Voters Approve HISD Bond Proposition
Thirty-eight Houston Independent School District campuses, including 28 of the city’s high schools, will be rebuilt or renovated under a bond proposition that won voter approval on Tuesday.
The $1.89 billion measure passed by an overwhelming margin, based on early and absentee voting totals released Tuesday night by the Harris County Clerk’s office. Those early returns showed the HISD bond proposition leading with 66 percent of the vote with nearly 200,000 ballots cast.
“Houston voters sent a message today that all children, regardless of where they live, deserve to attend quality school in quality buildings that offer our great teachers the tools they need to prepare students for a successful future,” said Trustee Michael Lunceford, president of the HISD Board of Education. “The new schools that will be built because of this vote will benefit today’s students, their future children, and even their grandchildren.”
HISD asked voters to consider the bond proposition after an independent evaluation of the district’s facilities showed that the average Houston high school is more than 50 years old and lacks the proper infrastructure to support modern technology and teaching strategies. The evaluation found that the cost of maintaining these deteriorating schools would soon surpass the replacement cost. Past HISD bond measures, including the 2007 plan that was passed with 51 percent of the vote, have focused on the district’s elementary and middle schools.
Because of the large amount of construction included in the 2012 bond proposition, HISD will spread the work out over the next six to eight years. This approach will help control costs and allow the district to gradually phase in a 4.85-cent property tax rate increase over the next five years. The district will soon seek bids from firms interested in performing the architectural design and engineering work on the first batch of projects. The list of school projects to be included in the first phase of construction is being developed with an eye toward breaking ground on at least one project in each geographic district within HISD around the same time. Construction work is expected to begin in 2014.
“When this work is finished, Houston will boast the most modern portfolio of urban high school campuses in America,” Superintendent Terry Grier said. “For years, HISD has been a national model for other urban school districts that are striving to simultaneously close the achievement gap while raising the level of achievement of all students, including the highest performers. Thanks to Houston’s voters, we will finally have quality campuses to fully support our students’ strong academic progress.”
Projects funded though the bond proposition include:
New campuses for 20 high schools
- High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
- North Early College
- Sam Houston
- South Early College
Partially replacing 4 high schools
- Young Men’s College Prep Academy
- Young Women’s College Prep Academy
Renovating 4 high schools
- Sharpstown International
Converting 5 elementary schools into K-8 campuses
- Garden Oaks Montessori
- Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion School at Gordon
- Pilgrim Academy
- Wharton Dual Language School
- Wilson Montessori
Building 3 new elementary school campuses
- Relief school on the west side
Replacing/completing 2 new middle school campuses
- Grady (new addition to complete new campus)
- Dowling (new campus)
In addition, the bond includes funds that would improve conditions for students in all HISD schools. This includes:
- $100 million for district-wide technology improvements
- $44.7 million to replace regional field houses and improve athletic facilities
- $35 million to renovate middle school restrooms
- $17.3 million for district-wide safety and security improvements
The Board of Education has also agreed to rebuild two schools – Condit Elementary and High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice – either through the sale of surplus district property, or by using any potential leftover bond funds.