Houston Independent School District superintendent Dr. Abe Saavedra is taking his $805 million bond proposal on the road, using an aging and under-sized campus on the city’s south side as a prime example of why he says HISD needs more money to fix or replace schools. Here’s more from Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams.
At the Carnegie Vanguard High School just east of Highway 288, Saavedra is surprised to see a 40-year-old air conditioner, humming away inside a classroom. It has years of mold and gunk built up inside.
“Yeah, I would say that is a pretty old piece of equipment. I don’t know what else they could do to it.” “They could not find a replacement so they have to come in constantly and make repairs to it.” “Yeah, that’s pretty old stuff.”
Saavedra is on a tour of the Vanguard campus, built as an elementary school but now home to around 380 advanced high school students who are stuffed into a facility that’s falling apart. Saavedra is hoping voters agree that HISD needs to complete the third phase of a bond program that began in 1998.
“Really, the question is would we want any of our children to come into a school and deal with this kind of situation as far as air conditioners or cattle panel that we have up there. We need a better facility. That’s all there is to it.”
Voters will have the final say on the $805 million bond issue on November 6th, money that would be used to replace 22 schools and repair 133 others. He says the scene at Carnegie Vanguard is repeated all over the district.
“The idea of the three bond issues, this being the third and final installment, is because we have many schools, about a third of our schools, that have not been touched in improvement of facilities, at least not very much. This is not unique to this school. There will be over 100 schools in some kind of similar situation.”
“The students call this our “cafalockagymnatorium”. This is our cafeteria. We also house half of our lockers at the back of the cafeteria, which takes-up substantial space. It’s also our gymnasium during inclement weather. And of course the kitchen is at the back.”
Carnegie Vanguard Principal Ramon Moss says voters might be surprised where some of the district’s best and brightest are going to school.
“There’s always a lot of emphasis on test scores and when they see a program as successful as ours. Without actually seeing the physical facility they would probably have no clue what our needs are.”
The school is on the list for replacement under the bond proposal, which would raise the property tax rate by about 3 cents.