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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.

Wot happened? ....... No one was more surprised than I about the failure of the school bond referendum. I had previously decided that FBISD voters would okay a billion dollars if asked. After all, we all know that our district is growing and needs new schools, plus FBISD is the largest employer in Fort Bend and expects its employees to vote for any bond elections.

But this time I think Fort Bend ISD misjudged the concern voters feel about the economy, the fact that so many have experienced the wiping out of their retirement accounts, and the fact that we all had just received notices from our mortgage companies that our house payments were going to be increased substantially due to increased valuations of our property. Our elected officials make a big deal every year almost breaking their arms patting themselves on the back about the fact that they havenít increased the taxes, but yet I guess you notice that your taxes still increase. Not only should our elected officials avoid increasing taxes, they need to DECREASE them. But they are so accustomed to gorging themselves on increased valuations which yield them much more money each year without them having to face the wrath of the voting public.

Another reason I think the bond issue failed is that it did not include very many buildings for our money (seven-accounting for almost half the total of the approximately $400 million bonds). Much of the money would have been used to redo older buildings ($64 million-two elementaries and a junior high) and buy technology for the schools (another $42 million). There was some concern expressed by the forces against the bonds that $64 million could build NEW elementaries and a junior high. $58 million was earmarked for campus maintenance and $12 million for school buses. Opinions were also expressed that if the district built schools close to the students that it would not be necessary to buy so many buses. And another concern expressed during the debate about the bond issue was the economy of scale which exists with larger schools. FBISD builds many smaller schools, rather than a few large ones.

I hope that FBISD administration and board members take the failure of the bond issue as a lesson from taxpayers that they no longer want to spend so much money on bricks and mortar (which doesnít add to the learning process of the student), that a rein should be exercised on the architects that design the buildings with so many extras and fancy built-in cabinets that drive up the price, and hence their fees.

Fort Bend does not have to look far to see an example of its own misguided building program in its neighbors to the west, Lamar CISD, which has almost bankrupted the entire district because it went out on Hwy. 723 and built this huge, fancy school facility which the district couldnít afford. But Lamar did one thing right that FBISD should emulate. FBISD, like Lamar, should have a bond election where voters can vote on the stuff they want to fund, like a "line item" referendum where voters can check "buildings" or "computers," or "buses," or everything. That way at least the money for buildings would probably not be voted down, unless the district tries to pay $200 million for only seven buildings.

I wonder if our administration and board members think that by building grandiose buildings, they can and we will overlook the fact that FBISD is a mediocre school district where its "patronís," (sorry, Jon) are not getting their moneyís worth?

School district trustee Naomi Lamís ultimate public disapproval of the bond referendum no doubt gave voters an excuse and impetus to vote against something they didnít like anyway. Lamís excuse for coming out against the bonds after first voting for them as a board member was explained to me thusly: Lam said as a board member she voted to submit the bonds to the VOTERS for their approval; she did not vote to approve the bonds.

It must be election time ...... One of the sure signs that election season is approaching is that politicians suddenly want to become full-time community volunteers in an effort to get their names in the newspaper and before the public. We certainly support volunteerism. In fact, we award a volunteer of the week each and every week in this newspaper. We especially applaud those who do unpaid work for the community with little or no recognition.

However, we are certainly amused that Sheriff Milton Wright is doing everything he can to keep from going to the office. It seems that the Sheriff has put his name on every volunteer effort in town. Thatís nice, except that his priorities are skewed. While the Sheriff is out volunteering, his department is being run by a Napoleonic, foul-mouthed, paranoid control-freak with the managerial skills of the average chimp. Morale in the department is at an all-time low as Mini-Milton stalks so-called "leaks" to the media by deputies.

And speaking of volunteerism ..... We are accepting nominations for our "Sterling Star" award that we give weekly to a member of a local community service organization. Itís simple to nominate someone. You can either e-mail us the information about your nominee along with a photo, or call our office and we will fax you a form, 499-5600.

Coming full circle ...... I was so glad to get a press release from Russell Jones that he is running for the city council from Sugar Land. Shortly after I first started in the newspaper business in Fort Bend, Russell was on the city council in Missouri City where he was a real class act. He has since moved to Sugar Land and a couple of times has volunteered to serve unexpired terms. Now heís running for a full term. Russell and his wife Thelma are both local attorneys specializing in corporate law who have always participated in community life in Fort Bend. Theyíre good people and Russell apparently has a lot of backing and support for the job.


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:  September 17, 2003