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Houston Voters To Decide On Texas' Largest Bond Proposal

The $1.89 billion dollar proposal would make major improvements to a total of 38 schools in the Houston Independent School District, many that have outlived their usefulness.

"These high schools are 50+ years old, and there is not a real cheap way to get out of this because we have not updated our high schools in a long time, and they are literally crumbling."

That's Houston School Board trustee Paula Harris. She says the measure would also improve conditions for students at all district campuses.

"What we have now are some very old buildings that cannot keep up with 21st century learning, that do not have internet connections or the ability to plug in where everyone can plug in a computer, because our communities and our schools 80 years ago were a lot different from what we are seeing, and needing in our educational systems today."

But bond opponent Dave Wilson says in the last ten years, there's been over $2.3 billion dollars worth of bonds issued to repair and rebuild schools. He questions what he calls the lack of accountability after those measures were passed.

"A good example is Grimes Elementary in the 2007 bond election. They were supposed to get $4.7 million dollars to repair that elementary school over in Sunnyside. What they got instead was the school closed because of low enrollment. And nobody knows where that 4.7 million dollars went, and the only answer we get for that is to other projects."

And while Wilson says the increase in property taxes is uncalled for, trustee Paula Harris says yes, property taxes will go up.

"But the numbers are very small. So, the average $200,000 dollar  homeowner will see a $70 dollar increase three or four years from now. So knowing that we have lofty lofty goals for our children, we have to make sure that they are provided with everything they need to keep on this path of academic achievement."

If passed, design work on the new schools would begin early next year, and with construction in 2014.

Get the audio at: www.kuhf.org