A $132 million school bond package placed on the ballot by Dripping Springs trustees passed by just 31 votes in a narrow election.
Voters cast 1,662 votes, or 50.5 percent, in favor of the bond, and cast 1,631 votes, or 49.5 percent, against according to unofficial results tallied Saturday night.
In the school board races, three incumbents, Carrie Fontana Kroll, Mary Jane Hetrick and Shannon O’Connor, were re-elected to their at-large seats. Kroll received 1,652 votes, or 25 percent; Hetrick garnered 1,598 votes, or 24 percent; O’Connor received 1,564 votes, or 24 percent. Challengers James Meeks and Sharon Armke trailed, with 897 votes and 882 votes, respectively.
The bond projects are aimed at addressing growth in the 6,464-student district, with enrollment expected to increase 6 percent per year.
The bond projects include building a new 850-student elementary school, expansion of Dripping Springs High School and the construction of a new Walnut Springs Elementary School. The bond package also provides funding for: converting the current Walnut Springs campus into space for administration offices and a child care facility; expanding the transportation facility; and maintaining current campuses and purchasing land, among other things.
District officials say the bond projects can be paid for without increasing the district’s current tax rate of $1.52 per $100 of property value. For the owner of a $350,000 home — the average home value in the Dripping Springs district — annual school property taxes in 2017 were about $5,320.
Voters in 2016 approved a so-called “tax swap” that gives the district more flexibility for funding bond projects without raising the overall tax rate. While the tax rate is expected to remain unchanged, property taxes are likely to go up next year as property values increase.