Voters approved the Richardson ISD $437 million bond package Saturday, with 67% voting for and 33% voting against. Incumbent Kris Oliver defeated challenger George Clayton by earning 73% of votes cast, while newcomer Katie Patterson and incumbent Eron Linn strode in unopposed.
Overall, turnout was light (fewer than 10,000 votes were cast), but in pockets of Lake Highlands, voters showed up in larger numbers to make their voices heard. In White Rock Valley, where some vote at White Rock Elementary and some at Northlake, turnout exceeded 20% of eligible voters. At White Rock’s precinct 2066, voters defeated the bond measure 53% to 47%, expressing the dissatisfaction they had expressed for months regarding overcrowding at WRE and an unclear path by RISD on how to fix the problem. Though RISD has purchased the land at White Rock Trail at Walnut Hill for the construction of an elementary school, the neighborhood has expressed their concerns about safety and traffic at that site and their worries about property values if school boundaries are redrawn.
Voters at Moss Haven Elementary also had strong opinions. Precinct 1007 voters passed the bond 89% to 11% with 14% of registered voters turning out. Moss Haven parents had active participation, also, on an RISD growth survey in April, with a majority preferring the construction of new K-6 schools over a 5th/6th model. (RISD trustees have since announced their preference for a K-6 plan and have jettisoned the idea of putting 5th/6th centers on the FMJH and LHJH campuses.)
Justin Bono, one of two RISD school board members living in Lake Highlands, expressed gratitude to voters and a readiness to move forward.
“Tonight was a victory for the students, staff, and families of RISD,” said Justin after Saturday night’s tally was announced. “I am appreciative of the RISD taxpayers that they have chosen to allow this significant investment in our district. These funds allow RISD to continue to have zero deferred maintenance in our facilities, provide over $100 million to address pressing construction needs, and fund multiple enrichments for students and staff that our parents and staff have been requesting for years. Our citizens have a long history of supporting public education in their community, and I couldn’t be happier that they have passed this bond referendum at levels consistent with that historical support.”
Dr. Jeannie Stone, acting superintendent for RISD while Dr. Kay Waggoner cares for ailing family members, agreed.
“I would like to sincerely thank our parents and community for supporting students, staff and public education in RISD. We understand the value and importance of our community’s support, and on behalf of our more than 43,000 students and employees, Thank You!”
“I’m very grateful to the voters for giving me another opportunity to serve our district,” said Kris Oliver. “I’m also proud to live in a community that consistently steps up and invests in our schools.”
Jean Bono, another trustee from LH, acknowledged the need to reunify the community after sometimes contentious discussions, both during the Listening Tour and on social media.
“I am thrilled with the passage of the 2016 bond. The spirited debate surrounding this bond, particularly as it relates to growth in Lake Highlands, has been a challenge. But it has allowed us to explore the ideas and passions of our neighbors and work toward a solution. We will continue to listen to the entire RISD community in wisely investing in our schools, students and teachers. We are a strong community and I am confident we will unite in moving forward.”
One big-ticket item on the bond was $60 million to build indoor practice facilities for each of the four high schools. Wildcat Club President Roger Enlow said Lake Highlands students will benefit from the first day the center opens in LH.
“The Wildcat Club is pleased the voters approved the 2016 bond. Not only will this benefit current students at LHHS but future students as well. The Multi Purpose Facility will support approximately 80% of LH students – students who participate in band, fine arts, and athletics. This bond will be a good start to improving and expanding RISD facilities to match those we compete against.”
David Wood, English teacher at LHHS, said Wildcat teachers appreciated voters’ support.
“The Faculty of Lake Highlands High School deeply appreciates our community’s approval of the bond and regards it as not only a shared commitment to our students, but also an expression of support for your students’ teachers. Through the generosity and vision of numerous individuals, families, and groups such as PTA, Women’s League, and Wild For Cats Academic Booster Club, Lake Highlands has made great strides in providing our students with the best opportunities and facilities to succeed in academics, the arts, athletics, as well as their colleges and careers. However, our infrastructural and technological needs have exceeded our capabilities. This bond’s passing will meet not only our previous and current needs, but also those of the future. Always The School of Champions, Lake Highlands can append 21st Century to that title. So thank you again for keeping that flame and vision alive and well.”
RISD trustees are expected to make a decision soon on whether they’ll build a new elementary on the White Rock Trail site and/or find a new site. We’ll keep you posted here on the blog.