September 06, 2007
Still time for the HISD bond referendum?

I had the pleasure of speaking before the HGLBT Political Caucus on Wednesday night. It actually was more of a Q&A session, which is more fun anyway, especially since I don't exactly have a stump speech I can lean on. Before I got to go, the caucus had a rowdy but civil debate over whether or not to endorse the HISD bond proposal. HISD Trustee Natasha Kamrani was there to make the pitch for the proposal, and Rep. Sylvester Turner showed up to speak against it.

Except that he wasn't really against it - he explicitly did not advocate a No vote, nor did he ask the Caucus to recommend a vote against. He called on HISD to make changes to the proposal so that people like him could support it. He spoke at length about the Williams Middle School, and urged HISD to listen and respond to the community's concerns. Which, if that debate and discussion were an accurate reflection, was mostly about school closings and consolidations, and how HISD came to decide which schools needed to be closed or consolidated. Age of the school itself was not the only factor - as (I believe) Council Member Sue Lovell pointed out, Lanier is 80 years old, yet people from all across town send their kids there. Several people spoke up about the need for real neighborhood schools.

Probably the most interesting tidbit to come out of this conversation was that the proposal really isn't set in stone just yet. Apparently, HISD Superintendant Abe Saavedra has been saying that there are aspects of the plan that are still a work in progress. That ultimately led to the Caucus to decide to defer the endorsement decision till later, after things have settled a bit more. It also means that you can still affect what you'll be voting on. There's one last town hall meeting tonight at Madison High School, and you can always contact your board trustee to give them feedback. My default assumption is to vote for school bonds, but there's no reason not to hold out for something better if you have qualms about this proposal. Make your voice heard, you might just get what you want.

UPDATE: Evan with The Caucus Blog was there taking notes, and has these two posts with more details.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 06, 2007 to Election 2007

Charles, another thing to take into account is that the closed schools sit on prime real estate close to downtown. HISD can rake in some cool hard cash by closing the schools and selling the land - at the expense of having neighborhood schools that have a rich history, some of which are performing well. I'm also very concerned about some of the school consolidations. More kids in those buildings just doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Matha Griffin on September 7, 2007 1:45 AM