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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 29 years."


 

Need to know basis....I know that the school board elections are what seems a long way off (May 12) but early voting starts soon (April 30). Don’t worry. I double-checked the dates since sometimes I mix them up. The above are correct.

Because the Star is not published before the start of early voting which is, put another way, next Monday, I want to opine about the election this week. If your memory is like mine, you will need to cut out this article to refer to before you vote.

I’m not telling you how to vote. I’m just telling you my almost-30 years experience covering Fort Bend ISD has lead me to certain beliefs.

They are, not necessarily in order of importance: (1) School board candidates should have a valid, articulate reason for running for the board. (2) School board candidates should have children in the district. (3) School board candidates should have attended previous board meetings to ascertain what the job entails. (4) School board candidates should have previously volunteered in their child’s schools. (5) School board candidates should not be former educators or currently working for any school district, particularly FBISD.

Board members are elected to set the policy of the district, not micro-manage. Board members have the responsibility to hire the district administrators which will then carry out that policy. It seems when former educational people are hired, they think they can and should run the district better than the hired superintendent. That’s when all sorts of problems start to develop as witnessed by the recent debacle when FBISD board members “retired” the current superintendent and tried to run the district themselves through an acting superintendent.

So let’s talk.... about the current crop of candidates. Lisa Rickert, the incumbent, was the leader of the cabal that “retired” the then-superintendent, then appointed a weak temporary superintendent (who later was “retired”). Her cohort, at the time, was Ken Bryant, who is also rerunning.

Here’s the history......The first year they (Rickert and Bryant) were in office, neither appeared to be prepared for the meetings. Rickert regularly suggested the board postpone a decision so she could get more information on a particular agenda item before casting a vote on it. That also continued the year she was board president.

Rickert also asked questions of administrators that she could have asked in a phone call before the meeting instead of grandstanding and prolonging the meetings. Bryant did the same thing but not as regularly.

Even though the two were a minority on the board, from the beginning it appeared they were going to buck whatever the other five deemed acceptable.

There is nothing wrong with this but in many cases, it looked like show biz, folks.

Numerous board votes were 7-2 with Bryant and Rickert voting together.

Rickert was also rude and condescending to administrators. She stopped forward progress of any kind at all levels by demanding more and more info or “look into this” of Betty Baitland, the then-current superintendent.

Rickert and Bryant, the two who questioned nickels, spent much more money hiring a lawyer to try to “get something” on Baitland, ran up legal bills at board meetings, then fired the school’s legal representative and hired an more expensive one.

That was then, this is now.....They have now hired a much more expensive (and perhaps worth it, who knows) superintendent who has added more expensive jobs to the administrative staff. These jobs may be necessary considering the size of the district and considerable expected growth but Bryant and Rickert haven’t been the penny pinchers they’d have everyone believe they were.

It seems to me that if you truly want academically improved schools, you don’t work to put the district on hold for a year or more. This is, in a nutshell, what both of these incumbents are guilty of.

Currently, Rickert’s belief that the rules aren’t made for her is showing its ugly face. Her car was parked in the administration parking lot with magnetic signs asking you to vote for her. Two people advised her to remove them, but she refused to take them off.

At the last school board meeting Rickert and Bryant met in the parking lot during the meeting (at a break) with a group of Chinese residents who were there about a discipline case involving a Chinese student. They were heard making what could easily be termed a “campaign” speech as the group applauded the two.

It was inappropriate and unbefitting for either of the board members to meet in the parking lot during the board meeting about student discipline, and to do this during a campaign was just wrong.

Strange that only Rickert and Bryant of all the board members met in the parking lot with the protesters.

Running against incumbent Lisa Rickert is Bob Broxson. Bob meets all five of my criteria.

Running against incumbent Ken Bryant is Ann Hopkins and Noel Pinnock, both of whom are currently employed by school districts. That’s just not a good thing.

That leaves David Reitz, who, thankfully, also meets my criteria.

Both men have children in the district, have attended board meetings, don’t work for the FBISD or HISD, and have previously volunteered.

I think Bob Broxson and David Reitz will make excellent additions to the board of trustees of Fort Bend ISD.

B.K. Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend/Southwest Star. She can be reached at bkcstar@earthlimk.net.

 

Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:  May 23, 2007