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)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Some Fort Bend Schools Make "Worst List"--Why?

Two Fort Bend schools make "worst" list
December 16, 2009 1:51 pm Zen T.C. Zheng, Chronicle

Hunters Glen Elementary (Missouri City, TX), a campus on the Fort Bend school district's east side, and Stafford Middle School in the Stafford Municipal School District, have made the "worst school list" compiled by the Texas Education Agency.

The list, released today by TEA, has nearly 50 schools across the Greater Houston area deemed the worst-performing in the state.

These are the campuses where 50 percent or more of the students failed TAKS in any two of the last three years or were rated "academically unacceptable" in 2007, 2008 or 2009, according to Chronicle reporter Ericka Mellon in her blog today.



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

FB Star Reports On Taxpayers Meeting With The DA--Click here for the full story--


FB Star: Preliminary investigation begins
Taxpayers have meeting with District
Attorney over Fort Bend ISD records

By Cheryl Skinner

A group of determined taxpayers met last Friday with Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey in the hopes of getting “injunctive relief” and forcing the Fort Bend Independent School District to release internal documents. The immediate response did not happen, but the group was somewhat encouraged because a “preliminary investigation” was ordered by Healey. . .(get the full story by following the title link above)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

FBN: DA Looks Into Possible Open Records/Open Meetings Violations of FBISD!

Inquiry Launched Into Possible Open Records Violations By FBISD
December 15th, 2009 | by Jamie Mock, Fortbendnow

Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey has asked the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office to launch an “inquiry” into possible violations of the Texas Public Information Act and the Texas Open Meetings Act by the Fort Bend Independent School District.

The request was made after Healey met with a group of Fort Bend County residents, led by New Territory resident Nancy Hentschel who says the school district has “stalled” in providing information about the proposed Global Science and Technology Center.

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...

Source (full story): http://www.fortbendnow.com/2009/12/15/42769

Chron: Complaint Filed With District Attorneys Office!

Science center opponents file complaint
December 14, 2009 4:26 pm Zen T.C. Zheng wrote:

Unsatisfied with the responses from the Fort Bend school district after a 10-month effort to seek information related to the district’s Global Center for Science and Technology project, opponent Nancy Hentschel and other critics have filed a complaint with the district attorney’s office.

The group claims the district is in violation of the Texas Public Information Act.

The group met with District Attorney John Healey last Friday and received assurances that the matter will be looked into...

Get the full piece below-

Source: http://www.ultimatefortbend.com/2009/12/science-center-opponents-file-complaint-ag#comment-392

Monday, December 14, 2009

FB Star: Disinformation continues surrounding GSTC...

From Bev's Burner.....(before the meeting with the D.A.)

Now tell me again......Why do we need another science museum? It seems that every superintendent we’ve hired wants a monument to himself. Dr. Chopa wanted a language center. Dr. Hooper proposed a technology center and now it’s Dr. Jenney’s turn. He wants a global science center. And he wants it in the face of declining revenues and an economic crunch.

Heretofore, the FBISD board of trustees has been disinclined to provide these monuments. Now, not so much.
We’ve heard from dozens of folks, from FBISD employees to taxpayers who are absolutely astounded that the board would support this undertaking, especially in this economy, and especially since the opening of the Houston Museum of Natural Science right here in Sugar Land [Not to mention the 10 million dollar budget deficit from last year and projected 20 million dollar deficit from this year].

I’ve had various people visit with me about the global center, trying to convince me that it’s a viable project. The most compelling argument and one that I bought for a while is that the cost of building it is about the cost of any new building and that it will be borne by private contributions. Then FBISD will have a valuable piece of real estate come what may.

But there are so many other expenses besides the building that would have to be provided by the district for years to come[yearly operational expenses estimated at between $800k and 1 million per annum).

I guess the thing that sends a red flag to me is the district’s unwillingness to come completely clean about the whole project. After a group of citizens wanted to see all the information about the global center, the district went to the attorney general to delay releasing that information; then, according to the group, the district did not release all of the information and the protestors say they can prove it. They have a Friday meeting with DA John Healey (who is up for re-election).

The district has claimed all along that the communication they have received from the public is very supportive. There seems to be some question about that.

Of course the district forestalled some release of information by letting a private citizen, former Sugar Land mayor David Wallace, seek private funding. So far, Wallace’s actions are closed to the public since it doesn’t involve tax money.

What I can’t understand is that if the district is telling the truth, why didn’t they immediately make a full disclosure. None of this going to the state’s attorney general nonsense. I’ve been on the other end of that situation before, and it is simply a delaying tactic. The Fort Bend sheriff’s office uses it quite frequently; just one of the reasons I find the current sheriff dishonest.

I’ve had dealings with the school district in the distant past and I can tell you that information can be manipulated six ways to Sunday.

Proponents of the project will tell you that science scores will rise--even with just 4-6 visits each year. But they can’t tell you how. Logistically, it seems like a nightmare to get 50 campuses on the schedule.

What they also don’t tell you is what it will do to teachers. Teachers will first have to spend hours planning the lessons. Then they’ll have to check the labs to be sure that all of the essentials are available for use during the lessons. They’ll have to spend at least 10-15 minutes making certain that the students pack up anything they will be required to take with them, then load them on the bus.

Dr. Jenny has stated that teachers can instruct on the way to the center--which for some students can be a ten minute trip and for others a 20-40 minute trip. Ask any teacher what they think of that one.

Taking all these into consideration means students and teachers are off campus, with no instruction, for a minimum of 30-60 minutes each time they visit the center. They get to do the same thing on the return trip.

District administrators and board members will tell you that professional development is key to raising scores. I’d like to point out that the $26 million slated for the global center would go a long way to training every employee in his or her field for the next 15 years.

Again, I am astounded that the board would support this undertaking. They are looking at cutting the academies, one educational tool that will certainly raise grades, but continue on with this hobby horse.

Now why did the district delay releasing all the information? I think it was in order to proceed full speed ahead with their current plans. It’s beginning to look like a done deal, whether funds can be raised privately or not.

David Wallace, get over it. . .

FBISDWatch Comment: We don't always agree with Ms. Carter, but on this issue we do!!!

Source: http://www.fortbendstar.com/Columns/burner.htm

Friday, December 11, 2009

FBW:Fort Bend County District Attorneys Office Initiates Preliminary Investigation Into Potential Violations Of TPIA & TOMA Acts By FBISD Leadership!


Staff Report

A citizens-watch group, lead by Sugar Land resident Nancy Henschel, attended a meeting with Fort Bend County DIstrict Attorney John Healey today to present documents related to the apparent failure of Fort Bend ISD to comply with the Texas Public Information Act and possibly the Texas Open Meetings Act (TX gov't code chapter 552) when requests were made by several different FBISD taxpayers over the course of the last 10 to 11 months.

Last spring the FBISD superintendent, Tim Jenney and former SL mayor (and commercial developer) Dave Wallace, announced plans to push forward on a near $30 million dollar duplicate spending/building project called the Global Science & Technology Center in the midst of a then near $10 million dollar budget deficit and record bond debt (now approaching $20 million). At the time they made representations that there was wide-spread support for the project as evidenced through a survey the district had completed. Several citizens groups, including FBISDWatch, became involved and attempted, without much success, to gain access to all related communications and documents involved in this ongoing project.

At first the superintendent publically agreed to turn over all the requested documents at a board meeting, but later referred the case to the district legal vendor David Feldman. After repeated attempts by the district to block access and after the school trustees had already voted to support the duplicate museum project, the Texas Attorney General ordered the release of almost all requested files. A month passed, according to sources, and most of the documents had not been released with the exception of the FBISD "feasibility" study survey. This is the same report that leaders earlier claimed demonstrated "overwhelming" support from the public for the project. Once this information was finally released, most local media in the area reviewed the survey findings and found just the opposite to be true (about 60% opposed this funding use during a budget crisis).

Several news agencies became involved and also initiated TPIA requests of their own, only to be stalled by the districts legal vendor and communications office once again. Just a few weeks ago the central office announced that the district will be moving forward with the GSTC ground breaking soon, but still would not release requested information surrounding possible donations or amounts for the project. A precondition for approval.

This afternoon, after meeting with the district attorney, Ms. Henschel and the citizens group were assured that the case would be assigned to an investigator and reviewed for possible further action.

We will update this information as it comes in....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Upcoming Dates-


Dec. 14 Board Budget Workshop

Dec. 14 Regular School Board Meeting

Dec. 15-18 Semester Exams

Dec. 17,18 Early Release - MS/HS only

Dec. 21- Jan. 1 Winter Break

Jan. 4 Campus Staff Dev./Student Holiday

Saturday, December 5, 2009

FB Independent Chimes In On Open Meetings/TPIA Challenges By Local Officials--

Click here for the full story and the impact on the public: http://fbindependent.com/default.asp?sourceid=&smenu=89&twindow=Default&mad=No&sdetail=2101&wpage=1&skeyword=&sidate=&ccat=&ccatm=&restate=&restatus=&reoption=&retype=&repmin=&repmax=&rebed=&rebath=&subname=&pform=&sc=2531&hn=fbindependent&he=.com

"...A case in point is Fort Bend ISD.

Right now, a battle is brewing between a citizen [taxpayers] and the district over the proposed Global Science and Technology Center.

Even this newspaper could not get any meaningful information from the administration, not to speak of the “tight-lipped” board of trustees.

The school district has perfected the art of Open Meetings Act so much so the district controls the flow of information with impunity." Fort Bend Independent

FBW Comment: Is this the best we can do for elected officials?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

FB Star: District Attorney Will Meet With Opponents Of FBISD's GSTC (Global Taj Mahal)

All open records about proposed science center not released, they say
Opponents of Fort Bend ISD’s center to meet with district attorney

By Cheryl Skinner

As Fort Bend Independent School District moves closer to approving the proposed Global Science Center, a state of the art interactive facility, opponents are gearing up for a battle to squelch the plan. Saying all of the public records on the planning and financing of the center have not been released, opponents are scheduled to meet with the Fort Bend County District Attorney next week to explore their legal options.

Nancy Hentschel, a Sugar Land resident and staunch opponent of the science center project, says she and other opponents will be meeting with Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey on Dec. 11.
Hentschel requested a multitude of information from FBISD earlier this year. FBISD, in turn, requested an Attorney General’s opinion on the release of the information sought and the AG determined the district must release most of the information requested.

After the opinion, FBISD claimed they released all the information to Hentschel and what was not released simply did not exist.
Hentschel says she has evidence to the contrary and will be taking the information to Healey in the hopes of forcing the district to comply. “We also want to explore filing criminal charges and see what legal remedies we may have,” Hentschel said Monday...

...The move by opponents comes after FBISD held a workshop last week and debated the status of the various academies proposed for various campuses in light of the serious budget deficit that they are currently facing. The district also has said they will move forward with the planned implementation of the Global Science Center project. Hentschel says this decision has sparked a new-found determination to fight the plan and demand accountability from the administration...