Willis ISD places $175 million bond package on May ballot

From left: Willis ISD board Vice President Rebecca Broussard and President Cliff Williams voted in favor of the $175 million bond. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
From left: Willis ISD board Vice President Rebecca Broussard and President Cliff Williams voted in favor of the $175 million bond. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

From left: Willis ISD board Vice President Rebecca Broussard and President Cliff Williams voted in favor of the $175 million bond. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Correction: This article originally named Lynn Lucas Middle School as Lynn Lucas Elementary.



The Willis ISD board of trustees approved placing a $175 million bond package with a maximum $0.10 tax rate increase for the May 2 election at its Feb. 10 meeting, with proposed projects focused on building improvements and athletic additions.



The bond is separated into three propositions, according to a presentation by Abbie Holland and Brittany Castellon, members of the WISD Long Term Planning Committee and parents in the district.



At $100.15 million, Proposition A includes roof repair, chiller replacements, and floor replacements at all schools throughout the district and 4,500-square-foot gym additions at Parmley, Cannan, Meador and Turner elementary schools. The proposition also includes 18 classroom additions for Lynn Lucas Middle School as well as the construction of a new pre-K center.



Proposition B is focused on athletic additions to the Willis High School area, including relocating the softball field, adding a baseball field, adding tennis courts, relocating the track and constructing a new football stadium. This stadium would seat 7,500 spectators and have additional parking. The total proposition is $62.53 million.



Holland said the idea behind this proposition was to bring athletics into one place.



“A lot of the students that are involved in a lot of these programs have to travel,” Holland said.



Superintendent Tim Harkrider said Senate Bill 30, which was signed into law June 7, requires districts seeking bond funds to construct major additions, such as a natatorium, to place them on their own proposition. Thus, Proposition C includes only the proposed $12.5 million natatorium, which Holland said was expected to house two high schools’ audiences and teams, or 155 spectators and two teams.



“We’re one of the few districts in the area that does not have one,” Holland said. “Our swim program has gotten a lot of traction.”



Holland said the district’s tax rate was $1.39 before it was brought down $0.12 to $1.27 by House Bill 3, which was signed into law June 11 and provided $5.1 billion in tax relief. She said the maximum increase for the bond is $0.10, making the rate $1.37; however, when the district proposed a $0.675 increase for its 2015 bond, no increase was applied because of the additional growth in the area providing the funds necessary for the bond.



The $109.5 million 2015 bond included enhancement projects at Willis High School and Brabham Middle School, new turf at Berton A. Yates Stadium, and pickup and drop-off lane improvements at several campuses. With 2,328 votes, 60% of voters favored the referendum, while 1,524 residents, or 40% of voters, opposed it.



Early voting begins April 20. Information about voting locations and hours can be found and Montgomery County elections’ website at https://elections.mctx.org

SHARE THIS STORY
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 covers the Conroe Independent School District, Montgomery City Council and transportation.


MOST RECENT

Conroe and Willis ISDs will keep their schools closed until May 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Conroe, Montgomery and Willis ISDs extend school closures through May 4

CISD Superintendent Curtis Null said the district will continue to communicate changes as they come and to provide distance learning and distribute meals as planned.

(Kaitlin Schmidt/Community Impact Newspaper)
'When home is not your safe place': Domestic violence cases jump 35% in Montgomery County during coronavirus

Victims now have limited resources and safe places to turn to, which makes leaving an abuser even more risky.

Patrick Jankowski projects more than 150,000 regional job losses due to the coronavirus. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Houston economist predicts more than 150,000 job losses this year due to coronavirus

While sectors that are considered nonessential and cannot deliver their goods and services remotely are most at risk, the economist said all jobs are on the line if the shutdown continues after May.

Gov. Greg Abbott updated Texans and issued an executive order regarding the state's response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis during a March 31 afternoon press conference. (Screenshot via livestream)
'Now is the time to redouble our efforts': Abbott issues executive order for state on COVID-19 extending school closures, clarifying essential services

Gov. Greg Abbott updated Texans and issued an executive order regarding the state's response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis during a March 31 afternoon press conference.

Several businesses are offering virtual classes in the Conroe and Montgomery areas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Going virtual: Yoga lessons, dog training and music to break from cabin fever in the Lake Conroe area

There are several businesses offering virtual classes and lessons for those with time on their hands.

Lone Star College campuses will remain closed until April 30. (Photo by Danica Smithwick/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College campuses closed until April 30

Lone Star College's updated spring semester includes keeping campuses closed until April 30.

BeanPunk Coffee closed in both downtown Conroe and Montgomery. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
BeanPunk Coffee closes permanently

The coffee shop owners said the ongoing coronavirus outbreak "proved more than we could take."

Total cases of COVID-19 in the Greater Houston area continue to rise. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Coronavirus case updates: Houston, Harris County combine for more than 110 new cases

Total cases of COVID-19 in the Greater Houston area continue to rise.

Fifty-one percent of energy firms surveyed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in mid-March said they expect the number of employees at their companies to decrease in 2020. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Federal Reserve business economist discusses the energy industry's 2020 outlook

The industry is contending with effects of the coronavirus outbreak and uncertainty in the oil market following a steep price drop in March.

Alvin and Friendswood ISD move to support underserved students as classes start online. (Courtesy Fotolia)
How Houston-area school districts are responding to coronavirus

Here are some updates from the last week on how school districts across the Greater Houston area are adapting during the coronavirus outbreak.

Texas Central plans to start construction of the Texas high-speed rail connecting Houston and Dallas by the end of 2020. (Courtesy Texas Central)
Coronavirus causes layoffs for Texas Central’s high-speed rail project

Texas Central officials announced multiple employees would be laid off March 27 in the wake of a worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

Lone Star College-Kingwood loaned medical supplies to area hospitals March 27. (Photo by Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College loans ventilators, protective supplies to area hospitals

Lone Star College-Kingwood has loaned medical supplies to area hospitals to combat coronavirus.