Crosby ISD proposes $45 million bond issue to improve schools

Architect's View of Additions to Drew Intermediate School


CROSBY— There is an old joke that goes, “How do you eat an elephant?” The response, of course is, “One bite at a time.”

This is the approach that Crosby ISD Superintendent Dr. Don Hendrix says that district is taking for fixing what he calls serious needs at district campuses.

On May 17, voters will be asked to approve a $44.49 million bond package for repairs and renovations at all six campuses, as well as the transportation complex, the football stadium and the area around the high school and middle school.

The largest portion of the funds, said Hendrix, will be an $18.8 million program for the high school. Overcrowding, said Hendrix, is a major concern whereas the campus is at capacity with its approximately 1,000 students. If the bonds are passed, expansion would allow the school to service an additional 600 students.

The funds would also allow the district to upgrade science labs, which have been identified as unsafe and inadequate for student needs.

The district has earmarked $9.1 million for Drew Intermediate. One planned project at Drew is adding a fifth grade wing and administration to alleviate overcrowded classrooms. The current classrooms were designed in 1957 for what was then standard for schools.

A concern brought by parents to the district deals with the roof leaking and mildew forming on walls, while holes form in the floors. To correct this, the district hopes to set aside funds for a new roof and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system.

While not housing students, an area which directly impacts students is the transportation center. Overcrowded offices, insufficient number of parking spaces and a need for new maintenance equipment are just some of the concerns that the district hopes to correct. To do this, they have set aside $6 million of the package.

Hendrix said if the bonds past voter muster the district would become well-equipped for facilities through 2015.

There has been speculation that the district might, after the bonds are approved, transfer the money which would have gone into the building program into its general operating budget.

This, said Hendrix, cannot happen as the district is required to keep the two budgets separate. When the district sets its tax rate each year, the tax rate is actually the combined rate of maintenance and operations (M&O) and interest and sinking (I&S). Under state law, the I&S portion of taxes can only be spent on debt service and funds in that part of the budget cannot be used for general services.

Hendrix said that there are two main reasons why the district is coming forward now with the bond referendum. The first, he said, is the urgent need at campuses. The second deals with the economy. Under the current bond market, if the district were to begin selling bonds now they could take advantage of the lowest interest rates in 20 years, which would be translated over the term of the bonds to lower taxes for property owners.

If the bonds pass, it is estimated that the tax rate would increase to a total of $1.99 per $100 valuation.

If the bonds fail, Hendrix added, the district would be unable to fund any of the needed improvements at the campuses.