A closer look at the HISD bond proposal

From the Houston Landing, which put together five highlights from the proposal.

1. Elementary and middle schools to see the biggest upgrades

All schools will see some level of investment under the bond plan, but elementary and middle schools will receive the vast majority of the funds — roughly $3.1 billion of $3.3 billion total slated for campus-level improvements.

HISD’s youngest learners stand to benefit most from the investments because those campuses have gone the longest without receiving facilities upgrades. HISD’s 2012 bond largely targeted high schools, meaning most elementary and middle schools have not received structural fixes since the district’s 2007 bond package.

Two dozen of HISD’s elementary and middle schools were built in the 1930s or earlier, and families interviewed by the Houston Landing in April said some of the campuses are in dire need of fixes. In extreme cases, they said the schools have rats, mold and bathrooms filled with standing water.

2. Over 30 schools to be rebuilt, undergo major renovations

HISD plans to rebuild or renovate about 35 schools in need of the largest improvements, at a total cost of $2.5 billion.

Eighteen schools would be fully rebuilt, while 16 would get renovated or expanded.

Of the 18 schools to get rebuilt, eight would receive investments over $100 million.


4. New pre-K classrooms, career and technical education campuses

HISD said it plans to use roughly $1 billion from the bond package to finance investments in pre-kindergarten, new technology and career and technical education, though details on the plans remain scarce.

The district currently has enough pre-K seats for about 14,000 students, equivalent to only one-third of the 3- and 4-year-olds in the district. The bond proposal would allow HISD to open roughly 4,000 new seats, district officials said, accounting for less than one-fifth of the existing gap.

HISD has not said where the new pre-K classrooms would open, but it identified the Wisdom and Lamar high school feeder patterns as the areas with the greatest need.

For career and technical education, HISD said it plans to open four new campuses in addition to the current Barbara Jordan Career Center, which functions as a districtwide hub. Officials have not released exact price tags or locations for the potential new schools, but indicated they would be spread across the district, with one in each quadrant. The new centers would focus on top industries in the Houston area, HISD said, including construction, energy, health and information technology.

See here for some background. It is clear that many people who are strong supporters of public schools and who are usually the biggest cheerleaders for school bonds have very strong feelings about this. My Facebook post about the bond has a long comment thread about it that’s worth reading through. I myself have a lot of feelings about all this. I found myself nodding vigorously in agreement with this op-ed by HISD parent Robbie McDonough about the deep frustrations over Mike Miles’ leadership and decisions. Believe me, if you’re out there saying “no trust, no bond”, I get it.

What I have trouble with is connecting all that anger and frustration with the inclination to vote against the bond as a means of expressing one’s heartily felt and well-earned disapproval of Miles. The conditions in many of these schools is deplorable, which directly hurts the students, and the bond is the one means we have to address that. If one believes that students learn best in environments that are clean and healthy and open and welcoming, then voting against the bond not only goes against that interest, it also means it’s more likely that Miles will be around here longer than was perhaps necessary, as going to these run-down schools has its predictably negative effect on the children there. I’m in full agreement with the questions over Miles’ budgetary maneuvers, but bond funds are solely for capital expenditures, not regular operations, so none of that money would affect his NES programs or his overpaid administrators or whatever else. Realistically, a lot of the bond money would be spent after he leaves anyway, just because these things take a lot of time to execute.

Again, I’m right there with you in thinking Miles is an egomaniacal ass whose programs are at best questionable in their merit even if the latest test scores are positive. I agree he’s done a lot of harm, which may linger well after his tenure. I want him gone as soon as possible, and I never want any other school district to go through this. I have a lot of conflicting emotions about this bond, but I have a very hard time seeing how voting against it will accomplish any of my preferred outcomes. I understand if you don’t see it that way. It’s still on HISD and the bond committee to sell this to the voters, and any way you look at it they have a heavy lift. I encourage you to read the proposal, ask your questions, and make your best decision. I plan to do some interviews about this for the fall, I promise you that.

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26 Responses to A closer look at the HISD bond proposal

  1. Meme says:

    I have trouble connecting all that anger and frustration with the inclination to vote against Cruz as a means of expressing one’s heartily felt and well-earned disapproval of Trump.

    First, the bonds are designed to help the GHP members. They have managed to stay rich with government contracts. We must stop taking money from working families to keep rich people prosperous.

    Republicans lie; they lie all the time; why start believing them now?

    In two weeks, I will have a health plan; it has been ten years.

    Obama said he would work with the Republicans. Biden said he would work with the Republicans.

    Vote No to any bonds as long as Abbott’s puppet is in control.

  2. Those long neglected, crumbling school facilities need to be addressed no matter who is running HISD. If the school bonds are passed this November, it will still be years before all the proposed capital improvement projects are completed. Voting against the HISD bonds is really just voting against the students and educators who have to occupy those deplorable facilities, not Mike Miles. I’m sure Mike Miles is going to have a nice office somewhere no matter how we vote.

    The TEA takeover is a temporary situation. Let’s plan for HISD’s future and not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  3. Jennifer Mathieu Blessington says:

    I am a resigning HISD teacher who spent the last several weeks of school in a classroom with no AC, and I STILL will not vote for this bond. This administration cannot be trusted with our money. This is the only leverage we have.

    If the GHP doesn’t get the bond money it wants pumping into our economy (the main reason it wants the bond to pass, let’s face it), maybe then they will wake up to the catastrophe befalling our city and use their power to do something about it.

    We are facing a crisis the likes of which I’ve never seen in my nearly 20 years in education. HISD is being destroyed before our eyes, and not enough Houstonians really grasp how bad it is.

    No trust, no bond.

  4. Meme says:

    Voting against the bonds is voting against tyranny.

    What Greg is saying is how Germans justified their vote for Hitler.

  5. J says:

    Miles will be long gone by the time the improvements from the bonds are seen.

  6. Meme says:

    What makes you think that will happen, J.

    The construction is the last part; some of the bonds will be put to use immediately.

    Those GHP people getting the contracts give money to the Abbotts, the Paxtons, the Bettencourts, the Whitmires, etc.

  7. Jane says:

    Agree. Example: Ric Campo, contributor to the eviction crisis, is on that Board of Managers cheerleading selling HISD property. Why?
    There is so little detail given as to plans, with no oversight mechanisms. From what I understand from a former elected HISD member of the Board of Trustees, the only legal restriction on how bond funds will be spent will be the actual bond language we vote on. Someone please correct this if I understood wrong.
    I do not believe at this point that many of those schools will see the renovations or rebuilds. Which of them are going to be closed (worse outcome, due to underfunding and students being diverted to charters) instead?
    A bond can be voted on once these current totally unaccountable appointees are gone.
    It is not true that this is our only chance to vote for a bond – I think we have to postpone. Nobody was up in arms when bonds were not being voted for in the last several years, yet the same bad physical conditions existed then.
    4.4 billion is just too much to trust these people with.

  8. Bayrard Rustin says:

    We feel so helpless against what Mike Miles has done to HISD that opposing the bond measure is a way to exact revenge. When asked about how the state takeover diminished democracy, he responded since the state legislature authorized it, it was a democratic process. I don’t want to punish the children but I don’t want to give legitimacy to the tyrant of Colorado Springs. And Mike Morath can go to Hell too.

  9. David Fagan says:

    “What Greg is saying is how Germans justified their vote for Hitler.”

    I am interested in how you’ve come up with this comparison and genuinely interested in your point of view. Please explain, I am obviously unfamiliar with the point you’re making.

  10. Meme says:

    As I have stated before, David, I don’t believe you are capable of comprehending.

    Watch the Netflix series “Hitler and the Nazis:” Maybe you can figure out the connection if it is a video.

  11. David Fagan says:

    If you are not able to support your accusations, it’d make the world a better place if you didn’t make them.

  12. Meme,

    How is Hitler “germain” to the topic (ha, ha)? Voting for or against these school bonds isn’t going to affect Mike Miles’ HISD employment status, or duration, one bit. The TEA will decide when the takeover ends. That being the case, I choose to support the bonds so our children and teachers will have decent, modern facilities even after Miles is long gone.

  13. Meme says:

    Dang, David, from the guy who kept repeating, just go to a fire station and ask.

    My conclusion about supporting fascism stands: there is a connection. I am sorry you can’t see it or may not want others to see it.

    You are correct that it won’t affect how long the fascist puppet is there. But I am not sure how you being right about that reason is germain to helping them achieve their end.

  14. Germain? As Sheriff Buford T. Justice said in Smokey and the Bandit, the Germans got nothin’ to do with this!

  15. Meme says:

    Greg, obviously, you watch movies more than you read books. Try Mein Kampf and Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

    It makes one wonder why it is called the Third Reich.

    It is not the Germans but the history. Could have used the Italians, Mussolani was a fascist also. And he was there before Hitler.

    For someone who does not reside in Houston, you sure have a lot to say about it. Are you a MAGA masquerading as a Democrat?

    I don’t believe David resides in Houston either.

  16. Meme, comparing Miles to Hilter or Mussolani is ridiculous. Miles isn’t about to invade countries, kill millions of people, or start a world war. His management style is authoritarian, his methods unorthodox, and his results, to-date, are mixed. That said, the bonds aren’t about Miles or the TEA. There about providing decent facilities to future HISD educators and students. Hate Miles and the TEA all you want, but vote yes on the bonds.

    You seem to dismiss everyone who disagrees with you as a fascist, MAGA, or other extremist. I’m none of those. Anyway, I’m going to move on to other topics of interest. Good day to you.

  17. Meme says:

    Greg, you don’t seem to care how the Nazis rose to power, or you don’t want people to know how it came about. One of the things that they did was start with control of everything local. The locals didn’t start the war, and I don’t expect Miles would or could do that, but he is part of the plan. So, you say one truth to hide the evil behind what may be lurking there.

    Why not call people that think like a fascist a fascist?

    Why not call someone who defends a party that acts like a fascist a fascist?

  18. C.L. says:

    When Mike Miles, who’s in a temporary appointed postion, has his own Kristallnacht moment, or starts rounding up Caucasians, or Hispanics, or African-Americans, or Asian and Pacific Islanders and starts shipping them off to other school districts, then I’ll start taking this comparison to Hitler a lil more seriously.

    Ridiculous analogy, and one thrown about way too frequently these days.

    Re: “You seem to dismiss everyone who disagrees with you as a fascist, MAGA, or other extremist.” Dismissing everyone who disagrees with you may truly be The Beginning of a fascist regime.

  19. Kris Overstreet says:

    You vastly underestimate Republican ability to pocket public funds, especially since Miles has already been found funneling HISD money into his Colorado charter schools.

  20. J says:

    I am convinced, will vote no on bonds for now, there will be another bond election after Miles is gone.

  21. C.L. says:

    Kris, can you provide a link to the/a report that made that determination/came to that official conclusion ? I see a lotta stories about accusations, but they all lack a definitive conclusion.

  22. Meme says:

    C.L. I would not expect any other response from someone who votes for people based on their hairstyle.

    Abbott has rounded up people, and Miles is one of the foot soldiers. As the Nazis said, we were just following orders as they shot people and dumped them in holes.

    Are you preparing to be one of them in case Trump wins, C.L.?

  23. C.L. says:

    Manny, on many an occasion I find your comments to be too idiotic to warrant a reply and, as it turns out, this occasion fits that bill.

  24. Mamacita says:

    The school board isn’t exercising any meaningful oversight of the Superintendent. Why would we trust any of them to use the bond funds as promised?

  25. Meme says:

    C.L., your insults don’t mean anything to me. You don’t want to be labeled a fascist; quit defending them and, on occasion, writing as one.

    For over fifty years, the Republicans have been called Democrats, communists, and socialists. Do you know who labeled the Jews and other people he hated as socialists and communists? Hitler.

    They say that ignorance is bliss. Are you happy, C.L.?

    By the way, C.L., you have been replying.

  26. Pingback: On the bonds and closing or not closing schools | Off the Kuff

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