The good old summertime.....Many Fort
Bend ISD parents are concerned about school not starting
this year until Aug. 21. This is the result of Fort Bend ISD
school board fiddling around and not applying for a waiver
(more about that in just a minute) until it was too late to
re-apply when the TEA turned the board down.
Here’s the background on that: Several
years ago, the legislature passed a law (Senate Bill 108)
that school districts could NOT start student instruction
prior to the week of August 18 UNLESS they applied for a
waiver to do so.
And to apply for a waiver, the school
district had to meet certain requirements such as at least
60 days prior to the waiver application being submitted to
the agency, the district must publish a notice in a
newspaper having general circulation in the district.
The published notice must state that the
district intends to apply for a waiver about the August 18
first day of instruction and specify the date on which the
district intends to begin instruction for students.
Then the district must hold a public
hearing concerning the date of the first day of instruction
for students. The waiver application that is submitted to
the agency must include a summary of the opinions expressed
at the public hearing, including any consensus of opinion
expressed concerning the proposed first day of instruction.
This is what tripped up Fort Bend ISD
because board president Lisa Rickert closed down a meeting
in the middle of the meeting, then at the next meeting, the
date had miraculously changed and when Rickert was asked
about why the date was suddenly changed, she had no
satisfactory answer, causing several board members to vote
against the new date.
I guess the Texas Education Agency has
had about enough of Fort Bend ISD feuding so they took the
opportunity to deny the waiver, citing a “lack of
consensus.” Then there wasn’t enough time to re-apply so
they are stuck with the “after August 18” start date.
Something as simple as planning a school
calendar shows the disarray the district has degenerated
into with its current “leadership” (or lack thereof).
But some more words about the school
calendar. I have maintained for years that the district
started school so early and took so many days of vacation in
the middle of the school year for the convenience of the
teachers, not necessarily the parents who are the taxpayers
(although most of our teachers are probably also Fort Bend
ISD taxpayers, I imagine).
In any event, when my employees had small
children at the age when it was hard to get a baby-sitter
all day because they had 10-12 year old children who were
too young to stay at home alone and too old to go to child
care, they either had to take vacation days and stay home
with the kids or bring them to the office with them.
Over the years, my employees and their
children have gotten older and it hasn’t been as much of a
problem. Plus, we’ve always been pretty understanding about
bringing the kiddos to work and have even kept them busy
making their own newspapers.
But, I’ve always wondered about the
parents who work downtown or in a much stricter environment.
What do these parents do when the schools are dismissed for
a week at Thanksgiving, and another week at Spring Break,
not to mention several days at Easter? Couldn’t these last
two holidays at least be combined?
My complaints have fallen on mostly deaf
ears as the teachers are certainly ready for a break and
wealthier parents can either afford to take their children
skiing or one parent doesn’t work outside the home so they
are not inconvenienced.
Of course, a later start date means those
mean little kids are home longer in the summertime, but it
also means there is less disruption during the school year
with parents scrambling to find temporary child care. I say
starting school after August 18 is preferable to starting
when the swimming pools are still open, and I hope the
district does it permanently.
I have serious doubts about which parents
were surveyed about the early start date in the first place.
I tried, Lord knows I tried......I
took my bad hairdo to a Fort Bend ISD candidate forum Monday
night in an effort to become achingly familiar with the
eight people running for the school board. There were more
students there (getting extra credit?) than parents. Two
candidates didn’t show-- Rodrigo Carreon and James Walker,
but the rest were there.
The election is May 13 and there are four
candidates for the two places, eight candidates in all. No
matter where you live in FBISD, you can vote on one
candidate in each place. So you as a voter get two bites of
the educational apple.
I listened as all six candidates give
their four minute spiel, asked my question, listened to a
couple of other questions. Then I had to leave. I was tired
of being lectured by Liz Mitton.
I asked each of the candidates to answer
my question either “yes” of “no” with no expounding or
explanation. My question was “If the opportunity arose,
would you vote to hire Dr. Betty Baitland as
I don’t imagine Dr. Baitland would even
want the job with the board we now have, but I figured that
one simple question would separate the candidates who
believed in a professional educator who received excellent
marks from all who knew or worked with her from those who
were interested in continuing the weak leadership that
The following three candidates said yes
they would hire her: Steve Smelley, Hal Jay, and Sonal
Interestingly enough, Hal Jay certainly
didn't act like he wanted to keep her as super-intendent
when the "new" board (cabal)was in the process of "retiring"
her. Then Jay was vocal about getting rid of her. I guess he
has noticed the winds of change and that those "new" board
members are generally ostracized at current social events.
One well-known candidate sidled up to me and implored me not
to run his picture with them.
The following three candidates said no
they would not: Liz Mitton, Wayne Howard, and Steve Dieu.
Because I am so angry about what the
current board has done (excepting Cynthia Knox, Sue
Hauenstein, and Bruce Bain), that I don’t trust myself to
give an objective write-up about those running.
However, I am going to ask all the
candidates a series of questions and I will pass their
answers on to you in the near future. Of course, I can
editorialize by choosing what questions to ask, can’t I? And
the candidates can refuse to answer, which I will also pass
on to you.
Happy birthday to me.... Here is a picture of me
taken Sunday with my grandson Carter Fredrickson on the
occasion of my 65th birthday and my announcement in Michael
Fredrickson’s back yard that I will not be retiring. SAY