Friday, April 04, 2008

Bond-age

On May 10th, the residents of Klein ISD will be asked to approve nearly ONE BILLION DOLLARS worth of bonds between Klein ISD ($647 million) and the Lone Star College System ($420 million). Although I do not know this for certain, I suspect the two bond proposals will be voted on at different polling places, meaning in order to have a say in both bond elections, a resident must drive to two different polling places. This is of course intentionally geared towards holding the already low expected turnout even lower. Low turnout bond elections almost always pass.

While I will readily admit that both systems need an infusion of funds, I question whether they need as much as they are asking for, I also question if the funds they are asking for are going to be spent wisely. Klein ISD plans to spend $130 million to bulldoze a large section of Klein HS and rebuild it, uprooting the current students for two years crowded into a school yet to be built that will be overcrowded on day one, only to remain so for the rest of it's life. Surely there is another way that does not force students to try to live like sardines. The district needs TWO new high schools, not one, and Klein HS is not overcrowded the way the rest of the district is. The school needs to be remodeled, not torn down.

Both Klein Collins and Shindewolf, which are only 4-5 years old, already have temporary buildings, and have had them from almost day one. That tells me that the schools were not built large enough to give the district any growing space. That tells me that the district planned for overcrowding and planned obsolescence. I do not appreciate my tax dollars taken so lightly. Nor my desire or ability to pay yet more taken for granted. Is it too much to ask that a dozen or so classrooms be added to any planned building over and above the immediate need for expansion space? Use them as storerooms or language arts labs or tutor labs or something, or just close and lock the door, turn out the light and close the AC vent. It has got to be better than installing temporary buildings practically from day one.

Another $38 million is earmarked for laptop computers for high school kids, and parents will be held responsible for any loss, damages, or the cost of clearing virus infections. Most of the kids in this school district have computer/internet access at home already. Ours is not a poor district. Why do we need to give them an expensive computer for them to break or lose?

The college district is growing too. That is without a doubt and indisputable, but some of the buildings they plan on replacing are defective and the costs of replacement should be borne by the builders, not the taxpayers. One (at the North Harris Campus on W.W. Thorne Dr.) reportedly has severe water seepage problems with it's foundation, so much so that keeping tile on the floor is reportedly impossible and keeping mold in check is a constant battle. And this campus that they plan on spending a bunch of money on is at the end of two major runways at IAH with a third planned in a couple years. When planes take off and land, you can hardly hear yourself think and you can clearly see the worn tire treads on the landing gear. One of these days, one of those planes is going to have an abort on takeoff and plow into that place dumping an entire plane load of burning jet fuel on everyone there. This campus is in the very northernmost reaches of the Aldine School district, one of the original member school districts. It is not convenient to Aldine HS, Eisenhower HS, or McAurthur HS, where 3/4 of the Aldine students go. A more southerly location would be more central to that district, perhaps a new campus located on Beltway 8 just west of I-45 would be cheaper in the long run and better for the system at large than overhauling so much infrastructure at the existing campus.

In Cy-Fair, the same thing is true, one of the buildings is sinking and is in need of major foundation work I am told, but the district plans to pay for it themselves instead of seeking redress from the builder, architect and/or general contractor. They also plan on several new buildings at the Cy-Fair campus but the old TI facility, with brand new AC chillers installed, is standing empty and could be ready for students in under 4 months. But instead they plan on building all new buildings themselves. Apparently they never learned that it is usually cheaper to buy what you need than it is to build it yourself, and it is usually even cheaper when you lease it because you don't have depreciation to worry about.

There is also the fact that the debt payback schedule for both of these bonds is projected based on a real estate market that no longer exists. The market is tanking, which means the projected rate of growth of the tax base is going to be much lower than they planned. That means that to service that debt, they WILL have to increase the tax rate to keep up with the repayment schedule. Higher taxes will reduce home sales even more, leading to a downward spiral. Like the home buyers that bought more house than they could afford and then financed it with a mortgage they could not afford either, the college district and the Klein school district are biting off more than it's taxpayers will be able to chew.

Red Ink: Texas recommends that both bond proposals be rejected and force the boards to go back to the drawing board and come back with a more reasonable proposal.

Other Voices: BlogHouston here, here, and here.
Chronicle here.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Klein, the tax reduction we realized last year will quickly evaporate as I understand the new bond will raise us back to where we were.

As for the College District....whew... the nerve to come back after their tail was shoved back inside. The new request is for 68% more than was turned down, and the laundry list is more of the same, just different words, but they are hell-bent on because, in their minds they "need it." Well I need a lot of things, plenty of things that I can't afford, could not justify, pay for etc. If there could be multiple issues..... if there could have been a little less than before....if they would have removed the frill items from the last, and not increased them.....if they had used the time to build the infrastructure, respect honesty and integrity, along with getting rid of the inept board members that were part of the goons that screwed up the last elections....

April 04, 2008 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As evidenced by the lack of reader comments at the blogs linked, it's apparent the electorate don't know about the bonds, or just don't care. Naturally, both insitutions report the support for the bonds, rather than any negativity. I've had several comments deleted at the chronicle wherein I stated my objections to the LSCS bond proposal. (And no - I didn't use any smutty words!)

Individuals don't have the same resources available to them as the districts have in USING taxpayer $$ to fund free advertising in favor of their bonds. Nor did we have a voice in WHO they chose to represent the "community" in deciding how much bond money is enough and what it should be spent on. (Bond committee members - 88 - hand chosen by the LSCS district).

Pathetic. Makes me wanna puke.

April 05, 2008 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only do the school districts have taxpayer resources to indirectly advertise a bond, they have contractors who support any pro-bond PAC to work against the taxpayer as well.

In addition, I think the majority of people (at least 55% in CyFair, evidenced by our last bond election) don't care or understand about large amounts of waste, as they buy into the slogan that it will only cost them "a cup of coffee" each month. Those who do see through that fallacy but vote YES anyways are the ones who think any cost is reasonable since it is "for the children"

If only school districts and college districts spent money like most households do, but then again maybe that is the problem.

Don

April 05, 2008 5:35 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

Say something about this....

Residents resist proposed apartment
By JOSHUA MELVIN and JESSIE WALHEIM
jmelvin@hcnonline.comjwaldheim@hcnonline.com
03/25/2008

http://www.hcnonline.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19423273&brd=1574&pag=461&dept_id=635644

April 07, 2008 12:41 PM  
Blogger Leviathan said...

Thankfully, there is a PAC (Klein for All that is actively working against the Klein ISD proposal. Many people aren't yet aware.

May 03, 2008 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least there's no Berry-like "educational facility".

May 08, 2008 4:15 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

I would not say that.
according to this :
http://www.kleinisd.net/docs/1-08.bondsum.pdf
they have in there:
Klein Forest Athletic Addt
Construction 4,831,332
Fees 367,080
Testing 52,662
Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment 386,507
Site Acquisition
Total 5,637,581

Multi-Purpose Building
Construction 7,173,550
Fees 477,814
Testing 78,192
Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment 485,676
Site Acquisition 0
Total 8,215,232

Memorial Stadium Facility Renovations
Construction 10,022,384
Fees 762,573
Testing 108,939
Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment
Site Acquisition
Total 10,893,895

added together that is 24.7 million dollars. not 90 million true, but not a small chunk of change.

And then we cannot forget the 38 million for "technology" which includes $1400 per laptops for Klein Oaks and Krimmel and others financed over 5 years. How many computers do you know that are not obsolete after 3 years? These computers will be junk before we finish paying for them!

They plan to spend 9.4 million to add on to Klein Collins and another million on renovations! the school isn't even 5 years old for crying out loud!

Schindewolf is only 4 years old, already has temp buildings to handle the overflow and all they plan to do is spend 1.5 million to renovate it. No new classrooms will be built.

May 08, 2008 4:42 PM  

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