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)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Visit Other School District Watch Sites!

See other area school watch network links:

http://www.katycitizens.org/ (Katy)

http://www.cyfaircitizens.org/content/home/default1.asp (Cy Fair)

http://gisdwatch.com/ (Galveston)

http://www.keepeanesinformed.com/ (Eanes)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

FBW Guest Column: Politics, Family, Taxes & Justice in Fort Bend County--

Published on 12/20/07 - 05:54:11 by MCCNewsUpdates

From MCC:

Recently MCC/CRD had the opportunity to speak with Prescott Small on his views of the coming elections and politics in general. Mr. Small is currently serving as a precinct chair in Stafford, TX, is a successful family man and businessman and ran for a county commissioner seat in 2006 pledging off all special interest funding (a rare move these days).


I think there are several key issues that need to be addressed in politics regardless of party and on all levels of government whether it is local, county, state or federal elections.

The Voters:

There are two major players in what is wrong with elections, the “middle of the roader” and the person that refuses to vote. While the middle of the roader tends to be balanced in their opinions they are very seldom moved to take action and are just willing to “go with the flow” while the non voter doesn’t care about the flow at all. The only people that are typically active with elections and causes are the far right and the far left and combined we are a minority in this country, yet we get to decide how things will be.

Americans operate under a delusion where this is a majority rules country. This is not true at all. For example; let’s say we have a 60% voter turn out and the election is won by a 51/49 split. That means that roughly 30% of America just decided what is best for the country.

Being legal don’t make it right:

Then there are the Americans that are of a mind set that just because something is not illegal it is still just.

We all remember a certain representative from Sugar Land and how he took truckloads of money and gifts to pass legislation and that it was “legal at the time he did it.” That did not make it right.

The system is rigged:

Then there is the system, which is rigged. The real problem is how much it cost to get elected. You and I all want the best candidates and people that have a sense of responsibility and are willing to protect the real working men women in our country. The average person like you and I will find the campaign process a burden that is most difficult the bear. The average person can’t quit his or her job to run for office. Campaigning is essentially a full time job with a hell of a lot of overtime these days. The average person doesn’t have a spare quarter of a million dollars lying around. The average person is not willing to sacrifice their personal lives and their privacy not to bear the burden of the stress it takes to run for office.

Candidates still have bills to pay and families to feed. So the only people that are really able to run are those that can raise a ton of cash or have a ton of cash.

The candidates have to be willing to sacrifice any personal life they have or had. They also have to make the greatest sacrifice of all; that is to sacrifice time with their families.

In my opinion the effort to run for office and the sacrifice that it demands should be enough of an incentive to keep people honest and re-enforce their spine. However, when we are presented with the evidence this appears to not be the case.


Based on all that we have seen of the corruption of both parties, one would have to assume the burden of maintaining that status of “Elected Official” must be too great to bear for too long; for that re-enforced spine appears to collapse with time.

I believe that people that do business with the county. When companies that make millions in revenue from government contracts while contributing money to elected officials that grant the contracts is just questionable at best. In my gut I would feel wrong accepting such monies because I would perceive it as a conflict of interest. My personal integrity would make me feel uncomfortable.

Lobbyist making contributions and “sponsoring” fund raisers for elected officials is also a huge conflict of interest. When you seek specific legislation passed that benefits your organization and those you represent directly, it is immoral to give money to those same people.

Both parties are plagued by these corrupting influences. All parties have got to take a stand and change these practices.

Religion, meet State:

Religion and politics need to stay separated. Many of the candidates we see today are wearing their religion on their sleeves. They are in essence flying in the face of the constitution by endorsing a non-formalized process in which a politician not only has to have a profound sense of faith, but also be of a particular faith. For Example: Although I would never endorse Mitt Romney as a candidate I find it despicable that there are people in his party that refuse to vote for him solely because they believe his brand of faith is a cult.

The United States Constitution states in Article VI, section 3 that“ ...no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. ”

What has happened is a minority of Americans, about 23%, have hijacked one party and made faith a requirement to hold political office. They are very clear in this goal and their influence has spread so that no candidate in any party has a chance of getting elected unless they talk about their faith and express a profound belief in God.

This requirement is un-American as can clearly be seen by taking the time to read your constitution. And yes, I am aware that the Texas State Constitution has a religious requirement for a belief in a higher being to hold office; however that is trumped by the U.S. Constitution.

Religion and Government are a poisonous combination; one need only read a history book to know this. And if you want more proof, just turn on any news station and what is happening in the Middle East and around world where people live in theocracies today. Our founding fathers had a pretty damn good idea and they were well aware of the dangers of mixing religion and politics. That is why they have the No Religion test and the 1st Amendment.

Ok, it’s time to leave:

All elected offices should have term limits. While the people that get elected most often have a sense of civic duty and purpose, far too many fall to the dark side of campaign contributions and the trap of getting re-elected. They stop taking chances and aren’t will to stick out their political necks to do what really needs to be done for fear of loosing their chances at re-election. Many of them consider a large part of their job to be getting re-elected. So much of their time is spent campaigning that they are no longer able to perform the jobs they were sent there to do.

To summarize what is wrong with elections:

1) Apathy

2) Corruption

3) Religion

4) Term Limits

Prescott Small
Stafford, TX

Get more on the context of this OP/ED at http://www.fortbendnow.com/opinion/3624/fort-bend-desparate-for-new-blood-in-office#c021929



Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Families In HISD Sue Over Disparity In Bond Usage (Should FBISD Be Concerned?)--

HISD bonds under fire again
Families sue district, saying the package is discriminatory

Houston Chronicle

Three families have filed a federal lawsuit against the Houston school district, alleging discrimination against poor and minority children and asking a judge to stop the sale of bonds for new school construction.

The lawsuit caps months of opposition, mostly from the city's black community, to the school district's $805 million bond package. The bond won approval in November with 51 percent of the vote.

At a north Houston church on Monday, two mothers, joined by several pastors and politicians who vigorously opposed the bond, announced the lawsuit they filed late Friday against the Houston Independent School District.

"I believe Dr. King once said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,' " Ann Tillis, one of the parents, said of the slain civil rights leader. "And so today I come to serve notice to HISD that no longer will my child, or any child in HISD, be treated with such educational injustice."...(get the full story following the link below)


FBW comment--Is this a pattern in bond use that should be examined here in FBISD?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Why IS FBISD With-holding This Report From The Public?

Attorney General Ruling Means FBISD Investigation Probably Will Remain Secret
by Bob Dunn, Dec 15, 2007

Results of an investigation of Fort Bend Independent School District business operations, conducted in 2005 at the request of the district’s board of trustees, probably never will be made public.

Prepared by Houston attorney Lloyd Kelley and forensic auditor Mir Fox & Rodriguez, the so-called Kelley Report was commissioned by the FBISD board as the result of findings in an August 2005 audit report of the district’s risk management department.

Investigators in Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey’s office had been given much of the report two years ago, but on Nov. 30, Healey said he has concluded “there are not provable criminal charges contained in Kelley’s report.”

On Friday, FBISD outside legal counsel David Feldman, acting on behalf of the district, declined to provide a copy of the Kelley Report, requested by FortBendNow in a Texas Public Information Act request made on Nov. 30.

In doing so, Feldman revealed that a TPIA request for the Kelley report also was made in 2006, and Assistant Texas Attorney General Anne Prentice ruled in March of that year that the document may be withheld from the public. . . (get the full story and comment at http://www.fortbendnow.com/news/3625/attorney-general-ruling-means-fbisd-investigation-remains-secret?commented=0#txpCommentInputForm)

FBW comment:

This is the same law firm that was involved with the GISD SLAPP-suit just a month or so ago. Why are they trying to keep this report from the public? This seems very much like recent votes on access to public committees and the recent restrictions on speakers at the last BOT meeting regarding the academies.

What happened to the more open access promised during the build-up on the last bond election (must have been window dressing and PR as usual)...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

FBN Reports: Poor TAKs Scores At 10 FB County Schools Means Students Can Transfer...

Poor TAKS Performance At 10 Fort Bend Schools Means Students Can Transfer Out

Ten Fort Bend County schools performed so poorly on Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests over the past three years that students there can, according to state law, apply to go to school elsewhere.

The schools were identified Wednesday in a list released to Texas school superintendents by the Texas Education Agency. To make the list, 50% or more of each school’s students had to have failed all reading, writing, math, social studies and science TAKS tests in two of the past three years, including 2007, 2006 and 2005...

FBW comment: The majority of these schools are located on the under-represented east end of FBISD.

See: http://www.fortbendnow.com/news/3621/poor-taks-performance-at-10-fort-bend-schools-means-students-can-transfer-out to get the full story

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

From FBN: District re-labels some classes

Fort Bend ISD Board Approves Changes To 20 High School Courses
by FortBendNow Staff, Dec 11, 2007, 07 12 AM

Changes to 20 high school courses were approved Tuesday night by the Fort Bend Independent School District Board of Trustees.

Approved earlier by high school principals and reviewed by teachers and the district’s Academic Advisory Council, the changes mostly involved adjusting course titles of foreign language, math and science courses. . .

Follow this link for more: http://www.fortbendnow.com/news/3614/fbisd-board-approves-changes-to-20-high-school-courses

FBW BOT Monday Meeting Report (We appreciate the FBISDWatch members who attended and provided this report):

Academies Controversy Emerges Over Block Scheduling (see related chronicle piece at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/fortbend/news/5368243.html):

Numerous studies will easily refute the above administrative claim on block scheduling. The incremental improvement in student outcomes based on motivational theory, block scheduling, grade improvement and actual increased performance (as well as better job and career prep) isn't questioned in most mainstream educational debate. See these studies and links for more:





(many, many more are available)

The primary issue, as reported above is the response given by Dr. Jenney stating that it is a cost factor. Basically, in our opinion, he wants the PR impact of more academies but without the subsequent investment. Without block scheduling the academies become nothing more than additional pre-AP type classes. If you can't support them then don't claim to implement them across the district.

Additionally, FBISDWatch was in attendance at the session and does not support the manner in which the current board president limits public speakers. More involvement by the public was promised during the recent bond elections, but in praxis we are seeing just the inverse by an administration and some BOT members that are being heavily influenced by special interests.

Advice to the BOT/admin:

Keep your word to the taxpayers/families/children or the public will remember when and how often you have not!

TIRZ Participation Requested By Developers of FBISD

In another interesting FBISDWatch report, several watchdog members were concerned about the possibility of a reversal on earlier board practice with regard to the diversion of school district taxpayer dollars to commercial and residential development through a new taxing zone (known as a TIRZ). A large development interest requested on Monday night that FBISD participate in the new Sugar Land TIRZ in the old Imperial Sugar development going in off hwy 90.

Traditionally, TIRZs have been very controversial because they redirect ad valorem and sometimes other taxes to private corporations. School districts in this area have long refused to participate in this process because, they argue, the immediate need for our students outweigh the private corporate developer interests involved in long-term growth. This may have changed recently with the new administration (see recent bond endorsements by the development industry).

We will continue to track this growing and very controversial issue...

Check back at intervals for updates.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ad valorem Taxation (Appraisals) Process May be Hurting School System (See this chron piece)--

. . ."It's not just Alamo Heights and Spring Branch and Highland Park in Dallas. It's every school district," Bettencourt said.

Local governments typically use increased property values to cover inflation "so they can at least stay even, but for school districts, if their values go up, they don't get the benefit of that," Hochberg said. "That benefit accrues to the state. Instead of putting that money into local school district budgets, we send that directly back to tax relief, which means the districts then have to turn around and raise the tax rate, and there goes the savings.

"The governor takes credit for tax relief while pushing the true costs back into the hands of the local school board members, who now have to take the blame for raising taxes just to stay even," Hochberg said.

School funding likely will be a vexing issue in the future.". . .

Get the full chronicle story at: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/5363168.html

"Homeowners still waiting for tax relief from Perry"

Friday, December 7, 2007

FBISD Next Board Meeting Is December 10th!

All meetings are held in the FBISD Administration Building, 16431 Lexington Blvd, Sugar Land, at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Check your schools report card (follow the link provided below)--

Ck this out:


Monday, December 3, 2007

12 FBISD Schools Make Texas Monthly Top List

FBN Reports:

30 Area Campuses Land On Texas Monthly List Of Top Texas Schools
by FortBendNow Staff, Dec 03, 2007, 02 51 PM

Thirty public schools in the Fort Bend County area were among 859 identified by Texas Monthly in its recent ranking of the state’s best-performing public schools.

Among local schools making the Texas Monthly list were 14 from Katy Independent School District, 12 from Fort Bend ISD and four from Lamar Consolidated ISD.

Texas Monthly based its list on research by the National Center for Educational Accountability, which looked at the last three years of results from student Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests as a partial basis for the list.

Katy ISD schools that landed on the Texas Monthly list include:

→ Cinco Ranch and Taylor high schools;

→ Backendorff, Cinco Ranch, McMeans and Beck junior high schools;

→ Winborn, Fielder, Pattison, Williams, Hayes, Katy, Alexander and Creech elementary schools.

Fort Bend ISD schools that made the Texas Monthly list were:

→ Austin, Clements and Dulles high schools;

→ First Colony, Fort Settlement and Sartartia middle schools;

→ Brazos Bend, Colony Meadows, Commonwealth, Highlands, Sienna Crossing and Walker Station elementary schools.

Lamar CISD had four elementary schools that made the Texas Monthly list: Austin, Bowell, Campbell and Dickinson.

“To be named as one of the top public middle schools in the state of Texas is a tremendous honor,” Dr. Sara Thurman, principal at Sartartia Middle School, said in a statement. “Our staff, students and parents are to be commended for their efforts in helping create a place of excellence at Sartartia Middle School.” . . .

(get the full report of the top 859 schools listed directly from Texas Monthly at: http://www.texasmonthly.com/2007-12-01/feature6.php and the full local report at: http://www.fortbendnow.com/news/3586/30-area-campuses-land-on-texas-monthly-list-of-top-texas-schools)