HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – Both Hays CISD and San Marcos CISD are asking voters to pass bonds in the May election. Each of them have different propositions and price tags, but a similarity between the two is a focus on school safety and growth.

San Marcos CISD has four propositions on the ballot totaling $166 million.

  • Proposition A: attendance credit election
  • Proposition B: upgrades to all 12 campuses ($147,724,645)
  • Proposition C: turf replacement ($984,563)
  • Proposition D: district natatorium ($17,478,750)

Hays CISD has four propositions totaling more than $367 million.

  • Proposition A: academics and growth ($208,814,047)
  • Proposition B: theater and fine arts, athletics and CTE ($102,857,074)
  • Proposition C: technology ($3,980,000)
  • Proposition D: outdoor multipurpose pavilions ($52,173,445)

Safety and security measures

San Marcos CISD Chief of Communications Andrew Fernandez said their Proposition B includes several new safety measures at all 12 of their campuses.

“We want to add cameras, we want to fix the cameras we currently have. We’re also wanting to have first responder communication testing,” Fernandez said. “So what that means is when first responders walk into our buildings, we want to make sure their radios work.”

Similarly over at Hays CISD, Superintendent Dr. Eric Wright said they are also focused on districtwide security items in Proposition A.

“We have access control for keyless entry on the exterior of our buildings, and then we have additional cameras and fencing,” Dr. Wright said.

Hays CISD is also working on a pilot program to have key card access into classrooms at the new elementary school its currently building.

Addressing growth

Along with safety, the two districts said they are tackling growth as well. Fernandez said enrollment took a dip during the pandemic at SMCISD, but it bounced back these past two years.

“We’re adding capacity to all three levels, elementary, middle school in high school, and we need that capacity growth to keep up with the enrollment increase that we’ve seen over the last few years,” said Fernandez.

Dr. Wright said increasing capacity is one of Hays CISD’s main focuses. He said recently, their student projections for 2030-2031 went from around 32,000 to 39,000 because of all the new homes being built.

“It has the construction fees for elementary number 17 and it also has the design fees for elementary number 18 in there to keep pace with our elementary growth,” Wright said. “We’re really seeing that we’re already over capacity at our high school level. And so our Johnson High School that we just opened that I just mentioned is already over capacity. So we’re looking at adding about 600 seats on to that school.”

Cost to taxpayer

Fernandez said if all four of SMCISD’s propositions pass, there would be a tax rate increase of one cent. It would make next school year’s rate $1.14.

“What that means for a taxpayer for $350,000 home is an annual increase of $31 and a monthly increase of $2.58,” Fernandez said. “The average home here in San Marcos is right around $380,000 to $390,000.”

Dr. Wright said if HCISD’s propositions pass, there wouldn’t be a tax rate increase.

SMCISD’s attendance credit election

Fernandez said Proposition A is a need and not a want for the district. It asks voters to allow the board of trustees to purchase attendance credits from the state with local tax revenue.

“Our property values have grown rapidly and our enrollment has not grown as quickly as our appraisals,” said Fernandez.

Fernandez said if this proposition does not pass, the state can come in and “detach property from San Marcos CISD.”

“We could actually lose the property value of Amazon, the outlets, HEB, the big companies in San Marcos,” Fernandez said.

Early voting hasn’t brought out crowds of people to vote on these propositions just yet.

As of Thursday, only about 1.6% of registered voters in Hays County have cast their ballot according to data from the elections department.

Still, both districts said they are hopeful more will show up ahead of Election Day on May 6.