Guest Editorial: Republican Party Treasurer John Hill Wertz asks some tough questions about Conroe ISD’s $807 million

Guest Editorialist John Hill Wertz examining some engineering on a recent trip to Alaska.

Publisher’s Note: John Hill Wertz is the elected Treasurer of the Montgomery County Republican Party, a member of the Party’s Steering Committee, a Republican Precinct Chair, member of the Citizens Budget Committee, and Vetting Committee Chairman of the Montgomery County Tea Party. After the Harvey storm, Wertz tirelessly helped dozens of flood victims rebuild their homes.

John Hill Wertz, Guest Editorialist

I’ve got some questions which Conroe Independent School District (CISD) has failed to answer:

1.    Why $149 million to “remodel” Conroe High School, when they just built Grand Oaks High School for the same amount?  And wasn’t Conroe High School remodeled just a few years ago?

2.    Does Oak Ridge High School really need of $50 million to remodel?  Based on what data?

3.    How does spending $23 million on turf improve educational outcomes in CISD?

4.    Why is $2 million in decommissioning (Sam Houston School and Jett Center) in a bond?

5.    Why is Safety & Security in the bond when we don’t know what the legislature is going do this session re school safety?

6.    Why are 3 elementary schools, which cost $27 Million 4 years ago, now $37 Million?

7.    Does it make sense to put any technology, which will likely have a usable life of 4-5 years, in a 25 year bond?

8.    If the demographic study is wrong, doesn’t that mean the entire rationale for the bond is faulty?  Apparently PASA (the company which did the study) has missed forecasts in the past, but does NOT use past information in forecasting future trends (they actually say that as part of the study).

9.    What was the make-up of the “citizens” on the Facilities Committee and why not any elected GOP Precinct Chairs (not one)?  Seemed to be only those favorable to building things/spending public money(Chamber/Economic Development, etc.).

10.  How is it that there are 2 pairs of schools that have equal needs of exactly the same amount – $11,236,000 (College Park and The Woodlands High Schools) and $11,910,160 (Caney Creek and Conroe High Schools)?  This has shades of how we use to do county bonds – everyone gets their fair share, instead of needs-based.

11.    Why is it a sound business practice to practically double the debt of the district from $1.3 Billion to over $2 Billion?

12.    What are the redistricting plans for the district? Why have those plans not been publicized on the CISD’s website, even though it’s been reported Dr. Null had a meeting with county government leaders to discuss specific plans for redistricting right after the bond election?

13.   Why isn’t Life Cycle “sustainability” coming out of Maintenance and Operations?!?

14.    The “Rainy Day Fund” (the “emergency” reserve for the entire State of Texas is about $10 billion. The annual state budget is about $150 billion. The state’s emergency reserve is approximately 7% of its annual budget. The revenue sources for CISD seem to be quite predictable and very reliable. With such a solid “business climate”, please explain the risks that justify CISD having a 25% reserve, going from approximately $160Million to $200Million (with adding $40 million in this bond)?

15.   CISD has projected the number of students it (and PASA) expect will be attending its schools in ten years in the 2018 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 current school capacity

5th-6th = 11,476 = 88% of current school capacity

7th-8th = 12,082 = 118% of current school capacity

9th-12th = 23,470 = 112% of current school capacity.

The bottom line is that none of the student categories justify construction of any new schools between now and 2028, other than Suchma and Stockton which are already under construction.

There simply is no demographic basis for the bond, pursuant to CISD’s own 2018 demographic study.

BRING US A BETTER BOND!!!

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