Cleveland Independent School District residents will be voting on a $125 million bond on the November ballot that would be spent on five major projects in the district.
However, with interest, the bond would cost local property taxpayers $282 million—more than double the dollar amount shown on the ballot.
CISD taxpayers already owe $573 million in previously approved bond debt principal and interest.
The district is required by state law to publish a Voter Information Document of the full amount taxpayers would pay for the projects. Yet the district’s bond website does not prominently display the information for voters.
Here is a breakdown of where the money will go if the bond is passed:
New middle school—The bulk of the $125 million will go toward constructing a new middle school, estimated at $95 million. According to the district, the project involves the adaptive reuse of Santa Fe Middle School and will include athletic amenities such as track and football fields. Additionally, it will include support facilities, restrooms, concessions, and bleachers for 900 people.
New Career and Technical Education building—This project is expected to cost $23 million and is the second-most expensive project funded by the bond. The district is hoping to add auto mechanics to the new CTE program, and the building will add staff offices, restrooms, a vending area, collaboration space, and a material storage yard. The estimated capacity for the new facility will be 250 students.
Conversion of Cleveland Middle School to a 9th and 10th grade center—The new campus will cost taxpayers $1.6 million. It will include infrastructure improvements to address intrusion, public address systems, and access control requirements. New signage, new sidewalks, restriping the parking lot, and renovating space for storage will also be added into the cost.
Renovation to Southside Elementary—The district plans to spend $4.6 million to address mechanical, electrical, and plumbing needs to the campus and portables on site. It also includes plans to replace flooring and ceiling tiles, roof replacement on the main building, paint refreshment throughout the entire facility, as well as the replacement of multiple HVAC units and components.
Douglas campus improvements—The improvements are projected to cost $588,000 and include replacing the lighting system with LED lights and installation of an access control system and an intrusion system.
CISD sits near Colony Ridge, a controversial development north of Houston that has strained district resources.
Stephen McCanless, Cleveland ISD’s superintendent, says the bond is needed to keep up with the mass enrollment.
“We are projected to enroll 150 students per month. With roughly 25 students per classroom, we are adding an average of six classrooms of students per month,” McCanless told Bluebonnet News.
Indeed, Texas Scorecard reported that in the 2019-2020 school year, CISD only had 6,584 students. However, as the current school year began, the number of students had nearly doubled to more than 12,400. The district has also hired 1,498 staff members since the 2021-2022 school year.
Although the district’s 2023 bond package is among the smallest on Texans’ ballots, dozens of school districts, cities, and counties across the state are proposing big bonds that could add billions to the local government debt already owed by Texas property taxpayers.
Early voting runs through November 3. Election Day is Tuesday, November 7.