Cleveland Chamber backing Cleveland ISD’s $198 million bond

Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Board President Charlie Rice reads a resolution from the Chamber board in support of Cleveland ISD's upcoming $198 million bond.

By Vanesa Brashier,

The board of the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce has approved a resolution in support of Cleveland ISD’s proposed $198 million bond in the upcoming Nov. 5 election.

The Chamber “urgently encourages our investors and their employees to actively support the Cleveland ISD bond election in November 2019,” reads the resolution dated Sept. 19 and signed by Chamber COO Jim Carson and Chamber Board Chairman Charlie Rice.

Rice called on Chamber members to encourage their employees and neighbors to vote in favor of the bond as he read the resolution at the Chamber’s Nov. 3 membership luncheon at the Cleveland Civic Center.

Carson said afterward that if the city is going to prosper, it must have a good education system in place.

“This bond comes with a zero tax rate increase, making this a great opportunity. People are going to continue coming to Cleveland, but if we don’t spend the money on education, we are going to be a Banana Republic city,” Carson said.

The proposed bond, if approved, will fund two new elementary schools and a new middle school in the Plum Grove area where lots are being purchased nearly as quickly as developers put them on the market. Development in that area, spurred in part by construction of the Grand Parkway, has caused a population explosion.

As a result, Cleveland ISD is the fastest-growing school district in the state of Texas. From 2014 to 2019, the student population at Cleveland ISD leaped from 3,650 students to more than 7,500 students, and more students are arriving every day. Cleveland ISD now is the largest employer in Liberty County with more than 930 employees and an annual payroll of more than $53.6 million.

“We want Cleveland to continue to grow in good ways, and we are selling houses in some of the new developments for $250,000 or more, but it will discourage the kind of growth we want if new people coming here see our schools with portable buildings around them,” Carson said. “People are going to continue to come. If you cannot educate the kids, people will still come but not the ones who raise your tax base and bring businesses to town.”

Carson is concerned that if the bond does not pass, and the school district is forced to continue buying more than more portable buildings for classrooms, that eventually the state will come in and run the school district as it sees fit. Losing local control would be detrimental.

“That’s the last thing you want is outsiders running your school district and making decisions about your community,” he said. “In business or anything, you either grow or shrink. You never stay the same. The world is going to pass you by if you think it’s going to stay the same as it always was. Cleveland is going to have a larger population. That’s a given, but what kind of community do we want?”

The full resolution is below:

To learn more about the bond, attend one of these town hall meetings:

  • Thursday, Oct. 10, 11:30 a.m. – Town Hall Meeting at Cleveland ISD Administration Building
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15, 12 noon – Lions Club luncheon at the Cleveland Senior Citizens Center
  • Tuesday, Oct. 22, 6 p.m. – Town Hall Meeting at Cleveland ISD Administration Building
  • Monday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m. – Cleveland High School Band Hall
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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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