So many stories, so little space .... I
would like to tell you everything I know about several different
topics this week--the FBISD school bond election, the proposed
airport purchase, the appointment of a new associate judge.
However, my space and your patience is limited, so I think Iíll
delay my take on the airport purchase until next week.
Early voting has opened for FBISDís almost $400
million bond election. I'm reminded of a comment attributed to
Senator Everett Dirkson many years ago, "A million here, a million
there, pretty soon we're talking about real money." That may not
be a direct quote, but it's pretty close to what he said.
I have whined in this space more than one time
about the cost Fort Bend ISD pays for its schools. I know we need
them, but I always ask if we need high schools that cost over $60
million. I have repeatedly asked voters to reject a bond issue,
just one time, to send a message to the administration and the
school board that we will only vote for reasonably-priced
However, my entreaties have had little effect.
FBISD is one of the largest employers in Fort Bend and, of course,
all the employees are EXPECTED to vote. Also, the district always
manages to have schools programs at the campuses which are the
sites for early voting. That way they get the parents who are
interested in children's education in close proximity to a ballot
We received an interesting letter to the editor
this week that suggested the district explore the possibility of
building larger high schools like several other fast growth areas
Economies of scale make larger high schools
which accommodate more students less expensive per student to run
and cost less per student to build. A case can be made that a
larger high school might lose its focus on the individual student,
but many of our students who attend college after high school are
thrown onto huge college campuses with little effect. In fact, a
large high school might prepare them better.
Here's the dirty little secret about school
Architects design expensive buildings because
they are paid a percentage according to the cost of the
construction, usually 6 percent. So if you were an architect,
wouldn't you want to design a building that revs up your bottom
School officials contend they are mandated to
build schools according to certain requirements from Austin. While
the state may require certain disability requirements, other
school districts are still able to build schools under the same
requirements from Austin, but at a much less cost, so that dog
What it would take to force the architects to
design Fort Bend ISD buildings that are still good buildings but
not monuments to architectural excess is a strong administration
and an even stronger school board that is able to say "No!" to
some of the more grandiose plans presented to them.
There's no doubt that we will need new
buildings and need to update the buildings we already have, and I
hate to encourage you to vote against the bonds. It's like I'm
attacking motherhood, the flag, and apple pie. Good schools are
the backbone of a community and are the most important place we
can put our money.
However, I donít think throwing money at
grandiose buildings is the answer to good education for our
I think you should think about all these things
and cast your vote on February 1. If you want to look up more
information about the bond issue, you can look at the school
district's web site at fortbendisd.com. Click on "About FBISD,"
then click "Bond 2003."
Remember, this is the school district's story.
If you don't have a computer, now might be a good time to become
familiar with that service available at our local libraries.
We donít get to vote on this ..... The
judges are still fussing about who they will hire as an associate
judge in the family courts to replace Loraine Wilson. At the board
of judges meeting last week, the judges voted to hire the
associate judge under family court rules, which means the
agreement must be unanimous between the judges. Judge Robert Kern
stated at the open meeting that he is willing to abide by the
majority of a straw vote taken among the judges, while
newly-elected Judge Ron Pope never voiced that agreement. The
judges later had a closed session, but did not return to open
session to take a formal vote on their decision. This tells me
that no decision was made.
However, in a later interview, Judge Pope told
me that he is also willing to abide by the majority view in order
to reach a unanimous decision.
All things being equal (and I understand they
are), I think they should hire the woman, local attorney Brenda
Mullinex, as the associate judge because we have so few female
judges in the judicial system in Fort Bend County. And I feel
perfectly justified in giving my opinion because judicial
appointments skip the voting process. If I can't vote, I can at
least mouth about who they appoint.
Iíll fly away ..... Okay, I won't bore you with
my airport opinions this week, but I will tell you that I'm in
favor of them. And after I make my case next week, you will be