With the revelation that HISD may have chosen its new superintendent, this Chron story from yesterday about how parent groups who were promised certain specific actions from outgoing Superintendent Abe Saavedra relating to the bond referendum, and the Board of Trustees’ apparent reluctance to act on them until they have a new super in place, may now be moot. But it’s still an interesting look at how the Board can operate, and why folks feel frustration about them.
Board President Larry Marshall denied a request by Trustees Manuel Rodriguez Jr., Harvin Moore and Dianne Johnson — who wanted the board to move forward with several construction projects at a meeting this Thursday.
Saavedra’s administration was prepared to recommend $56 million in upgrades to Lockhart Elementary School, Bellfort Academy, Grady Middle School, and Bellaire, Sam Houston and Worthing high schools. Saavedra, who declined to comment on the proposal, also was seeking a $40 million new High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, pending private sector help in finding a downtown location.
Marshall said he would not consider the trustees’ request until after the board selects a new superintendent — which could happen as soon as Thursday.
“It is most inappropriate to allow such distractions to interfere with the search process,” Marshall wrote in a letter to his fellow trustees.
Some parents have questioned Marshall’s response, [Mary Nesbitt, vice president of Parents for Public Schools] said, because he is allowing trustees to a discuss another divisive topic Thursday: paying higher wages to construction workers. Saavedra promised to push for higher wages during the 2007 bond campaign in exchange for support from labor unions.
It would seem that distraction is no longer present. We’ll see how the Board reacts to it. A message from Nesbitt to a Facebook group called HISD Visionaries regarding this is reproduced below.
Parents – Please click on the link below and follow it to a story published online tonight by Ericka Mellon regarding the facilities package. We need all parents to comment on the commitments made by HISD and what is at risk if the district fails to move forward on their expressed, specific, and written commitments.
Please, also forward to other interested parents.
As you know, The Houston Chronicle often serves as an internal communication vehicle within HISD. Administration and many trustees read the comments and draw conclusions from the entries.
Prior to and during the 2007 Bond Election, Dr. Saavedra discovered that the Magellan Study failed to properly evaluate certain educational suitability issues and evolving legal requirements for school facilities. The Study’s failure to fully consider these issues impacted its final facility analysis. Dr. Saavedra personally studied the situation and his administration made professional recommendations about what should be done. Dr. Saavedra and his administration approved projects for the renovation and/or expansions of the following schools:
Evan Worthing High School
Sam Houston Math, Science and Technology Center
Bellaire High School
Henry Grady Middle School
Lucian Lockhart Elementary School, and
Bellfort Early Childhood Education Center.
While required budgets for these projects were not part of the 2007 Bond Program, HISD expressly assured these schools’ communities that HISD recognized either the inaccurate, insufficient, or incomplete findings of the Magellan Study and the resulting unmet facilities needs. Dr. Saavedra committed in writing that he and his administration would bring these projects before the HISD Board of Trustees for approval in order to address the urgent and important facility needs of these campuses.
Over the last six weeks, Dr. Saavedra, along with HISD administration, have put together a package that will finally deliver on their explicit assurances to these school communities. However, Mr. Larry Marshall, HISD Board President, has been unwilling to put the package on the Board Agenda so that it can be voted upon by the Board of Trustees. Most observers believe that if the package is brought forward for a vote, the Board will approve it for the benefit of students across the entire district.
Two years have already passed and the situation as it stands today is completely unacceptable for students. As time keeps ticking away the situation will soon become completely unworkable. The time to act is now.
Thanks for helping bring facilities up to standards for 6,000 kids.