Recently the FBISD school board initiated a legislative agenda including several much needed goals, but some were left out. Namely impact fees on the over-development of high density apartments, that according to the GFBCEDC is now approaching 20% of all housing. The lack of taxes from these projects being interjected into our community by the Houston development interests can have a severe impact on over-crowding in our schools and a deterioration of the tax base not to mention other quality of life issues. The original goal, according to the GFBCEDC president Jeff Wiley was to keep this growth at about 10%. Further, developers building these large master-planned communities should be required to kick in land for the schools they want placed in their communities at cost. Currently the district is charged full market value on the land which is then passed to us, the taxpayers, through more bonds and higher debt. The developers need these schools in their neighborhoods to sell their properties, the least they could do is kick-in!
Other included FBISD agenda items are (from FB Star):
To make sure all area legislators, including Harris County and the city of Houston, hear their plea, Bhuchar said trustees are planning a breakfast gathering so they can personally impress their plight and make legislators understand it and provide relief.
“We want to invite everybody because they all need to know it and hear it. I think school funding has to be their No. 1 issue. Otherwise the public education system is going to be in a lot of trouble. So many (Texas school) districts either had to go to deficit budgets for this year while many others had roll-back elections,” Bhuchar said.
“We want to take this approach so at least our local legislators can see what our problems are and they can also see how hard we are trying to provide the best education,” the board president said.
The second item on the board’s legislative agenda is unfunded mandates, which Bhuchar says are passed at every legislative session and cost FBISD $25 million a year. “They continue to grow each year because every year new ones come out. Seat belts on school buses will be next and who is going to pay for them. Of course, everyone agrees that it’s a good idea but it costs money.”
The board also wants employees’ birth dates and cell phone numbers included in the prohibitions of what an employer may divulge, and they want school districts to be able to set their own start date for each school year.
Student discipline regarding cyber crimes are also part of the FBISD legislative agenda. They are requesting being able to expel a student who commits a serious cyber crime rather than the current punishment of removing a student to a disciplinary alternative education program.
The board in its agenda included FBISD’s own recent problem with cyber crime when more than “25 students were found to have tampered with the district computers” and “changed the grades of at least 60 students.”
The legislative agenda also “opposes any legislation which would endorse, create or permit the use of private school vouchers for any purpose” because they would “worsen the current financial crisis the public schools face.
“While the voucher debate is often framed in terms of choice and competition, in the final analysis, it’s really about money, and there can be no question but that private school vouchers have a deleterious effect on our public school while at the same time bolstering sectarian and non-sectarian private schools, including many for-profit enterprises,” the voucher agenda item states.
It goes on to say that any dollars used for a voucher program should instead be used to reduce public school class sizes, pay for tutoring and summer school for low achieving students, address the teacher shortage and reduce dependence on property taxes.
The agenda also says the district should not have to make retirement contributions for teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses that are in excess of the state minimum salary for such employees, while the state makes such contributions on amounts paid up to the minimum.
And last, the agenda supports legislation that exempts school districts from having to pay for water tap and utility connection fees.
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)