Spring Branch ISD voters approve $898 million bond

HOUSTON — Based on preliminary returns, voters in Spring Branch ISD approved an $898.4 million bond referendum with 79 percent voter support, the district announced Wednesday.

Harris County’s unofficial returns showed 10,921 total ballots cast, with 8,591 district residents voting for the referendum, and 2,216 voting against it.

“We’re very grateful. It’s a significant win for the kids and for our community. I’m humbled by the margin of victory,” said SBISD Superintendent Scott Muri, Ed.D., in special remarks to the Houston Chronicle newspaper.

Muri said the community has voted for the future of Spring Branch schools despite Hurricane Harvey’s impact on families.

“We will now proceed thoughtfully and with great sensitivity as we move forward with our long-range facilities plan,” Muri said. “SBISD continues to be inspired by our community and its determination to meet the educational needs of every child.”

District voter approval followed an Aug. 21 call for a bond election by the Board of Trustees, which voted unanimously shortly before the arrival of Hurricane Harvey on the Texas Gulf Coast. The hurricane caused extensive local flooding, although SBISD’s schools and facilities were mostly unscathed by storm waters. SBISD Trustees voted unanimously on Oct. 11 to authorize reappraisal of hurricane-damaged properties inside the school district.

Bond approval will allow SBISD to begin design and planning for replacement of nine elementary schools and Landrum Middle School; construction of new classroom buildings at Memorial and Northbrook high schools and a classroom wing at Cedar Brook Elementary; replacement of the Stratford High auditorium; and renovation of Spring Woods High’s cafeteria and library. Other 2017 Bond initiatives will upgrade safety and security, building systems and technology at all campuses.

In addition, bond funds will be used to replace older district buses, install four high school synthetic turf fields, replace aged musical instruments and uniforms, and also replace career and technical education classroom equipment.

Dr. Muri and SBISD Board of Trustees President Karen Peck joined together to thank parents, business representatives, retirees, teachers and other patrons from every feeder pattern who served on several crucial, community-based groups that worked for months to identify facility needs and review current and future district needs. These key working groups included the SBISD Long-Range Facilities Committee and the Bond Advisory Committee.

“On behalf of the entire Board, I would like to thank not only our voters, but also the many community members and district staff, and especially the Long-Range Facilities and Bond Advisory Committee members, who were part of nearly two years of assessment and study to identify our system’s needs. The bond package approved by voters reflects our community’s priorities and core values, and addresses the needs of our students and teachers,” Board President Peck said. “The Board believes that the many votes for this bond initiative shows that our community is prepared to continue the work of transforming SBISD schools while remaining committed to the district’s reputation for high quality education.”

With bond approval, the Board of Trustees and district leaders are expected to act quickly to appoint a Bond Oversight Committee to ensure the bond projects remain faithful to the priorities identified in the 2017 Bond Plan, similar to the community group that monitored the successful 2007 Bond program for the past decade.  Planning and design work for the ten-year bond program, with a focus on campus and community input will also begin soon.