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Is HISD's $2B bond proprosal your only option?

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's an ambitious $2 billion plan that would revamp and rebuild dozens of schools across the Houston area. But if it's approved, taxpayers will be footing the bill for decades. So we wanted to know: If residents vote against HISD's bond proposal, is there a scaled down plan for district-wide upgrades?

On Thursday, the HISD board announced it is considering its largest ever bond proposal. But if voters say no, what's the future of some of its oldest schools? HISD says it's the Band-Aid approach for now.

"I've been to these schools and I worked at these schools and they are in terrible condition. Houstonians should be ashamed to have these buildings in their community," said Dr. Robert Kimball, an education representative for LULAC.

Dr. Kimball is a former HISD teacher and assistant principal. He heard Thursday's announcement by HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier: an independent analysis identified eight high schools that need replacing, plus 16 others that need significant renovations, along with several middle schools and a handful of elementaries.

"$1.89 billion is a lot of money. It still doesn't address all the facilities' needs that we have at our 279 campuses," HISD spokesman Jason Spencer said.

But the HISD board is still deciding whether to pitch the expensive makeover to voters in the form of a nearly $2 million bond package.

If they do and it's voted down, what is Plan B for HISD -- close and consolidate schools? Spencer says there's been no talk of that.

"We would just stay on the road that we are on, which is continue to take a Band-Aid approach to fixing buildings, fixing air-conditioning and heating units, plumbing units as they deteriorate," Spencer said.

Dr. Kimball says replacing deteriorating schools would also build morale for the student body.

"I really believe that the reason why we have 50 percent dropout rate in Houston, HISD, is because of the condition of the schools. The kids go there and they are supposed to be a better place than their home and they are not," he said.

HISD board members must still approve the bond proposal. If that happens, it will be put before voters in November.

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houston isd, local, erik barajas
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