According to the posted agenda, during the open session the Board will be discussing the School Health Advisory Council (SHAC). Last month the Superintendent acknowledged that his administration had not followed state law in conducting the 2011-2012 SHAC, so now the Board must reformulate the council. It will be interesting to see if they re-appoint Mr. Lynn Williams, the gentleman who called attention to the improper proceedings of last year's SHAC.
Also listed on the agenda is a Superintendent's report on "School Vouchers/School Choice." In November, the administration invited the anti-choice group "Raise Your Hand Texas" to present a 'workshop' to the trustees, but as of yet the board has not heard from both sides of the issue. It appears that the Superintendent is pushing the board to take an official stance on legislative issues. If they do so, Superintendent Chavez will be free to lobby the State Legislature during the 2013 session. (And we thought we paid him over $300,000 per year to run the school district.)
Finally, while the $25 million campus for drop-out students is not on the agenda, the Bond 2013 Study Decision is listed as an "Action Item." Although the district is very much in need of elementary and middle schools, the board spent some $74 million on pet projects they knew voters would not approve. Now, however, the RRISD can plead poverty and convince voters to approve new bond debt and tax increases. Fitch reports that RRISD debt is already "Above Average" at $703 million, but this seems to be just fine with Fitch and our government culture of borrow and spend.(Supposedly RRISD isn't anything like Leander ISD with $1.3 billion in debt and a CAB Fiasco in the works. Time will tell.)
Regarding the Success High School program for drop-out students, the district continues to maintain secrecy and only point to 'enrollment' numbers. Voters should be aware, however, that students only need to show up for one day to be considered 'enrolled.' Whether or not these students actually attend the program is another matter altogether. As Trustee Romere discovered last month, average daily attendance hovers around 40 students per day. At $25 million, taxpayers are spending $625,000 per student just to build the campus, never mind the maintenance and operation costs that will come after completion.
Considering all of these issues, one finds it very difficult to trust the RRISD with such ample financial resources and/or the education of the majority of the community's children. (Remember, RRISD academic rating has fallen from "Recognized" to "Acceptable," and now has several schools rated "Academically Unacceptable.")
Taxpayers and parents should be asking this board and administration for transparency and honesty. The citizens of the community are entitled to the truth, and perhaps we need to be a little more vocal in asking questions.
If you wish to contact your elected board members, please strive to be courteous and respectful.
Pauline Law: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Sellers: email@example.com
Diane Cox: firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Hanna: email@example.com
Chad Chadwell: firstname.lastname@example.org
Glen Colby: email@example.com
Terri Romere: firstname.lastname@example.org