The tune has changed, and it’s time we make sure everyone knows it.
It felt like déjà vu to many of the 150 people who packed into Tinsley Elementary School’s auditorium Wednesday evening.
Facing another controversial Houston ISD school finance referendum, speakers debated two unfavorable options, both of which will cost the school district millions of dollars.
Wednesday’s forum served as the latest update in a school finance saga that has pitted Houston ISD against the state after 62 percent of local residents voted in November against paying the state millions in so-called recapture fees.
Board President Wanda Adams, who hosted the town hall, thanked those present for voting against recapture in November. But she asked them to vote in favor of writing a recapture check. “Because of your no vote, you actually won. We were the first district ever to tell the state no, the first to say we will not write a check until you fund public education,” Adams said.
The Houston ISD Board of Education voted in February to hold a second referendum on the issue May 6 after the state lessened the amount HISD would pay in recapture fee and threatened to “detach” commercial properties.
Glenn Reed, general manager of HISD’s Budgeting and Financial Planning, said this referendum is different than the one that appeared in on the November ballot.
“This is not a vote on recapture; it’s a vote on how you want us to pay it,” Reed said.
Well, to be exact, the November referendum was about how to pay for recapture, too. Adams is right that we got what we wanted out of that No vote. As you know, I believe we should accept that victory and vote Yes this time around. Early voting begins April 24, which is just over three weeks from now. We’re not used to voting in May in Houston – we have primary runoffs in May, but that’s different. There’s no turnout model for this, we’re all just going to be guessing. Those guesses are going to be on the low end, it’s just a matter of how low. HISD is going to have to convince some people to show up for them if they want to win again.