HIGHLANDS – Goose Creek school district is planning on a large $335 million bond issue to place before voters on election day, Saturday, May 4. School superintendent Randall O’Brien, and others on a planning committee, have been meeting with civic groups and citizens throughout the district to explain the need for this large sum of money, and how it would be used.
O’Brien spoke on Tuesday to the Highlands Rotary club, reviewing the history of the last bond issue in 2013, and the need for another one to keep up with the growth of the student population at present, and as projected into 2040. At that time, he said there would be another 6000 homes in the Baytown area, and those children must be accommodated properly.
As superintendent, O’Brien does not officially take a position on the passage of the bond referendum, but only explains the scope of the vote and answers questions about what it would accomplish, and how much it would cost the average taxpayer.
This is the second attempt at a bond issue to provide facilities and upgrades. Last year, a larger two part referendum was defeated, partially because it included about $50 million for a multi-purpose center that the taxpayers deemed not necessary. This year’s bond committee had 42 community leaders, and included some of last year’s critics. Their discussions refined the needs which would be included in the bond package.
The bond referendum includes money for five areas:
— Aging Schools and Repairs, $114.8 million
— New Construction for Growth and Equity, $155.3 million
— Athletics Improvements, $12 million
— Safety and Security Improvements, $3.75 million
— Technology, $49.7 million.
The total for all the categories is $335,725,000 million.
Within the category Aging School and Repairs, plans are for 3 renovations and additions to Stuart Careet Tech High School; Upgrades and renovations to building systems; roof repairs and replacements; Lee High School Auditorium Renovation; Fine Arts upgrades; Parking and site drainage work; CTE classroom renovations; and some new buses.
Within the category New Construction, plans are for a new Elementary School, a new Junior School, a replacement for San Jacinto elementary, Stuart Career Tech addition; new Fine Arts facilities; an Education Service Center; and a construction lab at Sterling high school. Within the category Athletic Improvements, plans are for a new field house at Stallworth Stadium; new running tracks and lighting at all the junior schools.
Within the category of Safety and Security, plans are for a bus camera system, and GPS tracking upgrades; and expansion of the GC CISD police department.
Within the category Technology, plans are to replace white boards and projectors, computer lab and library technology, teacher desktops and presentation stations at all schools; expand and replace mobile devices at all elementary and junior schools; and at all facilities replace administrative computers, upgrade wireless networks, and replace network cabling.
O’Brien said that the cost to taxpayers would be $9.60 per month or $115 per year for a home owner with a $100,000 valued home; and proportionately for others. School taxes are expected to rise 11.5 cents per appraised $100 value. He noted that for homeowners over 64 years old, taxes would be frozen at the current level.
Election Day is Saturday, May 4 from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Voters can vote early starting April 22-27 from 7am to 7pm; April 28 from 1pm to 6pm; and April 29-30 from 7am to 7pm.
Voting locations in Harris County are at the Law Library downtown, and the Baytown Community Center. Locations for Chambers County residents are the GCCISD Admin Building on I-10 in Baytown, and the Chambers County Community Center Bayou Annex on Highway 146 in Baytown.
Additional information is available on the GC CISD website, GCCISD.net, or at GCbond2019.com.