"The tide is turning," Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra said. "I anticipate being successful Nov. 6. I anticipate us celebrating that evening."
Hispanic leaders also said they will try to persuade their peers in the African-American community, some of whom have loudly criticized HISD's plan, to change their stance.
"This is about our children. This is about our city," said Laura Murillo, president of the chamber. "We will be the leaders in the community to help unite to move this forward."
But black leaders who have raised concerns about the plan said they won't reconsider.
"There's no swaying when it comes to consolidating our schools," said Carol Mims Galloway, president of the NAACP Houston and a candidate for the school board.
Winning voters' approval won't be as easy as HISD leaders anticipated when they decided in early August to put the bond plan on the ballot. They cited polls indicating voters would overwhelmingly support the measure, as in 1998 and 2002.
"That was the expectation with this bond. Now, with some organized and vocal opposition emerging, it's dicey," said University of Houston political science professor Richard Murray.
Murray said it will take more than black opposition to sink the bond issue.
"The African-American vote is not large enough to kill the bond. Somebody else would have to vote against it," he said, adding that older, conservative voters would be the most likely group to join the opposition.
[S]chool board president Manuel Rodriguez Jr. said he hopes Hispanics take advantage of their growing influence. While he thinks they overwhelmingly support the bonds, he worries that they won't show up to vote.
"We need to make them realize the importance of their one vote as it comes together and makes for a powerful message-sender," Rodriguez said. "I applaud the black leaders for standing up and asking for more, but we need to do what's right for these schools, students and teachers who have been waiting for years."
The fact that black and Hispanic leaders are on opposite sides on this issue doesn't signal a growing rift, said Gallegos, the state senator.
"Anybody that's telling you that is lying," he said. "We're not that far from bringing some of the black leadership in."
Others questioned whether the vocal black leadership has the same mind-set as black parents on this issue.
"The impact on the children in the northeast area and the money being spent on children in the northeast areas is such that, to not want this bond issue is not rational," said Michael Dee, co-chairman of Parents & Teachers for Our Public Schools, a political action committee supporting the bonds.