|Thursday, November 5, 1998||
Volume 64, Issue 53
Mahmoudi on Maidenhood
Lisa M. Chmiola
Congratulations on bond issue, HISD
Voters in the Houston Independent School District should pat themselves on the back for overwhelmingly passing the $678-million school bond proposition in Tuesday's elections.
The bond issue, which will only cover a portion of the necessary repairs to HISD schools, passed by a very large margin -- which was a little surprising since voters turned down a similar $390-million proposal in 1996.
But the bond issue's supporters spent so much money campaigning that it's little wonder Houstonians suddenly began noticing their public schools were falling apart. The list of supporters was impressive, too: both political parties, Mayor Lee Brown, former Mayor Bob Lanier and even Rob Mosbacher, the Man Who Would Be Mayor.
Too bad it takes that much money and energy to point out something so obvious as the fact that we need to give our schoolchildren the best.
An independent investigation of every school under HISD's jurisdiction found $1.2 billion in repairs were needed to leaky roofs, substandard ventilation systems and violations of building and fire codes. And the $678 million, though it's quite a chunk of change, only covers a portion of that total.
Of course, the proposition's passage threw opponents into a snit. They continued their pre-election claims that defeating the bond issue would have done the students good, because it would have forced HISD to re-organize and find better ways to manage itself.
New flash: Not passing the bonds would have hurt the kids more. Opponents may say, "Sure the buildings are old, but they're not about to fall down." But they're not the ones who have to attend classes in overcrowded schools that may be fire hazards. That, kids, is dangerous.
Houston's school district is the largest in Texas and the seventh-largest in the nation, with an enrollment of more than 211,000. The district reports it's doing pretty well among big-city school districts, with rising test scores and declining dropout rates.
It takes money not only to achieve academic goals like those, but to simply operate such a large organization. Passage of the bond issue shows Houstonians realize that. It's quite a relief.