Tag Archives: Guest Editorial

NIX: Some Pearland ISD school bond history is in order

When discussing the questions of a possible school bond election next November, I suggest readers consider what happened in 2006 when Pearland voters approved roughly $115.6 million in school bonds.

In a district press release issued a month before the election, officials told voters projections showed enrollment was expected to reach 28,600 by 2014. Voters were also told the bond would fund a new high school and two new elementary schools, among other things.

Currently, Pearland ISD enrollment is roughly 21,115, more than 7,400 fewer students than projected. And although the bond provided construction funding for Dawson High School which opened in 2009, elementary schools twelve and thirteen were never built. Why? I don’t know but I’d guess these are questions voters and trustees may soon be asking.

Another question to consider: only six years after it opened Dawson High School is now the district’s most overcrowded campus. Why? I don’t know but what I do know is PBK Architecture, a firm that was involved in the construction of Dawson High School, last year agreed to pay Allen ISD millions in damages for their part in structural defects that led to the year-long closure of the district’s new $60 million high school stadium. Yet just last month, administrators gave PBK Architecture a perfect score on bid tally sheets and advised trustees to again hire the company on an “as-needed” basis.

According to the 2015 financial audit, the district’s total long-term debt equals approximately $356.1 million, or roughly $16,822 per student. Do we need to add to that number? At this stage, that’s a question to be carefully considered by members of the Long Range Facilities Planning Community Committee and later, by trustees. Let me be clear, I have great respect for every one of the Pearland ISD trustees. They each work tirelessly on behalf of Pearland students and I have no doubt they will carefully consider all these questions and many others before allowing a bond proposal to come before voters.

And in covering this process, it’s not my intent to tell anyone whether they should vote for or against a bond proposal. My intention is provide accurate information and uncover the facts as they are made available via public meetings, agenda documents and other official reports. Readers deserve to have accurate information during every step of the process.

Stay tuned.

Guest Op Ed: Back to School; Time to Talk

BACODA headeIt’s the season of Back to School. It’s a time of preparation, buying new clothes and school supplies and making sure that your children have all the tools they need to have a great school year. During all those preparations did you talk to your kids about not using drugs or alcohol? It’s never too late, and it’s always an important conversation to have.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), children are more at risk for drug and alcohol use during times of transition, such as the transition from elementary school to middle school or from middle school to high school. According to the 2012 Texas School Survey, 36.2% of eighth graders have tried alcohol at least once. That figure jumps to 47.7% by ninth grade, an increase of more than 30% in one year. The transition from junior high to high school is clearly a high-risk time for teens. The stress of new academic expectations and increased social pressure, combined with more opportunities to encounter drugs for the first time make children in these transition years more vulnerable to trying drugs or alcohol. Now that your children are back to school, they may be facing more social pressure from peers to experiment with different substances.

Your opinion still matters. A variety of research shows that teenagers cite parental disapproval as the number one reason they do not use drugs or alcohol. Make sure your teens know where you stand on this issue. Talk to your kids about the dangers of underage drinking. Arm yourself with knowledge and be sure to stress that it’s about more than just the risks of drinking and driving. Other consequences of underage drinking include increased risk of academic failure, violence, injury, risky sexual behaviors, sexual assault, and death. Explain that you do not approve of underage drinking because it is dangerous and illegal. Know where your teenager is at all times and what they are doing. Encourage them to call you at any time if a safe ride home is needed.

These tips are important for all parents, whether your child is in a transitional year or not. Keep the lines of communication open with your child and help them make healthy choices.

For more information on how you can help prevent underage drinking in your community, visit www.bacoda.org or contact coalitions@bacoda.org.

Southeast Harris County Community Coalition is a project of the Bay Area Council on Drugs and Alcohol (BACODA). BACODA, a United Way Agency, is a community-based substance abuse prevention organization that provides sustained leadership and support for the Coalition. BACODA has provided comprehensive prevention/intervention services since 1974.