Conroe ISD $807M school bond proposal features new Conroe-area campuses, upgrades to existing facilities

Conroe ISD's $807 million bond proposal includes taking on Phase 2 of Conroe High School's master plan.

Conroe ISD's $807 million bond proposal includes taking on Phase 2 of Conroe High School's master plan.

Image description
Conroe ISD $807M school bond planned for May 2019 ballot
Image description
Conroe ISD $807M school bond planned for May 2019 ballot
Image description
Conroe ISD $807M school bond planned for May 2019 ballot
Image description
Conroe ISD $807M school bond planned for May 2019 ballot
Image description
Conroe ISD $807M school bond planned for May 2019 ballot
As one of the fastest-growing public school districts in the state of Texas, Conroe ISD is planning for the future. The board of trustees approved the call Jan. 15 for an $807 million bond to be on the May 4 election ballot.

Along with new schools, upgrades to existing facilities and districtwide improvements, CISD officials expect the bond to bring increased property tax rates, if approved.

“There are many substantial projects [on the bond package], but I think if you just look purely at a financial investment, you will see that this package leans very heavily on new schools and growth and sustainability at existing schools,” CISD Superintendent Curtis Null said.

Null said CISD plans to tackle districtwide issues such as safety and security, expanding existing schools and improving their longevity.

According to data from a Population and Survey Analysts demographics study released mid-December, CISD has grown by more than 15,000 students over the past decade, and the district could reach 76,000 students by 2028. College Station-based PASA is a market researcher that assists Texas school districts in long-term school project planning.

The bond also tackles growth in specific areas, including the Conroe and Caney Creek high school feeder zones. Null said the bond would address CISD’s growing student population.

PASA data shows 23.1 percent of CISD’s student population, or 14,512 students, currently reside in Conroe’s extraterritorial jurisdiction—second only to The Woodlands Township. Following directly behind Conroe’s ETJ is Conroe city limits, at 12.9 percent of CISD’s student population, or 12,489 students.

The district intends to target continued growth in the Conroe area with a new elementary school in the Conroe High School feeder zone, a new elementary and junior high school in the Caney Creek High School feeder zone, and upgrading older campuses such as Conroe High School.

Proposed projects

The district proposes a new $37.2 million elementary school for the western portion of the Conroe High School feeder zone with a capacity of 1,000 students, currently named Flex 21, said Easy Foster, CISD’s director of planning and construction.

The bond also includes a new $35 million elementary school and an $80.6 million junior high school in the Caney Creek High School feeder zone. Foster said the elementary school, currently named Flex 20, will have a capacity of 1,000 students, while the junior high will be able to serve 1,600 students.

The new junior high is planned for a site connected to Milam Elementary and Grangerland Intermediate schools and will allow for Moorhead Junior High, which can hold 1,100 students, to be converted into an intermediate school, Foster said.

According to the PASA report, Conroe-area residential developments—specifically Woodforest northwest of Conroe, Grand Central Park along South Loop 336 and Fosters Ridge southeast of Conroe—will contribute to the district’s student growth in the next 10 years. The three developments are expected to add more than 4,300 new single-family homes to CISD by 2028.

The district also intends to build a $3.6 million agricultural and career and technical education complex in North Montgomery County adjacent to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.

If voters approve the bond, the district will begin work on designs and could begin construction on some bond projects as early as this year, Foster said.

The bond package also includes districtwide facility upgrades with $24.6 million going toward safety and security, which Null said could include installing more secure vestibules and security cameras across the district and at Conroe High School.

The district is prioritizing a Conroe High School remodel since it is the district’s oldest high school facility, Null said.

“There are portions of that building that are reaching their end of life, and this is a chance to extend the life of that building by another 50 or 60 years,” Null said.

The bond package proposes allocating $146 million to enter Phase 2 of Conroe High School’s master plan, which includes consolidating the facility’s six separate buildings into one, adding a robotics program, relocating two football fields, new classroom additions, and moving the entrance from south-facing along Davis Street to a new entry facing Wilson Road, Foster said.

“Instead of coming right through the middle of the campus ... we’re able to take [the traffic] around the outside of the campus and have a more safe and functional loading and offloading area for students,” Foster said.

The financial effects

Voters have approved three bond elections in CISD totaling more than $1.29 billion in 2004, 2008 and 2015. The May bond package of $807 million will feature the district’s largest bond issue to date.

Using bonds to fund new facilities is not unusual in a fast-growth district such as CISD, according to the Fast Growth School Coalition. The group defines a fast-growth district as enrolling at least 2,500 students during the previous year, along with either an enrollment growth of at least 10 percent over the last five years or a net increase of 3,500 or more students.

CISD is one of the top 20 largest districts in Texas, according to PASA. Of these large districts, CISD had the second-highest percentage increase for student enrollment growth in 2017-18 at 3.04 percent.

FGSC Executive Director Guy Sconzo said districts across the state, including CISD, are relying heavily on property taxpayers to pay for school bonds due to a lack of state financing.

“It really is the only way to keep pace with the growth that has to be accommodated and served,” Sconzo said.

Sconzo said state funding for school districts dropped dramatically in recent years, leaving local taxpayers to fill the gap through property taxes.

The current property tax rate for CISD residents is $1.28 per $100 valuation. CISD Chief Financial Officer Darrin Rice said the district’s financial advisers project a $0.01 property tax rate increase for the 2019-20 year with a maximum $0.03 increase over the bond’s four-year life.

If the tax rate is increased by $0.03 cents over a three-year period, Rice said a resident within CISD’s boundaries with a home value of $300,000 can expect an annual property tax bill increase of $82.50. However, he said increases to the property tax rate beyond the first cent would be dependent on the economy and would have to be approved by the board of trustees.

“In the past, when we’ve set up a bond referendum, [like] at this last one, we said it’ll cost us 1 cent, and it didn’t cost us any,” Rice said.
By Kelly Schafler

Editor, Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood

Kelly Schafler is the editor for the Lake Houston, Humble and Kingwood edition of Community Impact Newspaper, covering public education, city government, development, businesses, local events and all things community-related. Before she became editor, she was the reporter for the Conroe and Montgomery edition for a year and a half.


Up to 40,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas members could be impacted if a contract agreement cannot be reached. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
CHI St. Luke's Hospital faces potential contract termination with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas at multiple Houston, Southeast Texas locations

If an agreement cannot be reached, up to 40,000 Houstonians could find their local hospital is out of network for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.

Sara Dillard and Adriana Marshall are new owners of the Rush Cycle location in Woodforest. (Courtesy Rush Cycle-Woodforest)
Sandwiches, spin class and more: The latest business news for Conroe, Montgomery

The Conroe and Montgomery area has seen new businesses open and changes in ownership in recent months.

Conroe ISD has been open for in-person and remote instruction since mid-August. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Total positive COVID-19 reports among Conroe ISD students, staff passes 400

As of Oct. 22, the district had recorded 181 positive COVID-19 reports among students and 225 among staff this year.

Oct. 23 is the last day Texas voters can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot. (Courtesy Pexels)
Tackling Texas' vote-by-mail system: Applying, delivering, tracking your ballot

Oct. 23 is the last day Texas voters can apply for a vote-by-mail ballot.

Conroe ISD's board of trustees met for a regular meeting Oct. 20. (Screenshot via Conroe ISD YouTube)
Conroe ISD to pursue renewal of District of Innovation designation

The Conroe ISD board of trustees met for its regular monthly meeting Oct. 20 to discuss the "District of Innovation" status and several other items.

With polls open for early voting through Oct. 30 leading up to Election Day on Nov. 3, check out where to vote and when in Conroe, Montgomery and Willis. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
GUIDE: Where can I vote in Conroe, Montgomery and Willis?

With polls open for early voting through Oct. 30 leading up to Election Day on Nov. 3, check out where to vote and when in Conroe, Montgomery and Willis.

Target has built out its new store at 2075 Westheimer Road, Houston. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Target to open fourth Inner Loop location and more Houston-area business, community news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

The funding comes from the general fund balance, and the budget will remain balanced, officials said Oct. 20. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery ISD approves 2% pay raise for staff, effective Nov. 1

With educators teaching both remotely and in-person and administrators pivoting to shut down schools and then reopen them, officials said a pay raise was needed more than ever.

Baylor College of Medicine is seeking volunteers for a COVID-19 study looking to determine the prevalence of the viral disease in the Houston area. (Courtesy Baylor College of Medicine)
Baylor College of Medicine recruiting participants for COVID-19 prevalence study

The study will collect samples from 70,000 individuals nationwide.

University of St. Thomas President Richard Ludwick cuts the ribbon for the new microcampus Oct. 20. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
University of St. Thomas celebrates grand opening of microcampus in Conroe

The center is named after St. Maximilian Kolbe, who is often referred to as the patron saint of innovation.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Greater Houston region faces glut of industrial, commercial space and multifamily housing

While the Greater Houston area has seen a glut of office space for the last six years, Patrick Jankowski said the industrial buildup has happened more in the past year and a half.

Mickey Deison speaks at a city event. (Courtesy Larry Foerster)
Community remembers legacy of Mickey Deison, former Conroe mayor and Montgomery County judge

“He did what was needed to be done, not for any self-glory,” Larry Foerster said.