Humble ISD puts $775M bond on May 7 ballot

In compliance with changes made in 2019 to the Texas Education Code, school districts are required to divide bond elections into separate ballot propositions based on what is being financed. On May 7, Humble ISD voters will decide for or against two bond propositions. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
In compliance with changes made in 2019 to the Texas Education Code, school districts are required to divide bond elections into separate ballot propositions based on what is being financed. On May 7, Humble ISD voters will decide for or against two bond propositions. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)

In compliance with changes made in 2019 to the Texas Education Code, school districts are required to divide bond elections into separate ballot propositions based on what is being financed. On May 7, Humble ISD voters will decide for or against two bond propositions. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Humble ISD is one of nearly 70 districts statewide that has been identified as a fast-growth school district. HISD’s enrollment has increased by more than 5,900 students since the passage of the district’s last bond referendum in the 2017-18 school year. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Over the past decade, Humble ISD’s tax rate has decreased while its taxable value has increased due to rising appraisals and new property districtwide. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Residents living in Humble ISD’s boundaries will decide a bond referendum May 7 with two propositions totaling $775 million that aim to address the district’s growth and technology needs.

At a Feb. 15 meeting, the HISD board of trustees unanimously approved a recommended bond proposal developed by the district’s 2021-22 Citizens Bond Advisory Committee, which consisted of roughly 160 community members.

Holly Ham, an HISD parent who served on the advisory committee, said one of the most important factors she considered during the planning process was providing top-tier educational opportunities throughout the district.

“There’s no doubt that there was a tremendous amount of work that went into every single [bond committee] meeting,” Ham said at a Jan. 11 board meeting.

The 2022 bond election will mark the district’s first bond since 2018, when 74% of voters approved $575 million targeting similar district needs. To date, district officials said every project included in the 2018 bond has been completed, is under construction or is under contract.


According to Deborah Rose Miller, treasurer of the HISD Vote Political Action Committee, many of the proposed projects included in the 2022 bond would bring the district’s older campuses up to date with more modern facilities.

“One of the strengths of this bond is to make sure that, regardless of where you live in the school district, you have the same quality of facility,” Miller said.

However, Amy Hedtke, admin of the Facebook group “It’s OK to Vote NO on BOND$,” said she believes districts statewide should not spend money they do not already have.

“All these bonds are full of great ideas, but they come with a pretty hefty price tag,” Hedtke said. “There [are] a lot of neat things that sound great, but when you can’t afford them, you can’t afford them.”

Proposition breakdown

Voters will decide two bond propositions May 7. Proposition A—which totals $730 million—includes facility construction and improvements, while Proposition B—which totals $45 million—relates to technology expenditures.

“The most urgent projects are the additions at Summerwood Elementary [School] and Summer Creek and Humble high schools as well as [the] construction of Middle School No. 11,” said Gary Whittle, project management director at CBRE, which assists HISD with project sequencing.

Proposition A also includes replacement campuses for Ross Sterling Middle School and Foster Elementary School; a new campus for the district’s Mosaic Program, which provides special education services; and new outdoor play and fitness equipment.

Additionally, Proposition A includes second practice gyms at five middle schools, dance classrooms for each middle school and various building maintenance projects.

If approved, Whittle said the projects included in the 2022 bond would be completed between 2022-29 with the design phase of Middle School No. 11, the Mosaic campus, and additions at Humble and Summer Creek high schools beginning this fall.

Proposition B would support the replacement and upgrade of devices used by staff and students as well as technology in the classroom, HISD Chief Technology Officer Chris Cummings said.

“Currently, the average age of a staff device is six years, and the average age of a student device is four years,” Cummings said in an email. “Humble ISD uses devices until they can no longer be fixed or supported.”

Additionally, Proposition B includes upgrades to network infrastructure, cybersecurity, security cameras and radio systems.

If both propositions are approved by voters, the district does not anticipate the need for another bond election until 2029 or later, HISD Chief Communications Officer Jamie Mount said.

However, if either proposition is not approved, Mount said the district would likely continue to call for future bond elections rather than financing projects with the district’s general fund.

“Approximately 85% of the general fund is allocated to salaries and benefits,” Mount said in an email. “Reallocating general funds for capital improvements would reduce funds available for teacher raises, new teacher positions, benefits and student programs.”

Addressing growth

HISD Deputy Superintendent Roger Brown said he believes the 2022 bond is necessary to accommodate rapid growth within the district, which gained more than 2,700 students this school year—a 170% increase from the district’s average growth rate of about 1,000 students per year.

“We’ve been growing now for some time, and previous bonds have been addressing that growth,” Brown said. “This bond addresses that growth, and we’ll continue [to address enrollment changes] because we’re going to keep growing through this decade.”

According to Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen, the southeast portion of the district—which encompasses the Summerwood, Whispering Pines, Ridge Creek and Maplebrook subdivisions—is particularly concerning.

“These are the campuses that are most congested, so we would really benefit from some relief in this area with additional space,” Fagen said during a March 8 board meeting.

HISD is one of nearly 70 districts identified statewide as a fast-growth school district—a district with enrollment growth over the last five years of at least 10%, or a net increase of 3,400 or more students, according to the Fast Growth School Coalition.

Greg Smith, executive director of the advocacy group, said bonds are particularly important for fast-growing districts because the construction of new facilities and other capital projects can only be funded through a school district’s interest and sinking tax rate; the maintenance and operations tax rate can only be used to fund day-to-day operations, such as salaries and school supplies.

“[There] are some things that you can handle within your ... maintenance and operations budget, but there are certain things that you can’t handle [with that budget] if you’re a fast-growing school district,” he said.

Since the passage of HISD’s last bond in 2018, the district’s student population has grown by roughly 14% from 42,310 in the 2017-18 school year to 48,300 in 2021-22.

No new taxes

District officials have maintained that the passage of the 2022 bond will not result in an increase in the district’s I&S tax rate, which has remained at $0.35 per $100 of valuation since 2008—meaning the 2018 bond did not result in higher tax rates.

According to HISD Chief Financial Officer Billy Beattie, the district projects the M&O tax rate can be lowered by $0.02 in 2022 if the total property value in the area grows by 6% as anticipated. Beattie noted the district’s status as a fast-growth district contributes to it being able to issue bonds without raising property tax rates.

“As new homes are constructed, new businesses open and existing property values rise, Humble ISD’s total tax value base grows, allowing the district to collect more tax revenue,” said Beattie, noting property value growth has allowed the district to lower tax rates three times since the 2018 bond was approved.

For more information about HISD's 2022 bond, click here.

Maegan Kirby contributed to this report.