Trustees voted to call for the bond at the board’s Feb. 7 meeting. NCISD Superintendent Matt Calvert said the bond aims to address projected student growth.
“We know the growth is here,” Calvert said. “It’s coming, and it’s not going anywhere.”
The bond will be broken up into two propositions; Proposition A totals $634 million and includes campus and facility improvements, while Proposition B totals $61 million and targets extracurricular enhancements.
While NCISD voters have approved seven bond elections since 2000, the May election will feature the district’s largest bond issue to date. Still, Calvert said NCISD’s property tax rate will remain unaffected by the bond.
NCISD officials said the district’s enrollment stands at nearly 17,800 students this school year. However, an April 2022 report from demographic firm Population and Survey Analysts projects that number to rise to roughly 25,000 students by 2031-32.
According to the report, several residential developments are driving the growth, including The Highlands, which is projected to gain more than 1,200 new units by 2026, and Tavola, which is expected to add more than 1,400 homes in that time.
“Those are our main areas of focus,” Calvert said.
Calvert pointed to several projects in Proposition A that aim to address growth, including Elementary School No. 12—a $44 million campus in The Highlands—and Elementary School No. 13, a $50 million campus in the northeast section of the district.
Additionally, the $76 million second phase of West Fork High School would add 750 seats in addition to a new gymnasium and locker rooms.
Middle school Nos. 5 and 6, which would each cost $108 million and house 1,100 students, would be built in the northwestern and northeastern portions of the district, respectively.
While many bond projects aim to expand student capacity, several items aim to increase access to extracurricular and career and technical education offerings.
In Proposition A, New Caney High School’s $21 million CTE facility would include a 50,000-square-foot addition housing the school’s agriculture, welding, automotive, construction, architecture and engineering programs.
“That space just really isn’t functional for the demands of CTE right now [and] getting kids ready to have a career in those fields,” Calvert said.
Similarly, a $12.5 million, 52,000-square-foot addition at Porter High School would include new spaces for band and dance programs as well as renovations to the existing fine arts and CTE areas.
The bond would also help relocate New Caney High School’s sports fields closer to the campus, meaning students would no longer have to drive across Hwy. 59 to reach them.
Turf would also be installed on Porter High School’s baseball and softball fields.
Effect on taxes
Last year, NCISD trustees approved a tax rate of $1.443 per $100 valuation—the fourth consecutive year trustees approved an overall tax rate that was lower than the year prior.
Because the district’s interest and sinking rate, which is used to pay off bond debt, is already at the state’s maximum $0.50 per $100 valuation, Calvert said the approval of the bond referendum would have no effect on the district’s I&S rate.
Additionally, Calvert said the influx of new homes in the area would likely generate enough new revenue to stave off any increases to the district’s maintenance and operations tax rate in the coming years.
“If we don’t get this bond passed, in a year, we’re going to see schools over capacity,” Bond Steering Committee Member Dennis Alters said.