Tuesday, February 21, 2017

NO WONDER BISD WANTS TO CLOSE CUMMINGS MIDDLE SCHOOL

By Juan Montoya
Not long ago, during a meeting of the board of the Brownsville Independent School District, an agenda item directed the superintendent to justify the closing of Cummings Middle School.

Along with Cummings, Resac and Longoria were also on the administration's chopping block. Among other things, the administration cited lagging enrollments, the cost of maintaining the aging facilities, and the loss of students to charter schools.  Most of these plans were kept under cover in the BISD's Facilities Committee until the details of the closings were disseminated in the community.

No one in the neighborhoods around the schools had heard about the planned closings, and a majority of the trustees directed superintendent Esperanza Zendejas to explore all avenues to keep them open. The board majority wanted to know why there was no public input into the decision the administration – with the apparent acquiescence of the board majority before the November 2016 elections – had reached, and why no other public-use alternatives had been considered.

Now we have learned that the plan to shut down Cummings has been in the works for some time and that the board at Gladys Porter Zoo and the city have been trying mightily to have the BISD go along with shutting it down so that a high-end hotel could be constructed on what is today the soccer/football filed of the Mighty Red Ants.

During the meeting, the board passed a resolution against the consolidating and/or closing of any school for the 2017-2018 school year without first receiving a comprehensive plan detailing budgets, alternatives, sufficient public input, notice, etc.

The board member who placed this item on the agenda did so at the request of parents and students who attend/or attended these schools. The administration had advocated the closing of these schools without announcing what plans, or what alternatives there were to closing Cummings, Resaca and Longoria and did not seek public input or gave notice of the plans to close them. As a result of the resolution, the board majority has instructed to make the process more transparent and accountable to the parents and students before launching such a drastic plan as the closing of neighborhood schools.

On its face, putting a luxury hotel seems like a good idea. After all, the biggest tourist draw to Brownsville has always been the zoo. School districts from throughout the Rio Grand Valley bring their students to the zoo. And if you look closely, the Brownsville Museum of Fine Arts is across Ringgold Street, and the Reynaldo Garza and Filemon Vela federal courthouse is just a block away. Ditto for the Cameron County Courthouse. Lawyers who have cases in these venues would probably make up a steady clientele for lodging there without having to stay somewhere along the expressway.

Tourists who came to Brownsville would probably flock there as well.

We have heard that Rene Cardenas, who addressed the students at Hanna High School as Principal for a Day, berated the school board for not supporting the superintendent in her initiatives, including the sale of Cummings Middle School. Could it have been because the Cardenas Development Company headed by his sister Reba McNair has designs on the land for the development of the hotel? In the past, other developers have indicated their willingness to invest in such a plan.

And has anyone consulted with the Hindu community who have made a sizeable investment in hotels in the city and South Padre Island on whether they might want to have a part of the action?

The BISD board majority who voted for the resolution to keep things above board when it came to closing schools probably heard of plans that have been ongoing for the better part of two or three years to build a hotel at Cummings. If the city, the zoo board, and the BISD come together on a plan, it might well be that those plans could come true. But has anyone thought that the school district itself could invest on a resort hotel as part of its income diversification instead of giving away the store to private investors?

This issue is not going away. Stay tuned.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

A high end hotel? In bean town? You mean a La Quinta? Hahahaha
Dreamers, dilusionalists, fantasy local governments. We already have the Plaza el Jardin and pecan tree. What other hotel can we need.

Anonymous said...

It smells fishy

Anonymous said...

Leave it up to the Cardenas clan to bullshit the community (tax payers)for their selfish interests

DJ MoshiMoshi said...

Where does it say high end hotel? That's lame. They need a parking garage out there, not a hotel

Anonymous said...

So only the people who practice Hinduism have hotels you moron? Or did you mean people from India? There's Cristianity, Islam and other religions in India not just Hinduism.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Mayor Tony Martinez' "everything in the city is for sale" mentality has crept into BISD and the Cardenas Family; maybe even the zoo. While Reba Cardenas McNair has been involved in the Mitte Cultural District for years, this scheme seems to be a reach. There was talk that the Zoo needed more parking, but a hotel would not really help the zoo's parking situation. What the city needs is a hotel with a convention center capability.....but this space is insufficient or would further limit the zoo. So suddenly BISD is complaining about losing students to the charter schools; that's not a reason to sell out to the Cardenas family....without a lot of "mordida" to someone; me thinks.

Anonymous said...

How can Porter be expected to win or compete in Football if all they get is Faulk students. Mostly All those students live in the projects and move around a lot. With Cummings closing Zendejas needs to force the district to rezone. Bring in zone in students from Besterio, or Lucio. Now with young buck on helms at Porter (uresti) poor team has no chance. Make it even give them a chance. Look at game when Porter plays Veterans, porter kids try but talent, size and numbers totally whip on smaller team. Do it for safety. You gave them a million dollar field, give them numbers. That new coach has no idea what he got into having no experience. Luck will not be enough.

Anonymous said...

More like a comfort Inn run by a bunch of Pakistanis

Anonymous said...

So everyone will benefit but the hotel will never be half full?

Anonymous said...

So your telling us that the BISD has about $5 million to build a hotel plus hundreds of thousand to pay the hotels monthly expenses? Is that what your suggesting?

Who's going to pay for the $5MM to build it - tax money? Who's going to fund it if its running a deficit - tax money? Your telling us that the same people you make a living off by trashing them are capable of running a hotel?


You've shown your IQ.

Anonymous said...

Is Elizondo behind some of this he sits on the board and tied into the city hmmm.

Anonymous said...

How did Uresti get job over Proven Coaches? You could rezone Los Fresnos to Porter guy wouldn't score. Who was the hiring committee? Cummings closing gonna hurt big time. Poor Porter got hit with double wammy. this past season, Uresti had Campos college QB, head coach at hanna, OC at hanna and Donna, plus Edinburg Vela OC, and still struggled to win, now wins gonna come by seldomly even more. Make it even, send kids his way. Tired of seeing Porter get short end of pick (stick).
No luck for Porter Cowboy suppoters, on another note, where the heck did they get Red from. Porter colors do not include Red. Or is he doing it in honor to the red ants, Porter cowboy /red ants. All in the while , Veterans gets Coach Evans proofed head coach as DC. Why Evans not moved to Porter before the young buck runs the school back to same old same old. O and 10 o and 10s, Evans, proven OCs and DCs should've been considered. Porter Teachers say they don't even know this young man and he has been at Porter 3 years. Someone messed this one up. Time to work,time to rezone help Porter out they are already underdogs.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Atkinson is sending two time undefeated Team to Porter. They will be ok if they get that team, and Atkinson to Coach them. Time for new blood.

Anonymous said...

Quoting the article:
"On its face, putting a luxury hotel seems like a good idea. "

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure but luxury and high end sound like synonyms.

Anonymous said...

Why are we racist? This is about a school closure, not about pin pointing people for their religion. Last I checked; the first amendment still stands. Focus on the real issue.

Anonymous said...

The author is the racist, besides being ignorant by confusing race with religion.

Anonymous said...

How did this article involve the Porter football coach. Any coach understands that middle school football and High school varsity football are not at the same level. Now the athletes play kids from other cities ( football cities). Every new coach needs a place to start. Give him a chance.

Anonymous said...

The land is needed to bring back the elephants who were taken away when the government changed the policies and said a zoo needs an acre per elephant. For gods sake people do the right thing and let the Zoo flourish. And let me be perfectly clear, tourists don't plan a trip sole to come to Brownsville to see the zoo. Tourists go to the zoo while they are here for baseball tournaments, soccer tournaments, and kickball tournaments. The zoo is sustained by all the school districts who plan field trips at the end of the year for their students. They come in the morning and leave at 2pm. No hotel needed for that. Hotel Motel tax does now benefit from the Zoo.

rita