Millions & Millions On School Improvements Getting Voted On Today: You Getting Any?

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Photo courtesy HISD
The Houston school board plans to vote later today on $121.5 million in school improvements over and above the projects approved in the 2007 bond election.

Because each of the nine trustee districts has exactly the same amount of overcrowding/undercrowding and facilities in need of repair, the tubful of cash will be evenly divided. Each trustee is getting $13.5 million for his or her district.

How are they spending it? Here's what HISD spokesman Norm Uhl says are the highlights:

District I,  Natasha Kamrani: Plans to use $7 million of her funding to provide permanent classroom space for students at the Sam Houston Ninth Grade Academy who are now housed in temporary buildings.

District II, Carol Galloway: Plans to use $2 million for facility, lighting and site upgrades at Kashmere Gardens Elementary School.

District III, Manuel Rodriguez:
Plans to use $5 million to convert Bellfort Academy into an early childhood center to provide additional pre-K classroom space. This will provide, he Rodriguez said, "crucial pre-kindergarten education for the communities in the surrounding area."

District IV, Paula Harris: Plans to add an $11 million supplement to the existing bond budget in order to build a new school for the Lockhart/Turner consolidation. "The original plan was to renovate Lockhart and add a wing, but with this additional funding we will now be able to build a brand new state-of-the-art facility," she said.

District V, Dianne Johnson: Plans to add a new $13.5 million classroom wing at Bellaire High School to address a shortage of science labs due to enrollment growth at Bellaire.

District VI trustee Greg Meyers "hasn't committed funds yet," Uhl tells Hair Balls.

District VII, Harvin Moore: Plans a $12 million increase in the budget for Grady Middle School to replace temporary classroom buildings with a new multi-story wing. The project would include science labs and a new library/media center. Moore said, "Grady is a middle school housed in a 50-year old elementary building built for 250 students, and is the most overcrowded middle school in HISD.  This vibrant community is very excited that this long-promised addition is now a reality."

District VIII, Board Trustee Diana Davila: Plans a $1 million increase in facility improvements at Wharton Elementary, a new $5 million wing at Rusk to replace temporary classrooms buildings and a new $7.5 million wing at Eastwood Academy to replace T-building classrooms. Davila said, "Eastwood, Rusk and Wharton are all exemplary campuses with unacceptable facility needs. Some of these buildings are over 50 years old with restroom, science lab, and classroom concerns, which will be addressed with this additional money."

District IX, Board President Lawrence Marshall: Plans a new classroom wing for Worthing High School, adding $7 million to the existing bond project. "Worthing High School will receive an additional $7 million, bringing the total budget to more than $24 million for renovation and the addition of a new classroom wing similar to the project at Westbury High School," he said.

Where's the money coming from? Some TIRZ funds, some that is indeed left over from the 2007 bond program, and other places. Here's the official HISD breakdown:

$48 million -- Amount Available for PFC Issuance of Bonds (using TIRZ funds for annual repayments)
$35 million -- General Fund Undesignated Fund Balance
$20 million -- Amount Available from Tax Increment Return of Educational Facility Dollars
$11 million -- Investment Earnings from 2007 Bonds
$7.5 million -- Amount Available from 2007 Bond Funds

Total $ 121,500,000
Spend away, dudes!!

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