2009 FBISD Tax Hearing (On YouTube)

CLICK HERE FOR THE 2009 FBISD CONTROVERSIAL TAX HEARING (YES THEY ARE RAISING THEM AGAIN--see petition of over 500 district taxpayers asking for board accountability) --In case anyone missed it they raised the property tax rate again (4th time) in 2010 and more than likely will do so again in 2011 facing another projected 15-20 million dollar budget deficit, according to some media reports. ***NEW*** ..Petition TO STOP THE GSTC (Global Science Museum being planned at the district central office--near $30 million dollar project that superintendent Jenney is pushing): http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/stopthegcst/ (see update below on this apparently ending this project after 2 years)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Houston Chronicle Blog: Opposition to FBISD bond mounts as district refutes "accusations"

Follow the link provided for the latest chronicle piece:


Opposition to FBISD bond mounts as district refutes "accusations"

As the Nov. 6 Fort Bend school district $429 million bond election nears, a group of opponents of the bond is stepping up its fight.

One of its undertakings has been a computer-generated telephone call to 2,200 homes in the district urging voters to vote against the proposal, according to Carlos Cain, a resident who helped organize the effort.

Cain, whose daughter is a Lakeview Elementary first-grader, has been serving as an unofficial spokesman for what he described as a "loosely organized group" of opponents.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, Cain also obtained financial documents pertaining to past bond referendums from the school district. He said he discovered that $176 million bond proceeds from the 2003 bond issue has not been used for the bond projects and a review of the documents gave rise to his suspicion that the fund was transferred to a trust for purposes other than what was initially approved by voters.

Cain said he also has personally met with Superintendent Tim Jenney and spoken with school board trustee Laurie Caldwell on the phone about his concerns on a range of issues such as the size of the current bond, projects from past bonds allegedly repeated in the current package, and the completion status of past bond projects.

Several other opponents said they shared the same concerns. One of them said there is no legal guarantee that the district must spend the bond money in a way approved by voters. Another critic said until the school board becomes a single-member district board, there will not be equal representation of communities of different parts of the district nor equitable bond proposals....(follow link above for more).

FBISDWatch Formally Endorses Improved Representation & Accountability and Thus Opposes The '07 Record FBISD Bond!

With recent endorsements from the EDC, Chamber of Commerce and some local newspapers supporting the record FBISD bond, we here at FBISDWatch after investigating extensively the proposal and attending the bond sales meetings have decided not enough accountability currently exist in the bond process to support a measure of this magnitude that will increase Fort Bend County residents taxes, on an average home, by about 11 cents per 100k valuation.

This week in the FB Sun article supporting the bond the paper was quoted as reporting that our county is already one of the most highly taxed areas of the state. The second largest city in FBC recently voted in an estimated 5.4% tax increase and mobility bonds and other county bonds were added to the tax rolls too in '06-'07 (with our commissioners giving themselves nearly a 15% raise just last year). Many families are already living check to check and further increases by our elected officials could have detrimental effect on hundreds of home and property owners, perhaps more, in our community.

Until the school district and other taxing entities seek authentic bond accountability with improved voter/taxpayer representation (for FBISD through single-member districts and BOT policies) FBISDWatch will continue to vigorously oppose this bond. We have recently sought and gained support from numerous community leaders and a recent area blog endorsement from MissouriCityChatter.blogspot.com.

Please e-mail us for more if these issues concern you at fbisdwatch@yahoo.com!

Visit The FBISDWatchDogs Virtual Store (See link to the right and get your FBISD Watch Buttons Today)-

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Denials Being Made By District Officials In Growing FBISD Bond Controversy!

From FBN: Denials Being Made By District Officials In Growing FBISD Bond Controversy

Concerns Raised By Resident Over FBISD Bond Issues Not Valid, Jenney Tells Board
by Bob Dunn, Oct 30, 2007

Top administrators have refuted allegations – raised by a local resident opposed to the 2007 bond referendum being voted on in the Nov. 6 election – that Fort Bend Independent School District improperly handled money from a 2003 bond referendum.

District resident Carlos Cain has said he believes the district put some money from the 2003 bonds into a trust fund to pay off debt from past bond issues, instead of using it to complete buildings and other projects.

At least one Fort Bend ISD board trustee questioned the district administration about the trust fund, and about allegations Cain raised that the district is seeking money through the 2007 bond referendum to pay for projects that were listed under the 2003 bond, but weren’t completed.

In an email message sent to board members on his behalf, district Superintendent Timothy Jenney responded to those questions and denied Cain’s allegations are true. On Tuesday, Cain said he still isn’t satisfied with the answers the district has provided. . . (click the link below for more).



Saturday, October 27, 2007

From FBN: Fort Bend ISD Watch Site Recommended

Fort Bend ISD Watch Site Recommended
Oct, 2007

We have a new FBISDWATCH site (http://fbisdwatch.blogspot.com/) that is active and reporting issues related to FBISD. Many of the constituents in the Fort Bend area need to have their fingertips on the pulse of our schools and the welfare of our educational system.

I know first hand that education can become very political and smog the main reason why the system exists and that is to provide a formidable and free education to all children (*despite socioeconomic factors, color, race, creed, religion, or disability*) enabling them to be prepared for college, career, and/or trade, but most importantly…*LIFE and FAMILY*.

For this reason, I support sites such as the FBISDWATCH site and I am recommending it to anyone that is interested in having a source of unadulterated information with a consumer, taxpayer, and concerned citizen perspective in mind.

Log in today: http://fbisdwatch.blogspot.com/

Noel Pinnock
Fort Bend County

From: http://www.fortbendnow.com/opinion/3490/fort-bend-isd-watch-site-recommended#c019264

Mr. Pinnock is an author, former board of trustee candidate, community activist and long-time educator living in Missouri City.

Just Say No To More Taxes!


As in every other public school district in America, Ft. Bend ISD voters are being asked to vote for yet another bond to “support the children and their schools.”

Taxpayers, parents and supporters of education should not be fooled, again. There’s an agenda afoot that everyone may not realize.

Take note of the fact that public school districts went for ten or more years between bond initiatives in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Districts were able to do that because honest superintendents who spent their lives in the same district and who had loyalty to the district and its patrons, used money wisely.

But then “restructured education” came along, and all of a sudden, almost on the same day, newspapers and TV spots were clamoring for new school buildings and other facilities. That event was not a coincidence; it was part of a national agenda to change public schools as we know them.

The newly designed “restructured” curriculum called for new “spaces.” It was a paradigm shift, don’t you know?

Actually, the concept of “reforming” education was a bunch of hooey, designed to dumb down our kids and part all of us from our hard earned cash.

School districts have refined the bond scheme to the point that they now recruit and hire superintendents merely because they have been successful elsewhere at floating a bond—and the bigger the bond, the better.

Ft. Bend ISD is such a school district. Your superintendent has been on the scene creating good will for a couple of years. He apparently was pretty much retired but was coaxed in to coming your way for the purpose of passing a large bond. He had recently passed a big one where he was in Virginia Beach.

Who benefits from such a scheme? Well, first of all the superintendent does. If he can pass a monster bond, he can write his own ticket for a bigger and better job in a public school system elsewhere (and his own board will get in a bidding war to keep him), or he can easily go into school related private enterprise like the Cy Fair and Katy ISD superintendents have done whether he has the real expertise to perform or not. And when he retires, some of the vendors, who have made all the bucks from the big bonds, building overpriced, over designed, flashy schools, will contribute handsomely to the superintendent’s retirement gift. (http://www.katyisd.org/files/community_information/Conflict%20Disclosure/Dr.%20Merrell_Retirement%20Gift.pdf)

Secondly, the vendors, which include the architects, the developers who sell their land to the school district at inflated prices, the lawyers who set it all up, the builders and all the contractors who build the monuments, all stand to benefit from the largesse of a free wheeling school board that wants to create “good will” in the community so they can get re-elected.

Do the students benefit from a big bond? Maybe, but in most cases they are the last entity to be considered in the big picture. And if one considers what all these overpriced ventures will do for students’ academic gain, please know that the answer is “nothing.” “Just for the kids” is a disingenuous slogan.

The process for floating a bond issue is quite orchestrated at this point. Bond committees are selected—some are more fairly chosen groups than others, but the average citizen is usually left out. And even if they are included, a process called the Delphi Technique is utilized with the aid of pre-selected facilitators who are spread through the bond meetings to make certain of the pre-conceived outcome. (Read http://www.katycitizens.org/index_files/Page6680.htm on the Delphi Technique and the following article on School Board committees.)

School boards are prone to utilize committees to arrive at decisions which they themselves were elected to make. Foisting off the responsibility of sitting in endless meetings to learn about bond matters appears to be terribly boring for them if not totally incomprehensible—thus their willingness to let others make decisions for them.

As has been clearly pointed out elsewhere, school districts and their rubber stamp school boards are more likely than not to spend hard earned tax dollars for anything BUT what they said they would when they were trying to get voters hooked on the bond.

In MY school district, Katy ISD, the district asked for bond funding for one school (James E. Williams Elementary on Peak Road) three times before they ever built it!

They’ve also asked for money for duplicate computers and telephone systems and bus barns. Somehow buildings don’t ever get built or they need just a couple of hundred thousand more to build that swimming pool, or the equipment never is what we were told it would be. Roofing systems are replaced before they should be; carpeting and air-conditioning systems, high school tracks, and Astroturfed football fields require replacement before the warranties have expired; parking lots that no one knew we needed go up overnight, and amazingly, the warranties on replacement items are never quite what they seemed when the administration was making the original pitch for the projects to the school board.

The public has a short memory if they have one at all, and after all who has time to keep track of all the things that do and don’t happen with bond money? But someone should be paying attention, because, in my opinion, the use of bond money by school districts is one of the biggest rip offs in America.

The first thing citizens need to understand is that schools today aren’t the same as they were when you went to school. That’s supposed to be a “good” thing, but it’s not. When you went to school, you had probably a principal, an assistant principal who took care of discipline, two counselors (one for the boys and one for the girls), a nurse, and that was it for administrators. You had one teacher all day in elementary school and you had about six teachers (one for each subject) when you were in junior high and high school. That’s really all that was needed.

In today’s world (for example at Cinco Ranch High School in the Katy ISD) there is a principal, seven assistant principals, eight counselors, twenty instructional aides, four security guards, twenty-three secretaries, two nurses, and two librarians. Do we really need that many people to teach kids English, history, math, science, a foreign language and fine arts?

My point is that it’s not the academic education that we all want for our kids that is being currently addressed with a bond issue. It’s all the stuff that is NOT academic that is eating up tax dollars. Look around the next time you’re in a public school, and you will see what I mean. All that other “stuff” has to be housed, and so you get to pay for it.

Can’t have a winning baseball team playing on a field without an elevator in the press box or a place to sell high priced hot dogs or a bathroom that Queen Elizabeth can’t use.

Can’t have the girls’ gym looking better than the boys’.

Can’t have the principal residing in an office that doesn’t equate to her station in life.

Can’t have a school that doesn’t cost at least three times as much per square foot to build as it does for the homes that surround it.

Can’t have students walk to school, or Heaven forbid, ride in a bus without air-conditioning.

Can’t allow all the students with cars to not have a place to park close to the front door.

You get my point.

Taxpayers have to decide when they’ve had enough. Taxpayers have to decide what’s important—is it paying teachers a decent wage or building Taj Mahals so that parents can “feel good” about that education that may or may not be transpiring inside? And don’t buy into the argument that the M&O part of the tax rate isn’t affected by capital improvements. As long as there is a cap on the tax rate, the M&O can be affected. Your school district is making an arbitrary decision to spend money on buildings OR to spend it on students and their teachers.

Top school administrators are behind this scam on the public, and they have used their “professional” associations to lobby the state legislature to give them all the power they now enjoy. While no one was watching, they in essence stole our public schools.

You can let them have some more of your money or you can tell them no. The bottom line is, this bond is NOT for the kids, and your kids will not suffer one minute if you vote to keep your hard earned money.

Mary McGarr
Mother, former Texas public school teacher
Katy ISD School Board Trustee 1991-1996

Thursday, October 25, 2007

From FBN: Vote NO On Record FBISD Bond (See this FBN piece)

Integrity, Improved Representation & The FBISD Bond Election
Oct, 2007

Recently in the mail arrived a series of fliers from the school district presenting the new character education program that our children will be receiving this year. One which focuses on integrity and was apparently signed by Tim Jenney, our superintendent. It arrived just in time for the upcoming record district bond election push and a Chamber of Commerce endorsement. So far nothing unusual for a bond campaign that is being touted as needed to curb the over-development in our community. But let’s first
take a closer look at the definition for INTEGRITY.

In the unabridged version (v.1.1) of the Random House Dictionary C 2006 several definitions are provided:
1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

Although I applaud the district on their efforts to reintroduce character building to the schools, I would have to question their timing and delivery, right before the record bond vote. More importantly I would urge district officials and board members and many of their supporting vendors (via campaign gifts) to attempt to set a good example for our children of the district by living publicly to these principles.

Case in point, while attending several of the recent bond marketing meetings at our local high schools I had the opportunity to meet a fellow district taxpayer and one of his neighbors, a Mr. Carlos Cain. He has been attending nearly all the district public relations/marketing meetings in the Sugar Land area and asking some very pointed (but excellent) questions. Mr. Cain’s group even went beyond asking questions to requesting, through FOIA supporting documents, deeper answers to our concerns. What he showed us was very eye opening and goes to the heart of the problem with many of our Texas bond elections, lack of accountability, which is maintained by some pretty powerful PACs, lobbies and special interest groups who are directly funded by large corporate networks that feed on these public gifts.

Mr. Cain, through his queries and research, has exposed the weak under-belly of these multi-million dollar debts taken on by us average taxpayers in the name of the children. For example he found multiple listings (repeat lists) from the 2003 bond election on the current proposal funded for nearly the same amounts. He also found many items that should not be on a bond like non-fixed use items (like computers). You see funding short-term items that
will no longer be in use when paid for is not advised. Bonds are usually strictly for buildings and such, not items that have been moved off the regular budget.

Why is this so important? Because this bond is a new record in spending and financing a debt that may not be real. For instance, it appears that in the 2003 bond, district officials moved close to half of the amount, approved by taxpayers, into a trust account basically to finance the debt without public notification or review.
So in essence they not only redirected the monies from what taxpayers directed, but used debt to finance more debt and not on a small scale. You ask how did they get away with this? Easy, in Texas it isn’t illegal to not use the bonds as they were sold to the public (although I personally think it should be).

I for one believe Mr. Cain is a man of integrity, honesty and has a deeper faith and understanding of what is really wrong in our society (especially here in TX). I wish our kids had more GREAT examples like him getting involved in the community even with the threat of ridicule and alienation tactics. Willing to stand up and speak out for the truth and to seek it out even when officials, and their backers, are deliberately misleading, marginalizing, misinforming to protect the hundreds of millions they covet.

Instead of running off taxpayers/voters at these public bond sales pitches shouldn’t our district officials be reading their own curriculum materials that they require our teachers to distribute. I would prefer to see our elected officials and tax supported administrators modeling definition 1 from above rather than definition 2 (“to preserve the integrity of the empire.”)?

Thank you Carlos for doing what’s right and acting with INTEGRITY! Please vote NO on this record bond and call your school district officials and ask them to support direct representation through single-member districts so we can begin to clean up the mess and restore public accountability (and integrity). . . (see the entire thread at http://www.fortbendnow.com/opinion/3464/integrity-improved-representation-the-fbisd-bond-election#c019169)

Chris Calvin, Ph.D.
Committee for Responsible Development--FBC
Fort Bend County

Houston Chronicle: State Bond Fund In Trouble

TEA's guarantee on school bonds in peril
If approved items on the Nov. 6 ballot would bust cap

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

Bond projects

HISD will ask voters to approve an $805 million bond in a Nov. 6 election. Here are documents showing how some of the money is being spent.

Documents are included for all high school renovations, as well as Middle school renovations worth $10 million or more:

A state program that allows school districts to sell bonds at lower interest rates could be tapped out if voters approve the slew of school bonds on the Nov. 6 ballot — meaning districts may need to spend millions more to finance construction.

The Texas Education Agency's bond guarantee program, which can accommodate roughly $53 billion in bonds, was only $4.7 billion shy of capacity as of Aug. 31. While that's a substantial amount, two of the state's heavy hitters, the Cypress-Fairbanks and Houston school districts, will be asking voters for a total of more than a billion and a half dollars in next month's election.

All told, about 60 Texas districts are seeking $7.6 billion, which would bust the cap by nearly $3 billion.... (get the entire piece at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5236349.html)

FBISD Record Bond Election

This OP/ED piece from one of our members stirred quite a series of responses (see full thread at: http://www.fortbendnow.com/opinion/3400/if-we-build-it-they-will-come)

"If We Build It, They Will Come"
Oct 01, 2007, 01 06 PM

What if they don’t come?

As a concerned parent and voter I have been reviewing the FBISD bond issue on the November ballot. I believe they are overstating the future needs of Fort Bend ISD and the cost of this “potential” growth. Who will pay for this? WE WILL! Every tax payer in FBISD. If passed, the new bond issue would push FBISD debt to approximately 1.5 Billion dollars. That is ($1,500,000,000.00). Think about it, and call 832-859-5783 for more information.

Carlos Cain
Sugar Land

Commissioner Prestage Adds Voice In Call For Single Member Districts

Prestage Adds Voice In Call For Single Member Districts
Jul, 2007

Fort Bend Politics

Bob Dunn

Local educator Noel Pinnock stirred a still-simmering debate in these pages last month when he called on the Fort Bend Independent School District Board of Trustees to convert from its current at-large system to single-member districts.

Now Fort Bend County Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage has also strongly endorsed the idea, although he and Pinnock would take different approaches to achieving the same ends.

“I’ve been very vocal about this ever since the ’80s,” Prestage said recently. “I think it’s time for single-member districts. It has been for a long time.”

“History supports this case,” Pinnock said. “The argument is in terms of voter dilution and in terms of lack of representation.”

The crux of his argument is his contention the majority of schools in the district’s east end are “failing and are struggling to bridge/close achievement gaps and provide a formidable education experience for all students.”

“Hunters Bend, Mission Bend and all of these bands on the outskirts of the city need representation” on the FBISD Board, he said. His belief is that those neighborhoods are not able to obtain proper representation under the current at-large system.

Pinnock has written or spoken to the U.S. Justice Department, the American Civil Liberties Union, Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey, the NAACP and local members of Congress about the issue, and has suggested a lawsuit may be necessary to force a change. . .(follow this link for the full story http://www.fortbendnow.com/opinion/3086/prestage-adds-voice-in-call-for-fbisd-single-member-districts)

Fort Bend ISD Should Convert To Single-Member Districts

From FBN: Fort Bend ISD Should Convert To Single-Member Districts
Jun 2007,

Noel Pinnock
Missouri City

I am deeply concerned about the lack of equitable representation the schools, parents, taxpayers, and students are receiving in Fort Bend Independent School District. I am requesting some support and would greatly appreciate any assistance you can provide me in reconfiguring FBSID’s electoral voting system to a single-member district to promote diversity, equity, and equality in this fast-growing county in our great nation.

Historically and currently, FBISD trustees are voted in a seat on the dais by residents who pay FBISD school taxes (largest tax item on our annual tax bill). The voting canvass includes Missouri City, Fresno, Vicksburg, and Sugar Land proper as well as parts of Houston, Katy, and Alief. Additionally, several other ETJ areas such as Teal Run, Sienna Plantation, New Territory, Shadow Creek Rank, Mission Bend, Hodges Bend, etc. are aggregated in FBISD’s electoral process.

With such a large and diverse voting pool, FBSID residents rely on a seven-member board to represent over 60 schools. This number will increase by approximately by a third in the next 5 years due to projected growth and the construction of much needed schools.

In accordance with the Texas Elections Code, Fort Bend ISD calls board elections for the first Saturday in May of each year. Vacancies occurring after the election are filled by appointment until the next election is conducted. Trustees are elected to three-year terms on a rotating basis. Two are elected each year, one from each side of the district (Position 1, 2 and 3 on the West, and Positions 5, 6 and 7 on the East). Also, every third year, the “at large” Position 4, is elected.

Many of the surrounding school districts of smaller, larger, or equal size have historically or recently adopted the single-member district electoral system; whereby, taxpayers in a geographical area can vote for 1 person who will best represent their schools, parents, and children needs. In the absence of single-member districts, it is very difficulty to hold an elected trustee accountable, thus thousands of citizens and students are disenfranchised and the FBISD electoral process is diluted and malapportioned. . . (read the full story at http://www.fortbendnow.com/opinion/3006/fort-bend-isd-should-convert-to-single-member-district-system)

Hello & Welcome To FBISDWatchDogs

Hello & Welcome,

FBISD watchdogs are here to serve the public and to keep them informed on how their tax dollars are being spent in the local school system. Quality education is no accident and through keeping a closer eye on how your money is spent we feel education in FBISD schools can not only be improved, but better managed.

This organization will seek to engage local district officials on ways to enhance the quality delivery and efficiency of resources and services supported by your property taxes and bond/debt elections. The primary goal is to engage the district on and offline in the further discussion that can help improve what is and isn't happening with our district.

Stay tuned as we provide information resources and alternative opinion from the community at large here at http://fbisdwatch.blogspot.com/.