the bond.

"Please, if you make mistakes over the next 60 days, I’m fearful the voters are going to hold it against us when it comes to the bond election, and I do not want that to happen," Betzen said.

If the package passes, trustees say the tax rate won't change, but it will increase the district's debt load. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the bond timing is right because interest rates are extremely low. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.