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BEV'S BURNER
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

by B.K. Carter
This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time and phone number.

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 buildings.

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 box.

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 in Texas.

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 construction.

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 line?

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 donít hunt.

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 children.

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 too.


B. K. Carter is publisher of the Fort Bend Star. You can e-mail her at bkcstar@earthlink.net


 
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   Last Update:  January 29, 2003