A call from the superintendent or blowing smoke up my skirt... A couple of months ago I was concerned when FBISD Superintendent Dr. Tim Jenney sent out a letter that discussed, among other things, evaluating alternate methods of service delivery as a way to reduce costs for the cash-strapped district.
This immediately conjured up “outsourcing,” in my mind--the political answer to every budget crisis. When politicians want to cut budgets, they like to take the services that the city, county, school district, water district, whatever have been doing for themselves for years. They preach “outsourcing” those jobs, claiming that a private company can cut costs.
Not that a private company can actually do exactly the same thing cheaper, but a private company can be owned by either a politician’s brother-in-law or major contributor, giving the decision maker preaching “outsourcing” much more access to tax funds.
And often the private company can do almost the same job cheaper because the private company hires un-documented workers who are paid less, get fewer benefits, and receive no health insurance. (Notice those preaching outsourcing also are the first to gritch about undocumented workers using the emergency room for their health care.) I’ve gotten to where I have extreme dislike for stingy people--you know, those “I’ve got mine, to hell with you” types.
When I called Supe Jenney at the time he assured me that outsourcing was not the option.
Then Superintendent Jenney called me a couple of weeks ago and told me that he had changed his mind about outsourcing and that sure enough, FBISD would be outsourcing some jobs although he hadn’t presented it to the board yet. I was overcome with self-congratulations that I had bluffed the supe into revealing his future plans to me as he told me that some 26 “mowing jobs” might be outsourced.
I was so eaten up with hubris that I forgot to ask about other jobs that might be cut. And he certainly didn’t mention that about 170 professional staff, including teachers, would be getting letters telling them they had to go.
Whine, whine.... When I called the head of the district’s communications, Mary Ann Simpson, to complain that Dr. Jenney didn’t mention one word about other jobs being cut, she pointed out the fact that a TASB salary study posted on the district’s web site for several months had recommended the reduction of up to 450 jobs.
In other words, had I looked I would have known for some time that many positions were headed for the chopping block.
If all the recommendations in the TASB study were followed, the district would save over $23 million per year.
The mailman cometh..... I received many letters this week from parents who bitterly complained that the district was increasing class size and cutting programs. I can understand their frustrations, but I would like to remind you that I have griped for years about the huge, expensively built schools we have constructed for years--temples to education. This newspaper has reminded you periodically that the school district seemed to exist for the sake of the real estate market, not the education of children. And for many years, the real estate developers have not given one red cent to the furtherance of education in Fort Bend ISD. No campus land has been donated, although a neighborhood school would enhance the development of any subdivision immeasurably.
Fort Bend ISD parents seem to be like most Texans. They are more concerned with praying in school or taking out Thomas Jefferson and putting in Phyllis Schlafly than in making sure their kids have a teacher in their classroom and making sure their classrooms don’t have 40 students.
The few parents who vote on school board members seem to be more concerned about the candidates’ religious and political affiliations than their educational outlook.
What you can do and when.... By the way, school board elections are right away so now might be a good time to familiarize yourself with the candidates.
I’ve seen equipment put in new schools that I thought, “They must be out of their minds!” The biggest advance in the 21st century, the advance that will change our lives forever and altogether is the computer, yet Fort Bend ISD is woefully lacking in teaching and developing those skills and buying equipment for each classroom. My grandson in kindergarten can work the computer better than most 6th graders in Fort Bend ISD, simply because it is not available to them.
I’ll say this for FBISD, if you want to know what is going on there and what is happening, you have only to go to their web site. They are very forthcoming about what they are doing.
Of course, you are not going to find any criticism of the district there; that is not its purpose. But all the studies and graphs and charts showing money and educational achievement are on the site. Simply google Fort Bend ISD and go from there....
Get the full article at: http://www.fortbendstar.com/Columns/burner.htm
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)