Image: Pick a number; any number! Something very important is missing from the Board minutes and contracts of the Conroe Independent School District with respect to the $807 million bond package and tax hike: any backup for their latest lie to try to justify the gargantuan spending and borrowing. President Datren Williams (center, with hand in nose) led the CISD Board of Trustees meeting on March 19, 2019.
Conroe, March 27 – Panic has begun to set in at Conroe Independent School District (CISD), because the school district apparently never imagined citizens would unmask all of the lies and threats relating to the $807 million bond package and tax hike. A pattern has emerged: (1) CISD and its Superintendent Curtis Null make statements advocating for the bond package; (2) the statements turn out to be false, as CISD’s own documents and records reveal; (3) CISD attempts a new lie to try to explain away the first lies; (4) the new lies are even more outrageous and easier for citizens to unravel.
So it is with the 2019 demographic study, which CISD commissioned to support the $807 million bond, by Population and Survey Analysts (PASA).
Step (1) CISD and its Superintendent Curtis Null make statements advocating for the bond package
In a September 28, 2018, video-recorded interview, CISD Trustee Skeeter Hubert, who was running for re-election to the Board of Trustees at the time, explained how CISD determined when it would be appropriate to construct new schools. “We don’t schedule planning a new building or even rezoning until that capacity is 120%,” Hubert explained. (You can watch the full Skeeter Hubert interview video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG7bt5punNk).
“We don’t schedule planning a new building or even rezoning until that capacity is 120%.” – – CISD Board of Trustees member Skeeter Hubert, September 28, 2018.
Hubert explained, “We wait as long as we possibly can [to build new schools.]”
This newspaper presented a full discussion of Hubert’s video interview in the article “The Conroe ISD’s $807 Million Bond Set For May 4 Election: Part 3 Of 4, CISD’s Demographic Study Does NOT Support The Proposed Bond,” The Golden Hammer, March 8, 2019.
CISD and Null have based their entire argument in favor of the $807 million bond on the PASA demographic study. The critical table from PASA’s 2019 demographic study follows and shows PASA’s projection of 76,560 students enrolled in CISD’s school by 2028:
Of course, what’s missing from the projection in the table immediately above is CISD’s numbers showing the capacity of its schools. Here are two slides from the PASA study showing the projections for elementary schools, intermediate schools (5th-6th grades), junior high schools, and high schools. All four slides from the PASA study reveal that CISD will not reach the 120% capacity mark even by 2028, with one exception discussed immediately below the second slide!
The one part of the school district where CISD does run into a 120% capacity issue during the next ten (10) years is for junior high schools. PASA has projected that CISD will exceed the 120% capacity mark for junior high school enrollment by 2027. Therefore, according to CISD officials, they should begin construction of a new junior high school – possibly – in nine (9) years, but most certainly not now.
[Publisher’s Note: Obviously, not all of the slides showing PASA demographic projections appear in this article, for the sake of brevity. Nevertheless, the PASA study is available on CISD’s website. Just begin reviewing the study around page 312 and you’ll see all of the projections.]
Nevertheless, there’s a serious problem even with that demographic projection for the junior high schools. In 2021, Stockton Junior High School will open while Washington Junior High School will close, adding a net 700 student capacity to CISD’s junior high schools. In reality, CISD won’t reach the 120% capacity mark at all during the next ten (10) years.
Step (2) The statements turn out to be false
As for CISD’s six high schools, the six schools will have 18,521 students next school year with a district-wide capacity of 21,040, or only 88% of the total capacity. In fact, PASA projects that CISD’s enrollment in ten (10) years, 2028, will only be 112% of capacity, or 23,472 students. Clearly, there will be no need for construction of a new high school for at least a decade.
If one includes the additional student capacity from the opening of Suchma Elementary and Intermediate School in 2020, the opening of Stockton Junior High School in 2021, and the closing of Washington Junior High School in 2021, then CISD and PASA have projected the number of students it (and PASA) expect will be attending its schools in ten years in the 2019 demographic study. Using the correct capacity of schools in CISD, the actual enrollment and percentage capacity numbers for each school level by 2028-29 are:
- EE-4th = 29,533 = 103% of capacity
- 5th-6th = 11,476 = 88% of capacity
- 7th-8th = 12,082 = 118% of capacity
- 9th-12th = 23,470 = 112% of capacity.
The bottom line is that none of the student categories justify construction of any new schools between now and 2028, other than Suchman and Stockton which are already under construction. There simply is no demographic basis for the bond, pursuant to CISD’s own 2018 demographic study.
Clearly, that creates a problem for CISD, because they want your money very badly.
Step (3) CISD attempts a new lie to try to explain away the first lies
Hubert’s admission of the 120% capacity level as the point at which CISD would begin construction had to go away, so that CISD could try to justify the gargantuan $807 million bond package, which will raise the tax rate by 3 cents but for which the financial projections depend upon and require a 64% increase in CISD taxes during the next eight years through the three-cent tax rate increase PLUS substantial property tax appraisal increases each year as well for taxpayers and their homes.
If Hubert’s statement in the videotaped interview were true, the PASA study, which CISD commissioned, simply does not support the $807 million bond at all. Since CISD has admitted that the $807 million bond package has nothing whatsoever to do with educational outcomes and only emanates from demographic and projected student enrollment, there is no basis whatsoever for the $807 million bond package.
CISD badly needed a new lie. Trustee Skeeter Hubert obliged with a new lie on March 12.
On March 13, 2019, The Golden Hammer published an article, “Desiring Dollar Devouring, District Dares Deceptive Demography (For Conroe ISD’s $807 Million Bond).” In response to that article which called Hubert out for some of his lies, Hubert attempted a new lie on social media on March 13, in which he claims now that CISD made a decision to change its policy, so that the school district will consider new construction or rezoning at 110% capacity! Here’s Hubert’s new lie:
CISD’s Board voted to submit the $807 million bond to the voters on January 15, 2019. Hubert made his statements in the videotaped interview on September 28, 2018. Therefore, in the space of 109 days, CISD supposedly made a major policy decision to begin constructing new schools at 110% capacity rather than at 120% capacity.
Sadly, it turns out, Hubert (and CISD) were lying. That decision to build new schools at 110% capacity never occurred. Furthermore, the PASA study reveals that CISD schools won’t reach 110% capacity by 2028 anyway, so, even the newest lie doesn’t get CISD and its administration to the $807 million end of the rainbow.
Step (4) The new lies are even more outrageous and easier for citizens to unravel.
It turns out that the newest lie – that CISD has made the decision to build new schools and to rezone at 110% capacity rather than at 120%, as Hubert said in his September 28, 2018, videotaped interview – is just that, a lie.
The Golden Hammer, on March 16, 2019, sent a Texas Public Information Act request to CISD:
On March 26, 2019, CISD responded to the request and provided the PASA contract, some buy board documents, and minutes from one CISD Board meeting. Additionally, this newspaper scoured every Board meeting summary and set of minutes publicly available since September 1, 2018.
Nowhere in CISD’s Board minutes, in CISD’s written agreement with PASA to perform the demographic study, in CISD’s policy statements, in CISD’s Board summaries, or elsewhere is there any mention whatsoever of any decision by CISD to implement a new policy that it would build new schools or rezone when schools reach 110% capacity rather than 120%.
Sadly, Hubert and CISD have had to make up a new lie ad hoc.
Even sadder, assuming Hubert and CISD were not lying, the 110% capacity argument still would not justify the $807 million bond package and tax hike, because CISD schools will not reach 110% of capacity by 2028, according to the PASA demographic study.