Cy-Fair ISD considers $1.2 billion bond to keep up with district growth

Cy-Fair ISD trustees will consider calling for the district's first bond referendum in seven years during a special-called meeting Feb. 27.

In early January, a 50-member group convened with the goal of creating a proposal focused on addressing the district's security, transportation, facilities and technology needs through 2020. During a Feb. 13 meeting, the committee presented to the board a $1.2 billion package that could be up for voter approval in May.

"There is no fluff in this recommendation," committee co-chair Debbie Blackshear said. "It is strictly needs-based."

District officials began studying the need for another bond election last year to keep up with student growth. The firm Population Survey Analysts completed a comprehensive demographic study on the district in 2013 and projected that more than 15,000 new students will enroll in the district through 2020.

"If you've been out on the Grand Parkway, you'll know it's about to take off out there not only with businesses but continued growth with students," Superintendent Mark Henry said.

Student growth accounts for $197 million of the proposed bond, including provisions for Elementary 57, Elementary 58, Middle School 19, a Matzke Elementary replacement and six future school sites—three elementary campuses, one middle school and two high schools.

The committee also recognized the district will hit another milestone in 2016 when its 11th high school opens, requiring CFISD to enter into two UIL districts. The long-range planning committee recommended the addition of a third agriculture center and a second natatorium to meet the future demand of splitting into two UIL districts.

The proposed bond package also includes reinvesting in the district's older facilities with renovations proposed at Bane Elementary, Adam Elementary and Watkins Middle School.

Transportation needs account for $72 million of the proposed bond, including a new transportation center in the southwestern portion of the district, new buses and the installation of video surveillance and GPS technology on existing buses.

Additionally, bus service would be restored to pre-2009 levels, which would remove the 2-mile limit instituted because of state-mandated budget cuts.

A slew of security improvements are also included in the referendum such as intrusion detection panels, entry buzzers, security vestibules, emergency call phones and additional security cameras.

District officials based the future tax implications of the proposed bond on a number of assumptions and projections including Harris County Appraisal District property value projections over the next three years. If the bond passes, the district's debt service tax rate is projected to increase incrementally each year for three years beginning in 2015-16. The cumulative tax rate increase for the three years is projected to be 4.5 cents.

The total tax increase during the three-year period would be $62.25 annually on a home valued at $200,000, according to district officials.

For more detailed information on the proposed bond and coverage of the Feb. 27 special-called meeting, visit impactnews.com/cyf.

By Marie Leonard
Marie came to Community Impact Newspaper in June 2011 after starting her career at a daily newspaper in East Texas. She worked as a reporter and editor for the Cy-Fair edition for nearly 5 years covering Harris County, Cy-Fair ISD, and local development and transportation news. She then moved to The Woodlands edition and covered local politics and development news in the master-planned community before being promoted to managing editor for the South Houston editions in July 2017.