Fort Bend ISD board considers 2023 bond audit after new projects are expected to go $130 million over budget

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) — Some Fort Bend ISD parents want accountability after the district’s recently passed bond went millions over budget, and they say it starts at Monday night’s board meeting.

Briargate Elementary in Missouri City is set to open next year, but the project faces issues beyond cracks in the soil.

“They owe us some answers,” Fort Bend ISD parent Adeel Akhtar said. “I think they should help us get past some of this and get over the anxiety that we have.”

Akhtar wasn’t happy when he learned that Briargate Elementary School was millions over budget after work just started. The school is part of the 2023 bond project.

Right now, the first projects are 11% over budget. If it continues, the 2023 $1.2 billion bond is on track to be $130 million over budget.

The bond’s taxpayer money is going toward new schools, technology, and a bus facility. With early projects needing more money, parents are worried about future work.

“Is it going to affect that pool,” Akhtar asked. “Is it going to affect Clemens High School? Is it going to affect the two schools that they’re working on right now?”

Last month, a district spokesperson told ABC13 that the projects are undergoing review, and the goal is to deliver them all as promised.

We’ve learned the bond could also undergo an audit. The school board will vote on this Monday night.

Board president Judy Dae sent ABC13 a statement:

“Less than a year after voters approved the 2023 bond program, the board was informed that the cost estimates the prior administration provided to the board and the public were inaccurate. At our last board meeting, the board was told that a former staff member failed to share the information our outside consultant provided for a prolonged period. The former employee has since denied the allegations.

We, as trustees, need to understand how this could have happened. We need to review the process and determine how to improve the current one to prevent this from happening again. We owe it to the taxpayers and our community to get to the bottom of this unfortunate situation. I will urge my fellow trustees to support the action item of the board conducting an audit on the agenda at tonight’s board meeting.”

“Until we do, the question on my mind, and I think on a lot of people’s minds, is how? How does this happen? We have all these consultants and all these professionals who get paid lots and lots of money to make sure we get these things right,” Akhtar explained.

Money that continues to flow at school sites, but why more of it was needed could soon come to light if an audit is approved.

For updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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