Is it a critical investment in the future or a financial disaster in the making? Very suddenly, the battle over building lots of new HISD schools has heated up.
Just 22 days before the election, opponents of a $1.9 billion bond proposal have emerged to state their case.
"It's an astronomical amount of money! This is a disaster waiting to happen financially," said bond issue opponent David Wilson.
"Where is our money going to? We are tired of the false promises," added Mike Gonzalez, an east-side parent critical of the last HISD bond program.
They call themselves Citizens for Accountability, a confederation of critics who believe HISD has played fast and loose with bond money in the past and is likely to do so again.
"The issue is: why give more money and no accountability? That's the issue. There is no accountability," said Charles White, a neighborhood activist in Sunnyside.
What the critics can't and don't argue is the fact that dozens of worn-out schools and dilapidated facilities are crumbling. What they do contend is that instead of borrowing the reconstruction funds, HISD should pay as it goes.
"Yes, there is a need, but I think the current budget can handle it. Brick and mortar do not make good schools and this is about brick and mortar," said Wilson, whose children were not educated by HISD.
It's "bricks and mortar" that can make or break the district's future, according to Sue Davis who is leading the pro-bond effort known as Great Schools Houston.
"Study after study shows that kids can't learn and teachers can't teach in schools where buildings are crumbling, classrooms are too small, the air conditioning doesn't work, raw sewage is flowing on the ground, rats are running through the ceiling. Kids can't learn in situations like that," said Davis.
As for making sure money is well spent, HISD Superintendent Terry Grier is guaranteeing strict, taxpayer-monitored controls including an oversight committee of parents and educators on every rebuilt campus.