Parents sound off about HISD bond budget shortfall

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Voters passed the nearly $2 billion bond, but now the district says they'll need millions of dollars more to build what they promised and parents aren't happy about it.

The team of experts Houston ISD assembled in 2012 to oversee the school bond program underestimated the cost of building new schools.

HISD released documents Tuesday predicting a $212 million shortfall. HISD parents are worried they will not be getting the exact schools they were promised.

Leslie Culhane has a son who attends HISD's Mandarin Chinese Immersion Magnet School.

"We chose the school because we thought it would be an amazing opportunity for him," Culhane said.

Now, she's worried.

"There isn't enough money to create the school as the architects envisioned it," Culhane said.

According to HISD, the district's finance department has identified a way to fund the additional construction-inflation needs pending the board's approval.

The Mandarin Chinese Immersion Magnet School will need an additional $3.6 million, and even then, Culhane said it will not be the same school she and other parents were promised.

"One of the things we were recently told we couldn't have were computers in the classrooms," Culhane said. "That we could have maybe one or two computers in the classroom. And as you know, in this day and age, that's really putting our kids behind the eight ball."

Culhane also said there will not be separate outdoor spaces for middle school students and elementary school students; they'll have to share one space for physical education. She said some building materials will change, too.

"It's a general downgrading of the materials," Culhane said.

Culhane remembers when Superintendent Terry Grier announced his plans for resignation in September and said he would fulfill his promise to build all of the schools in the bond proposal.

"I'm not really sure how he's gonna pull this off," Culhane said.

She hopes he figures out a way to do it for the sake of the students.

HISD declined Eyewitness News' request for an on-camera interview, however a spokeswoman said via email that project design teams decide which materials to use but that quality is never compromised. She also said school administrators decide whether or not to install computers in classrooms.

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