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EDITORIAL: BISD needs more oversight, not less

October 29, 2017 GMT

Beaumont ISD leadership might have hit the trifecta last week - worst local idea of the year, worst way to present it, worst way to bolster already-faint hopes for passing a bond issue. We’re talking about a dubious proposal to declare BISD a “district of innovation.”

No one should be misled by the nature of the change proposed by the BISD administration, which several other area school districts have adopted. The shift is less about innovation than about achieving economy by avoiding state oversight.

BISD’s state-appointed managers should look thoroughly and skeptically at this possible end-around of taxpayers’ participation. We all remember what happened before. The last thing managers should want to do is start looking like the dysfunctional trustees they replaced - tone-deaf to community sensibilities, inclined to do things simply because they can and disdainful of public accountability. After all the high hopes, and especially lately, this is a district that looks as if it continues to require more oversight, not less.

Many school boards like the “district of innovation” designation because it allows them to hire more non-certified teachers, have larger class sizes and disclose less about operations. That’s not progress. It’s the reason that modern reforms were enacted.

Then there’s the underhanded way in which BISD is presenting this to taxpayers - in a completely unnecessary emergency “public hearing” at noon on Monday.

That’s outrageous. Short notice for a mid-day hearing (the day before Halloween and in the midst of continuing Harvey fallout) virtually guarantees that few or none of those annoying taxpayers will show up to rock the boat. Then the board can claim that no one objected and claim support for plans to plow forward. Something this important should be presented to district residents in a deliberate way with plenty of time for them to study it and react.

Finally, Beaumonters have this philosophical question to consider:

Do high-handed actions like this doom any plans for another bond issue, possibly one to replace Harvey-damaged Central High School? Or was that a non-starter to begin with?

BISD administrators continue to be too cagey about district operations.

A good example - or a bad one - is last week’s report that contrary to initial reports that only two schools needed repairs after Harvey, six buildings were damaged and three failed air-quality tests. That information was only released in response to a public information request.

Why the secrecy, both wrong and unnecessary? That sounds frighteningly like the previous regime’s M.O. BISD leadership should be focused on building trust and public confidence, not undermining it. Sad to say, this proposal does the opposite.


This is our opinion; what is yours? Email us a letter to the editor at opinions@beaumontenterprise.com Make sure to include your name, mailing address and phone number so we can contact you to verify the letter, but only your name and city of residence will be published. You can also mail letters to The Enterprise, P.O. Box 3071, Beaumont, TX, 77704. The limit on letters is 200 words.