Monday, February 25, 2008

To the Board on the Bond

Last Friday's news article on the new fieldhouse at Bobcat Stadium got me to thinking, Heaven knows that can be dangerous. I was at the meeting when the motion was approved. I had no comment then as I agree this is money we need to spend. The current condition of the dressing rooms is deplorable, a real downside to an otherwise beautiful facility.

The part of the S-T article that caught my attention was "To be fair, the project was delayed much of that time by last year's bond election." As a leading opponent of the last bond, I became fairly familiar with it, I can almost guarantee there was no $4 million item in it for a new fieldhouse at the old stadium

Now one of the many things that helped defeat the last bond, Question 18(e) promised, "as none of the money will go to athletics, except for basic needs." Then we found out the "new Central" was budgeting almost as much for fields, pools and tennis courts as had been spent on a post-fire total rebuild of Lakeview.

Now let's examine the notion that the delay in moving on this item was somehow related to the last bond. Is it possible that the "new" Central was intending to play its UIL varsity games at the new location? In that case the new fieldhouse expenditure might have become a low priority since "only" the Lakeview students would continue to suffer the deplorable fieldhouse at the existing stadium.

The other option would be that the last bond really had nothing to do with the delay in moving on this expenditure, it was just one more example of this board moving at its usual glacial speed. I recall opining satircally that the board might, on being informed the building they were meeting in was on fire, task it to staff, defer to the next pre-agenda meeting, and table any immediate action on possible evacution routes pending further study.

Sadly, neither option makes the board look good. I recognized last year that SAISD does need a bond for capital improvements. The last bond did not fail because voters are stingy, we had never voted down a bond before. It did not fail for lack of understanding or low voter turnout. We had near record turnout and most voters understood the issues all to well. They did not like the bond, they were insisting on an entirely different direction for a bond.

I have expressed to Dr. Bonds and the board that I would love to see a bond issue for about the same sum with new direction that I could get behind and help sell. The last meeting of the new facilities committee didn't happen. I am hearing word that the early appearance is that this committee is heading toward putting a new shine on the old boots the voters booted last year. If that turns out to be the case, you will see the next bond go down in flames again.

Board has already put itself in an electoral hole by setting the issue for an election that will almost certainly set records for turnout on the Presidential election. Bonds should be scheduled for elections when they will be the headline ballot item. One thing you want to avoid is getting voters in the habit of voting "no" on school bonds. That really is a rarity, I think something close to 90% of all Texas school bond issues pass, people really do care about their kids' education.

The last two meetings I have attended, discussion of the bond is nearly the last item on the agenda, and then it gets a wink and a pass unless I rise on my hindlegs. You need to understand, this bond is the single most important thing you are dealing with from now to November and act like it!

No comments:

Post a Comment