Monday, November 18, 2013

Leander ISD Truly A Poster Child for Bad CAB Debt

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, and this chart from the Texas Permanent School Fund certainly tells a horror story.  The PSF, which included this slide in a presentation to the State Board of Education earlier this year, does try to downplay the danger of school debt, but it's really hard to spin a chart like this. 

Not only does Leander have over $2.7 billion, repeat BILLION, in debt, school district officials continue to exploit controversial Capital Appreciation Bonds which defer payments for anywhere from 15 to 40 years while massively increasing total payback.  Irresponsible CAB borrowing has been banned in other states, and by certain local governments including the City of Cedar Park and Williamson County.

Furthermore, while LISD officials keep whining that 'everyone is doing it,' the chart above shows that no one is 'doing it' like Leander.  

For those of you on Facebook, check out the "On Board With Leander ISD - Information and Analysis" page.  The administrators are working to educate the community on the problem and have been posting relevant information. 

More media outlets are beginning to notice the Leander ISD problem, and Mark Lisheron at has written a great piece hereI've been trying to raise awareness for years, but Mark's article is excellent- a must read not only for Leander residents, but every citizen in the State of Texas. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Round Rock ISD Turns To Harlingen CISD for Leadership Guidance

Last month Round Rock ISD Trustee Brian Sellers joined that vast club of politicians who have suddenly discovered they "want to spend more time with family," and resigned without fulfilling the elected term of office.  Sellers' abrupt and unexpected resignation gave the existing trustees the power to appoint a replacement without voter input, and this week they chose newcomer Claudio Cruz, who works for Austin ISD.

Some members of the board were very excited about Mr. Cruz since he has experience in passing bonds and, like both the former and current Superintendent, he also hails from Harlingen CISD.  I have been inundated with emails and phone calls asking me if I can shed any light on what the fascination may be with Harlingen, but I'm afraid I've got nothing.  I'm sure Harlingen has a lovely school system, but if the Round Rock folks are looking for a successful program to emulate I'm not sure why they would recruit from a district with student achievement scores some 17 points below ours.  (RRISD received a score of 88; HCISD received a 71)  Maybe this has something to do with it?

It is unclear as to how long Mr. Cruz has been in Round Rock, but surely he knew Superintendent Steve Flores back in Harlingen? 

Next year, the Round Rock board will be trying to convince voters to approve a bond package, so get ready for the so-called "Citizen" bond committee.  And oh, by the way,  this week four of the board members voted against any transparency or 'conflict of interest' policies for the 'citizen' bond committee members, so expect plenty of business as usual.