HISD Board of Education Calls Election to Rebuild
Houston’s High Schools
Vote set for Nov. 6 on proposal to renovate 38 schools
in neighborhoods across Houston, upgrade technology in all HISD classrooms, and
August 9, 2012 – Houston
voters will decide in November whether to approve a bond referendum to
modernize outdated high school buildings and build new schools to meet
students’ needs across the city.
The HISD Board of Education
approved calling an election on the bond proposal by a vote of 8-1.
Trustee Greg Meyers voted against the proposal.
The proposal seeks voter approval
of a $1.89 billion plan to address the most serious facility needs in 38
schools. The proposal would:
Provide new campuses for 20 high schools
High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
North Early College
South Early College
Partially replace 4 high schools
Young Men’s College Prep Academy
Young Women’s College Prep Academy
Convert 5 elementary schools into K-8
Garden Oaks Montessori
Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion School at
Wharton Dual Language School
Build 3 new elementary school campuses
Relief school on the west side
Replace/complete 2 new middle school campuses
Grady (new addition to complete new campus)
Dowling (new campus)
addition, the proposed measure would include funds that would improve
conditions for students in all HISD schools. Those proposals include:
- $100 million for district-wide technology
- $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
The Board of Education also agreed
to rebuild two schools – Condit Elementary and High School for Law Enforcement
and Criminal Justice – either through the sale surplus district property, or by
using any potential leftover bond funds.
If approved by voters, design
work of the new schools would begin in early 2013 and the first construction
projects would start in 2014.
While including millions of dollars
in recommended projects that would benefit students at all 279 schools in the
district, the proposed bond package focuses heavily -- $1.36 billion -- on the
city’s high schools. HISD’s most recent bond programs approved by voters in
1998, 2002 and 2007 primarily addressed needs at the elementary school
level. The average age of HISD secondary schools now stands at 50 years,
compared to 39 years for the district’s primary schools.
Many of these schools were designed
to meet the needs of students more than half a century ago and are no longer
able to accommodate the best instructional approaches for helping today’s
students meet rising academic expectations, according to independent school
facilities experts who recently assessed HISD schools.
Modern schools feature design
elements that are shown to positively impact student achievement. Some of these
- Greater classroom configuration flexibility to
help teachers differentiate their approaches to meet the needs of each child
- Classroom designs that encourage collaborative
- Improved access to technology
- Infrastructure for the latest career and
technical education programs
- Lab spaces that offer hands-on science learning
Historic neighborhood schools
and prestigious schools of choice to be replaced
The proposed bond package would
completely rebuild some of Houston’s most historic neighborhood high schools
across the city. The proposal also includes new campuses 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 would be built
downtown near Houston’s vaunted Theater District on land that HISD already owns
at 1300 Capitol. HISD is working on an agreement that would allow the district
to build DeBakey on property within the Texas Medical Center.
Exteriors of architecturally important schools to
The bond proposal recognizes the
importance of protecting the character of some of HISD’s historic neighborhood
high schools. Some new schools will maintain their existing building structures
while their interiors are transformed. These schools include Austin, Davis,
Lamar, and Milby.
Some of the schools recommended for
major construction work are among those that had renovations under the 2007
bond program. In many of those cases, the previously completed work will
be incorporated into the new building design.
Even with the many projects included
in the bond proposal, HISD schools still have many additional facility needs
that remain unaddressed. Those needs will be identified as HISD moves
forward with developing a comprehensive long-range capital improvement plan.
Property tax implications
Because of the district’s strong
fiscal management practices, HISD has been able to maintain the lowest property
tax rate of the 20-plus school districts in Harris County. In addition,
HISD is among the few districts in Texas that offer an optional 20 percent
homestead exemption on top of the standard $15,000 exemption that other school
If an election is called, and
voters approve the bond package, HISD would likely adopt a property tax rate
increase in the future. This tax rate increase would have no impact on
the homesteads of HISD residents age 65 and older, because their tax rates are
HISD anticipates gradually phasing
in a tax rate increase that in 2017 would reach a maximum of 4.85 cents per
$100 of taxable value. For the owner of the average HISD home with a market
value of $198,936, this would mean a monthly cost of $5.83, or $70 per
year. Under this estimate, the property tax rate would increase by 1
penny in 2014, another penny in 2016, and 2.85 cents in 2017.
This estimated tax rate impact is
lower than previously estimated. There are two primary reasons for the revised
- HISD’s certified 2013 tax roll has increased
since the initial estimate was made.
- A projected 1 percent annual increase in HISD
property values through 2028.
School construction and renovation
work approved by HISD voters in 2007 is nearing completion under budget. When
the school year begins later this month, HISD will have opened 20 new or
replacement schools under that bond program, 2 more new schools are under
construction, and 2 are in the planning stage. More than 100 HISD
campuses have undergone renovations so far. Click here for more detailed
information about the work completed under the 2007 bond program.
Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in
Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 279 schools and more
than 203,000 students. The 301-square-mile district is one of the largest employers
in the Houston metropolitan area with nearly 30,000 employees.
For more information,
visit the HISD website at www.houstonisd.org.