Conroe ISD talks about failed $807M bond, possible November vote

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Conroe ISD’s $807 million bond proposal failed to gain Montgomery County voters’ approval in the May 4 election, leaving CISD without funding officials said was needed to address expected growth in the coming decade.

With a final vote of 8,297-6,933, a total of 54.48% votes were cast in opposition to the bond, and 45.52% of votes were cast for the bond, according to the county election office on May 4. All results are unofficial until canvassed.

The bond proposal was the largest in CISD history and the first since a $487 million package that passed in 2015. District officials said the bond could have resulted in a $0.01 to $0.03 increase in the district’s tax rate, which is now $1.28 per $100 valuation.

CISD Superintendent Curtis Null said the scope of the bond may have “startled” some voters, including its overall cost and the inclusion of both growth projects and maintenance-related items. He said the district may re-examine its funding and tax rate strategy based on such feedback.

“I believe in the future our board will have to consider how to fund those [maintenance]projects,” Null said. “Historically, our board has chosen to maintain the lowest possible tax rate for our constituents, and the mechanism for doing that has been to include more of those items in our bond packages. I do believe they will have more conversation in the future about potentially a change to our tax rate in order to address those needs on an annual basis.”

In The Woodlands area, the bond referendum would have funded the construction of a new Grand Oaks feeder elementary school and additions or renovations to existing facilities, as well as general district-wide improvements. The major projects were expected to mitigate crowding in the district’s existing schools and create new spaces for its growing student population that could increase by 15,000 in the coming decade, according to a study conducted by the Population and Survey Analysts demographics firm.

Null said that all major bond projects are now tabled, while existing district funds will go towards some vital infrastructure work that was included in the bond proposal.

“There are some critical need items … that we would need to find some other mechanism to pay for, so those things will continue to move forward,” he said. “As far as any new construction and those big projects, those will all be on hold.”

Null said the district board will likely begin planning new bond plans to address CISD’s ongoing growth needs, and could base their proposals around the $807 million package’s framework. A November 2019 bond election would have to be called by early August.

“I think what you would see go back in November of ’19 would be an amended version of the current plan. If we were to go back to November of ’20, then I think you’d see the whole process done over,” Null said. “We appreciate everybody that came out to vote … and we will work based on their voice.”

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