When discussing the questions of a possible school bond election next November, I suggest readers consider what happened in 2006 when Pearland voters approved roughly $115.6 million in school bonds.
In a district press release issued a month before the election, officials told voters projections showed enrollment was expected to reach 28,600 by 2014. Voters were also told the bond would fund a new high school and two new elementary schools, among other things.
Currently, Pearland ISD enrollment is roughly 21,115, more than 7,400 fewer students than projected. And although the bond provided construction funding for Dawson High School which opened in 2009, elementary schools twelve and thirteen were never built. Why? I don’t know but I’d guess these are questions voters and trustees may soon be asking.
Another question to consider: only six years after it opened Dawson High School is now the district’s most overcrowded campus. Why? I don’t know but what I do know is PBK Architecture, a firm that was involved in the construction of Dawson High School, last year agreed to pay Allen ISD millions in damages for their part in structural defects that led to the year-long closure of the district’s new $60 million high school stadium. Yet just last month, administrators gave PBK Architecture a perfect score on bid tally sheets and advised trustees to again hire the company on an “as-needed” basis.
According to the 2015 financial audit, the district’s total long-term debt equals approximately $356.1 million, or roughly $16,822 per student. Do we need to add to that number? At this stage, that’s a question to be carefully considered by members of the Long Range Facilities Planning Community Committee and later, by trustees. Let me be clear, I have great respect for every one of the Pearland ISD trustees. They each work tirelessly on behalf of Pearland students and I have no doubt they will carefully consider all these questions and many others before allowing a bond proposal to come before voters.
And in covering this process, it’s not my intent to tell anyone whether they should vote for or against a bond proposal. My intention is provide accurate information and uncover the facts as they are made available via public meetings, agenda documents and other official reports. Readers deserve to have accurate information during every step of the process.