By Joseph W. Samuels
To ensure a better tomorrow, we must begin building today. The $805 million bond proposal to be voted on in the November 6, 2007 general election is just the tool needed to build better educational centers throughout the Houston Independent School District (HISD).
HISD, the largest school district in Texas and the seventh largest in the nation, has proudly served Houston’s children for the past 84 years and is in need of renovation, repair and expansion as more than half of the existing schools on average are 43 years old.
Over A Decade Of Commitment
HISD has proposed a series of three bonds over a decade that would fund school replacements, renovations, and security improvements throughout the district. Voters overwhelmingly approved the bonds proposed in 1998 and 2002. The third in the series is aimed at renovating, repairing, and replacing aging school facilities. It would not require an increase in the district’s tax rate, which is one of the lowest in Harris County, and it is worthy of the same level of support as its predecessors. In 1998, HISD began a systematic and objective approach to rebuilding or repairing school buildings that would be completed in three phases. Independent teams of architects and engineers assessed every HISD facility and the district’s future building needs have been established. HISD has completed the first two phases of its capital improvement plan, yet approximately one-third of its schools have not received any improvements. The schools selected for inclusion in the proposed 2007 bond program were rated on their physical condition and the educational suitability of their learning spaces. All of the district’s buildings were evaluated on the adequacy of the educational environment, their overall physical condition, and their expected service life. Schools were then ranked on the basis of these factors, and the facilities with the greatest repair needs were given highest priority.
Under the proposal, every school in the district will receive safety and security upgrades, including new fencing, security cameras, public address systems, and other security enhancements. All middle- and high-school science labs will be updated and improved. Twenty-four new schools will be built to relieve overcrowding, to replace aging facilities that would be too costly to repair, to replace outdated facilities with low enrollments, to replace and consolidate older buildings, and to provide facilities for two early college high schools (one additional early college high school will be in a renovated facility). In addition, 134 schools—or almost half of HISD’s 300 schools—will be renovated and/or expanded, four more schools would be both renovated and expanded, and the infrastructure and accessibility at Barnett, Butler, and Delmar Stadiums would be improved.
Why Should You Support The Bond?
HISD’s performance in the two previous bond projects demonstrated its ability to carry out such a large-scale facilities-improvement project effectively and economically. In fact, HISD completed the original scope of work at a significant saving, allowing the district to build one additional new school and repair nine others. The Bond Oversight Committee composed of community and business leaders reinforces a high level of fiscal responsibility and would continue to ensure that Houston’s taxpayers get the most for their money. To learn more or volunteer visit www.hisdbond.com.
Reprinted with permission from Jewish Herald-Voice