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, August 26, 2009

Watch Exclusive: Conflicted Trustees Vote To Move Forward With Approving More Spending & Record Budget Deficit!

Last week, former FBISD school board member Stan Magee issued a public comment asking where the $122 million dollar surplus "fund balance" had gone (now listed as nearly 93 million) on the FortBendNow.com website, while opposing further tax increases and supporting a balanced budget. He further issued a statement to the effect condemning the boards vote in June to move forward in building the $30 million dollar "Global Taj Mahal" duplicate spending project (see Global Science & Technology Center and HMNS project opening in October in Telfair).

Of special note, the same two board members whom had adamantly supported the GSTC project, David Reitz and former BOT president Sonal Buchar, seemed to lead the charge in the budget hearing for making drastic cuts in the operating budget over the next few years and then voted lock-step on an amended budget that actually increases spending over the administrations proposed budget. During the agenda session on the amendments to the budget, the trustees seemed to have quite a deal of difficulty implementing "Robert's Rules of Order", which govern most governmental meetings.

During the public comments portion, the district's teacher association made a very strong and successful case, to protect raises and healthcare benefits by using funds from the "fund balance" to attempt to reign in this years budget deficit projected at nearly 19 million dollars (the largest in the districts history).

Special note: The "fund balance", so often mentioned in the above piece, comes from prior district bond funds voted on by the public for school projects that were NOT used and then "slipped" (moved) to this account. The district regularly uses this account to fund other projects in the system.

Final comment: FBISDWatch will continue to post updates to this story as local media weigh in...

Background: http://blogs.chron.com/fortbend/archives/2009/08/fbisd_ags_rulin.html#c1452860

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

FBSun: FBISD to hold next board meeting on Tuesday, August 25

From staff reports

The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees announced it will hold its next regular board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 25, in the boardroom of the FBISD Administration Building, located at 16431 Lexington Blvd. in Sugar Land.

Meetings are typically held on Mondays, but board trustees agreed to reschedule the Aug. 24 Monday meeting to Tuesday, in response to other district commitments.

The meeting is slated to begin at 6 p.m. in the board room with a closed session, followed by the public session at approximately 7 p.m.

Comment: This is the meeting that the "rubber stamp" BOT will vote to increase our tax rate once again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dunn Leaves FortBendNow....

...Sad news reached the watch-group staff this morning involving a local reporter and resident who 4 years ago founded what would revolutionize, in our community, web-based news reporting. The articles were often cutting edge, for this county and will be missed. Not only did Bob Dunn allow the public to comment on the stories, which at the time was novel, he developed a strong network in the area that would provide the "other side" of the issues.

Almost a year ago Mr. Dunn sold FBN and with it the opinion editorial pages vanished. He took on the editorial supervisory role with the purchasing firm (Instant News Network). Comments on stories were still allowed, but as often is the case, in this type of media, advertising pressure seemed to drive the ever increasing releases from public relations interests.

Good luck with your future endeavors Bob! We know your pen won't remain silent for long.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Upcoming Dates:

Important Dates

Aug. 18 Summer Graduation

Aug. 24 School Starts!

Aug. 24 Back To School Golf Scramble

Aug. 25 Regular School Board Meeting (Moved to Tuesday: This BOT will vote to increase our taxes once again to address second record budget deficit)

Sept. 7 Labor Day - School Closed

Sept. 14 Regular School Board Meeting

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

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fort Bend Independent Reports On FBISD Tax Hearing

School board struggles with $18 million budget deficit

Even as the Fort Bend ISD board of trustees Monday night wrestled with an $18 million deficit in a $498 million budget, some taxpayers took the board to task for raising the debt service tax rate by 3.5 cents per $100 valuation.

The administration and the board, on the other hand, took credit for a much smaller increase in the debt service tax rate than was anticipated.

During the public hearing on the budget, Michael Lee submitted a “writ of remonstrance” against the trustees for “failing” the people and asked each trustee to resign immediately.

The writ was signed by 525 people and Lee gave a sworn affidavit stating that he witnessed each person signing the writ.

The speakers opposing the tax hike were mainly faulting the school district for proceeding with the multi-million dollar Global Science and Technology Center at a time when the country is in an economic crisis.

Kevin Tunstall said public confidence in elected officials was at an all time low. A couple of trustees during their campaign said they would not support a tax hike and now they should keep their promise, Tunstall said. . .

Get the full story at: http://fbindependent.com/default.asp?sourceid=&smenu=1&twindow=&mad=&sdetail=1759&wpage=1&skeyword=&sidate=&ccat=&ccatm=&restate=&restatus=&reoption=&retype=&repmin=&repmax=&rebed=&rebath=&subname=&pform=&sc=2531&hn=fbindependent&he=.com

Chronicle UPDATE 8-14
: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/fortbend/news/6570179.html

Youtube video of presentations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW2Jq2HWaAk

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Youtube on FBISD Tax Hearing....

The video says it all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW2Jq2HWaAk

FB Star Covers FBISD TPIA (Open Records) Controversy-

Get the latest updates from the FB Star on this continuing problem with FBISD:



From FB Star Skinner Weekly Column:

FBISD and those public records

I am very disappointed in Fort Bend Independent School District for not releasing public records requested by Nancy Hentschel of New Territory months ago.

About three weeks ago, after an attorney general’s opinion was handed down, the district said they had complied and the documents had been released.

Hertschel says that simply is not the case.

Now Nancy is not a tax protester. In fact she says she has no problem paying taxes for services that are for the benefit of the community. She’d gladly pay taxes to reduce the size of the classrooms and give teachers incentives to be the best they can be, she says.

But she is legitimately concerned about a plan to spend $24 million for a Global Science Center when some schools are reporting continual air conditioning and plumbing problems, some classrooms have 30 students and teachers are stressed beyond their limitations, she says.

Not only that, but Nancy wonders aloud how the district would be able to bus 800 students a day to the envisioned Global Science Center when they are having a hard time bussing the regular students to their allotted campuses.

She has some very legitimate concerns.

At first she asked for the records to see if the planned construction was really needed or could be justified.

Now, do to the hanky-panky way this has been handled, she feels there must be something they are hiding or the information would have immediately been released when requested.

I’ve seen this over and over again through the years. A citizen asks a governmental body to provide public records. The governmental body balks or refuses. A simple request becomes a demand. The demand becomes an official complaint. More people join the foray. The governmental body in question eventually complies but by then no one trusts them or believes that they have truly provided unaltered or complete information.

Things would be so simple if our public officials recognized that they are such and that transparency is required by those paying the bills .. the taxpayers.

Stay informed and keep in touch!

FB Sun Reports On FBISD Budget Crisis!

Get the full piece at: http://www.hcnonline.com/articles/2009/08/12/fort_bend_sun/news/slsws_-_fbisd_budget_811.txt

. . .Several people expressed concerns with plans by the district to move forward with the Global Science Center in the midst of its present budget crisis.

“We have a Global Science Center that we are looking at between $20 to $60 million dollars and we have a contracting economy at best, and taxpayers, myself included, have had to contract my spending and that is not what we are seeing here with Fort Bend [ISD],” Sugar Land resident Nancy Hentschel said.

Hentschel, a vocal opponent of the science facility, called Fort Bend ISD spending on the proposed Center an example of “very poor planning.”

Hentschel also challenged the board to release documents related to the proposed Global Science and Technology Center based on a recent directive approved by the Attorney General of the State of Texas.

Another resident, Michael Lee, called for the board to resign, alleging board members failed to deliver lawful requests for information to the people, failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest in connection with the center, and told taxpayers many times that the district had enough resources to pay for the science center.

“My goal is to get the school board to obey the law in every way, and not skirt and trick and deceive the people into believing this tax increase is really necessary and to get them to disclose their communications with the vendors who will be building the Global Science and Technology Center, because it is my belief that their campaign contributors are also in the construction business,” Lee said.

A retired computer professional, Lee also expressed concerns after the board meeting regarding 10 percent cuts in the teachers budgets proposed in the budget.

“Teachers now have to buy their own paper for copy machines and own fabric to do science class,” Lee said.

“They don’t have enough money to properly equip a science lab in every school, but they have enough money to build a three-story science boondoggle,” Lee said.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

FBN Covers FBISD Tax Hearing & Budget Crisis--

See these separate pieces:



http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/08/11/39478 (Jenney & board point the finger)


"...All of the speakers spoke against having their property taxes raised.

One of the them, Michael Lee, spelled out his objections to the proposed tax increase in the form of a “write of remonstrance” that carried signatures Lee said totaled 525, and called for the resignation of all FBISD Board trustees.

As did others, Lee tied his objections to a tax hike to the science center.

The board of trustees made explicit and repeated representations to the taxpayers and the citizens of Fort Bend that spending on the Global Science and Technology Center was in the best interests of the taxpayers of Fort Bend,” Lee said, reading from his “writ.”

“The board of trustees made explicit and repeated representations to the taxpayers of Fort Bend that the resources of the Fort Bend Independent School District were sufficient to pay for the Global Science and Technology Center,” Lee said.

“In direct contradiction to those explicit repeated representations and assurances, and with a recession facing the taxpayers, the board of trustees is now asking for a 3.5-cent increase in the property tax rate,” Lee said, reading from his document.

After reading from his statement, Lee passed out copies of the document to each board member, including individual pre-formatted “resignation” letters, which board members ignored...." FBN

FBW comment: Actually two of the trustees thanked Mr. Lee when he handed them the "writ" which really constitutes a vote of no confidence.

...we will update these at intervals...

Monday, August 10, 2009


staff report

In past years the FBISD tax hearings, required by law, have drawn few if any participants to the sometimes dry sessions, but in stark contrast to the previous events, large crowds and several speakers were present to protest a variety of issues that many felt were impacting this years proposed 3.5 cent increase to service the ever growing district debt.

All of the citizens that addressed the board made it very clear that they opposed any tax increase. One speaker, Nancy Hentschel of Sugar Land, was very concerned about the board voting for the controversial $30 million dollar Global "Taj Mahal" only a month ago while failing to provide all communications ordered released by the Texas Attorney Generals office two weeks ago. Kevin Tunstall, of Missouri City, spoke to the importance of governmental entities being responsive to the needs of the electorate and how this wasn't the time for such a jump in the rate. Bruce Hutton, of Sugar Land, spoke of why his family moved here and how the reputation of the district seemed in decline and whether or not, with declining academics, they could justify such a hike in the rate. Then Joe Garland another Sugar Land native approached the board and asked them how much more they needed and then emptied his pockets, he also asked them what happened to the "fund balance" of $94 million dollars and why they weren't using that to retire the current budget short-fall.

Several other speakers would also attempt to sway the trustees and as usual the board president, Bob Broxson, issued the obligatory warning to the audience (of taxpayers) not to applaud several times to little avail. Finally Michael Lee, of Missouri City, was called to speak and presented the school board with a 'Writ of Remonstrance' with over 500 petitioner-homeowners signatures from the district requesting the board step down for violating their oaths of office. The writ was notarized and is in the process of being recorded with the county......all in all a very interesting evening and one that will need monitoring as the budget season continues.

This report will be updated soon....

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chron: Reports On Controversy Surrounding Texas Attorney Generals Order For FBISD To Comply With TPIA Requests (See story below on this issue too)--

Chronicle Update 8-10-09: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/fortbend/news/6566972.html



AG: FBISD must disclose info to critic

Nancy Hentschel, a critic of the Fort Bend school district's controversial $26 million "global center for science and technology" proposal, said district officials continued to withhold the information she requested even after the Texas Attorney General's office ruled that the district must do so.

Hentschel voiced her frustration:

It is a real tragedy that getting basic open records for a taxpayer project of the magnitude of the Global Science Center should be this profoundly difficult.
I contacted district spokeswoman Mary Ann Simpson seeking the school district's side of the story Friday morning and am waiting for a response. . .

More at: http://blogs.chron.com/fortbend/archives/2009/08/ag_fbisd_must_d.html

Background (with AG order):


Important Dates:

Important Dates:

August 7 Special Education Summer Conference
August 8 Annual Parent Organization Meeting
August 10 Public Meeting to Discuss Huge Budget Deficit and Proposed Tax Rate (INCREASE) - 5pm
August 10 Regular School Board Meeting
August 18 Summer Graduation

FBN: IS The District With-holding Information Ordered Released By The Texas Attorney Generals Office Still???

Woman Wins Open-records Ruling, Says School District Still Won’t Release Science Center Info
August 7th, 2009 | by Bob Dunn, Fortbendnow

Even after a Texas Attorney General’s ruling in her favor, A New Territory woman says, Fort Bend Independent School District officials are purposely withholding public records about the proposed Global Science & Technology Center.

The school district said it has provided New Territory resident Nancy Hentschel with the documents ordered released by the AG’s office.

However, Hentschel said Friday, “I have been given nothing.”

An opponent of the district’s proposed $26.4 million science center, Hentschel said the information she is seeking could have been essential to the public before the FBISD Board of Trustees gave its approval for the project to proceed in a limited fashion.

Since the board vote on the science center came and went without the district releasing the information she requested, Hentschel said she hoped the release would come before next Monday’s board meeting, during which board members are expected to discuss the administration’s proposed 3.5-cent property tax increase.

It appears that won’t happen.

Events leading up to the current showdown between Hentschel and the district began this spring, when she made a formal request under the Texas Public Information Act for a variety of information related to the science center. Among records she requested were:

→ All documents under review by a committee the district set up to study the proposal’s feasibility;

→ All comments made about the project publicly on an FBISD web site;

→ A list of “current committed companies and the amounts they have already donated to this project;”

→ All communication between members of the feasibility committee, PBK architects, FBISD Superintendent Dr. Timothy Jenney, and former Sugar Land mayor and developer David Wallace, who headed the feasibility committee;

→ Any available financial disclosure statements since 2007 for Dr. Jenney.

After a records-release deadline expired under TPIA regulations, Hentschel said in a May 19 complaint to the attorney general’s office, FBISD outside counsel David Feldman provided her with a “PowerPoint sales pitch from Mr. Wallace” that “had nothing to do with any request that I had made…”

Get the full piece at:


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

FB Star: District Claims It Will Comply With Texas AG Order To Release Documents Lawfully Requested (So far none have been turned over)

"Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s assistant, Bob Davis, issued an opinion to the district via FBISD’s attorney David Feldman.

The letter to Feldman from Davis says the district must release all information requested, with the exception of e-mails from the public who object to this information being released. However, the opinion goes on to say, that withholding e-mail addresses from vendors who seek a contract with the governmental body or a person who has a contractual relationship with the governmental body must be released."

"...Fort Bend Independent School District officials say they will comply with the Texas Attorney General’s opinion that said the district could not withhold information on private citizens serving on the Feasibility Committee for the proposed Global Science and Technology Center..." FB Star report


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chron: Updates FBISD Push For Higher Taxes Again This Year (After 10.8% Increase In Appraisals in '09)

UPDATED August 5th (see this related piece): http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/08/04/39353#comment-2630

and http://www.myfortbend.net/news/local/community/1189-fbn-county-appraisal-district-having-problems-with-appeals-again-this-year

Link to story:http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/fortbend/news/6556324.html

Very generic budget plan released by FBISD for public consumption (missing quite a bit of detail):


Important Dates:

August 4 FBISD Special Community Program
August 7 Special Education Summer Conference
August 8 Annual Parent Organization Meeting
August 10 Public Meeting to Discuss Budget and Proposed Tax Rate (INCREASE) - 5pm
August 10 Regular School Board Meeting
August 18 Summer Graduation