A concept of the exterior of the junior high school proposed to be built as part of Brenham ISD's bond measure. The school district's two propositions did not pass.
(courtesy Brenham ISD)

Voters have rejected Brenham ISD’s two bond proposals.

Proposition A, calling for the building of a new junior high school for $111 million, failed with 6,831 votes against and 5,170 in favor.  Proposition B, which would have provided for Career and Technical Education (CTE) department enhancements at the high school for $25 million, tallied 6,798 votes in opposition and 5,183 votes of approval.

Brenham ISD Superintendent Dr. Tylor Chaplin appreciates the backing of the community members and bond committee members who strived to “build a future for Brenham ISD.”



If the two bond proposals passed, the school district’s tax rate would have increased by an estimated $0.1860 per $100 valuation, $0.1500 for Proposition A and $0.0360 for Proposition B.

Dr. Chaplin says the district will take time to assess its next steps and where to move forward from here.



This is the second time this year that the school district’s efforts to fund the construction of a new junior high were unsuccessful.  In May, a $153.9 million bond proposal failed with 2,255 opposing votes and 1,750 in support.  The measure included the new building, CTE upgrades, improvements to the field house locker rooms and cafeteria, and a band marching pad.  Funding also would have gone toward districtwide accessibility and security improvements and fiber internet enhancements.  Some of the security upgrades were later committed to by the Brenham School Board, which voted in August to designate $1.4 million for that purpose.

Brenham ISD last passed a bond in 2012 for $25.9 million to build Alton Elementary School and renovate the middle school.  Before that, the district passed a $10 million bond in 2004 to build Brenham Elementary School and a $23.6 million bond in 1994 to construct a new high school and auditorium.

According to unofficial totals from Washington County Elections Administrator Carol Jackson, there were 14,104 total voters in the election, including 9,487 early voters, out of 24,639 registered voters.  That marks a voter turnout of 57.24 percent.  The results are considered unofficial until they are canvassed by the Brenham School Board.



  1. My High school was built in 1891. Used until 2020. Still in GREAT shape, the result of solid bones and good maintenance. I don’t expect Brenham ISD to have any building to last that long, but solid maintenance could extend their lives. I wonder how much maintenance has been delayed for the bond to pass, and for the ISD to point to as why they need 111 million?

  2. That was a decade ago. Add two thirds for inflation, more still for the inflation that’ll happen between now and completion, and an extra year of construction and interest expense because of labor and materials shortages. And whatever you think are those construction costs, add the cost of every desk, chair, computer, projector, copier, basketball hoop and bleacher and even the paper and pencils. All of that is in there.

    Think that interest rates are too high? Well that’s what refinancing is for as soon as it makes sense to. BISD did that on the old debt not long ago, before rates went up. Terrible leadership, right? Everybody says so online. Must be true!

    A new facility costs less to operate and repair. Consolidating transportation into fewer grade level breakouts saves time, miles, and expense for bus services and parents with multiple kids. Less traffic in the morning all around town. A facility that doesn’t feel like a structurally unsound prison is easier to hire and retain teachers to work within. Building new is obviously a better solution than throwing good money after bad.

    If voters objected to capital expenditure because maintenance wasn’t even able to keep up with newer facilities like the high school (which is true) then remind them of how many maintenance resources can be freed up for other necessary tasks by replacing the Jr. High.

    BISD should do a better job at marketing its plans to the public. Coming up with a detailed pitchbook like an entrepreneur has to develop to line up investors seems like the least they could do. I also think that they misfired with the architects’ conceptual renderings because they gave guidance to the architects that the facility should be stylized like it was a perfectly normal school of modern vintage whereas voter sentiment leans somewhat more toward Soviet-style architecture. We have people here that think that somehow a brutalist facade will miraculously cut costs in half. The BISD board should’ve recognized that and come prepared to call bluff, put cards on the table, and show these dolts the raw influence of the price of steel and concrete over styrofoam cornices nowadays.

    If this was handled just a little bit better, more assertively, acknowledging that some people were going to be angry and stay angry, then those people, the only people left still complaining, would be a foil for their own naysaying whether that was rooted in incompetence or from malice or greed or being uncaring toward children that aren’t theirs.

    BISD needs to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that it is shameful to be against a new school and I think that they’ve managed to do that with the people that be been willing to engage with them; but those were the people that were going to vote Yes in the first place. And then they need to demonstrate in an equally convincing way that their plan is the best plan out of a range of alternative plans. That has not happened yet. The voters have shown us that “good enough” won’t cut it. The standard must be set higher.

  3. Pie in the sky is all this has been and ever will be. Brenham schools don’t need grand entrances and award winning architecture. Doesn’t fit in here. We don’t have the tax base like larger communities to afford something like this. Want to build a new school fine by me. Four walls and a roof with no bells and whistles might have a chance. Give that a try.

    The nonsense in the article about so many cents per $100 valuation is flat out misinformation. We all know how optimistic the property valuations are. That value goes up anytime the city wants even more of our money in their coffers. Maybe if you lower the property taxes, people would be less concerned about adding a bond to help you out. The only reason they weren’t more this year was because you maxed out the legal limit of 10%.

  4. Transparency is the key to getting this project funded. Have community meetings (more than one)that are well advertised in advance so the people can really have input. Adjust plans accordingly. Have citizens on the scoring committee for construction bids. Challenge pricing and require bidders to offer value engineering in their bids.

  5. I’m a Washington county taxpayer and voter. I didn’t want to see my taxes go up either, but I would want my children to attend a safe school that doesn’t leave me wondering when it’ll eventually collapse, or when one highly disgruntled parent or student shows up and acts on his/her rage. I wonder why previous superintendents couldn’t see past their sports programs and put more money into maintaining, renovating, and expanding the junior high.

    I concede that the timing is poor, especially in this era of increasing inflation and costs; however, there is a perfect storm brewing east of us, now that Harris county went all blue. They are on the verge of going the way of Detroit in terms of out-of-control taxes and crime, and things will get worse. Washington county may see, in a few years, people fleeing Jack Cagle’s former precinct and others. Will this school district be ready? Thanks to our community, I highly doubt it.

    1. Was Harris County going “all blue” illegal or not American? You nor I live in Harris County. Since you opened up the subject; I am glad that Cagle lost and I am overwhelmingly ELATED that Lina won! Now, the storm brewing is in Washington County … the need for a new Jr High School that will eventually need to be built. The current Jr High School building was the old high school I graduated from. I would hope and pray that my grandchildren will not have to attend classes in that old, grungy, mildew filled, dilapidated building because some stiffs refuse to ante up a few more dollars for a new Jr High School. A few less trips to Vegas or Lake Charles or maybe eat out one less night a month should cover this necessary expense. Our children deserve as much. I attended a basketball game at the current Jr High school LAST YEAR and the paper towel dispensers in the boy’s bathroom were laying on the floor, the sinks coming off of the walls and there was NO WATER to wash my hands!
      I once thought that Brenham was better than this! Now, I am not so sure!

      1. Yes, the plumber the school had in staff retired and was never replaced. Looks like the same thing happened to the carpenter. I wish it would have been the administration instead.
        It is obvious that the schools would be maintained better with no administrators on board. We would not be in this predicament.

      2. So why did the school district leave & use our tax dollars in such poor condition? Because of poor maintenance and the central office & school board does not care…
        They just want to build new and raise our tax dollars and then do no maintenance..

      3. Lets see how “ELATED” you will be when this great state turns into another California. But, seeing as you share a similar mindset that might just “ELATE” you more. You know, there was a time when people were proud to have their grandchildren attend the same school as they, and the ones who weren’t and wanted more for their childeren did something about it. They left. They didn’t sit around complaining and expecting the community to give them what they felt entitled to. They went out and found one that could. This whole school bond back and forth thing is ridiculous!! What do people like you not understand?? The majority of taxpayers in this county simply cannot afford for this bond to pass. THEY ARE LITERALLY BEING TAXED OUT OF THEIR HOMES!! My astronomical recent appraisal value and insurance increase has raised my mortgage a whopping $400 a month! I’m fortunate to be able to afford such an increase, but do you realize so many cannot? And I’ll stand and vote for them. I too, graduated from that very same school and when I had my daughter, I wanted something different for her. She graduated with honors from one of the best school districts in Texas, went off to college, and then I moved back. I would never and have never looked down on this town that could not offer her that. I found one that could. So, to all of the “bond bullies” trying to push this impossible expense down everyone’s throats, I say, on behalf of all of the stiffs that don’t want to ante up, LEAVE.

        1. I am not leaving. Perhaps you should or perhaps a better question would be, “why did you come back?” Eventually the bond issue will pass? We stayed RIGHT HERE in this town and sent our children to college. You must be one of the “last of a dying breed”. And by the way, I have been to California three times. It is not a bad place to visit. Interested???

      4. “I attended a basketball game at the current Jr High school LAST YEAR and the paper towel dispensers in the boy’s bathroom were laying on the floor, the sinks coming off of the walls and there was NO WATER to wash my hands!”

        This is the perfect example of why I voted NO and will continue to vote NO. Paper towel dispenses laying on the floor, and sinks coming off the wall are signs of poor maintenance and poor management. Things like this are evident all over our district, not just the junior high. If the school refuses to take care of the facilities they have, why should we entrust them with more. The junior high building is a rock solid structure that can and should be maintained and taken care of better (heck it was built as a bomb shelter). Yes it is old, but so is the courthouse, the Giddings Stone Mansion, and many other historic structures around town. Check out all of the old historic buildings around the square that have lots of high traffic, but are in great shape. What is the difference, those buildings are being taken care of. The school district has repeatedly shown itself to be a poor steward of our money. Let them clean up their act and take care of what they have, and then come ask for more. Not until I see a change in the way they care for buildings will I vote for another one.

      5. Sir, it is very inexpensive to re-hang paper towel dispensers and sinks. Wonder how they ended up on the floor?
        I do not take trips or go out to eat. I do turn down my heat and watch what is on sale at the grocery store. I don’t have cable or a new phone. I drive my 20 year old automobile as little as possible. I do everything I can to save just to try to pay my bills.
        I believe there are lots of folks out there like me.
        I found this comment was both insulting and lacking in useful content.

  6. In 2012, it only cost $25.9 million to completely tear down and rebuild Alton Elementary, and completely gut and rebuild the current BMS campus. That is 2 campuses, that are very well done, for less than 1/4th of what they are asking for the new Junior High. This is why the bond failed. The citizens of Brenham know a single campus shouldn’t cost that much. Not even close.

    BISD needs new leadership who understands the community and its needs. This was a vast overreach and the fact that they tried this twice tells me they just don’t get it. BISD needs a fresh start at both school board and administrative level.

    1. $25.9 million 2012 is $45.7 million today, thanks to inflation, but I agree 100% that if the price was right, plenty of voters would have come on down.

  7. What can’t Dr. Chaplin just say the people have spoken.

    He and the committee have thrown the same (almost exact) bond prop out and they both have failed convincingly. Even while your main sales point has been “if you are over 65 it won’t cost you anything” and “it’s for a safer school”. So IMO fear and ignorance are your selling points.

    The over 65 crowd in this county are intelligent enough to realize a junior high should not cost $111 million to construct. We aren’t as dumb as the metro school districts. We don’t “do it because they do it”.

    I also don’t understand how these “vote for” signs can be placed on school property that is owned by the same taxpayers that could potentially be voting no in the bond election.

    The no voters won despite all of this, why can’t we just say the people have spoken and the answer is no? Instead, judging by the the comments Dr Chaplin has made, it sounds more like they are hoping that the “third times a charm” will work in their favor. Somerville ISD did the same thing a few years ago and got it to pass by 1 vote.

    Construction costs have not come down and the interest rates have doubled. IMO, the window to build this has been missed due to a lack of right sizing the projects and the egotistical “go big or go home” approach so don’t blame this on the people who voted no. Instead please publicly acknowledge the fact that you tried for something that you didn’t have the community’s support on; it’s been proven twice now.

    1. Dr. Chaplin seems to be trying to increase his resume presence for his next superintendent position.
      A tax increase has to be paid by someone and you can bet the over 65 would eventually be paying for this as well.
      It seems to me if they had or were doing proper maintenance on the buildings some of the issues would not be appearing today. Lay out exactly what and why these things are needed. Don’t just throw it out there. Lipstick on a pig means it is still just a pig. With current construction cost a new Jr. High school could be built for less than $111 million.
      Failing twice should clearly show how the voters feel, time to reevaluate this I would think?

    2. Get people who know how to renovate and restore the buildings. Get rid of the high powered architects who are hell bent on fancy. Stop taking the easy way and expect taxpayers to pay. Fix the problems for a lot less money.

    3. A new school is still needed and you don’t want to spend a bunch of money repairing a school that will ultimately have to be replaced eventually to account for growth. All we can do is hope the interest rates and construction costs will come down one day. How long do you think we will be waiting?

      1. There are several options. Starting with proper maintenance so the buildings last hundreds of years. Maybe a mixture of remote and on-site learning (a 2.5 day home and 2.5 day on-site would support double the enrollment). Maybe even fund raise to build new schools so the home owners who want new schools can donate their $20,000 dollars.

      2. That school is repairable. What are you going to do…throw it away? It’s unacceptable that it was allowed to get in the shape it is. Come up with a renovation plan now for much less cost to the hammered tax payers. Then make plans for growth that doesn’t include fancy.

        1. Pasted from the BISD Bond website:

          “6. Why don’t you just remodel the existing facilities and use what you have?

          • The junior high is 59 years old, was built as a high school that could also serve as a bomb shelter during the community during the Cold War Era, does not have any windows, and the cost to renovate does not address the education adequacy of the building.
          • Based on the facility assessment performed in June 2021, renovation of the 1964 Junior High (Originally constructed as Brenham High School) is not a viable option. Any expenditure would not address educational adequacy, relieve building crowding, enhance safety, or modernize classrooms for today’s delivery methods. Renovations and additions to modernize the facility further the investment in a facility that is well beyond its useful life.
          7. Older buildings were built stronger than the current construction. They are still good enough, aren’t they?
          • The average age of Brenham ISD buildings is approximately 40 years. Buildings that were constructed 40 to 50 years ago were not designed with energy efficiency or technology in mind. Electrical service is frequently inadequate for technology.
          • In some cases, the buildings have undersized classrooms, poorly configured entrances and circulation, poor lighting, and other design conditions that would not be acceptable under modern codes.”

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