HISD Bond Referendum Will Go To Voters In November

The $1.89 billion proposal would provide new campuses for 20 high schools, partially replace or renovate 8 high schools, convert 5 elementary schools into K-8 campuses, build 3 new elementary schools, and replace and upgrade 2 middle school campuses.

State representative Sylvester Turner was the first of some 67 people signed up to speak their minds on the largest bond proposal in the history of the HISD.

"Many times, when students and parents are zoned to a particular school, they will go to the schools where their needs can be met. And so in this bond proposal when you made the reduction, you penalize them for what they have failed to have in the past, to make them competitive."

Nancy Lomax, a longtime volunteer with Parents for Public Schools, urged trustees to delay the referendum for political reasons.

"I just feel like the radical libertarianism, tea partyism that seems to be prevelant in our state at this time, makes me concerned that if the bond failed, we would have to wait five years or whatever, to be brave enough to try it again."

Principals and parents pleaded for modern schools. Susan Elmore told the board that a campus was a reflection of students who attend.

"Facilities that are run down, really have a huge impact on the moral of our children and their ability concentrate and study. And I've spent numerous times in the past, trying to encourage my children to forget about the heat and the inconvenience and the poor facilities and focus on what's important."

Trustee Greg Meyers cast the lone dissenting vote, saying the plan had been rushed with little detail.

"My role, and this is my personal view, is if I vote for something, I'm voting number one, for the sanctity of a process, ensuring that what I vote for is exactly what I'm supporting. And I'm having difficulty supporting this." 

Selling the public on passing the referendum November 6th will now be up to Bobby and Phoebe Tudor, co-chairs of Citizens for Better Schools.

"We're gonna hit the ground running. We're putting together a committee, trying to get a large group, a diverse group from around the city, to show support for this bond. That it's a bold vision for Houston, that it's the right thing for our city and our children, and we're gonna try to build as much support as we can, and we're very enthusiastic. We think it's the right thing to do."

Updated August 10, 2012, at 5:23 p.m.

If passed, the bond issue would phase in a .07¢ property tax hike, and cost the owner of a $200,000 home an extra $70 a year in 2017.

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