HISD to Hold Public Workshops for Possible Bond Election
The HISD Board of Education will meet on Tuesday to discuss details of a possible bond referendum that aims to address facility needs at schools in neighborhoods across the district.
Forty-two schools across Houston, including 24 high schools, would be rebuilt, renovated, or renewed under a recommended bond package presented for the HISD Board of Education’s consideration last month.
The board must decide by Aug. 9 whether to seek approval of the $1.89 billion proposal from Houston Independent School District voters during the Nov. 6 general election.
The board will meet to discuss the plan at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 10, and at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 12. Both public workshop meetings will take place at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 W. 18th Street.
While including nearly $225 million in recommended projects that would benefit students at all 279 schools in the district, the proposed bond package focuses heavily on the city’s high schools.
HISD’s most recent bond programs approved by voters in 1998, 2002 and 2007 have primarily addressed needs at the elementary school level. The average age of HISD secondary schools now stands at 50 years, compared to 39 years for the district’s elementary schools.
The proposed bond package would completely rebuild some of Houston’s most historic neighborhood high schools across the city, while others would undergo renovations and renewals. The proposal also includes new campuses for some of HISD’s prestigious specialty magnet schools, including the nationally renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. The new HSPVA would be built downtown near Houston’s vaunted Theater District on land that HISD already owns at 1300 Capitol Street.
The proposal calls for $1.67 billion to be spent on improvements at 42 schools. This would cover:
$577 million to completely replace 8 high schools
High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Booker T. Washington
$354 million to replace the inadequate facilities at 4 high schools
$259 million to replace inadequate facilities and renovate 5 high schools
$27 million to build 2 new early college high schools
North Early College
South Early College
$61 million to renovate or renew 10 high schools
Young Men’s College Prep
Young Women’s College Prep
$121 million to convert 4 elementary schools into K-8 campuses
Wharton Dual Language
Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School at Gordon
$74 million to replace Dowling Middle School and expand Grady Middle School
$126 million to replace 5 elementary schools
$67 million to renovate and make building additions at K. Smith Elementary, replace inadequate facilities and renovate Tijerina Elementary, and build a new elementary school on the district’s west end to reduce overcrowding
The proposed $225 million in district wide projects would cover:
Technology upgrades at all HISD schools ($100 million)
District athletic facility improvements ($42.7 million)
Middle school restroom renovations ($35 million)
Safety and security improvements ($27 million)
Land acquisition ($20 million)
The proposal was developed after a review of HISD’s facilities by Parsons, an independent firm that specializes in the assessment, design, and project management of education facilities. Click here to review documents related to the proposal.
Because of the district’s strong fiscal management practices, HISD has been able to maintain the lowest property tax rate of the 20-plus school districts in Harris County.
If an election is called, and voters approve the bond package, HISD would likely adopt a property tax rate increase in the future. This tax rate increase would have no impact on the homesteads of HISD residents age 65 and older, because their tax rates are frozen for as long as the tax payer maintains the same residence.
HISD estimates that the tax rate increase would be phased in over a 4-year period, beginning with an estimated 2-cent increase in 2014. This would result in an additional $29 in yearly taxes for the owner of a home valued at $200,000. By 2017, the total tax rate increase resulting from the bond’s passage would reach 6.85 cents, raising the average tax bill by $99 a year.
School construction and renovation work approved by HISD voters in 2007 is nearing completion under budget. So far, HISD has opened 16 new or replacement schools under that bond program, six more new schools are under construction, and two more are in the planning stage. More than 100 HISD campuses have undergone renovations so far.