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HISD BOARD MEETING 7/19/2012
Grier & Alicia Thomas tout HISD's effort to keep .5 Health credit in the scaled
back core diploma requirements; HISD has exceeded the state minimum
of 22 by requiring 24; 86% of HISD graduates have earned Recommended
Diploma (remainder of video segment is a tribute to Alicia Thomas)
FYI: Special ed. students taking the modified STAAR or alternate STAAR
must graduate on minimum core diploma
Stipeche questions agenda item giving Grier authority to change length
of duty day
In Hearing of Citizens Tracy Scales, Kashmere alumni association presidents, asks
for newly appointed Kashmere principal to be removed
Scales cites 8 leadership changes at Kashmere
Transparency? You betcha, as long as key documents go missing
The firm Paula Harris' good friend and Italian Riveria travel partner Nicole
West owns (BTW: Receipts for the West/Harris Italy extravaganza have
never been produced by the dear Ms. Harris) is one of the firms for
which HISD has incomplete files. (Harris' trip with West took place
during the mandatory silent period with vendors.)
Paula needn't worry about her friend's company Westco Ventures. Her
fellow trustees were set to renew Westco's contract last night.
Null-Lairson, the firm charged with providing HISD with its second procurement
audit after the objectivity of the Great City Schools, a Grier-friendly organization
was questioned, has ready changed its name to Whitley Penn.
Read Mike Cronin's report and, remember, Larry Marshall believes that HISD
already has effective policies governing relationships between trustees
Grier recommends to board: Follow state minimum graduation requirements
(22) for core program, returning Science requirement to 2 credits, Math to
3 credits with Algebra 1 and Geometry required, and eliminating
Economics and Language Other than English requirements.
Just a question: With the economy in a slow stall and the growing discrepancy
between the 1% and the 99%, does it make sense to eliminate the .5 Economics
requirement for students who will probably end up in the lower end of the 99%?
Agenda for HISD Board meeting, July 19, 5 p.m.
Agenda Review for HISD Board meeting, July 19, 5 p.m.
Curious item on agenda as it pertains to houstonisdwatch's readers
and bloggers. Note information is in closed session discussion:
a) Matters on which the district's attorney's duty to the district under
the Code of Professional Responsibility clearly conflicts with the
Texas Open Meetings Law.
It is useful to remember this finding, which may be part of the
district's desire to without information from the public, made
by Texas Assistant Attorney General Michelle R. Garza who
ruled HISD must release records requested about Christin
Winn. You refers to HISD legal counsel:
"You contend some of the information which relates to teacher reprimands
is protected bycommon-law privacy. However, this office has found information
perlaining to the work conduct and job performance of public employees is subject
to a iegitimate public interest, and, therefore, generally not protected from disclosure
under common-law privacy" (requestor was houstonisdwatch).
HISD has no right to inflict incompetent, divisive, unprepared principals on
its schools and communities. Hiding behind obscure interpretations of the
Texas Education Code will not suffice.
Waiting to compare first day rosters at Elrod from 2011-12 and 2012-13
Although there are rumors that many teachers have left Elrod, there
is nothing that can be verified looking at teacher vacancies. There will be
when school starts.
From Elrod's Exodus:
Why did so many teachers leave Elrod? Why did so much talent abandon ship? You had TFA teachers,
Out of State teachers, Extremely Effective Cheerleading Types-gone. Yes, they danced to the beat of a
different drummer-but it was effective. Kids were reading and learning. They brought life to the school-
which was missing. When they saw a teacher looking down-they high fived them or gave them a hug.
The teachers were well liked and motivated. It was hurtful to see one of them in tears saying-this is not
what I envisioned education to be. It is so hard to reach the kids when you have the adults treating you
like trash. They really were in over their heads because they believed in the fundamentals of education-
helping kids. They had no clue how cut-throat the administration could be. Elrod is really sadden to see
these girls go. They were the glue. They did extremely well-being they had absolutely no guidance nor
support whatsoever. The principal called them in her office at least once a week just so that the entire
staff could pass by the office and look in at them. They were really there for the kids. I wish someone
would look into this. These teachers were too ambitious and that is a no no in this climate. We want
them back. Someone please help us.
by Elrod's Exodus (Jul 4, 2012)
In praise of the departed Dallas Dance:
Some miss Dr. Dance
Was DALLAS DANCE. That board is so blinded by greed and power. They let a hardworker go. He should
have been the superintendent. GET on your knees and beg him back. That was your superman.
by The Answer to Our Problem (Jul 4, 2012)
Diane Ravitch's blog:
Since we cannot link websites I would like to suggest folks here google Diane Ravitch and subscribe
to her blog. You will get an idea of where this mentality is coming from. Her latest blog on Stand For
Children also gives you the information you want but are not told. "Stand has pushed the corporate
reforms--anti-public school, anti-teacher, anti-union--in several states, notably in Illinois (where they
wrote a new law that was supposed to make it impossible for Chicago teachers to strike by setting a
threshold of 75% approval--but CTU got a 90% approval vote), and in Massachusetts (where they threatened
a ballot referendum to achieve their goals with a heavily-funded PR campaign (the union capitulated to
avoid the punitive language that would have been on the ballot, as well as the costs of fighting it)." Where
is the Union here? What is happening in HISD is spreading throughout the country. This also means voting
in the next election and get ready to vote in school board which will truly care about students, not crony
contracts and their own self serving agenda.
by B.E. (Jul 4, 2012)
One of several Open Records Requests answered; three more to go. The next information
to be posted here from HISD's Public Information Department will concern Linda Bellard,
following by Pam Farinas' records and Mary Cisneros.
HISD TEACHING VACANCIES DON'T BUDGE FROM LAST WEEKS 380 POSTED POSITIONS
TEAM HISD IS HIRING!
Yesterday's banner headline for HISD News Today
HISD currently has hundreds of openings for motivated teachers who are invested in making an impact
on student achievement. Candidates who submit an application by July 31 will be eligible to start teaching
in the fall.
While vacancies caused by voluntary resignations and retirements exist in all areas, the highest need for
teachers exists in critical shortage areas, including bilingual (Spanish), Spanish, secondary math, secondary
science, and special education areas such as Autism, Life skills, Preschool Program for Children with
Disabilities, DeafEd, and Behavior Support.
Continue reading advertisement.
When all else falls, REORGANIZE! HISD CUTS TEACHING POSITIONS BUT ADDS
MORE CENTRAL OFFI CE STAFF
Reorganizing the Office of Academic Services
Mark Smith will no longer be a chameleon at the palace
Mark A. Smith is a survivor. He is one of the central office holdouts from the Abe Saavedra
administration and, slowly, he has worked his way up the chain of command, this time having a
a new position and salary increase created just for him. Maybe now he will finally get his own bio
page on houstonisd.org.
He offered a witless solution to principals complaining about Statements of Residency:
(Statement of Residence—Statements of Residence are bankrupting some schools
while overcrowding other schools.)
Response: Mark Smith requested that principals contact Student Transfer Department
Manager Raphael Reyes regarding investigating questionable statements of residence.
90% of the time, Mr. Reyes will tell the principal to take the students or students in question.
Alicia Thomas made a positive impact in HISD in her brief tenure. Perhaps Mr. Smith is
prepared to roll up his sleeves, listen to teachers and principals, and desist from using
the top-down, ineffective management strategies Grier adheres to.
With Mr. Smith, one thing is for certain: He won't rock any boats, take any controversial
positions, or blaze any new trails. He never has.
Remember TAKS? 2011-2012 high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors must pass
ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies to graduate
houstonisdwatch receives response from HISD regarding Open Records Request
for TAKS scores from Apollo schools; all district high schools included
Jones HS: TAKS scores decline for both sophomores & juniors (28 & 61% respectively)
Kashmere HS: Sophomore TAKS scores up; Junior TAKS scores down
Lee HS: Sophomore TAKS scores down; Junior TAKS scores up
Sharpstown HS: Junior TAKS scores up; Sophomores stay the same
Passing pecentages for Apollo middle schools and all HISD students in grades 3 - 8 ddd
STAAR E.O.C. results available here.
31 TEACHERS REVIEW HISD, CITE POSITIVES, CONSIDER HISD A GOOD PLACE
TO START IF NO OTHER JOBS AVAILABLE BUT NOT A PLACE FOR LONG TERM
WORKING FOR HISD IS STILL AT BEST A MIXED EXPERIENCE; FOR MANY TEACHERS IT
WOULD BE A MUCH BETTER PLACE IF ADMINISTRATORS ACTUALLY KNEW WHAT
THEY WERE DOING
Time off, chance to work with students cited as positives;
Negatives: No support for teachers; Administrations fails to discipline students;
Great experience until HISD cut back of staff; LACK OF SUPPORT AND RESPECT
Read what teachers have to say about working for HSID
HISD claims improved graduation rate, still trails state average
Methodolgy credits districts for students who graduate within six years
Children at Risk disagrees;
Grier does deserve credit for laser focus on tracking kids through to
graduation and implementing Grad Labs
from chron. com report.
Lexile analysis of STAAR: Does anyone have this information?
Dodson PK-7 Garden Oaks PK-6 Wilson PK-8
Dodson AEIS 2010-11 Academically Acceptable
Dodson school review
Garden Oaks AEIS 2010-11 Academically Acceptable
Garden Oaks school profile
Wilson AEIS 2010-11 Academically Acceptable
School ratings & reviews for Wilson K-8
Confusing bond choices for voters may help sink HISD's wasteful & extravagant
Three major bond proposals greet voters in 2012 - Mayor Parker's, Grier's, HCC's - and the
confusion over them, and widely different price tags, could sink all three.
houstonisdwatch has not yet laid out a strong case linking Grier's $1.9 billion bond
proposal to his politics above children, paybacks to the Greater Houston Partnership
(the primary reason he is here is to appease them), and rewards to the five enablers
on the HISD board who give him everything he wants.
If you think HCCS deserves to have its bond proposal passed, read reports
from Inside HCCS.
As we near the November election, that case will be made in detail over and over again.
Disagree with Grier's climate of paranoia and mistrust? Disagree with Larry Marshall's
continuuing ties with vendors? Repulsed by Paula Harris' deaf ear over naming of
schools and appointment of principals?
Then you must vote no on the bond.
No one opposing the bond discounts the condition of some of HISD's facilities. No one
who opposes the bond wants our children to go to schools with leaky or non-functiioning
AC, backed up sewers, and unsafe building configurations.
But if you think giving Grier and his five enablers this bond and that this bond will
solve all of our kids' facilities' problems, you are sorely mistaken.
Sure, the bond proposal was written to entrap and entice, much like a spikder
weaves a web to ensare. Bellaire would get a new building. Does Bellaire
really need a new building when the new science addition (more about that
later) is just being finished? Do Bellaire students and alums really want
to move their campus out of the city of Bellaire to the land across from
Sam's on Rice Blvd.?
houstonisdwatch has not yet gotten a copy of the RMP master plan from Parsons,
but there are leaks that Grier will use the bond as a means of implementing the
recommendations from the Magnet School of America's report.
See, what Grier isn't telling you and what Harris and Marshall won't tell you for
fear of losing lucrative contracts for their friends is this: There is a rezoning
proposal with the bond.
Ericka Mellon probably knows about this proposal. Remember, her editors call
the shots, and they are in bed with the Greater Houston Partnership and Grier.
Rezoning will set off a firestorm. The bond backers, and the Democratic
politicians who have lined up to grease their pockets from the bond, know
(Although accused of unabashed promotion of the Democratic Party,
houstonisdwatch is independent).
Sound far-fetched and crazy? Perhaps, but these tips are coming from some
very well-heeled, well-informed sources.
Chris Moran and Ericka Mellon of the Houston Chronicle write today:
"Multiple bond measures could confuse voters"
from Education Grrrrl:
Who does the HISD official website? Are they out of their minds?
Check out the first story on Houstonisd.org. They talk about training new principals. Then they show
people walking around blindfolded? Maybe that should give them a clue? That they need to hire people
who can SEE problems?
by Education Grrrrl (Jul 12, 2012)
HISD Board President Mike Lunceford is concerned about what's happening at Elrod.
houstonisdwatch also wrote to him, and Mike responded immediately.
houstonisdwatch appeals directly to Sam Sarabia to take action on Bellard at Elrod:
Hello, Mr Sarabia:
I am writing to you as the editor of houstonisdwatch. Many bloggers have posted comments about
Linda Bellard's leadership - all negative. Disrespecting teachers, calling out teachers in front of
peers, embarrassing parents - all of these accusations have been made.
The anger directed at Ms. Bellard is growing and festering. The parents I have heard from
feel very alienated from HISD. I suppose that's why they are turning to houstonisdwatch to
express their frustrations.
I have pending open records request concerning Ms. Bellard's leadership. I am prepared
to ask for more records.
You have the power and authority to fix this situation. And, being a veteran of HISD as I am,
you remember when the values of respect and human decency were expected from HISD's
Thank you for your consideration.
Regarding Open Records Requests:
houstonisdwatch is working with the individuals in the Public Information Office
who actually gather the information. A deadline has been set for early next week.
If information is not available or if it is fragmentary and highly edited, houstonisdwatch
will file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General. That complaint is in draft form
Garden Oaks expansion is parent-driven
Re: the expansion of Garden Oaks to K-8 -- While I understand the need for scrutiny of every proposal
or action by the district leadership and the board, this particular proposal was driven by parent interest
and the desire for the expansion of the current PreK-6th grade Montessori program to extend it through
8th grade. GOES is an excellent school with strong faculty, strong leadership, and very strong parental
support. However, the facilities of the campus are in desperate need of repair/replacement/upgrade, and
I suspect that some of the money included in the proposal for the expansion includes addressing some of
the issues with the older buildings, lack of interior hallways/leaks in the walkway roofs, etc. In addition to
the facility issues, there is growing interest in the existing Montessori program and a strong desire for
extending through 8th grade -- but please keep in mind that at least with this particular part of the bond
proposal, this item is being driven by parent interest and not greed or mismanagement of district funds.
by Parent (Jul 11, 2012)
Witnessing how human resources treats prospective HISD teachers:
Just to give people an idea how HISD treats teaching candidates--a few years ago I was in Central Office,
taking care of paperwork. There was a young mom with a toddler in a stroller who was trying to get someone
to help her apply for a teaching job.
I saw her later in the parking lot, wheeling the toddler to her car. She was crying. I used to be a single mom and
my heart went out to her. I asked her to send me her resume and email, and I would put her in contact with others
I knew in the outlying districts. She realized at that point that she should refocus her energy outside HISD. She got
a job in one of those districts.
I can't say that things have gotten much better. I actually tried one day to talk to a Central Office person who had
so much gum in her mouth, I couldn't understand her and had to ask her to repeat herself.
I think everyone, before they vote on giving HISD all this money, should take a field trip over to Central Office to see
how they run things. As a friend of mine said, she wouldn't be surprised if most teaching candidates think to
"WTH?" and turn and walk out the door rather than applying.
by Longtime Associate Teacher NO MORE (Jul 11, 2012)
STAAR Released test questions: Algebra 1.
Biology W Geo English 1 Reading
Scope & expense osf proposed bond is drawing critics and potential
HISD's middle school bond proposal draws critics
K8 Garden Oaks Elementary School 900 - 1,200 Capacity K-8 Completion $30.8 million
K8 Pilgrim Academy K-8 Completion $14.2 million
K8 Wharton Dual Language School 750-900 Capacity K-8 Completion $35.6 million
K8 Gordon Elementary School 800-1,000 Capacity New K-8 Replacement $40.1 million
K8 Facilities Subtotal $120.7 million
Dowling Middle School 1,500 Capacity New School - Replacement $59.1 million
MS Grady Middle School Addition $14.8 million
Middle Schools Subtotal $74 million
Why isn't Hamilton MS on the list?
What about Hamilton MS ? It is crowded, needs some TLC, and it smelled like dirty old socks when we
toured it.. any re-do there ? they have a Vanguard program. When it comes to spending other peoples
money, HISD does not care if it spent wisely, just spend it and use a PR media blitz to guilt voters into
this. If there are h.s. that are under enrolled - why do they need a new school ? Cant the locations
that need paint, new bathrooms etc just be fixed ?
by spending money (Jul 6, 2012)
HISD's expenditures on consultants draws fire
Why in the hell do we need these $$$ consultants?
Most everyone has cameras and internet access. Let everyone post what's wrong with their schools.
Let parents do it. Or let the board members walk around their own schools for once. Stop sitting around.
Teachers and adminstrators can't do it, they might get blowback. Show the world what's wrong with your
school. Post on You Tube.
Then tell the consultants--WE WANT OUR MONEY BACK!
by Education Grrrrl (Jul 10, 2012)
(Editor: Parson Commerical Technology Group was paid $1.25 million for 2012 bond proposal)
I have a question about the proposed bond and the expansion of some schools to a K-8. I see that Pilgrim
is on the list. Isn't Pilgrim already a K-8? The school moved several years ago to a new brand new building
and changed from an elementary program to a K-8, so why would they need money to become a K-8?
by Question? (Jul 7, 2012)
(Editor: The 2012 bond proposal lists Pilgrim as a "completion" project)
HISD HAS 53 BILINGUAL VACANCIES; CHANCES ARE SLIM THESE POSITIONS
WILL BE FILLED BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS
houstonisdwatch's letter to Ann Best:
Dear Ms. Best:
We see that your school district has 74 vacancies for special needs populations,
53 of which are for bilingual teaching positons.
After you cut special education teachers, you now have 21 vacancies. In fact,
according to your own job advertisements, you have never been adequately
staffed to meet the needs to your special ed. population.
We know you know little about special education. You have had such limited
experience in the classroom before Harvin Moore decided you were some
type of genius and pushed for you to move up through the HISD hierarchy.
Really, Ms. Best, what do you have against special education students?
Twenty-one vacancies is unconscionable. You really need to be brought to
task on this issue.
You are doing even worse with your bilingual staffing. Why, Ms. Best, are
you handicapping HISD's neediest student populations by being too
spread out, focusing on teacher evaluation instead of job placement,
efforts that may keep you in good standing with the educrats you hobnob
with but puts kids in a terrible position?
You obviously have never really mastered putting effective teachers
in every classroom. In fact, you haven't mastered putting certified teachers
in every classroom.
You have become a Grier cliche - putting kids last as the standard way you
If special education population is shrinking and Grier claimed HISD has too
many special ed. teachers, why are there 21 special ed. teaching vacancies
in HISD? Another poor effort on the part of Ann Best and her boss Grier
REDUCTION IN TEACHING VACANCIES FROM 765 TO 380 IS UNBELIEVEABLE!
PROCESS TO HIRE TEACHERS IN HISD ELONGATED UNDER'S GRIER'S FAILED
LEADERSHIP; CANDIDATES REPORT WAITING AS MUCH AS THREE WEEKS TO
FIND OUT THEY'VE BEEN HIRED
Grier's email (below) got the educrats scurrying: Now only 380 teaching vacancies in HISD!
In Grier's top-down administration, principals would rather close positions than
risk the wrath of Grier - once again, putting kids last
Houstonians will get to vote on two bonds this November: Mayor Parker's and
Terry Grier's - what's the best slogan? "Vote No Twice" "No, No"
Parker's bond is only $116 million (Grier's is $1.9 billion)
From WashingtonPost.com: Texas GOP rejects 'critical thinking' skills. Really.
First public meeting on bond makes Grier look unprepared, arbitrary
He's looking at different tenor on Thursday at 4 p.m. when his enablers who
represent the Greater Houston Partnership far more than taxpayers attend
From E. Mellon's tweets:
*Mike Lunceford asks the right questions (looking for specifics) but doesn't
*Anna Eastman calls middle school list on bond proposal "arbitrary"
*Lunceford's response to Parson's explanation: "Whatever"
*Parsons unconvincing in justification for schools (35 of 269) it visited
HISD is feeling a little heat as logical people question the illogic in rebuilding half-
empty schools and throwing Houstonians into long-term debt
Local media exposes skepticism
from Ericka Mellon at chron.com: HISD TO CONSIDER INVESTMENT OF REBUILDING
SMALLER HIGH SCHOOLS
houstonisdwatch has Open Records Requests pending for Pam Farinas, Gregory-Lincoln
principal, Mary Cisneros, Golfcrest principal, and Linda Bellard, Elrod principal. Additionally,
houstonisdwatch has asked for Apollo secondary TAKS (not STAAR) scores.
houstonisdwatch is working with the Public Information Office at HISD to obtain this
The Bellard information is critical as the Elrod community is in mutiny. houstonisdwatch
has made this point very clear to HISD.
Grier rants and raves but doesn't understand: HE
IS THE PROBLEM
Terry Grier finally admits that HISD has too many vacancies!
Look in the mirror, Grier, you will see why you have so many openings!!!!
GRIER TOTALLY DOES NOT GET IT: HISD IS VIEWED AS A TOXIC WORK ENVIRONMENT
From: "Grier, Terry B" <TGRIER@houstonisd.org>
Date: July 9, 2012 8:10:48 AM CDT
To: Chiefs <Chiefs@houstonisd.org>, tgSIO <tgSIO@houstonisd.org>
Cc: Elementary School Principals <firstname.lastname@example.org>, High School Principals
<email@example.com>, Middle School Principals <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Teacher vacancies
We have too many teacher vacancies--unless things have dramatically improved since last week. NO
school should have more than two vacancies and MOST should have none--we are getting close to mid-July.
We cannot train new teachers, unless we have hired new teachers.
I worry that we are not taking this seriously and will end up settling for lower quality teachers in the end--and/or
teachers with little or no summer training.
While this is an issue that ranges from HR to principal, I don't see anyone owning the solution to the problem.
A lot of talk, passing the buck, pointing fingers, but no ownership.
Today, and every Monday prior to the opening of school, I would like CSOs to conduct a 30 minute stand-up
(no sitting down, no laptops/cell phones, side-bar conversation) data sharing/problem solving meeting with
their SIOs--can be five (HS, MS, three ES) or three separate--(HS, MS, and ES) meetings.
A representative(s) from HR is to be at each meeting. SIOs need to give a school-by-school update regarding
vacancies and what is being done to fill each of them. ALL BUSINESS, fast moving, hard hitting, format.
I expect to be presented with a weekly summary report that is easy to read and shows progress..
I will meet privately with CSOs next week to discuss serious consequences of opening school with any
vacancies OR of filling vacancies with non-quality applicants.
Please call me should you have questions. --Terry
Terry B Grier
4400 West 18th Street
Houston, TX 77092
houstonisdwatch blogger roe insider writes that River Oaks Elementary to K-8 is
not a done deal:
Not completely sure that the K-8 at River Oaks is a done deal. I have heard several reports about the recent
meeting, and it was shocking and embarrassing (for proponents) how poorly thought out the (lack of) plan
was. They were supposed to talk about details about the middle school, and there yet there was no facilities
plan, no academic plan, no plan for admission, no plan for activities or extra-curriculars. Everything was
TBD. The only thing proposed was a vague idea for IB. Councilman Pennington scolded the HISD and proponents
of the plan for their lack of preparedness -- there had been no survey of parents to try and figure out how many
students might attend, for example. This would have taken 10 minutes of organization and no one had
bothered to take the time to do it.
The neighbors (Harvin's constituents) were nearly unified in their opposition. One neighbor stood up and said,
"I'm supposed to pay extra taxes so this small group of privileged people can have a 'choice'?" -- then he offered
to write a hefty check to the opponents of the bond measure. That was the moment when when you could see
the look of incredulity on Harvin's face and the faces of the HISD representatives.
I think the HISD folk had been told that the ROE community wanted this, and it was clear at the meeting that
there was no uniform desire for a K-8; that in fact it was opposed by many parents and definitely by the
community. This scheme had been cooked up by a small group of people, behind closed doors, and they
smugly sat on this plan rather than getting community buy-in (from parents and neighbors), assured that
they had the inside track to what they wanted. I'm pretty sure the HISD people went back to Grier and said,
"this will cause more trouble than it's worth" and that Harvin decided it wasn't worth it either. I just don't
see it resurrecting for a while as an idea after that disaster.
by roe insider (Jul 7, 2012)
WHY BOND PUBLIC MEETINGS ARE AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY
Harvin Moore claims HISD can't wait to finish the work from the 2007 bond
before launching into an expensive, tax-raising, redundant bond election in
Rodriguez wants to "go out for a bond." Did you expect anything else from
Larry Marshall has already scolded Mike Lunceford for daring to ask questions
about the bond. Paula Harris and Greg Meyers are Grier's most reliable yes
So there you have it. After the time-consuming public brouhaha, the HISD
trustees will vote to go forward with the bond proposal just as it is
written. On a 5-4 vote of course.
Two public meetings on $1.9 billion dollar bond proposal:
Tuesday, July 10: 8 a.m. - 10 a.m.
Thursday, July 12: 4 pm. - 6 p.m.
Trustees question fairness of bond but with Grier's 5-4 majority will it matter?
from Texas Watchdog:
Still uncertain about how a consultant concluded that $1.9 billion worth of taxpayer money should
be spent on building and repairing dozens of Houston public schools, several trustees say they plan
to ask tough questions at two public meetings scheduled this week.
“We’ll be held responsible” if Houston Independent School District board members place a construction
bond referendum on the November ballot, said Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones.
“The only way to be informed is to make sure that HISD’s facilities are inspected by qualified people
who can make judgments about things like building infrastructure, air quality and depreciation and
quality of work completed,” Skillern-Jones said. “A staff and community survey doesn’t say what’s
needed from a technical standpoint, only a practical one.”
Read Mike Cronin's complete report.
HISD'S BOND ENDEAVORS LEAVE A TRAIL OF UNFINISHED WORK
HISD trustees still appropriating funds for unfinished and yet to be started projects
from 2007 bond; Work on Pat Neff Elementary School, approved in the 2002 bond,
is in the final planning stages
HISD's press release claims $577 million in the new bond would be allocated to
"completely replace 8 high schools" including Furr, HSPVA, Lee, Madison,
Sharpstown, Sterling, Washington, and Yates.
Yet at the June 14, 2012 board meeting Leo Bobadilla, Chief Operating Officer, asked
the trustees to approve $250,000 more for Furr High School to correct "additional
circuits for wheelchair lift equipment, upgrades for the elevator system, and other
What exactly are taxpayers being asked to fund for Furr? Additional upgrades or
a "complete rebuild?"
Leo Bobadilla does provide a small print disclaimer in the 2012 bond announcement.
"Some of the schools recommended for major construction work are among those
that had renovations under the 2007 bond program. In many of those cases, the
previously completed work will be incorporated into the new building design."
Are we to assume Furr is one of those cases? If so, why is Furr being listed as a
school to be completely rebuilt?
In the bond announcement HISD includes four elementary schools slated to be
converted into K-8 campuses. These include Garden Oaks, Pilgrim Academy,
Wharton Dual Language, and the Mandarin Chinese Language Immersion Magnet
School at Gordon.
Note that River Oaks Elementary is not included. Insiders report to houstonisdwatch
that River Oaks will be converted to K-8. It's not listed to avoid political fallout.
Sterling High School, like Furr, is on the list to be completely rebuilt. Yet in the 2007
bond Sterling was approved for renovations. The trustees did not even authorize
contract negotiations for Sterling until April 9, 2009.
At the June 14, 2012 board meeting Leo Bobadilla asked for an addition $22,000
to fund "additional design services related to the mechanical and electrical
Again, the question arises: Rebuild or remodel?
Ten years after voters approved the 2002 bond, we would assume the work
authorized then would have been completed by now. Based on Document F-14
apparently added at the last minute to the June 14, 2012 board agenda,
work on Neff has not yet begun.
"The Houston Independent School District 2002 bond election approved the
renovation of Pat Neff Elementary School. This project encompasses mechanical
system repairs, electrical upgrades, site imnprovements, and other related
capital improvements to the 87,463 sq. ft. one-story facility. This campus is
not scheduled to receive any renovations as part of the 2007 bond program...
To address these modifications, a budget allocation of $612,627 is requested..."
More projects left undone from 2007 bond:
Roland P. Harris Elementary School
William Holland Middle School
"Utilizing the HISD 2007 bond election funds previously allocated to McDade
Elementary School, the administration requests a reallocation of $3.15 million
for capital improvements at the schools noted below:"
Atherton Elementary School
Black Middle School
K. Smith Elementary School
Kashmere Gardens Elementary School
Key Middle School (Apollo)
Scarborough Elementary School
As supporters of public schools, we must be troubled by the growth in Houston
of STAND FOR CHILDREN Diane Ravitch writes about Stand for Children's actions
How will HISD fund the Apollo program in 2013-14?
Title 1 Priority Schools Grant runs out at conclusion of 2012-13
741 TEACHER VACANCIES IN HISD; START OF
2012-13 SCHOOL YEAR JUST 7 WEEKS AWAY
Elrod ES: 4
Golfcrest ES: 0
Long MS: 12
Pin Oak MS: 5
Ryan MS (Apollo) 8
Welch MS: 12 s
Young Men's & Young Women's College Prep: 5 each
Austin HS: 11
Jones HS (Apollo): 7
Lee HS (Apollo): 4
Milby HS: 10
Sam Houston HS: 12
Sharpston HS (Apollo): 6
Westbury HS: 11
Wheatley HS: 9
Lamar HS: Not listed
FEWER HOURS OF CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION LOST TO STANDARDIZED
TESTING? NOT WHEN COLLEGE BOARD TESTING IS INVOLVED
At the May 10, 2012, school board meeting the HISD trustees approved a
"Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public
The resolution, although edited, passed.
At the June 14, 2012 meeting the board approved $645,660 for the College Board,
confirming its commitment to ReadiStep, Preliminary SAT/National Merit
Scholarship Qualifying Tests, and SAT assessments for the school year 2012-13
using the College Board Early Preparation Program...HISD will provide funding for
all enrolled eighth-grade students to take the ReadiStep Assessment and
FRESHMEN AND SOPHOMORES TO TAKE THE PSAT/NMSQT AND JUNIORS TO
TAKE THE SAT.
No one is arguing about the importance of this testing to HISD students. Once again,
however, HISD will take up instructional time with testing that has always been --
that is before the Grier administration -- administered on Saturdays.
How HISD will implement the goal of the resolution remains to be seen as Grier and
the trustees have decided to take away instructional time again for the purpose
of standardized testing.
Number of special ed. students dropping in Texas but not everyone sees it as a
Silence is deafening
No documents yet from Texas Open Record Act requests about Mary Cisneros and
No TAKS results yet from the Apollo secondary schools.
Looks like the stakes just got higher for next week.
The fight for American independence was based on trust, collaboration,
and outrage with tyranny. For teachers in HISD today, there is little trust, virtually no collaboration,
and the superintendent's tyranny is steadfast.
Carol Mimms Galloway blasts Grier's culture of bullying, lack of trust as the
first public speaker in "Hearing of the Citizens;" She challenges former
fellow board members to get control
What many bloggers have written about Lee, Elrod, Frost, Golfcrest is
reiterated in plea from former HISD trustee, who asks if Grier has planned
to run off HISD's African-American students
Lunceford takes Grier to task for failure to communicate
Skip to 44.53 on this video. You will hear HISD Board President Mike Lunceford lambast the Grier
administration for failing to inform HISD trustees that Ryan Middle School was to be closed.
As a result of Grier's last minute ploy and the fact that no trustees were informed ahead of
time (although certainly Paula Harris knew and chose not to inform her colleagues), Lunceford
pulled the item.
In the discussion of what to do with Ryan that follows, no one mentions Apollo. The Apollo
designation with the extra tutoring and extended day helped some Ryan students. It did not,
however, attract students to the middle school. In fact, it played a role in running off students.
Harris makes one passing reference to Ryan's Apollo mistake, saying that the district tried
something "that didn't work." She refuses to mention that the "something tried" was
Stipeche's body language and questions infer subjectivity in HISD's definition of sole source
vendors in this video
Stipeche appears to be incredulous when Chief Financial Officer Melinda Garrett describes
how the Urban Debate League is a sole source vendor for HISD.
Accusations of bullying haunt Bellard
Bullying at Blackshear Elementary School (with video)
Jacqueline Spencer, school nurse, cites Blacksheer's "culture of bullying"
Guess who was the former Blacksheer principal? Linda Bellard who faces
accusations of bullying of staff members at her current assignment, Elrod ES
From Advice from law clerk:
Call the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The U.S. EEOC handles all complaints
made against employers for workplace discrimination and harassment. You must first report the
incidents to the EEOC before filing suit. The EEOC will investigate and issue you a right-to-sue
notice. You then have 90 days to file suit.
Elrod teachers, I would print the information from this site-especially the posts without emotions.
Stick to the facts.
by Advice from law clerk (Jun 30, 2012
JESSE ALRED CALLS APOLLO "NOTHING BUD A PATRONAGE PROGRAM"
African-American veteran teachers victimized by program says Alred
"...African-American veteran teachers were the main victims of Apollo 20 displacements, terminations, forced
retirements and involuntary transfers. In effect, Apollo 20 stuffed the pockets and padded the resumes of
young, aspiring African-Americans from the community's upper-echelons at the expense of African-American
teachers. These administrators came to Houston, and typically stayed for one or two years before moving on
to higher ranking jobs in other cities, and if you are to judge by the test scores, the only improvement they
made was to their own resumes..."
Read Alred's blog.
STAAR statewide testing results for 2011-12 available here.
TAKS statewide testing results for 2011-12 available here.
STAAR released sample questions: English 1 Writing.
English 1 Reading.
BULLYING OF STAFF CAN LED TO ADULT SUICIDE JUST LIKE IT CAN WITH KIDS
From Elrod must read:
"...The 32-year-old's suicide shocked the tiny Ford Heights school district where she worked. In the days afterward,
tension grew amid conversations by co-workers about what had happened and questions from the Army veteran's
parents. The turmoil peaked during a crowded meeting in December, when some teachers and school board
The suicide note that Mary Thorson left centered on frustrations at the school, and her death spurred some of
her co-workers to speak out at the public meeting.
Teachers described an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the two-school district, where little things
snowballed over time.
"We don't feel like we can speak out because we have been intimidated," teacher Rose Jimerson said at the
meeting. "We have signs all over the building about anti-bullying. … Our staff gets bullied..."
Read Elrod must read's complete post.
Elrod student boycott in the works?
On August 27, 2012-Elrod student boycott. More info will be passed out at the apartments common area. When
they send an effective administrator and effective team-we will send our kids. How dare you drop your gargage
on our porch? ----------------------------
by Elrod Parent Organization Member (Jul 1, 2012)
Link to previous pages.
Link to Open Records reports, AEIS, and more.
Use comment tag to express your opinion. houstonisdwatch
wants to hear from you, especially from HISD insiders.