Friday, June 16, 2017


By Juan Montoya
Remember when Dr. Esperanza Zendejas was named interim superintendent of the Brownsville Independent School District?

At the time, the board of trustees – notably trustee Joe Rodriguez – promised that before naming a permanent superintendent the board would require:

1. A nationwide search
2. The naming of a community committee to vet and advise the board on the candidates
3. The hiring of a consultant to assist the committee and the board on the applicants

The process, they said at the time, should be transparent and have the input of the community.

Well, guess what? There was no nationwide search, no community advisory committee appointed and no consultant hired. Instead, a majority went back on its promises and decided to keep Zendejas and scrap the plans for a professional superintendent search.

Fast forward to last Tuesday's special called meeting. At the time the meeting was called, BISD board chairman Cesar Lopez told the board that the meeting was for informative purposes in an effort to be "transparent," but that "the district's facilities are in dire need of assistance."

Trustees Minerva Peña, Phil Cowen and Dr. Sylvia Atkinson all complained that their agenda packet dealing with financing options for future BISD projects and the administration's proposals. Peña complained that when CFO Lorenzo Sanchez handed them raw numbers during the meeting, they could not be expected to reach a satisfactory decision just after receiving the information.

"We should be thinking about having a town hall meeting," Atkinson said. "Raising the tax rate by 11 cents would be a drastic step without inviting the community and public to the table, this is apart from the public hearing at the next meeting." Passing the higher tax rate and adopting the construction schedules without going to the public would constitute "sticker shock."
"We haven't looked at staffing rations, cutting there, cutting here," Atkinson said.
"My recommendation is to have this board raise taxes by 11.25 cents," Zendejas said. If approved, the tax rate would go up from $1.14 to $1.25 per $100 valuation in property taxes.

At the meeting, the Zendejas administration and chairman Lopez – as did trustees Rodriguez and Cowen – all spoke in support of the administration's proposal to go with the tax rate increase with a board vote and not go to the public to ask them whether they want to raise $100 million through a bond election.

Interestingly, the June 13 "informational" meeting was scheduled for 12 noon, as is the June 26 meeting where the tax rate will be set and new projects considered.
So despite board president's Lopez's assertions that the board was trying to be "transparent" and invite public for their input on the tax rate, the noon meetings seem to be scheduled to be held when the least number of the public can attend.


jerry said...

Get rid of these corrupt board members!

Anonymous said...

Montoya, the Brownsville Herald used to be the worse enemy for BISD in previous years, but now you take the cake. Regardless of all the good that is going on in BISD you seem to be a pessimist and a brown noser to those who pay for advertisement in your blog. Meetings can be held at any time and it is very rare for people to care enough to attend city or school board meetings. But, oh, who are the first to yell "foul?" The ones who never bother to attend any meeting. OK, so lets go for the bond and find ourselves in debt for the next 30 or 40 years. Think of it as an increase of about 12 cents and just give up a six pack of your favorite drink each week and you will have enough to pay for our children's education. You really are the epitome of the "Damn if you do and damn if you don't" clause. When have you ever gone to a meeting? Oh, but you do have a direct line even to the executive sessions already, so why bother?

Anonymous said...

no comment, I'm speechless.

Anonymous said...

What are the "good that is going on in BISD"????? Lots of drop-outs, losing talented students to charter and religious schools, constant turmoil and corruption and a budget made by clowns.

Anonymous said...

Not to worry post June 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm is one of Esperanza Zendejas cronies. No one important!