Taxpayers paid $1.2 billion for Fort Bend ISD bond program, and it's already millions over budget

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Thursday, February 1, 2024
Fort Bend ISD goes millions over budget as bond program projects begin
Taxpayers paid $1.2 billion for the 2023 Fort Bend ISD bond program, and it's already millions over budget as the first set of projects begins.

MISSOURI CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- Projects in the 2023 bond program for Fort Bend ISD broke ground only months ago, and the district is already millions over budget.

The district's bond program isn't winning over some taxpayers.

"Keep an eye on the money," Missouri City resident Yvonne Smith said.

"Us as taxpayers, we're already giving a lot of money. But, you're going to ask for more, but you told us this is what it would be, and now you're saying, 'I need more,'" Missouri City resident Vashon Reynolds said.

A new Briargate Elementary School is one of the first projects from the 2023 bond. Last week, school board members were asked to spend an additional $14 million on the project in order for it to open on time next fall.

The board approved the spending and said they were told more requests could be coming.

"Let's put this on record. Are there any projects that you can foresee that may be over budget that we haven't discussed or haven't come before us yet?" school board member Sonya Jones asked.

"The answer is, 'Yes, there are some we're concerned about,'" one school leader answered.

Briargate Elementary is 11% over budget. Voters approved a $1.2 billion bond.

If the rest of the projects are the same as Briargate Elementary, taxpayers could be on the hook for an additional $130 million.

"We do think there are ways to bring the numbers down," Fort Bend ISD deputy superintendent Steven Bassett said. "Whether or not it's going to be enough, we just don't know right now."

ABC13 attempted to speak with school board members on Wednesday. They pointed Eyewitness News to board president Judy Dae. She didn't respond to ABC13.

A district spokesperson sent ABC13 the following statement:

FBISD is experiencing similar construction inflation issues as other school districts across Texas. Currently, 2023 Bond projects are undergoing comprehensive value engineering, scope-to-budget re-alignment, and re-forecasting to ensure our projects are built to the highest standards at the most economical cost. Our goal is to deliver these projects as promised to our community.

"I'm afraid that once we get through all the bond projects, the backend of it, we're going to be needing more money, and we're going to be asking taxpayers for more money," Jones said.

"I wouldn't be happy, but is it for our kids? Is it for our community? Yes," Reynold said.

New school parents can't wait to see, but the cost to get them may be more than what they approved only months ago.

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