Image: Conroe Independent School District Board of Trustees member Skeeter Hubert gave a recorded interview on September 28, 2018, in which he said “We don’t schedule planning a new building or even rezoning until that capacity is 120%.” The school district’s 2018 demographic study reveals that Conroe ISD then shouldn’t schedule planning a new building for at least ten (10) years, since the district’s enrollment will be less than 120% in 2028 in the study’s projections.
Conroe, March 8 – The demographic study, which Conroe Independent School District (CISD) commissioned to support its $807 million bond package, does not support construction of new schools at least for another ten (10) years, according to CISD insiders, such as Board of Trustees member Skeeter Hubert. On January 15, 2019, however, Hubert and five of his Board colleagues voted in favor of the $807 million bond election to occur on May 4, 2019.
With uncertain costs behind the bond, it has become apparent that CISD is merely intending to build up a gigantic “slush fund” to spend money on what it, by whim, wants, since there is no reason to burden the taxpayers with this gigantic debt right now.
The $807 million bond package will almost double CISD’s debt to more than $2 billion and depends upon a financial model which requires a sixty-four percent (64%) increase in taxes paid to CISD during the next ten (10) years. Please see “The Conroe ISD’s $807 Million Bond Set For May 4 Election: Part 1 Of 4, Bond Basics And Why Everyone Living In Montgomery County Should Care,” The Golden Hammer, March 6, 2019.
Since CISD has made clear that the purpose of the proposed $807 million tax hike has nothing whatsoever to do with improving educational outcomes, it’s clear that the 2018 demographic study forms the entire basis for the $807 million spending request to lie on the back’s of local taxpayers.
The demographic study does not support the bond, however.
Citizens should view demographic studies with enormous skepticism, because the consulting firm obviously wants to make its client, CISD, happy. The consulting firm, which has done all of CISD’s past four demographic studies in 2007, 2012, 2015, and 2018, is Population and Survey Analysts (PASA) out of College Station.
It’s important to look at past demographic studies to get a feel for how seriously one should view the present 2018 PASA study. PASA’s 2007 demographic study projected CISD would have 68,030 students by 2016. Their projection wasn’t even close to the reality. In 2018, this school year, CISD has 63,091 students enrolled.
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.]”
CISD’s four demographic studies all were inaccurate, although, as one might expect, they were more accurate in the near future rather than in distant projections. The 2007 and 2012 PASA demographic studies, which CISD taxpayers bought, were substantially off in their 2018 projections, but, of course, the 2015 study was a bit more accurate. The 2018 PASA demographic study, on which CISD has based the entirety of its argument in favor of the $807 million bond, projects that, in ten (10) years, CISD will have 76,560 students.
The PASA projection of 76,560 students is an important number for the number of students in ten (10) years, because one must then evaluate what CISD’s current capacity for students actually is in the school buildings the district presently has available to it. That’s where the analysis actually gets quite interesting.
As shown directly above, PASA’s study reveals that even in ten (10) years, CISD will not reach the 120% capacity mark. Instead PASA predicts CISD will only have 30,464 elementary school students, which comprises 111% of the capacity shown in the study. There’s a major problem with that capacity projection, however, PASA didn’t include the 1,100 student-capacity Suchma Elementary School for Kindergarten through 6th grade, which CISD is bringing online in 2019 in the Harper’s Preserve subdivision squarely near the geographic center of the school district.
While individuals schools exceed the 120% mark, CISD has already secretly informed government leaders throughout the CISD that CISD’s administration intends to implement a major rezoning of student enrollment right after the May 4, 2019, bond election. In other words, CISD will address the capacity issues in individual schools with rezoning, whether the bond passes or not.
At the intermediate school, 5th and 6th grades, the analysis of PASA is actually very similar. PASA projects 13,939 intermediate students in 2028, which is only 108% of the school district’s total capacity. Clearly, no construction of new schools is necessary at the intermediate school level either, just as it’s not necessary for the elementary school level.
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.
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.
There’s an interesting number, which neither CISD nor PASA ever published on its bond advocacy website or in the demographic study: the total current capacity of CISD! Apparently, that simple arithmetic is beyond the mathematics ability of CISD’s administrative bureaucrats.
CISD’s total current capacity for enrolled students is 71,080. CISD’s current enrollment is 63,091. Clearly, even assuming growth of 1,300 students per year, there’s plenty of time for CISD to ponder a bond issue and tax hike before subjecting its citizens to one for $807 million in 2019.
PASA’s demographic study only projects that in ten (10) years there will be 76,050 students in CISD. The current capacity of 71,080 doesn’t include the 1,100 capacity of Suchma Elementary, so total capacity numbers really are presently 72,180.
Even with PASA’s and CISD’s 2028 projection, CISD’s schools will operate at a capacity only of 105.3%.
Clearly, the 2018 demographic study, which CISD commissioned, suggests that CISD should hold off on planning for new construction for at least another ten (10) years!!!
Tomorrow’s article, the final one in this four-part series, will be “The Conroe ISD’s $807 Million Bond Set For May 4 Election: Part 4 Of 4, a flawed decision process produced the gargantuan $807 million bond.”