Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD voters sent a clear message in 2022: Their school district had to make do with what it had.
They overwhelmingly voted against a $275 million bond proposal that included a call for the construction of two new elementary schools, replace equipment in existing campuses and purchase land for future school sites to deal with an incoming boom in enrollment. Nonetheless, the school district – which includes Blue Mound, Saginaw and portions of Fort Worth and unincorporated northwest Tarrant County – is still growing.
Managing that growth is on the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD school board, which will include two freshman members after the May 6 election. Voters will decide who will sit in the Place 6 and Place 7 seats on the at-large school board after two longtime incumbents passed on another three-year term.
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD trustees Elizabeth Lopez Hatley and Donna Webb decided not to run for reelection. Hately has served as Place 6 trustee since 2014 and Webb had the Place 7 seat since 2008.
Currently, 23,093 students attend Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD. In a decade, the district expects to gain 6,838 students pushing enrollment to 29,931, according to a report from demographer group Zonda Education. That is a nearly 30% increase.
Early voting starts April 24 and ends May 2. Election Day is May 6.
Candidates Ron Franklin, a retired choir teacher, and Trent Hill, a Fort Worth police officer, are running for Place 6.
Occupation: retired choir teacher
Family: wife and four daughters
Franklin sees the growth as a positive. However, managing it will be a challenge after the 2022 bond failed, he said.
Franklin served on the committee that formed the 2022 bond. He said he would propose a new bond to increase the capacities of existing campuses and build new schools.
Some campuses, such as Saginaw High School, were built with the intention to add wings to meet population growth, Franklin said.
Four elementary, two middle schools and three high schools are expected to be over capacity in the next 10 years. Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD has 17 elementary schools, six middle schools and three high schools.
Hill, who grew up in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, agreed with his opponent that schools need more space to fit a growing enrollment.
Occupation: Fort Worth Police officer
He said funds should also be used to update schools and technology. Hill did not have a specific proposal for how to add additional money to upgrade schools. He said he needed to be on the school board to better understand the district’s finances.
Board members need to have discussions with leaders in Fort Worth, Saginaw, Blue Mound and Tarrant County so that they can improve infrastructure, such as sidewalks and light fixtures, in existing schools.
“If there are ways we can allocate funds from one particular area to another without interfering in a child’s education path, I’m all for it,” he said.
Blake Mabry, an independent contractor for Lone Star Outdoor Creations, and Misty Kieschnick, a teacher’s aide for Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD’s Alternative Discipline Center, are running for Place 7.
Occupation: independent contractor for Lone Star Outdoor Creations
Family: wife, daughter and two sons
Opening more schools is the only way to manage the district’s growth, said Mabry, who served on the 2022 bond committee. He said this can solve overcrowded schools, such as Wayside Middle School.
Most residents are wary of bond programs because some think it will raise property taxes, Mabry said. He said that is untrue. However, higher appraisals are increasing most homeowner’s tax bills.
“In order for districts to have both successful academic and extracurricular programs you have to propose bonds,” Mabry said.
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD’s current property tax rate is $1.4346 per $100 valuation. While the rate was a 2.29 cent decrease, taxpayers paid more because of the increase in property tax appraisals.
The net taxable value of all properties in the district increased from $11.8 billion in 2021 to $13.7 billion — a 15% jump.
The current home in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD has an average net taxable value of $240,116. That homeowner’s school district tax bill would be $3,444.70 — an increase of $244.79 from last year.
Occupation: teacher’s aide
Family: husband and two daughters
Kieschnick agreed with her opponent on the misconceptions of bond programs. She said she would support a bond to build more schools, but can understand why some residents are hesitant.
A day before the 2022 bond election, Kieschnick saw a Facebook post from a resident spreading misinformation about the bond, she said. Posts like that may have led to the bond’s failure, Kieschnick said.
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD needs to be more transparent about the projects in these bond proposals and talk to residents more, she said.
“Our property taxes have gone up in the area, but I believe educating the public on where the tax dollars are going is really crucial,” she said.
Taylor Coit is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.