Editorial: Conroe ISD voters should bring an end to the school district snook cocking, send clear message that we’re rejecting the $676 million bond, which will actually cost more than the rejected $807 million bond

Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer

How can a $676 million bond cost more than a previously-rejected $807 million bond? Only in the deceitful world of Conroe Independent School District.

Last night, August 13, 2019, the Board of Trustees, acting as robotic drones responding to PowerPoint presentations of the school district’s administration, put an $676 bond package on the November 5, 2019, ballot for voter referendum.

Here’s what you should know about the $676 million bond:

Tax hike

Without allowing voters to vote up or down for approval, Conroe ISD’s Board of Trustees is raising the Debt Service tax rate more than they had even projected under the $807 million bond package. Please see Conroe ISD’s projections for the tax rate for Debt Service as part of the $807 million bond package. They projected they’d have to increase the tax rate by 3 cents with the $807 million bond, but that they’d also have to push property tax appraisal increases hard, so that total taxes would increase approximately 70% with the tax rate increase and the property tax appraisal increases during the next ten years.

Please note that the total “Tax Rate Increase” shown at the bottom of the yellow column (coloring provided from CISD!) was $0.0300. Incredibly, CISD’s Board and administration are raising the Debt Service tax rate by $0.045, or 4.5 cents per $100 valuation, IMMEDIATELY, instead of over four years, in order to try to trick voters into believing the proposed $676 bond package doesn’t have a tax rate increase with it.

If you don’t believe it, look at the chart below, which was CISD’s financial projection under the $807 million bond package which voters soundly rejected on May 4.

Source: Conroe Independent School District.

Same spending

Remember all of the craziness with the $807 million bond package?

Fake cost estimates, such as the infamous $21,562.50 number throughout the estimates, which CISD admitted it pulled out of thin air and then applied a 1.4375 factor to every estimate for legal expenses and contractor profits.

Expenses for curtains for elementary schools, dance floors with thousands of mirrors, the air soft gun range, Astro-Turf for children’s athletic fields, and multi-million playing fields for robots, among many of the ridiculous spending proposals.

The difference in the numbers between $807 million and $676 million is:

  • CISD is spending money over a period of ten years for the inflated maintenance expenses rather than sticking those expenses inside of the bond;
  • CISD is not going to build the Teacher Training Facility or refurbish the Hauke campus;
  • CISD is going to use money which could have reduced the tax rate for a few spending projects so the bond number appears lower than it really is;
  • CISD is adding an additional school to the package.

PBK Architects will still make out like bandits. CISD has already selected the major contractors on every project, so we’ll likely see the same nefarious political contributors for CISD’s campaign. CISD has still failed to obtain any real cost estimates for any of the projects.

Failure to give teachers the raise they deserve

There’s a marked contrast between what the Citizens Budget Committee (CBC) proposed and what CISD has proposed.

The citizens want more money for teachers and less for administrators. The CISD is taking money from teachers and putting it into the administrators’ pockets and into construction vendors’ profits.

The citizens want more money for teachers and less for administrators. The CISD is taking money from teachers and putting it into the administrators’ pockets and into construction vendors’ profits.

Citizens Budget Committee makes four striking recommendations which differ:

  • The CBC recommends a 25% higher teacher pay raise than CISD has recommend;
  • The CBC recommends a budget which includes a 20% reduction in CISD administration expenditures;
  • The CBC recommends use of surplus funds to reduce the Debt Service tax rate to 0.22 per $100 valuation rather than CISD’s proposed 0.265 higher date rate; and
  • The CBC recommends using surplus funds from the coming Fiscal Year for capital projects rather than any bond financing. In other words, the CBC recommends against a bond.

Additionally, the CBC recommended a “pay as you go” approach to building new schools. The CBC recommended using surplus funds from the more carefully-crafted CBC budget rather than using bond financing, as CISD wants. Here are the full differences between the two budgets.

Notice that the CBC budget has a cash surplus of $28.72 Million. Those funds would free up accumulated fund balance already in place to use for construction of new schools.



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