The Northeast Independent School District is asking voters to approve a half billion dollar bond issue on the Nov. 3 ballot. The money would be used to renovate aging schools and build some new buildings.
One school receiving a big cut is Lee High School. It’s the end of the school day at Lee, a campus that houses two magnet programs and traditional classes. Parents line the streets in idling vehicles waiting for their children.
The school is already surrounded by $45 million dollars of current construction from a bond that was narrowly approved by 52 percent of the voters in 2011. Jose Villalobos is the parent of a senior. He says his son has endured the construction for almost all of his time here.
“Although my son has had to deal with the construction part, the students that come here afterwards are going to benefit greatly from what’s going on right now,” Villalobos said. “Somebody has to foot the bill, somebody has to put up with the construction, somebody’s got to do it.”
Lee High School was built in the 1950s making it one of the district’s oldest schools. As part of the 500-million dollar bond package, Lee would get another upgrade. A new performing arts center the school costing $35 million is the most expensive project in the plan. It’s something parent Isabelle Gutierrez would love to see. She says the current theater needs replacing “It’s very outdated, they do the best that they can with it, even seeing some of the other schools in other districts, let alone our own, we need a lot at this school to keep up with what everyone else has gotten.”
Lee would also get $7 million in upgrades to its science and STEM facilities. Northeast ISD spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor says there’d also be improvements on campuses throughout the district
“Walking tracks, that can be used not only for school but also for the community around those; that is going to touch every single elementary school.”
Health clinics, campus kitchens, middle school tracks, and high school sports fields would be improved.
And security would be enhanced in many schools by adding vestibules at entrances. Chancellor says right now it’s not always possible to see who’s coming in the door. “Someone may walk in the front door and have to go down the hall before they reach the office. We do not want that in our schools. So the secure vestibule will basically build an entry way at some of our older campuses where people will be forced to stay there until either the receptionist or gives you permission to come in.”
Financing projects with bonds allows districts to borrow the money and pay for them over time. Chancellor says the district has paid off old bond debt. This bond issue won’t require a tax rate increase because increasing property values will automatically bring more money into the district to foot the bill.
This is a big bond package that has no apparent organized opposition. would support 69 projects. That’s compared to 14 projects in the bond four years ago.