Conroe ISD to propose $683.8 million bond in November with no tax rate increase

Conroe ISD is closed Sept. 19.

Conroe ISD is closed Sept. 19.

Correction: The original article incorrectly stated the total bond amount was $660 million. This article has been updated with the correct bond amount.

The Conroe ISD board of trustees will propose a $683.8 million bond in November as the first of a two-part proposition with no tax rate increase.

At its July 29 workshop, the board reviewed a draft of a $660 million Proposition A and $23.8 million Proposition B. Superintendent Curtis Null presented a draft of both propositions. The largest items on Proposition A are Conroe High School’s Master Plan, a new junior high in the Caney Creek feeder zone and general campus renovations. Proposition B is only one item—adding turf to athletic fields.

“We feel like the needs are met here [in the bond],” Null said. “We would not put forward a plan that did not put us in position to be in great shape moving forward today and in the next five years.”

Changes in the plan

Null said in meeting with community members, many said a May bond was too expensive, too complicated and its benefits and importance were not expressed clearly. In order to reduce the bond amount, proposed projects—such as the Teacher Training Center, Jett Center work and the Conroe High School ninth-grade campus—were all removed.

“We are addressing a lot of the needs,” Null said. “You’re seeing a decrease here, but every department has signed off on the fact that the immediate needs are being met.”

The custodial and maintenance facility and Hauke building conversion will now be paid for with the capital maintenance fund. Null also said the creation of a capital maintenance fund at the board’s July 16 meeting to manage general maintenance items will help bring in a net savings of $36 million. Because the bond is a five-year bond, not the district’s normal four-year bond, Null said a new elementary campus was added to address growth and pre-K with the additional year.

The updated bond comes after a long wait following the failure of an $807 million May bond. The bond earned 6,945 votes in favor and 8,314 votes against, or 45.51% and 54.49%, respectively.

Initial misgivings

Null said adding astroturf was a major point of contention with the former bond, as some saw it as a luxury. Trustee Ray Sanders said by splitting the bond, it will allow voters to be specific with their support.

“If there are strong opinions both ways when you separate it out, ... whoever’s got the people that will come and vote, that’s who decides,” Sanders said.

Board President Datren Williams said the bond seemed to be made to add no increase to the tax rate, not to meet the needs of the district, which Null said was not the case. Specifically, Williams said the Conroe High School ninth-grade campus is one of the greatest needs of the district. Trustee Scott Kidd suggested the astroturf and the technology project could be dropped in favor of the more necessary ninth-grade campus.

Trustee John Husbands said with the growth of the district, adding space for students needs to be a top priority, and the district cannot rely on short-term solutions, such as portable school rooms or redistricting.

“I absolutely don’t want to rain on y’all's hard work,” Husbands said. “But when you tell me that school is going to be bigger than what it’s supposed to be, ... let’s cut something else.”

Ramifications of failure

If the bond fails, Null said rezoning is an option, though it would be incredibly disruptive.

“Education for every child in this district will be affected,” Null said. “And the ability of every teacher in this district to teach will be affected.”

Deputy Superintendent Chris Hines presented plans for the future of the district if the bond fails or succeeds. Either way, he said the district has needs—such as campus maintenance, new portable buildings and buses—that total $25.2 million.

With the opening of Stockton Junior High School in August 2020, the district will rezone attendance areas, affecting Peet and Washington junior high schools. Hines also said the district is working on solutions for overcrowding at Ride and Glen Loch elementary schools, which will likely involve other schools based in The Woodlands.

Many other zones and schools will reach capacity in the next four years, including Grangerland Intermediate School; Moorhead and York junior high schools; and Stewart, Giesinger, Snyder, Broadway, Creighton, Austin, Bush and Lamar elementary schools.

Hines presented several draft maps for potential rezoning, which can be viewed here. But he and Null emphasized this plan was not recommended and was not in the best interest of the students.

The board will have a public hearing Aug. 6 where citizens can give their opinion on the proposed 2019-20 budget, tax rate and bond. The board has until Aug. 19 to finalize the bond proposal.
By Andy Li
Originally from Boone, North Carolina, Andy Li is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Political Science. While in school, he worked as a performing arts reporter, news, arts and copy editor and a columnist at the campus newspaper, The East Carolinian. He also had the privilege to work with NPR’s Next Generation Radio, a project for student journalists exploring radio news. Moving to Houston in May 2019, he now works as the reporter for the Conroe/Montgomery edition of Community Impact Newspaper.


Montgomery County officials are urging residents to wear face masks and take caution. (Community Impact staff)
Montgomery County reports 19 new active coronavirus cases July 13

2,011 people have recovered out of the total 3,112 cases.

A Cy-Fair ISD employee distributes meals via curbside pickup for district students during the summer. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
'Community Impact Newspaper' seeks feedback and more Houston-area business, community news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news here.

Thousands of Montgomery County voters appeared in person or submitted absentee ballots during the 10-day early voting period. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 21,000 Montgomery County residents participate in early voting for July 14 runoff

Just under three-fourths of the total early voting turnout was Republican, and one-fourth was Democratic.

Honor Cafe opened in downtown Conroe on July 13. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Honor Cafe now open in donwtown Conroe

The military-themed cafe offers a variety of classic American dishes.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, shown here in March, announced July 13 the U.S. Department of Defense would provide additional resource to help Texas combat COVID-19. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Department of Defense task forces deployed to help Texas combat COVID-19

Gov. Greg Abbott announced July 13 the U.S. Department of Defense would provide more resources to Texas to combat the rise of COVID-19.

IYP's car wash collection fundraiser will run from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. July 24. (Courtesy Interfaith Young Professionals)
Interfaith prepares for contactless school supply drive

Interfaith of The Woodlands hopes to raise supplies for around 2,000 area students.

A Cy-Fair ISD employee distributes meals via curbside pickup for district students during the summer. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
'Community Impact' now seeking feedback from parents, teachers regarding 2020-21 school year

Help us adequately cover local education by submitting feedback here:

The store opened July 10. (Courtesy Combat Zone Nutrition)
Combat Zone Nutrition now open in Conroe, serving shakes, herbal energy teas

Try the Mermaid herbal tea, made with an orange base and blue sweet tart.

Willis ISD released its preliminary plan for welcoming students back to campus in the fall, as well as options for remote learning. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Willis ISD lays out plan for fall instruction

Families will have until July 24 to make their decision about whether their student will learn through on-campus or remote instruction.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Education organizations call for STAAR requirements to be waived another year

Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements in March of earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With a clinical background in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Corry has been with BCM for 20 years. He now focuses primarily on inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. David Corry discusses immunity, vaccine production amid COVID-19 pandemic

Rapid development and distribution of a vaccine worldwide and successful achievement of herd immunity will be key players in determining the lifespan of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. David Corry, a professor of Medicine in the Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Section at Baylor College of Medicine.