HOUSTON - After cutting jobs and closing schools to trim its budget last year, the Houston Independent School District is proposing a massive building program this year.
The school district wants voters to approve a $1.9 billion bond that would result in a tax increase down the line.
The district would use the money to finance rebuilding or renovating 42 schools, including 24 high schools.
The school district said $577 million would be used to completely replace eight high schools: Furr, High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Lee, Madison, Sharpstown, Sterling, Booker T. Washington and Yates.
About $354 million would be used to replace inadequate facilities at Bellaire, Lamar, Sam Houston and Westbury high schools. Nearly $259 million would be used to replace inadequate facilities and renovate Austin, Eastwood Academy, Milby, Waltrip and Worthing high schools.
About $27 million would be used to build two new early college high schools.
Officials said $61 million would be used to renovate or renew Davis, DeBakey, Jones, Barbara Jordan, Kashmere, Scarborough, Sharpstown International, Young Men's College Prep and Young Women's College Prep high schools.
About $121 million would be used to convert Garden Oaks, Pilgrim Academy, Wharton Dual Language and Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet School at Gordon elementary schools into kindergarten through eighth-grade schools.
Nearly $74 million would be used to replace Dowling Middle School and expand Grady Middle School.
Approximately $126 million would be used to replace Askew, Condit, Kelso, MacGregor and Parker elementary schools. Another $67 million would be used to renovate and make building additions at K. Smith Elementary, replace inadequate facilities and renovate Tijerina Elementary and build a new elementary school on the district's west side to reduce overcrowding.
Another $225 million would be used district-wide for technology upgrades, athletic facility improvements, middle school restroom renovation, safety and security improvements and land acquisitions.
There would not be a tax increase in the coming year, but the school district would want the increase to be phased in over a four-year period beginning with an estimated 2-cent increase in 2014. By 2017, the total tax rate would increase 6.85 cents, raising the average tax bill by about $100 per year.
The school district said the majority of voters are for the plan.
"Anything that furthers these kids' education … anything. I would pay more taxes," mother Adrienne Holiday said.
The school district said it recently polled 600 registered voters to measure support for the proposal. It said 48 percent were for it, 28 percent opposed it and 23 percent weren't sure.
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