The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Thursday approved a plan allowing nearly $99.1 million in forecasted bond surplus to be used for outstanding needs at bond campuses across the district.
About $20.3 million of the projected surplus comes from addition and renovation projects, while about $52 million comes from new school projects. Another $12 million in surplus comes from districtwide projects and $14.8 million from construction contingency.
The board approved the measure during a Thursday morning workshop at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center.
Specifically, the plan allows nine renovated schools to keep their respective surplus funds — about $20.3 million total. As a result, Northside High School will be able to retain about $6.6 million to address programmatic needs to fulfill the original goal of the bond program. Pilgrim Academy will be able to use its surplus funds to add classrooms to manage ongoing growth at the campus. At Wilson Montessori, the fund will cover additional renovations in the main building.
The proposal also redirects the nearly $52 million in forecasted bond surplus funds from new school projects to 16 designated bond campuses. This realignment helps the district ensure those 16 bond projects are completed as described to voters in the 2012 election. Voters overwhelmingly approved the bond referendum calling for the reconstruction or renovation of 40 schools, including 29 high schools.
In an April 20 board workshop, trustees discussed the bond surplus and considered how best to utilize those dollars. The proposal that was voted on Thursday follows that discussion and an extensive review of projects and their specific needs.
“Since the start of the bond program, we’ve been hearing about what’s important to our school communities,” said HISD Board President Wanda Adams. “This plan addresses those priorities and benefits our students across the district.”
The bond surplus funding will be used to ensure the new Milby, Washington, and Yates high schools all have swimming pools, as their original buildings do. At Bellaire High School, funds will be used to ensure the new school will have enough classrooms to accommodate up to 3,100 students, as approved by voters. Both Westbury High School and Lawson Middle School will see money redirected to their fine arts magnet programs. At Waltrip High School, the additional funds will allow for a renovation of the cafeteria and to ensure Title IX compliance. Yates High School will receive funding to ensure its communications magnet program has needed infrastructure and equipment.
“We are pleased that the team has been able to find savings in the program,” said HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza. “This forecasted surplus gives us the ability to keep our promises to Houston voters by ensuring all of our bond campuses receive the funding they need to address academic, fine arts, and athletics programming.”
The district was able to forecast savings because all of the projects within the 2012 Bond program are now under construction contract. By the start of the 2017-2018 school year, the district will have completed and opened nearly 50 percent of all projects. The new schools set to open this August are DeBakey High School for Health Professions, Mickey Leland College Preparatory Academy for Young Men, Sharpstown International School, and Milby, Furr, Kashmere, Wisdom, and Waltrip high schools.
“The progress of the 2012 Bond program is a testament to the leadership and hard work of our bond team and all of the school principals and Project Advisory Team members who have guided and supported the process,” said Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby. “We are excited about bringing more schools across the finish line in the coming months.”
An estimated $12 million in surplus funds from districtwide projects will be used to enhance safety and security at campuses not currently part of the 2012 Bond program.