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Source : Conroe ISD Board
November 3, 2023
Author : Alex Bustillos
If your children or grandchildren are studying in the Conroe Independent School District (CISD), then this November, it is in your hands to decide the conditions in which children acquire education.
The CISD is asking voters to approve a bond proposal of $2 billion. This funding will go to meet the burgeoning student population. The student expansion until recently was just 1500 students yearly and could be easily accommodated by opening a new campus annually.
However, this expansion has exploded in the last two academic years, with the district's campuses nearly overflowing with 3,000 new students annually. To accommodate this rise in students, the administrators have rezoned schools, brought in temporary buildings, hired extra teachers, and reallocated programs to balance out the number of students in each classroom. Curtis Null, the superintendent of CISD, said that some of the district's schools are still working beyond their capacity. At the same time, a few cannot accommodate the addition of extra temporary buildings.
Curtis Null explained, " We have a whole village of portable buildings." According to a report, one elementary school has nearly 22 portable classrooms on its campus. Null added, "When you're dealing with growth, it's not just about the buildings. It's buses - we're buying twice as many new buses as we've historically gotten."
The Conroe School Board authorized a $1.9 billion bond proposal to handle the increase, and it will be on the ballot in November. Voters in Conroe will determine whether the district takes on debt totaling nearly $2 billion to build eight new schools, more classroom space, modern technology, an outdoor pool, and other campus improvements.
Early voting for the Nov. 7 election has already started in the district and state. Fourteen constitutional changes are up for vote statewide. Additionally, voters in numerous other school districts will be asked to approve bonds of a similar nature for renovations and new constructions.
In Texas, bond proposals have typically been approved by voters, with between 70% and 80% doing so annually. But in recent years, that pattern has changed. In a report by the Texas Association of School Boards in November 2021, just 46% of bond proposals were approved, which is a first for most bond bids to fail.
A state law may have brought about this change passed in 2019 that mandates school districts to say on bond ballots that "this is a property tax increase," even when raising taxes is not necessary for the district to repay the bond.
"That's what gives me optimism," Hubert said. "Originally, the bond was closer to $3 billion, but we just didn't think they'd support that much, so we pared it back."
Around 71,000 students are served by Conroe ISD. The city, among Texas's fastest-growing cities, is located in Montgomery County, 40 miles north of Houston. The district will have 100,000 students in ten years, according to demographic research conducted in 2022. The bond package for the district ranks among the biggest for all Texas school districts this year and is the largest in Conroe's history.