The battle between a parents group and some HISD trustees had been waging with HISD Board President Larry Marshall over getting a vote for some school construction projects that the parents said had been promised during the 2007 bond referendum campaign is over, and the projects will go forward. Most of them, anyway.
The Houston school board voted Thursday to spend an extra $121 million — divided equally among each of the nine trustees’ districts — to cover pet construction projects not funded in previous building programs.
The vote, following days of fighting among the trustees, earmarked money specifically for six campuses considered to be in severe disrepair: Worthing High, Bellaire High, Sam Houston High, Grady Middle, Lockhart Elementary and Bellfort Academy.
Left out of the deal, however, was a new campus for the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, which angered parents who believe they had been promised a new school. Money for that work, which would cost roughly $40 million, would need to come from another source, HISD officials said.
Nearly 100 parents turned out for Thursday’s board meeting to plea for money for neglected campuses. Board President Larry Marshall had only three schools — Lockhart, Bellfort and Worthing — on the agenda, much to the chagrin of trustees representing other parts of town.
Parents pressed for the vote now because they said outgoing Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra had promised to recommend the projects in return for their votes for the $805 million bond referendum that narrowly passed in 2007. Saavedra is leaving at the end of the month.
Board member Manuel Rodriguez Jr. made the last-minute suggestion to give each trustee’s district $13.5 million to fund repairs at campuses that he says were not adequately addressed in the bond program. Some of the schools have been promised money for more than a decade, parents said.
“We are looking for the district to keep its promises,” said Mary Nesbitt, vice president of Parents for Public Schools.
Hair Balls has more. Marshall complained about the fact that some of the funding comes from savings in the general fund. I can appreciate that, but if this is what HISD promised, then HISD should be prepared to deliver on it.