Measure passes by better than 2-1 margin
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 by better than a 2-1 margin on Tuesday.
The $1.89 billion measure passed with overwhelming support, earning 69 percent voter approval, according to unofficial results tabulated by the Harris County Clerk’s office. More than 312,000 ballots were cast in the election.
“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. Click here for more details about the 2012 bond package.
“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.
Historic neighborhood schools and prestigious schools of choice to be replaced
HISD will now completely rebuild some of Houston’s most historic neighborhood high schools across the city. Some replacement schools will maintain their existing building structures while their interiors are transformed. These schools include Austin, Davis, Lamar, and Milby. The remaining replacement schools, including Yates, Washington, and Lee, will be demolished and replaced with entirely new buildings. New campuses are also in the works for some of HISD’s prestigious specialty schools, including the nationally renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, DeBakey High School for Health Professions, and Eastwood Academy. All three schools made this year’s Children at Risk list of the Houston region’s Top 10 high schools.
The new HSPVA will be built downtown near Houston’s vaunted Theater District on land that HISD already owns at 1300 Capitol. DeBakey, meanwhile, will be relocated to property within the Texas Medical Center.
Each campus included in the bond package will have a Project Advisory Team made up of staff, parents, and community members, who will have input in the design and construction process to ensure that each school’s unique needs are addressed.
New schools to support continued academic achievement
Houston ISD students have made great strides in the classroom over the past several years. Click here to read more about the strong academic progress being made by HISD students.
“We know that what happens inside our classrooms is more important than the physical classrooms themselves. Our work to put effective teachers in every classroom and strong principals in every school is paying off,” Dr. Grier said.
HISD’s dropout and graduation rates are at record levels after four consecutive years of moving in the right direction. Hundreds more Houston students are scoring at the college-ready level on the SAT than at any other time in the district’s history. The same goes for the number of HISD students earning college credit through tough Advanced Placement exams, which is up 45 percent since 2009. And this year, Houston was the only Texas school district to be among the four finalists for the nation’s most prestigious education award: the Broad Prize for Urban Education.