EXCLUSIVE: Conroe ISD Superintendent Dr. Curtis Null discusses new year, ballot propositions
THE WOODLANDS, TX – Dr. Curtis Null, superintendent of Conroe Independent School District, recently talked with Woodlands Online about hopes and challenges for the new school year on the CISD calendar. Additionally, he recently presented particulars about the four bond propositions that will be on the upcoming November political ballots.
In his exclusive interview with Woodlands Online, he was asked about challenges that might face the district as the school year kicked off.
“Every school year is wonderful. The one thing we look forward to each year is seeing kids be successful. That is the win for us,” said Null. “We continue to grow; growth is a big challenge but it’s something we look forward to. We welcome new people to our community, help them to feel at home but at the same time give them a place to be educated, so that is a challenge for us. Another great challenge for us is the heat. You think about recess and football practice and games, but there’s also kids on the bus every day where the heat is a challenge.”
In his presentation, Null provided some numbers and facts about Conroe ISD, including that it is the ninth largest school district in Texas and the 60th largest in the United States, spanning 348 square miles with 70 campuses servicing more than 73,000 students. CISD is also the largest employer in Montgomery County, with 9,000 employees and more than 1,000 more in substitute teachers. The district was voted as one of 2022’s Best In-State Employers in Forbes, and received four Niche awards for 2023.
Even as Conroe Independent School District grows – to the tune of more than 6,000 students over the past two years – Null in his presentation celebrated the lowered tax rate that was levied in property taxes, going from a $1.1760 rate in the 2021-2022 school year to $1.1146 for the ‘22-’23 session, with an additional drop to $0.9621 passed in special session for the 2023-2024 school year, resulting in an average savings of $1,279 per homeowner.
“We’re very excited about the school year that’s ahead. We’re also very excited about the tax rate that the school board just approved that’s going to bring real tax relief to our citizens and homeowners,” he said. “We want to continue to be a great value for your dollar but also provide the very best educational opportunities for our kids.”
In spite of the savings in property taxes, there are a myriad of issues in CISD that need addressing. As a result, four school bond propositions (A through D) will be on the November ballots for Woodlands and Montgomery County residents to vote on. Taking a lesson from having a ‘one proposition for all fiscal needs’ debacle of election seasons past, the Conroe ISD Bond Planning Committee – comprised of 148 individuals who held 11 meetings earlier this year – split the needs into four propositions:
Proposition A – $1.82 billion for eight new schools, three additions to existing schools, five major renovations, two master plans, infrastructure, safety, land, transportation, and tech infrastructure.
Proposition B – $40 million for technology devices, supporting instruction through online textbooks and testing and more.
Proposition C – $112.877 million for 16 PE classrooms and/or elementary school gyms as well as agricultural barns.
Proposition D – $22.9 million for outdoor pool and Natatorium mechanical refurbishment. Currently, the Natatorium is the only swimming facility for all schools in Conroe ISD; by comparison, Katy ISD has eight facilities and Spring ISD has three.
The total proposed bond amount – $1,995,777,000 – represents a $27,193 investment per student, an amount that varies wildly from district to district ($16,108/student for Humble ISD to $51,323/student for Splendora ISD). The passage of all four bonds will result in a two-cent impact – resulting in $6.67 per month on a home value of $500,000.
Null seems optimistic that the propositions will prevail in the upcoming election taking place on November 7, relying on the wisdom of the voters to see how issues can be avoided like the ones currently plaguing Houston ISD.
“God bless them at Houston ISD. It’s very hard, it’s very difficult to run a big school district, and HISD is much bigger than even we are,” he said. “They have unique political challenges and we wish them the best. I’m happy to have Conroe ISD up here in Montgomery County be doing very well.”