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, April 29, 2009

FBISD Takes Center Stage At State Capital Over People-Soft Employee Pay Problems-

This past Monday the Committee On Technology, Economic Development & Workforce of the state legislature listened to complaints for and against a bill sponsored by representative Dora Olivo of Richmond. Most members of the committee found it unconscionable that employees of FBISD were not being paid on time. Even opposition groups to the bill found it appalling.

Follow this link and select the 4/27/09 link for 9:04am and scroll in to about 12:50. It begins with the testimony from Ms. Olivo and continues with speakers on both sides of this issue, but all seem to agree that FBISD should NOT be paying employees late for services already provided:


Watch comment: Why hasn't our board discussed this publically at our BOT meetings? What is our administration doing to address this, if anything?

FBW Exclusive: Hohnbaum Joins Smelley In Efforts To Disrupt Local Election Forums!

Staff report

They say politics can get dirty, but school politics get personal. This quaint saying seemed to come true last night at the FCCSA public forums in the school board races here at St. Laurence Church in Sugar Land. A few years ago these forums were altered to be small group meeting with rotations between tables. Attendance has fallen off accordingly. Well this year, it appeared to this reporter, that something new was added to the mix.

While standing near two of the candidates tables I noticed a particular nasty exchange going on between one audience member and one of the candidates. After taking a second look someone else in the audience pointed her out to me as one of the school board members Susan Hohnbaum accompanied by a friend who appeared to join in on the heckling. This is the second public forum that two board members have attempted to disrupt in this manner. The first was at the retired educators forum last week where current school trustee vice president Steve Smelley had unsuccessfully attempted to rattle the candidates. Many in the audience where unaware that these "hecklers" are seated board members. Is this anything new to politics? Possibly not, but certainly new to FBISD politics where in the past most exchanges have been polite disagreements and very collegial.

During one of these exchanges it was made public that the BOT had recently "rubber stamped" the firing of a former teacher at one of their middle schools. This information apparently shook up Ms. Hohnbaum who claimed the information was not for public disclosure. The case was followed last year in FortBendNow and the Chronicle very closely and created a great deal of public outcry to reinstate this educator. According to reports, the board was following the lead of the senior district administration. Bruce Albright, one of the candidates running for the school board, stated he had the court documents to support that the BOT vote already took place against the advice of the state education commissioner. After confronting Hohnbaum with the information, she became visibly silent. Not long after that Mr. Smelley left the building.

Early voting continues through May 5th with election day May 9th.

Sources: http://mcelectioninformation.blogspot.com


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chronicle: Candidate Interviews Available!--see below--



The watch group has officially endorsed Carlos Cain, Bruce Albright and Rodrigo Carreon (who has endorsed Cain & Albright) for positions 2 and 6 respectively due to their public forum responses and community engagement. They will not be a "rubber stamp" for the district leadership during these tough economic times and first ever $10 million dollar budget deficit.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Higher Taxes On The Way For FBISD Via The "Global Taj Mahal"?

Staff report

Recently, in an interview reported in the Fort Bend Independent, the current FBISD BOT president continued the mythical claim that private monies will cover the entire costs of what has become known as the "Global Taj Mahal". Estimates have been cited from $30 million to as high as $100 million dollars, but at NO time has the district administration, nor the vendor, PBK (being investigated by the FBI), produced a list of guaranteed donors and rarely are these projects ever paid for in full via private donations. The board president also claims NO taxpayer funding will be needed (at least 3 days before early voting is slated to begin). Many local media sources have helped in spinning that information after first opposing the proposed excessive spending project, but the likely-hood that NO public tax dollars from the operations budget or bonds will be used is, in our opinion, a pre-election myth. Further we have found little proof that many of the districts claims regarding this "white elephant" can be supported. Not only will this proposal take bond money, which impacts the "debt service" portion of the operations budget (that directly impacts your property taxes) it will more than likely be coming from the "fund balance" (really a bond surplus account which the district doesn't like to discuss). Further, once the massive building project comes online, it will compete directly with other resources, materials and salaries on the "operations budget" for years to come (yes, this is a building project that will impact your taxes with no empirical support as to raising test scores or other outcomes)!

Click this link for more on the "official" spin coming from the district administration and the supporting vendors:


-We will update this as needed!

Source: http://missouricitychatter.blogspot.com/2009/04/more-higher-taxes-on-way-for-fbisd-via.html

Also see http://mcelectioninformation.blogspot.com for more on the early voting times for elections starting Monday.

EARLY VOTING SITES FOR FBISD (Starts This Monday Ap. 27th)


• Early voting at Garcia Middle School, 18550 Old Richmond Road in Sugar Land; Missouri City Community Center, 1522 Texas Parkway in Missouri City; and Hightower High School, 3333 Hurricane Lane in Missouri City will be:
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through May 2; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. May 4-5.

• Early voting at First Colony Conference Center, 3232 Austin Parkway in Sugar Land, will be:
10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through May 1; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. May 2; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. May 4-5.

• Early voting at Lost Creek Park, 3707 Lost Creek Blvd.; and Sugar Land City Hall, 2700 Town Center Blvd. N. will be:
10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through May 2; 7 a.m.-7 p.m. May4-5.

• Early voting at Fort Bend Independent School District Administration Building, 16431 Lexington Blvd., Sugar Land; Meadows Place City Hall, One Troyan Drive in Meadows Place; Willowridge High School, 16301 Chimney Rock in Houston; and Sugar Land Branch Library, 550 Eldridge in Sugar Land, will be:
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through May 1; 8 a.m.-5 p.m. May 4-5.

Watch endorsements include (taxpayer friendly candidates): Carlos Cain, Bruce Albright, Rodrigo Carreon (BOT elections) & Rodney Griffin (district A MC) and Robin Elackatt (district C MC)...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Update On Harassment Of FBISD Employee By Senior Administrative Officials!

UPDATE 4/22: http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/04/22/37288

"Prior to the assault charge, Richardson had an unblemished record as a bus driver. That, he said, shows the suspensions are nothing more than retaliation against him for pursuing the case against Long.

Since he refused to drop the charges against Long, Richardson said, Torres has engaged in a campaign of retaliation in an attempt to force Richardson to resign or get him fired.

Richardson’s claims have been supported by a number of other transportation employees. Those employees say they fear similar retaliation from Torres if they speak out or file grievances.

Torres has not publicly comment on the allegations against him." FBN


Early voting begins for council and school board races this Monday, April 27th! Get out and vote...

Click here for the original complete FBN update by John Pape: http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/04/21/37278

Monday, April 20, 2009

Upcoming Important Dates:

Date Event

Apr. 27 First Day to Vote Early in Person

Apr. 27 Regular School Board Meeting

May 4 Budget Workshop I

May 4 Regular School Board Meeting

May 5 Last Day to Vote Early in Person

May 9 Trustee Election Day (Current FBISDWatch endorsements include Carlos Cain, Bruce Albright & Rodrigo Carreon)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

FBN: Crockett Middle School Principal Has Left The Building; FBISD Mum About Why

Crockett Middle School Principal Has Left The Building; FBISD Mum About Why
April 16th, 2009 | by Bob Dunn | Published in News

FBN UPDATE (4/17/09): http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/04/16/37192

Dr. Catherine O’Brien apparently no longer serves as principal for David Crockett Middle School.

Sources at the school, at 19001 Beechnut St. northeast of Richmond, say O’Brien has not been seen in her office for several days, since about the same day several students were involved in a fight in the school’s hallway.

Rumors about the principal have been swirling at the school since then, however, Fort Bend Independent School District officials apparently have not informed Crockett employees about what may have transpired.

“She’s not in,” a secretary in the Crockett Middle School principal’s office said Thursday morning. “You know as much as I do. I have no clue what’s going on.”

O’Brien could not be reached for comment. . .

Get the full story at: http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/04/16/37192

FBISDWatch comment: As usual, no details from the district communications office you pay taxes to support.

FBN: District Administrators Continue To Retaliate Against Employees In FBISD!

FBISD ‘Bus Barn Bully’ Gone, Retaliation Remains, Bus Driver Says
April 16th, 2009 | by John Pape, FortBendNow

In spite of the fact that former FBISD transportation supervisor Dann Long, dubbed the “bus barn bully” after assaulting a bus driver, is gone, that driver is saying Transportation Director Richard Torres and other district officials continue to retaliate against him.

Bus Driver Jack Richardson said since he filed the criminal assault complaint, Long and other transportation supervisors have engaged in systematic retaliation against him, and he believes they are trying to force him out of his job.

In spite of the pending assault charge, district officials allowed Long to remain in his position – including supervising Richardson – while the criminal charge was making its way through the judicial system.

It was during that time, Richardson said, the retaliation began. . .

Source: http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/04/16/37183

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


"...Critics have derided the Tea Parties as a phony movement drummed up by Republicans angry that Barack Obama won the presidency.

But local organizers insist the rallies are not about partisan politics because both sides are to blame.
The Bush administration started the bailouts, they said, opening the door for the Obama administration’s attempts to get out of the economic crisis.

“People think this is about President Obama, but it’s not,” said Marilyn Jordan, an organizer of the Fort Bend Tea Party. “It is about making a change in government. They’re making bad decisions. These stimulus bills are out of control. I’ve worked hard all my life and no one has given me a handout.”

To keep the momentum going, the Houston Tea Party Society is planning eight more rallies. It also plans to have town hall meetings and to encourage people to register to vote.

“We see movements come and go,” Cravens said. “Where they fail is in the ‘what’s next.’ If there’s no direction to take the energy, it fizzles out. We hope to become a political organization to encourage more people to become active.” HOUSTON CHRONICLE

MCC comment: It's time for more competing political parties and ideologies.

Source: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/hotstories/6372257.html

Monday, April 13, 2009

FBN: How much is being wasted in FBISD no-bid contracts??? Nearly 15 Million Dollars!

Source: http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/04/13/37098

FBISD Will Spend More Than $5.7M In No-bid Speech Therapy Service Contracts, Data Shows
April 13th, 2009 | by Bob Dunn | Published in News

Fort Bend Independent School District expects to spend more than $14.8 million this school year in no-bid vendor contracts, more than a third of that on speech therapy and related services.

A list made public as part of the agenda for tonight’s FBISD Board of Trustees meeting shows the district expects to spend $14.87 million on 88 vendors via no-bid contracts by the end of the 2008-’09 school year.

The district expects to spend at least $300,000 in no-bid contracts with 19 of those vendors, FBISD figures show.

...The vendor standing to make the most from FBISD no-bid contracts this year is probably NWN Corp. of Waltham, Mass., which provides computers and related equipment to Fort Bend and other Texas school districts via agreement with the State of Texas Department of Information Resources. . . (get the full story above)

Ques: What other no-bid waste is the district involved with?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chronicle: More coverage of teacher association endorsements of challengers in FBISD BOT races

Click this link for the full story: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/fortbend/news/6366245.html

"Karrie Washenfelder, president of the Fort Bend Employee Federation, that also represents classified workers, described Carlos Cain, candidate for Position 2, and Bruce Albright, who is running for Position 6, as representing “a departure from the old and tired view that the school board should support the administration right or wrong.” Chronicle reports

“There are no easy answers but surely we must begin the work with more than the half-hearted approach of the past. These men have questioned our approach and those that question are in the best position to lead us to answers.” FB Sun


FBW comment: A truer statement has never been said given the current "yes board" and the budget deficit.

Retired Teacher Association Forum Sees Staged Attack Of BOT Challengers

Just in: Steve Smelly, vacating board member, went on point for Sonal and Marilyn, the "insider" board candidates, attempting to engage Mr. Cain on the district "fund balance" (surplus fund) and attempted to embarrass him publically, but it seemed to back-fire during the second open forum of the local campaign season.

Mr. Smelly has been a long-term BOT member and supporter of the current administration and recent tax increases as well as under public scrutiny a few years ago for the hiring of his wife to the education foundation director position, which gives off the appearance of a conflict of interest (possible nepotism). And according to other media reports, the current board member, had attempted to sell the district a fleet of vehicles from the car dealership he was currently employed by a few years back.

Smelly is a big supporter of the record 2007 bond election (428+ million) and the subsequent tax increases they spun off along with backing the current "Global Taj Mahal" project being pushed by district vendors under the superintendent during a $10 million dollar budget crisis.

We will update these public forums as they come in...

Star Publisher Opposes "Taj Mahal"

"There are some very high flown reasons put forth for the development of this center, along with some practical ideas. I don’t want to throw cold water on educational ideas that might work, but it seems to me that if FBISD, which is supposedly running a deficit budget this year, had $23.5 extra dollars to spend on science and technology, they would upgrade science instruction for each campus instead of some expensive “pie in the sky” teacher training center. From what I’ve heard, we are short on teachers now, along with books, supplies, etc.

At a candidate forum recently, residents vying for election to the board broke down in these factions: Bruce Albright and Carlos Cain who are running in Position 6 and Position 2, respectively, both criticized plans for the Center
" FB Star Column


and here's a good study on how to sell a building project by a local developer:


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

FBN: Teacher Association & FBEF Endorse Cain & Albright!

Fort Bend Employee Federation Endorses Albright And Cain In FBISD Board Election
April 7th, 2009 | by Bob Dunn, FortBendNow

The Fort Bend Employee Federation has endorsed Bruce Albright and Carlos Cain in the upcoming Fort Bend Independent School District Board of Trustees election.

The federation, an arm of the American Federation of Teachers that counts between 1,900 and 2,000 FBISD teachers and employees as members, made the endorsements through its Committee On Political Education, a political action committee.

Federation organizer Anthony Lacsamana said members of COPE voted during a dinner on Monday to endorse Albright for board Position 6, and Cain for Position 2. He indicated more than 1,500 federation members make regular contributions to the PAC and thus had the right to vote on the endorsements, although much fewer actually cast votes.

Cain, Albright and Position 6 candidate Marilyn Glover made presentations last week at a federation-sponsored candidates’ forum. Board President Sonal Bhuchar, who is running against Cain for Position 2, and Position 6 challenger Rodrigo Carreon, didn’t appear at the forum. Federation President Karrie Washenfelder said at the forum that Bhuchar and Rodrigo also did not fill out questionaires the organization asked for.

Albright and Cain both were highly critical of the current FBISD Board, and both portrayed the board as providing weak oversight of the district administration. . .(get the full story below)


Monday, April 6, 2009

Developer & Former Mayor Wallace Along With Superintendent Continue To Push For "Global Taj Mahal" In Midst Of Record District Budget Deficit!

“If we could move in that direction, we believe the center could be funded without any need to raise taxes, or take away resources already allocated for other district purposes,” Wallace said in a prepared statement released by the Fort Bend ISD administration. FBN

According to this FortBendNow.com exclusive, the director of the "feasibility committee", Dave Wallace, is working over-time behind the scenes, not to investigate the feasibility of this 30+ million dollar project, but to find private contributors and contractors to support it during a RECORD district budget deficit. No REAL firm dollar commitments were reported at this time. More than likely district bond money and taxes will come into play at some point. If not during construction then most assuredly during operations. Either way is it a cost the district can afford given the current crisis in the local economy?

Further: "Board Position 6 candidate Bruce Albright called the proposed center “another stellar example of a sectretive board of trustees and an aloof administration with a pork-barrel project, so they can have a showplace to brag about.”

Echoing a complaint made by Position 2 candidate Carlos Cain, Albright said there are FBISD teachers without adequate supplies or teaching assistance, and “no computers, broken computers, no projectors, no access to copiers, no copy paper, no para-professional aasstants and no specialists in the classrooms,” implying money should be spent on those things before being spent on a science center
." FBN

Follow this link for the continuing story: http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/04/06/36903

FBW comment/opinion: It comes as NO surprise to FBW that some sort of resolution to the on-going controversy over this project may occur just prior to the May 9th election date as apparently the superintendent is utilizing the project to distract from many other district concerns and unofficially supporting Bhuchar and Glover for these positions.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Popular Local Blog Covers Potential Teacher Endorsement Controversy

Click here for the full story: http://halfempth.blogspot.com/2009/04/at-fbef-candidates-forum.html

FBN: Three Of Five FBISD Board Candidates Vye For Teacher’s Assoc. Endorsement

Get update: http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/04/03/36858

Chronicle: Teacher Association Eliminates 2 Potential Endorsements

Two no-show FBISD candidates lose union endorsement
Three others pledge support of teachers and low-performing schools

April 3, 2009

Two of the five candidates seeking Fort Bend Independent School District trustee seats have lost the endorsement of a teacher and worker union after they failed to show up at a union-sponsored forum or answer in writing a forum questionnaire.
The Fort Bend Employee Federation’s event held at the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square April 2 drew Position 2 candidate Carlos Cain, Position 6 seekers Bruce Albright and Marilyn Glover, groups of teachers and a handful of workers.

Karrie Washenfelder, federation president, said Position 2 incumbent Sonal Bhuchar and Position 6 candidate Rodrigo Carreon told her they couldn’t come due to other engagements. Neither of them e-mailed her written responses to a list of federation questions that were also asked of the candidates during the forum.

“The federation cannot endorse them,” Washenfelder said. . . get the full piece at: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/fortbend/news/6357045.html

Thursday, April 2, 2009

FBI: Change Is In The Air

Tall on claims, short on details
SESHADRI KUMAR, Fort Bend Independent

Change is in the air at the Fort Bend ISD. The district has a chief academic officer and a chief accountability officer, who seem to take their jobs seriously.

District officials have been candid in admitting that FBISD students, especially in elementary and middle schools are faring poorly in science. Not only that, teachers at the schools are not adequately trained to teach them.

But FBISD is not alone and it is a national problem, the administrators quickly point out.

For example, Texas is ranked second in the United States in total population, but 29th in the number of scientists and engineers in the workforce; 4,000 Texas science and math teachers have left the classroom in recent years and it will cost $27 million to replace them; 40% of science teachers in the lowest performing schools failed their science certification examination at least once. . .

. . .Then followed a press release about the Global Center Feasibility Committee, headed by David Wallace, former Sugar Land mayor and a developer.

Wallace quickly swung into action and began gathering information through meetings with various groups.

After attending last week’s public meeting, one could conclude that the concept makes tall claims, but little specifics are known about the project.

What exactly will go into the building remains to be decided. Until that is known and it is clear how exactly the building will be used, it is hard to make a judgment.

The center (or museum as observers put it) will only incorporate physical and earth sciences. What happens to the rest of the scientific world?

There is no convincing proof that such a center will deliver the promised results. Maybe one should take a chance in the interest of the future of our children.

FBISD officials say they have not researched what other school districts are doing about science education, let alone what others in the state or the rest of the nation are doing.

Ten years ago when the school district was approached by the city of Sugar Land to participate in the Sugar Land Town Square project, a planetarium, an IMAX theater, and a science museum were proposed as a carrot. The school district refused to join the project. Today that idea has resurfaced, though entirely for a different reason.

Yes, we are used to building $80 million high school campuses and another $40 million may not matter.

Probably, if the school district wants to build a modern science lab in every campus, even if it costs another $50 million or $100 million, people will know what they are in for and may make an informed decision.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

FBW: Cain Holds Different View Of FBISD!

Position 2 trustee candidates hold different views of FBISD
April 1, 2009

Fort Bend school board president Sonal Bhuchar’s re-election bid is challenged by an opponent critical of what he describes as the district’s wasteful financial practices.

Bhuchar, a 48-year-old Sugar Land physical therapist, was elected to Position 2 in May 2006 and assumed the board’s presidency last year. She said she sees a changed school district over the past three years with achievements including new leadership, a comprehensive plan and a successful bond referendum. She said she played a role in the changes.

Opponent Carlos Cain, a 51-year-old self-employed oil field services consultant of Sugar Land, said changes in the school board following recent elections have not resulted in fundamental improvement in the district’s academic standing and the way school officials conduct business that he claims lacks transparency and accountability.

A recent highlight in their differences is the district’s proposed “global center for science and technology,” decried by Cain as a “pork barrel” waste but supported by Bhuchar, who is on a district-appointed committee to study the financial feasibility of the project.

Early voting runs April 27 through May 5. Election Day is May 9. . .

Get the full piece at: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/fortbend/news/6353471.html

Or http://www.fortbendweb.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1130&Itemid=101#jreactions

Or visit: http://www.carloscain.com