Conroe ISD citizens called for cutting the proposed 2019-20 budget and streamlining future projects.
The CISD board of trustees hosted its first public hearing on the proposed budget Aug. 6. Chief Financial Officer Darren Rice gave a brief presentation on the $549.58 million budget.
Rice said House Bill 3 compresses the district’s maintenance and operations rate from its proposed $1.04 to $0.97. The bill also prevents the district from transferring unassigned funds to pay down the debt service rate. Rice said the district traditionally transferred at least $10 million, but now must raise the rate from $0.24 to $0.265 in order to cover the debt expenditure for the 2019-20 year. In total, the district’s proposed tax rate will decrease from $1.28 to $1.235.
“CISD will still be the second-lowest tax rate in the Greater Houston area,” Rice said.
After Rice’s presentation, the board heard comments from several citizens on the budget and tax rate. All citizens pushed for cutting the budget.
“We’re oppressed [by the tax rate]. I took time off from work today to come up here to let you know we are definitely oppressed,” CISD resident Randy Smith said.
Smith also said he wanted the board to focus on student safety, citing sexual assaults that have occurred in CISD over the last few decades.
Oak Ridge North resident Jon Bouche asked the board to approach growth and building new schools with a “no-frills approach,” focusing on plain buildings and not amenities.
“Let’s fill these schools with teachers who have a passion for teaching, students who are there to learn,” Bouche said. “If you want to spend money on something, spend it on that, not AstroTurf.”
The AstroTurf Bouche mentioned is a part of CISD’s proposed bond, which was not discussed at the public hearing. The $683.8 million bond has two propositions: a $660 million Proposition A for new schools and campus improvements and a $23.8 million Proposition B for AstroTurf on athletic fields. The board has until Aug. 19 to approve the bond to go to voters in November.
The board’s next public hearing is Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Deane L. Sadler Administration/Technology Center, located at 3205 W. Davis St., Conroe.