So what is HISD going to do with this bond proposal?

I have no idea. I’m not sure they have any idea, either.

Houston ISD officials are considering asking taxpayers to approve a multibillion-dollar bond in November, but Superintendent Mike Miles’ administration has yet to go through a widely used process to involve the community — and may be running short on time to do so.

With seven months to go before a potential record bond election, HISD leaders haven’t convened a community committee to offer feedback and make recommendations about what should be included in a package.

In recent years, all of the Houston area’s largest districts have assembled a similar committee, which helps get community buy-in for spending billions of dollars on school construction projects and other expensive upgrades. HISD could face a particularly tall task in garnering support for a bond this year, given widespread community opposition to the state-appointed superintendent and school board running the district.

An HISD spokesperson told the Houston Landing that district leaders are “considering” creating a group of community members to assist in the planning process. If HISD does form a committee, it likely will be later in the process relative to other districts, which generally set up the groups roughly six to nine months before the election date.

Miles has not confirmed that the district will go out for a bond in November, but has repeatedly said his administration is looking into the possibility.

“HISD students deserve better than the buildings they have inherited after more than a decade of neglect,” an HISD spokesperson wrote in an email to the Landing. “If and when the district moves forward with a bond election, the bond plan will address the most urgent student needs and will not raise taxes.”


Most Texas districts pass a bond roughly every five years. But HISD’s most recent bond passed in 2012, a $1.9 billion package backed by roughly two-thirds of voters. The district aimed to hold a bond election in the late 2010s, but many voters lost faith in the district due to infighting among board members and the prospect of an imminent state takeover.

As a result, many of HISD’s buildings are breaking down, with repeated heating and cooling issues.

While HISD families and leaders generally agree that the district needs to pass a bond, a potential November election still could prove contentious.

Voting on a bond represents one of the only remaining ways that Houston taxpayers can directly influence the district’s operations following Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath’s appointment of Miles and an unelected school board last June.

Some HISD families and community advocates have criticized Miles’ dramatic overhaul of the district, arguing that he has ignored community voices in his decision-making process. Miles has said he’s made a few recent changes in response to community feedback — most notably, delaying the rollout of a new principal evaluation system — though he’s generally pushed forward with his preferred methods for changing district operations.

At a March school board meeting, several parents said they would shoot down any upcoming bond as a protest vote against Miles.

“We, the electorate, have the responsibility to not throw good money after bad. So, we might have to touch a sacred cow, meaning the bond,” HISD parent Stacy Anderson said at the meeting. “In my 22 years of living and being a voter in the city of Houston, I have never, ever voted against a bond. But I can tell you now, with the way that it is going, I will have to.”

HISD has not said how large any upcoming bond proposal might be, but a credit opinion issued by Moody’s investor service in late March said that the district expects a bond package between $3.5 billion and $5 billion. HISD said the estimate was based on facilities planning work from 2022 and will be updated.

See here for a bit of background. This is the dilemma in a nutshell. HISD desperately needs a bond, to refurbish and update facilities and equipment that fall short of what the students require and deserve. HISD, and in particular Mike Miles, also needs the support of a community that it has treated with disdain and indifference in order to get that bond. All of us in the community, many of whom have utter distrust of Miles and his agenda, are thus left with a lousy choice. I am exactly where Stacy Anderson is, and I hate it. Thanks a hell of a lot, Mike.

As to how HISD proceeds if it does put forward a bond, I don’t know and I almost don’t care. I don’t see how they can get the trust they’ll need no matter what they do at this point. I need to go mutter some obscenities under my breath. We’ll talk more later.

UPDATE: So on brand.

Without any public discussion, Houston ISD’s appointed Board of Managers voted Thursday to formally authorize the administration to explore a 2024 bond election.

“Too many HISD students are learning in facilities that, quite simply, are not acceptable,” appointed Superintendent Mike Miles said in a prepared statement after the board meeting. “Our kids need and deserve better, and we look forward to talking to the broader HISD community about the investments we can make to provide all our students with safe, healthy, and effective learning environments.”

Miles can now explore putting together a multi-billion dollar bond package after the vote to allow the district to use proceeds from a future bond election to reimburse the district’s general fund for money they use to put the bond together. Bond proceeds would otherwise be spent to pay for upgrades to school facilities and infrastructure.

“Without any public discussion”, because of course. Yes, I know, this doesn’t mean there will be a bond, just that HISD has decided to move forward on maybe having one, and there can be discussion of it then. I’m sure any discussion at this time would have been an opportunity for many more “fire Mike Miles” comments. But still, this is so on brand it’s almost a self-parody.

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5 Responses to So what is HISD going to do with this bond proposal?

  1. C.L. says:

    Any idea where to find a comprehensive list of real estate owned by HISD that’s either unused/vacant structures or vacant land ?

  2. John Hansen says:

    C.L.: The HISD Administration Building. It should be a public record. Submit a public info request.

  3. Since the pandemic began, HISD student enrollment has fallen by 30K. To reduce the projected HISD budget deficit and maximize use of existing staff and equipment, Miles should be talking about facility closures and operational consolidation, not building new facilities. Some people may not like school closures and consolidation, but Miles has proven he isn’t afraid to make the hard decisions, even if they are unpopular.

    Once HISD is right-sized, bond-funded improvements could be made to the operational facilities, with the closed facilities held in reserve for future reactivation (if/when HISD student enrollment increases). I support repairing and upgrading existing HISD facilities, purchasing new school buses and equipment, etc., but not adding brand new facilities. Remember, Houston residents are about to be on the hook for a $1.3B HFD settlement, plus the City of Houston is also trolling for more general fund revenue (e.g. garbage fees, more parking fees, higher water bill fees). To gain support, HISD should keep their bond proposal request relatively modest, not ask for billions of dollars.

  4. Ross says:

    You can get a list of HISD properties from HCAD. Put Houston ISD in as the owner name.

    Some facilities need to be replaced, unless you want kids educated in rundown piece of crap buildings. The bond is not for new facilities, it’s for replacing facilities that have reached end of life.

    Miles needs to be gone tomorrow. He hasn’t had a single decent idea. He’s an incompetent moron piece of garbage, whose assignment from Austin is to destroy HISD to justify replacing the district with all charter schools.

  5. Ross, unlike jails, prisons, high rise buildings, etc., the building materials used in schools are pretty standard. In most cases, it would be much more cost-effective to renovate and upgrade current school facilities than build brand new facilities from scratch. Besides, existing facilities are already properly located in developed neighborhoods. As they say in the real estate business, it’s all about location, location, location.

    HISD is projected to be ~$250M over budget next year. With 30K fewer students, Miles really needs to consolidate operations and reduce his operational costs.

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