Fort Bend ISD staff have been able to reduce the May 2023 bond shortfall by roughly $29 million, from $132.5 million to $103.5 million, officials said.

“I'm happy to report that number has reduced. We have been working very hard ... looking for savings, just doing a lot of work behind the scenes to bring that number down,” Director of Design and Construction Daniel Bankhead said at the March 25 FBISD board of trustees meeting.

The details

Chief Operating Officer Damian Viltz said the numbers that were originally approved by the board were bond amounts, not to be confused with construction budgets. So as the projects unfold, cost savings and overruns can be found. The entirety of the approved May 2023 bond is $1.26 billion.

For example, after re-evaluating three of the bond projects—rebuilds at Briargate Elementary School, Mission Bend Elementary School and Clements High School—FBISD reduced the gap by $23.6 million of the $29 million when compared to the initial variance assessment presented to the board Feb. 26.

The savings by project are as follows:
  • Briargate Elementary School rebuild ($6.6 million saved)
  • Mission Bend Elementary School rebuild ($13.7 million saved)
  • Clements High School rebuild ($3.3 million saved)
The remaining $5.4 million in savings came from the elimination of some soft costs associated with the bond program administration.

“Some some of the differences that you do see are specifically in the construction projects. So all soft cost, the cost of running the bond administration,” Viltz said. “It does not affect the construction budget but the overall budget for those projects. Some of those are significantly different from what was presented in the planning process.”

Remember this?

The board of trustees voted unanimously March 4 to hire Gibson Consulting to audit the 2023 bond program. The audit is ongoing.

The board also voted to hire law firm Rogers, Morris and Grover—a current contractor for the board—for $20,000 to internally investigate allegations of whether a district employee withheld pertinent information regarding the bond—which was projected to run 11.8% over budget, as previously reported.

The audit and investigation results will be reported to the board upon completion, but no timetable was given by trustee Rick Garcia in the Feb. 26 meeting, and no other audit or investigation updates were presented during the March 25 meeting.

What’s next?

District officials will continue to update the board on a monthly basis regarding the 2023 bond approved by the board in June and passed by the voters in November.

“We are continually working very hard as a team to find savings to work within the funds that we got that we received from the taxpayers and to make the very best use of it that we can,” Bankhead said.