Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Education Committee

Yesterday papers were filed forming a Specific-purpose PAC related to the bond issue before us on May 12. The committee is named Sensible Taxation for Educational Excellence and Reform, or STEER. The name is appropriate, everyone connected with this PAC so far is in agreement on some basics, namely that SAISD does need a bond and money for construction, renovation, and overdue maintenance; and that this notwithstanding, we cannot support the bond as proposed now. It is too late to modify the ballot measure before us, so we hope to defeat this bond and work for a better measure next election.

This is only partly about money. Some of us hope a re-examination of the bond could save significant money, but we could be persuaded to support a bond in this amount, if that's what it takes to get the best educational result. Unfortunately, this bond is far more about buildings than educational output.

Our concern lies primarily with the policy dictated by this bond. The Board is draping itself in the mantle of the three year effort of the Facilities Task Force and claiming that assures adequate public representation. Unfortunately, at the same meeting when the Board put the bond on the ballot, they effectively flushed the Task Force's efforts. The disaffection of the public members of the Task Force is so deep that Bob Paschal, a dedicated Task Force member, will take the “con” position at Tuesday's San Angelo Forum, and the Board is having difficulty finding an appropriate speaker to carry its side of the debate.

There have been options to the proposals in this bond. A few years back, Jack Cowan, editor emeritus at S-T put out the idea that perhaps we should roughly equalize the student bodies of Lakeview and Central, but acknowledged a core objection existed in that they would then have to play one another football. Another idea we have all heard before, and some of us support, was shrinking Central, and putting a new 4A school in the southwest area where much of the growth is. My sources tell me this three 4A model was the initial inclination of the Task Force, but they were told in no uncertain terms the Board would not entertain any work product not resulting in a single 5A high school, and they so modified their deliberations. See “Is the tail wagging the Dog”, this BLOG.

As to policy, the Holiman consolidation is going to be one hot item at least to Holiman families, probably Crockett as well. From what we have seen, Holiman has probably the highest percentage of students who actually walk to and from school, (at least on nice weather days). Many families based their decision to buy homes in Paulann on the Holiman school, and are not remotely happy that SAISD plans to bus those kids halfway across town.

See “Some Assembly Required”, this BLOG. Mr Turner makes a great point, that schools are more than interchangeable cogs in an educational machine. By the time kids get to high school, it is no great problem in a city our size to go to a school across town if it caters more to one's educational preference. At the elementary level, the local school is an integral part of a thriving neighborhood. Close the school, move the students, and parental involvement, already too low, goes down further. SAISD has done this once, in closing Holiman and moving Crockett out of the community it serves, they propose to compound their mistake. STEER objects more to the policy demonstrated here than to the expense.

STEER intends to stay in existence after this election, whatever the result. It is plain that SAISD needs someone paying them the sort of oversight attention Conchoinfo has paid to city and county government.


  1. Why can't San Angelo do something like Midland has done? All or most of their elementary schools -- originally built in the same "open" style as Holiman, Crockett, etc -- have been enclosed. MISD has done it in phases over a few years, but it's done. It makes me sad to think of Holiman closing.

  2. The Empire State Office Building is 77 years old, still very much in use, and is maintained and updated.

    Oh, I know - we are talking about a 50 year old public school that wasn't properly mainained or updated.

    Ummmm, kinda like the rest of the city's infrastructure.

    We are a throw-away society. And SAISD wants to throw away your money.

    Fix what you have - just like a house - fix what you have - that is the most cost effective means of ownership.

  3. I totally agree with watchdog. Renovation and maintenance is more cost effective and enviromentally sensible. Technology can also solve many problems too, like wireless gadgets instead of running cables everywhere. My parents' old schools are 70 yrs old and still in use--and beautifully preserved. I am voting no on the bond proposal.