HISD reveals estimated cost of renaming eight schools

Aug 11, 2016 by

In late June, several taxpayers sued the Houston Independent School District, alleging a lack of transparency over the cost to rename eight schools that were named after Confederate loyalists.

Now, more than a month later, the district’s interim superintendent, Ken Huewitt, is asking the board on Thursday to approve the estimated cost of the renaming – $1,245,197.

Huewitt told the board during a meeting Monday that the agenda item was in response to the lawsuit.

“We believe that this basically addresses the matter that was brought forward to the courts,” Huewitt said.

The estimated cost would cover updates to the affected school facilities; uniforms for athletics, band and Reserve Officer Training Corps; and temporary banners for schools being rebuilt. The board agenda also says the district will present a final tally once all invoices are paid.

An attorney for the taxpayers suing, Daniel Goforth of Houston, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

The lawsuit noted that the district agenda items ordering the renaming of the schools listed the cost as “none.” Those agenda items, approved by the board on split votes, called for the schools to form committees to recommend new names.

In May, when the board approved the new names for seven of the schools, the agenda items did not list a specific cost but listed the funding source as “general fund – fund balance.”

According to the lawsuit, the district “endorsed a blank check from the general fund to pay the hidden costs.”

In early June, the board approved spending up to $7 million for new uniforms for schools. The agenda item said the amount was about $5 million more than the district’s annual spending on uniforms due to the schools being renamed. District staff, however, corrected the item later in the month, saying it made a mistake. The new item allowed for spending up to $1.7 million on uniforms at schools, including schools being renamed.

The renamed schools are:

-Richard Dowling Middle School to Audrey H. Lawson Middle School
-Henry Grady Middle School to Tanglewood Middle School
-Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson Middle School to Yolanda Black Navarro Middle School of Excellence
-Albert Sidney Johnston Middle School to Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School
-Sidney Lanier Middle School to Bob Lanier Middle School
-Jefferson Davis High School to Northside High School
-Lee High School to Margaret Long Wisdom High School
-John Reagan High School to Heights High School

Source: HISD reveals estimated cost of renaming eight schools – Houston Chronicle

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