The Conroe ISD board of trustees reviewed preliminary capital needs for the 2023-24 school year and legal steps for the bond process at a special board workshop Jan. 10.

The district will face numerous challenges when forming the 2023-24 budget including inflation, growth within the district and the current legislative session, according to Chief Financial Officer Darrin Rice.

“We know that there’s going to be some additional school safety legislation,” Rice said. “I’ve heard that they’re going to be reworking the truth-in-taxation process; there’s going to be some additional tax compression we’ll have to work through.”

At the very least, the district anticipates needing $63 million for capital uses during the next school year, including $25 million for portable classrooms, $20 million for technology updates, $15 million for infrastructure needs and $3 million for buses, he said.

“Without an upcoming bond, these capital needs will have to be addressed out of the general fund, and that will take funding out of the classroom,” Rice said.

Easy Foster, director of planning and construction, said his department periodically visits every room in each school in the district to determine facility needs.

Trustee Stacey Chase said the district has to budget and determine need based on enrollment, although the state of Texas provides funding to school districts based on average daily attendance, or ADA.

“We have to build and we have to plan and we have to spend based on enrollment, which is just not how we’re funded,” she said. “It’s such a difficult—a financial game—to already go off the bat with this gap between what we have to spend for—enrollment—and what we get from the state—ADA.”

Superintendent Curtis Null said the district has legislators to look at the ADA funding formula and potentially move districts away from it.

The board also discussed the legal aspects of the bond process and reviewed a tentative schedule for the bond planning committee.

The board must call for the bond election on or before Aug. 21 for the bond to appear on the November ballot.

Null said the district has received over 300 applications from community members wanting to be on the committee. Of those, 150-200 will be chosen to serve on the committee by the end of January.

The committee will meet for the first time Feb. 2 to discuss the bond process and go over the basics of school finance.

Those interested in serving on the bond planning committee can fill out the application on CISD’s website.