Voters voice concerns for proposed Fort Bend ISD bond

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In Fort Bend County, one bond issue promises to build new schools, but there are many who worry that's not what will happen (KTRK)

The portable classrooms outside Austin Parkway Elementary are a stark indication of the overcrowding problem plaguing Fort Bend ISD. The school district, buoyed by a reputation of good schools and a growing economy, is bursting at the seams.

"When I got here 10 years ago, my son was six and I had a baby," recalled Melissa Hudson, a resident of the master planned Riverstone community. "We're told we're going to have a school here, and my daughter's now in fourth grade, and there's no elementary school."

By all accounts, Riverstone, one of the many master planned communities spurring growth in Fort Bend ISD, is long overdue for a new elementary. It is certainly a major lure of the pending school bond election.

"Riverstone's growing so fast. So many new kids are coming, there's probably -- every year there are more and more students in every grade," said Jake Hudson, a sophomore at Elkins High School.

Deron Harrington, a member of the bond oversight committee for the district, says he wants voters to realize this is not a bond proposal that will build giant football stadiums.

The $484 million bond package will add four new elementary schools, pay for multiple facility upgrades by expanding classrooms at established school, and expand the district's technology infrastructure. Because of the growing tax base in the district, taxes won't increase with the bond passage.

"The current bond proposal is primarily dealing with capacity at the elementary school level, that's a combination of building new schools and dealing with classroom additions and eliminating the portable situation," said Harrington.

But for parents who've seen other school districts' controversial bonds, a bond for their own kids schools can still prove problematic. Are skeptical on exactly how to vote.

"I'm just not sure if I'm going to vote for it. I'll decide in a couple of minutes," said Shirley Lee, one parent we talked to on her way in to vote early.

In fact, even the Hudsons, who would love a new elementary school in their neighborhood, haven't decided whether to support the bond.

"The main thing I'm debating about is if the bond goes through and they have additional funds, will they actually follow through and fund schools," says Melissa Hudson.

Early voting continues through the week. Election day is next Tuesday.
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