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FORNEY, Texas — Forney Independent School District (ISD) voters approved a $1.29 billion aimed at addressing "staggering" growth in the district boundaries, this according to unofficial election results released by the county on Saturday night.

And, on the city side of the ballot, longstanding Forney City Council Place 3 incumbent Robbie Powers appears to have been unseated by challenger Sandi Primous by a mere one vote — 751 to 750 — numbers too close to call. This however could change with a six-day deadline for the county election's office to receive absentee mail-in ballots.

Powers, who has served on the council for 16 years, having been first elected in 2006, recently came under fire for her "no" vote to conduct a forensic audit of the city's finances — calling the audit "political." No such audit had ever been conducted of the city's finances. That audit, released Tuesday, revealed a number of contracts awarded by the City of Forney had skirted state procurement and bidding laws.

Mayor Pro-Tem James Traylor fended off challenger Kalen Boren with 56.37% of the vote, or 836 to 647 votes — a safe margin of victory before ballot certification.

Place 5 incumbent Zahnd Schlensker ran unopposed and received 1,185 votes.

A city proposition on the ballot to transition the city's police and fire department's to Civil Service was handily approved with 88.8% voters for the referendum.

On the Forney ISD school board, Position 6 Trustee Becky Dobbs defeated challengers Erika Price and Garet "Freedom" McInroe with 48.75% of the total vote, or 1,695 votes. Price obtained 45.01% with 1,565 votes and McInroe received 6.24% and 217 votes.

Position 7 Challenger Katrina Black unseated incumbent Christopher Andrews, 53.69% to 46.31%, respectively.

Early voting tallies and early Election Day returns saw the school district's bond approval rating over 91%. As the remaining ballot boxes were received by the county election office, the referendum ultimately passed with 65.83% approval, or 2,383 votes to 1,237 votes — the largest such bond approved by the district aimed at addressing what district officials described as "staggering" growth.

"Unprecedented enrollment growth is expected in the next few years as housing demands have increased across Forney," Forney ISD previously stated in the run-up to the election. "The latest quarterly enrollment report forecasts a staggering 25,000 students in five years, and 35,000 students by 2031."

That report is based on the latest data of housing starts, inventory, land use and enrollment trends presented by leading demographer Zonda Education, according to the district.

Of the $1.294 billion, $347 million is earmarked for the construction of five new elementary/early childhood schools, an OC early childhood addition, and a Claybon Elementary School addition.

$889 million is earmarked for four new middle/intermediate schools, renovations at Warren Middle School, renovations and additions at Brown Middle School, The OC Phase 2 for additional high school capacity, and a third high school campus.

$58 million is earmarked for district facilities and improvements including land acquisition for new facilities, district-wide capital improvements, a transportation center, and additional Forney Learning Academy space.

The district said passage of the bond package would not increase the district's tax rate, which currently sits at $1.37. Over the last three years, that rate had been lowered 17 cents.

Three years ago, in November 2019, voters approved a $623 million bond referendum with a 73% approval rating. With those funds, growth revenue, and savings, the district has opened three new schools — Rhodes Intermediate, Jackson Middle School, and Griffin Elementary. Additionally, two campuses will open in Fall 2022, Willett Elementary and the new Johnson Elementary, and the Keith Bell Opportunity Central, which broke ground earlier this year, is scheduled to open in 2023.

Of the projects in the 2019 bond referendum, the district says all will be completed by Fall 2024.

And, due to under budget construction projects, Forney ISD plans to open a tenth elementary school, add a gym and tornado shelter to Rhea and Smith Intermediate campuses, and an expansion of the transportation hub at North Forney High School.

In addition to these bond projects, Forney ISD announced equitable master plans that include 9th grade expansions for Forney High and North Forney High.

“We had a diverse group of 55 citizens from students and parents to staff to business and community leaders who volunteered their time to serve on our 2022 Facilities Planning Committee," stated Superintendent Dr. Justin Terry. "They studied new enrollment projections, current facility capacities, budgets, construction costs and more before creating and recommending a bond package to our school board. I appreciate their dedication and careful consideration in planning for our students’ future.”

“No matter where you look, you’ll see growth in Forney. Enrollment increases are occurring across the district every day. We have exceeded the enrollment projections for 2021-2022, and we anticipate another 2,400 new students to FISD next year,” stated Terry.

The unofficial election results will next be reviewed and canvassed by the respective governing boards, typically, at a special-called meeting following the absentee mail-in ballot deadlines.