Humble ISD places $575 million bond referendum on May ballot

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Updated Post 5:22 p.m. Feb. 15
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Kingwood Middle School and Lakeland Elementary have been chosen for a rebuild due to damages during Hurricane Harvey. HISD district officials have confirmed that the schools were chosen for a rebuild due to aging of the two facilities, not because of any damages each may have suffered during the storm.

Original Post 10:50 p.m. Feb. 13
Lake Houston and Humble area residents can expect to see a $575 million bond referendum on their ballots this May after the Humble ISD board of trustees approved an amended order calling for an election at the Feb. 13 meeting. Trustees unanimously voted 7-0 in favor of holding the election.

The order comes after months of trustees working in tandem with a Citizens Bond Advisory Committee that was created last fall. Members from the committee presented two options for a bond referendum to trustees at the January meeting. Trustees considered both plans and finally decided to reduce the original $600 million bond to $575 million to provide more room for future inflation costs.

If approved by voters on the May election, the $575 million bond would mark Humble ISD’s first referendum in 10 years, and the highest debt undertaking it has ever seen, according to district officials.

After many campuses throughout the district were damaged due to Hurricane Harvey, the bond is seen by trustees, district officials and community members as a critical factor to improving existing campuses and rebuilding schools.

The bond would help build two new schools, a $39 million elementary school, a $65.6 million middle school as well as a new $19.3 transportation center. A complete rehaul of Kingwood Middle School and Lakeland Elementary School are also included in the bond.

At the January meeting, trustee member Keith Lapaze asked why other aging facilities were not included in the recommendation presented to trustees. Members of the committee responded they were aware of the other schools that were also in need of upgrades, but insisted Lakeland and Kingwood were in the most dire condition.

One of the most hotly contested items trustees negotiated was for a $50 million natatorium complex. President Angela Conrad and four trustees said although they see the value the natatorium could bring to the district, they felt the May election was not the right time to put a natatorium on the ballot.

“To build a natatorium, you’d have to take away from what the committee has recommended, and I can’t do that,” trustee Keith Lapaze said.

Trustee Robert Sitton added that not including the natatorium would also provide the district with some wiggle room for inflation pressures in the coming years. Trustee Colin Carney said he agreed the natatorium was not the best choice to include in the referendum considering many residents within the district are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey and that no detailed plan, cost breakdown or operations plan had been presented to trustees yet.

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