Conroe ISD takes first steps in preparing for November bond vote

Conroe ISD is forming a bond review committee to determine the details of a possible bond election that may take place in November 2015, Superintendent Don Stockton said.

The committee will be finalized in early February, Stockton said. By then a commissioned demographic study will be ready for the committee to review to determine the district's priorities in a potential bond.

The committee is expected to meet for three months.

Stockton said the possible bond election stems from growth in the community.

"We're growing by about 1,500 students a year," he said. "Between 2003–13, we added over 16,000 students."

Stockton said the school district has the sixth largest growth rate in the state.

"When you think about 16,000 students, that's one or two schools," Stockton said. "We expect that [growth] to accelerate with the ExxonMobil [campus] and all of the other businesses."

Stockton said several projects would be considered for the new bond, including three to four new elementary and junior high schools, in addition to a new high school in the Oak Ridge feeder zone.

Rayford Road Civic Association President Paul Cote said he understands the need for a school district bond election. He addressed how the area east of I-45 would benefit from the passage.

"We have a lot of [education] improvements that need to be considered," Cote said. "It's up to the voters at the end of the day if they want to support that activity or not. It's all up to them."

No amount has been determined yet for a possible 2015 bond, however, Stockton said he anticipates the amount will be less than the 2008 CISD bond that was approved for $527 million by district voters. Stockton said various factors are

considered when determining the amount, including how long the bond issue will extend as well as what the

numbers from the demographic study show.

"It's going to depend on a couple of things—obviously our demographic study," he said. "We want to make sure we're most efficient with the taxpayers' money and at the same time meet the needs of our growth."

Stockton said he cannot predict how the bond will affect the district's property tax rate, which is currently at $1.28 per $100 of property valuation, but the goal is to have the rate as low as possible.

"Historically, we've been able to manage our tax rate," he said." We have the lowest tax rate in Montgomery County and

second lowest in the Greater Houston area. We've been able to pass our tax rate very efficiently and that will be a priority when we go into this bond issue."

Stockton addressed the issue of taxpayer burnout with Montgomery County potentially holding a road bond election in May for upwards of $500 million and the passage of Lone Star College's $485 million bond in November. He said the district's priority is education, and the schools have a reputation for fiscal responsibility and efficiency.

"There's no question about the importance of education in the community," he said. "We're going to be asking for what we need, and I think the community has a history of being very [responsive] to that."


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