Apr 11, 2023 - News

A look at Fort Bend ISD's $1.26 billion bond

Illustration of a very large pencil filling out a check.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Fort Bend ISD is asking voters in May to consider three bond proposals totaling $1.26 billion — the district's biggest bond ever.

Driving the news: The bond would fund major projects throughout the district, including rebuilding older schools and constructing new campuses.

Why it matters: If all three propositions pass, it will cost residents an estimated $2.50 extra per month for the average FBISD home valued at $300,000.

Context: The district says some of its 82 campuses are in "critical condition" due to outdated plumbing, roofing, electrical and HVAC systems.

Flashback: Voters last approved a FBISD bond proposal in 2018 for $988 million, which included $403.4 million for new construction, rebuilds and classroom additions.

Details: Proposition A calls for $1.18 billion to go toward renovations; construction of new schools; 35 new school buses; and technology, transportation, safety and security improvements.

  • Proposition B would use $52.47 million for new classroom computers for students and an update of staff devices.
  • Proposition C would allocate $22.9 million for a natatorium on the southeast side of the district, an area that does not have a swim facility.

Zoom in: A large portion of Prop A, about $222 million, would go toward the Clements High School rebuild, which has been a point of contention for voters.

  • Between the lines: Clements High School, built in 1983 and one of 11 high schools in FBISD serving 2,600 students, is ranked as the best school in the district by U.S. News.

What they're saying: The district says Clements is in dire condition as the foundation is sinking.

  • After the new school is constructed, which is estimated to take four years, the old building would be demolished to make way for new athletic fields.
  • District leaders during a Facebook Live also emphasized that the funds would not go only to Clements but would also fund roof repairs, flooring, new drinking fountains, plumbing, and electrical and mechanical work at other schools.

Reality check: FBISD currently has a $47 million budget deficit.

  • Flashback: In November, voters rejected the district's 7.55 cents tax rate increase that would have bridged the district's budget shortfall.

The big picture: FBISD is one of the fastest-growing districts in the country. Since the last bond referendum, enrollment has grown by more than 4,400 students to more than 80,000 students and 12,000 staff members, according to the district.

  • "We've been attractive, but when we get to the point where we can't fix our schools or whatever else, or we can't recruit teachers or whatever, then we're going to have a hard time keeping staff and also attracting new families," says Steven Bassett, the deputy superintendent.

What's next: Early voting is from April 24 to May 2. Election Day is May 6.

Go deeper: FBISD created a new FAQ section addressing concerns about the rebuild.


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