In one of the more bizarre situations in the past two years, The Woodlands Township Board of Directors devoted almost two hours Thursday to discussion, debate — and an unplanned presentation — of the Conroe Independent School District’s upcoming $653.5 million bond election, eventually approving a resolution of support for the proposition “A” bond.
The board resolution has no power and is merely a statement of support of CISD bond package “A” before voters in the Nov. 5 election. Directors first rejected the proposed resolution of support for the bond in a 4-3 vote, however the three losing directors — vociferously led by directors Ann Snyder and John McMullan — refused to accept the vote and vigorously argued with board Chairman Gordy Bunch and other directors about their belief it was important to pass the resolution, demanding a special meeting be scheduled immediately to revisit the issue.
McMullan, who is retiring in November after three terms in office, said the resolution of support was possibly the most important thing he was involved with on the board in his six years as a director. In numerous emotional comments, he compared the issue to 2015 when the board opposed the extension of The Woodlands Parkway.
Snyder, a former CISD board member who has a school named after her in the district, was equally aggressive in her push to revisit the issue after its initial failure, saying it was vitally important the board support the measure.
Refusing to accept the initial 4-3 rejection, Snyder then stormed from her seat and began to make a frantic cellphone call to Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null, who was at a high school football game, and requested he immediately come to the board meeting and do an unplanned for presentation on the bond that was not on the board’s agenda.
Defying normal board protocol, Snyder made the telephone call to Null from the board seats while the meeting was ongoing, loudly telling Null to come to the meeting while pacing behind other directors. Normally, board members do not take nor make telephone calls from their seats during meetings, instead leaving the room for those types of communications.
An hour later, Null arrived at the meeting along with CISD board member Datren Williams and gave about a 30-minute presentation during which he showed a promotional video about the bond and answered a series of pointed questions from board members about the proposal.
The bond is the second one in less than five months put to voters by CISD officials. In May, a bond with a much larger price tag of more than $850 million was rejected by voters, prompting district officials to rethink their proposal before lowering the cost and placing it on the Nov. 5 ballot.
The resolution of support for the bond was the subject of statements from numerous people who spoke during public comment, the overwhelming majority of whom were insistent that the board approve a resolution of support for the bond, which would fund several new schools, safety enhancements and repairs to infrastructure such as roofs and HVAC systems.
Many of them implored the board to think of school children and how critical the district was to their lives, home values and the respect The Woodlands has among outsiders for being a place with top-notch education and schools.
The new package contains almost $316 million for five new campuses and other campus additions, about $239 million for campus renovations, $44.5 million for safety and security, $25 million for district support services needs and about $29 million for land and contingency. That package is proposition “A.” The CISD board also called for a proposition “B” proposal including about $24 million for turf athletic fields only, which turned out to be a controversial item previously.
The first vote saw Bunch, John Anthony Brown, Bruce Rieser and Brian Boniface vote no, with Snyder, McMullan and Carol Stromatt in favor of a letter of support.
After Null’s presentation and numerous questions, the board voted a second time on the same resolution that had previously failed, approving it in a 5-2 vote with both Brown and Bunch changing their minds and supporting the resolution. The passage of the resolution, which has no power, was greeted by loud cheers and clapping from nearly a dozen people in the audience.
The election is Tuesday, Nov. 5, with early voting beginning on Oct. 21 and continuing through Nov. 1.