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, June 9, 2010

FBS: Interesting Exchange Between Former BOT Member & Local Publisher

"I have no patience left for FBISD’s leaders. They are a bunch of blame tossers and whiners." Carter


FBISD board weighs in.....I received the following comments from former FBISD board member David Rietz.
“As a former infantry Marine, your “coward’s way out” comment touched a nerve.

“When I was elected to the Board of Trustees three years ago, one of the loudest complaints from the community was the size of the FBISD “rainy day” fund. This money was the result of revenue being higher than expenses over a period of time. Its purpose is to provide a financial cushion when state revenue is delayed but payroll has to be met, or unexpected expenses arise, like from a hurricane. Just as financial planners recommend clients keep several months of cash available for crisis, businesses and school districts do the same.

Reitz went on to say, “There were many people with ideas for how that money should be spent (I was one of them). All of them, in the end, require that expenses be higher than revenue; the only way to reduce a surplus is with a deficit. So with state funding stuck at a relatively low level, the district scrutinized both sides of the balance sheet – and ran a deficit last year and this year. Now the people who were complaining about the size of the fund balance are complaining about the deficits which are covered by reducing the fund balance. As long as a healthy fund balance level is maintained, and the deficits result from strategic decisions, not from financial surprises, and are temporary, they are not bad. FBISD’s continued ‘AA’ bond rating indicates good financial management so I dispute the premise of your May 26 column.

He continued, “Blaming it on the state is the coward’s way out.” So maybe we do not blame it on the state; the board always has the option of having a balanced or a deficit budget. We have a deficit, not because of the state, but because we did not lay off teachers a year ago. But the lack of revenue is definitely the fault of the state. Texas’ targeted revenue for FBISD is $387 less than Katy ISD. For the 70,000 students in FBISD, that adds up to $27 million – larger than this year’s budgeted deficit. Of large districts in this state, Austin ISD has the highest targeted revenue – surprised? The Star is never one to let politicians get a pass when they break something so I am surprised that you let them slide on this one. It should be a campaign issue in November.

And more, “The superintendent’s compensation is a fair question, outside of the budget discussion. The Texas Association of School Boards publishes an annual report of Superintendent compensation. It would be a good reference point because knowing one superintendent’s compensation alone does not tell you much. Of districts with at least 50,000 students, the average compensation in 2008 was $272,000. The report also summarizes insurance, car allowances, and other items, but only breaks it out by districts over 10,000 students so that is not as useful. In Texas, superintendents stay in a district an average of 5 years. When I joined the Board, I wondered if FBISD was getting fair value. After measuring the District’s accomplishments for three years, I know we are.

So here is my response: Sorry, Mr. Reitz, but talking about the “coward’s way out” when you only served one term on the school and then when your learning curve is the highest and FBISD’s deficit is at the highest, you decide not to run. When the going got tough....So don’t go chastising me about the “coward’s way out.”

And I find it particularly amusing that you talk as if FBISD is now running a deficit budget in order to purposefully spend down its fund balance. Give me a break and credit for a little more sense than that. What about all those teachers that got laid off? RIFTED? Now there’s a term for you!

And now it’s my fault for the state not giving FBISD as much money as other school districts.? How many times have I begged voters to get rid of our esteemed state representative Charlie Howard who actually doesn’t even believe in public education unless it involves prayer in school and “intelligent design.” What tree were you and the rest of the district hiding behind when Charlie had very competent opponents?

And what is wrong with your lungs. Why weren't you in Austin during the session raising Hell? Cat got your tongue?
I have no patience left for FBISD’s leaders. They are a bunch of blame tossers and whiners. They need to finally do something besides claim “Woe is us.”

Special note: The "AA" bond rating is not that great of a rating and the district is currently borrowing the "AAA" rating of the state. It would also be nice to see this newspaper publisher break ranks during the elections rather than only talking tough after they end. You see she normally endorses the special interest backed candidates from the realestate-development community every cycle. As a matter of fact she supported Mr. Reitz in his run for the board.