HISD moving forward with $1.89 billion bond program

Thanks to voters, the Houston Independent School District is moving forward with a $1.89 billion plan to rebuild and renovate schools across the city with district officials kicking off the first phase of a construction program that is expected to last up to eight years.

Within the next few weeks, HISD will open the solicitation process with its Request for Qualifications (RFQs) from architectural and engineering firms interested in doing business with HISD. This RFQ is the first step to winning a contract and an important milestone in the district’s plan to ensure a quality construction program. 

The list of school projects to be included in the first phase of construction is being developed with an eye toward breaking ground in 2014 on at least one project in each HISD geographic district.

On Election Day, as an overwhelming majority of Houstonians backed the bond, Superintendent Terry Grier pledged that the work promised by the 2012 bond would be done on time, on budget, and result in buildings that will give Houston “the most modern portfolio of urban high school campuses in America.”

“This bond’s a game changer,” he said. “This is going to change the lives of our students and of future generations of students. It’s going to change our city with increased property values and more jobs.”

HISD will continue its commitment to promoting diversity among the firms doing business with the district.  Participation of minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) in HISD’s 2007 bond program exceeded the district’s goal by 14 percent.

HISD wants to continue that track record of success, and will host various outreach events in the coming months to ensure all firms seeking to win an HISD contract understand how they can participate in the bidding process.

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. 

Trustee Michael Lunceford, president of the HISD Board of Education, said the bond program will help ensure that all students, regardless of their ZIP code, have access to a quality education in a building that supports modern technology and teaching strategies.

“The new schools that will be built because of this vote will benefit today’s students, their future children, and even their grandchildren,” he said.

The 2012 bond will include significant construction at 38 schools, either slated to be replaced or renovated. In addition, schools across the district will benefit from $100 million in technology upgrades, $44.7 million in athletic facility improvements, $35 million for middle school restroom renovations, and $17.3 in safety and security upgrades.