Bond recap: Construction timelines unknown for Tomball ISD projects following November bond election

Exterior signage has been updated at the Tomball ISD Innovation Center located on FM 2920 at Hufsmith-Kohrville Road. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)
Exterior signage has been updated at the Tomball ISD Innovation Center located on FM 2920 at Hufsmith-Kohrville Road. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)

Exterior signage has been updated at the Tomball ISD Innovation Center located on FM 2920 at Hufsmith-Kohrville Road. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)

Tomball ISD voters approved two of five bond propositions on the Nov. 2 ballot, allotting funds for a third comprehensive high school, two elementary schools, an intermediate school and other district improvements totaling $494.46 million.

However, three propositions failed, which included funding for athletics upgrades, a natatorium and three multiuse facilities.

“[Voters were] all for growth and technology but not the athletic portion of the bond,” Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora said.

While TISD officials said construction timelines for the bond projects were not available as of early November, TISD’s enrollment has outpaced projections.

TISD was projected to see 5.9% enrollment growth year over year in 2021-22, according to a spring 2021 demographics report, but district officials reported more than 8% growth as of late October. In addition, the district had surpassed 20,000 students as of Oct. 29—a figure TISD was not projected to hit until the 2022-23 school year.


“Although it does make me sad that we weren’t able to see everything pass, I am so grateful to the voters of Tomball ISD because with an 8.5% fast-growth [rate] just this year alone, we continue to see an increase in students and need additional schools,” Salazar-Zamora said in a phone call Nov. 2.

Following a change in state law, this was the first time proposed bond projects were divided into separate propositions, meaning voters could choose to support some projects while opposing others.

TISD’s bond package included five propositions totaling $567.56 million, which district officials previously said would not increase the total property tax rate.

Propositions approved

Approximately 8,600 ballots were cast in TISD’s Nov. 2 election, according to results from Harris and Montgomery counties. This was more than double the number cast in the November 2017 election for TISD’s $275 million bond referendum, results show.

About 57% of ballots cast in 2021 supported propositions A and B, whereas the 2017 bond referendum passed with about 74% support, according to election results. The 2021 bond package was the largest bond election the school district has called.

“Tomball has for years been seen as a destination district. With top-performing academics, sports and fine arts, Tomball ISD has set a higher standard for public education,” said Robert Wilbanks, senior associate and program manager for Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc., the firm that managed TISD’s 2017 bond program. “While all of the propositions may not have passed, the voters of Tomball ISD have shown their overwhelming support of the district and its ability to be fiscally responsible and accountable.”

Proposition A, which voters approved, totals $466.64 million to build a high school, an intermediate school and an elementary school on Juergen Road, according to district information.

Funds are also included for the Tomball ISD Innovation Center—formerly the headquarters of BJ Services—including relocating Tomball Star Academy from Tomball High School, building out career and technical education space, and adding an elementary school.

Proposition A also includes funds for campus renovations, security upgrades and new facilities, according to district information.

Proposition B, which voters approved for $27.82 million, includes student and staff devices and instructional technology upgrades, according to district information.

Although project timelines are unknown, trustees approved a $1 million contract with Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. during a Sept. 21 meeting for renovation and development of the Innovation Center.

Paula Drnevich, program manager for the consulting firm, said in a statement the team updated exterior signage prior to the approval of the bond. Drnevich said trustees also authorized the firm to contract with an architectural firm to begin work at the TISD Innovation Center, which will likely first include relocating Tomball Star Academy.

Athletics propositions fail

While voters approved the bulk of bond funds, three propositions totaling $73.1 million failed. Those propositions called for athletic upgrades, a natatorium alongside the new high school, and three multiuse facilities for fine arts and athletics teams.

More than 4,500 ballots were cast against the propositions; Proposition D’s proposed natatorium received the least amount of support. TISD officials said as of early November, nothing had been discussed about the potential for considering the failed items in the future.

“It is not the full outcome that we wanted,” Salazar-Zamora said. “It is certainly the outcome that we needed regarding student growth and opportunities.
By Anna Lotz

Editor, Tomball/Magnolia & Conroe/Montgomery

Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor for the Tomball/Magnolia edition. She began covering the communities of Conroe and Montgomery as well in 2020. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.



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