Houston ISD (HISD) trustees are calling for an audit of the district’s unprecedented 2012 $1.89 billion bond program. Suddenly it has been brought to their attention that the program is facing a $211 million shortfall and will have to halt some projects until another bond can be passed, or until funding can be reallocated. Oddly enough, roughly the same amount that the bond allocated to projects across the district is the amount that the program is now short. It’s no surprise they’re already signaling another bond proposal after they requested a $4 million facility study.

Neither the Board of Trustees nor the Bond Oversight Committee saw this problem coming before it was too late to do anything about it. But now that election season is underway and questions are coming back from the community about broken promises of stately campuses complete with the newest amenities, the trustees are finally looking for answers.

The shortfall may drive a further wedge between the trustees and the district’s superintendent Terry Grier, who says he warned of the escalating construction costs previously and the board didn’t heed his warnings.

HISD has been notoriously bad with both ethics and transparency.

We’re still currently watching Trustee Larry Marshall’s bribery scandal play out in court. Also, HISD has yet to answer questions from the community about faulty roof repairs and unsafe facilities. The district has made a habit out of carrying projects from one bond over to the next. This is what happens when self-serving government officials are given a pot of taxpayer money and left unchecked.

The 2012 bond, which was the largest in Texas school history, was sold to voters using the same tired “Help the children” pathos that education bureaucrats shamelessly employ year after year. What taxpayers actually got was a pool of their own money earmarked for raiding by school board officials and their construction cronies.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.


A Barn Burner Week For Texas Conservatives

Grassroots candidates are closing with positive messages while the moderates continue with numerous last minute attacks. The Texas GOP is also meeting this week to make some big decisions.