Fort Worth principals cannot be trusted with great bonds

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Fort Worth residents are calling for school district chief Kent Scribner to be removed during a board meeting on August 24, 2021.  Scribner's critics and supporters were among those attending the meeting.

Fort Worth residents are calling for school district chief Kent Scribner to be removed during a board meeting on August 24, 2021. Scribner’s critics and supporters were among those attending the meeting.

Fort Worth Star Telegram

Taxpayers and parents should not reward the current Fort Worth ISD Board of Trustees with $ 1.5 billion (plus interest) in bonds proposed by the district. You cannot trust them to make good decisions.

Reading and math scores have been declining since 2012. The math scores are at their lowest ever. According to the Center for Achieving Student Success, which analyzed data from the Texas Education Agency, FWISD students are now performing worse than they were when Superintendent Kent Scribner was hired.

The numbers show that the gap between students here and those enrolled in Dallas ISD has widened as of 2016.

With Tarrant County’s home valuation up an average of 8.2% this year, asking families to fund so much construction now is an added burden, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District.

The shaky state of the economy and the record rate of inflation are calling for large construction projects like this to be postponed. Passing the district’s four proposals to rebuild middle schools, build new sports stadiums, and renovate arts and sports facilities on campus will allow the debt per student to increase from $ 15,000 to nearly $ 45,000. Scribner recently revealed in a presentation that the district already has $ 1.1 billion in debt.

Fort Worth ISD is shrinking, not growing. Bond proponents say otherwise, but according to TEA data and the district’s own visitor numbers, the student body has declined 14% since 2016 while the city of Fort Worth’s population has increased. The growth-related new construction requirements are currently simply not in line with reality.

When asked about the decline in attendance at a recent bond presentation, Scribner cited the pandemic as the cause, suggesting the problem is temporary. But that doesn’t address the decline that began three years before COVID-19.

The apparent inability of current leaders to meet basic performance and attendance goals with district revenue is worrying. FWISD’s budget last year was more than $ 836 million. In November 2020, the district increased its property tax rate by 7.5% and raked in $ 66 million more.

FWISD Receives More than $ 260 Million in Federal COVID Aid. Taxpayers deserve to know why the Board of Trustees was unable to operate on an abundance of revenue before being expected to support another tax hike.

The district’s recent decision to sue the governor for banning the mask mandate, along with his military dispute against parents over mask policy, show his irresponsible use of money. That spending, along with the recently discovered $ 2 million spent on stock advisors, is reason enough for voters to hesitate about entrusting more money to such a group.

Another major issue is the apparent conflict of interest facing trustee Cintos Ramos. He has two roles on the FWISD board of directors and as director of board administration and leadership at Leadership ISD, a provider that sells social / emotional learning and equity and diversity training to school districts.

State law prohibits district officials from directly advocating a loan proposal. It is questionable that the leaders crossed the line.

We share concerns about the decline in student performance in recent years, but we don’t think the new build will help solve the problem as promised.

Voters deserve neutral and accurate information on proposals like this before they vote. And curriculum and shaky money management concerns need to be addressed.

We encourage district leaders to reassign themselves to policies of honesty, tax responsibility, and moral conduct. And we urge voters to join us and vote ‘no’ on all four proposals.

Joe Palmer and Todd Daniel are Fort Worth ISD taxpayers who oppose the loan proposals. Daniel is a plaintiff in the county lawsuit over a mask mandate.

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