The Conroe Independent School District is considering a bond election only four years after voters approved a $487 million bond referendum in 2015.

The bond election could happen as early as May 2019 if the Conroe ISD Board of Trustees approves a calendar schedule presented by PBK Architects, officials revealed during a special called meeting on June 5.

Ian Powell, who works with PBK, and CISD Superintendent Dr. Curtis Null, both spoke on Tuesday before the board to give them ideas on how the bond planning would proceed.

Conroe
Stedil [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

After Null said internal conversations about the bond planning had taken place with district officials, CISD Trustee Skeeter Hubert asked Null what stage of the process the district is in for creating a facilities planning committee.

In August 2015, the Conroe ISD board unanimously approved a $487 million bond proposal that voters subsequently approved in November 2015.

Voters approved numerous projects in relation to the 2015 bond, including one new high school, one new junior high school, one new intermediate and two new elementary schools. In addition to those projects, the bond also was used to fund the build-outs of the remaining 200-seat capacity at Stewart Elementary School in the Conroe High School feeder zone, and an addition of 10 new science classrooms at Knox Junior High School in The Woodlands feeder zone, according to information from the district's bond website.

During the same workshop on Tuesday, board members discussed how several of the 61 schools in the Conroe ISD were over capacity or at capacity and were in need of upgrades.

The board did not give any indication to what the cost of the 2019 bond would be, but said that assessment would be done throughout the summer and into the fall to determine the cost.

"I know we haven't talked about a number," Hubert said of the planning. "I have no idea what a number would be. We're asking the community to approve over a billion dollars in funding over a 4-year time period."

Prior to 2015 bond, the Conroe ISD last had a bond election in 2008.

In the bond planning schedule proposed Tuesday, June 5, Powell and Null said the facilities planning committee could be formed on Sept. 18 if the board approved it, with a workshop scheduled on Sept. 4. In 2014, the district had a 23-person facilities planning committee work on the bond referendum.

Conroe ISD Director of Communications Sarah Blakelock said the timelines and proposals presented at Tuesday's workshop were merely for information as the board and district work through the bond and budget planning process.

"All information is subject to change and will be revisited at future workshops and meetings as well as presented at the upcoming budget hearings," Blakelock said.

Null told the board on Tuesday that district officials were looking for guidance, and they'd like to start planning for the next bond as early as possible, hopefully before the completion of Katherine Clark Elementary School and Grand Oaks High School, which are both scheduled to open in August.

"We are going all summer to be completed by Aug. 31," Null said. "We know it will be an effort. We have a team that will do it. They are confident. So that's why we present with this tonight to get your feedback. We can't wait until the middle of June to decide. We want to start the process now to make this calendar."

Trustee John Husbands said the bond was "a needs, not a wants list."

Fellow Trustee Scott Moore said the board could not make a truly informed decision about calling for a bond election without the relevant information because, "We're not we're not just talking about the new schools, we're talking about the upkeep on existing facilities."

"The way it was presented to us in that last facilities planning committee was: these are the things that have to be fixed in order to educate kids for the next two years," Moore said. "These are things that we would have to have fixed to make it easier to educate kids and these are the things that in a perfect utopian world we would have fixed in the school."

If the district agrees to hold a bond election, the earliest date would be May of 2019.

Tribune Content Agency