The idea for this section came from a post on Instant News Katy. The post was about the removal of buses from streets that were within .5 miles of elementary schools in the District. The removal caused a furor and was probably responsible for the defeat of the Bond Referendum in November 2013. In its usual unwitting way, Katy ISD has still not returned the buses (in spite of the fact that they seem to have plenty of money for everything else besides bus drivers or a bus driver training program and supposedly still have the buses and asked for more of them in the 2014 bond and are asking for more of them in the 2017 bond).
Of concern to me is that these bus routes that were removed allowed for safe transportation for our youngest children, and the fact that we have always had them until 2012 is why many people moved here and bought homes in KISD! Blame Superintendent Alton Frailey and a school board that does not hold him accountable for this error in judgment. And now you can blame a new superintendent, Lance Hindt, and some additional board members including George Scott and Bill Lacy for continuing the situation.
In this INK post and in the comments section a wonderful suggestion was made by one of the commenters, and then the rest of us joined in.
The suggestion was “to start a top ten list of the stupidest things to come out of the KISD School Board or from the Superintendent and see who wants to contribute to the listing.” After the first poster, I was next in line, and others followed. It seems to me that we should not let anyone forget these items.
So here they are for perpetuity [edited for clarity]:
1. $5.3 million dollars spent to retrofit the playing surfaces at six of our high schools with Astroturf when no one wanted them changed except for Superintendent Frailey. Today, coaches still don’t want their kids to practice on them –the same goes for band directors [they are too hot until October every year. And please read this recent article in the Houston Chronicle on the safety or lack thereof of artificial turf: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Woodlands-grapples-with-questions-about-turf-s-6617482.php?cmpid=gsa-chron-result ]
2. Spending $2.4 million for a new scoreboard (Jumbotron) at Rhodes Stadium.
3. Terminating hundreds of teachers and then having to rehire them [because the superintendent, the school board, and the HR director didn’t understand that the tax cuts resulting in less money for school districts by the State Legislature were to be spread out over TWO years, not one, and they thought there wouldn’t be enough money!]
4. Buying land we can’t and won’t use, at top dollar prices often around $160K an acre. [The price may be much higher than that!]
5. Refusal to rein in our debt structure.
6. The expansion of assistant superintendents (czars) to the extent no one can find the chief superintendent (KISD now has eleven (11) assistant superintendents). Administrators are given tricky names, so it’s hard to tell who is an “assistant superintendent.”
7. Hiring Alton Frailey.
8. Keeping Alton Frailey.
9. Paying Alton Frailey $322,171.29 a year plus an annuity, plus other perks and extending his contract every year so that he always has a three year contract.
10. Allowing KISD administrator Ron Jetton to tell principals which teachers had voted early and that they should get ALL of their teachers to the polls for a bond/board election in 2006.
11. The school board’s naming the Katy ISD Arena after Leonard Merrell without public input or approval.
12. Hiring ten people to be rental agents and reservations clerks for the Merrell Arena at a total salary cost in 2015-2016 of $560,173.02 up from 2013-2014 when it wasnine people costing $467,502.74!
Ben Rolens $110,656.15
Todd Handley $95,895.77
Matthew Maury $54,222.05
Laurie Mitchell $53,973.63
Cydney Wright $53,972.50
Elizabeth Prichard Jones $50,939.63
Laura Stewart $38,309.37
Kelley Baldwin $35,733.20
Marian Young $33,774.85
Thamara Bochat $32,696.11
13. Letting the Waller County Appraisal District be housed in the Katy ISD administration building taking up space for twenty-five years.
14. Using the Waller County Appraisal District under the ruse of “having control” over the Board of that organization.
15. Including in the Dress Code the forbidding of anyone to wear a Star of David around his neck (as reported in Houston Metropolitan magazine January 1991).
16. Using the KISD police officers to give traffic tickets to people driving on the Grand Parkway.
17. Sending students to the OAC BEFORE any legal charges have been filed against them.
18. Teaching reading using the “whole language” method resulting in 30 to 40 percent of KISD graduates being functionally illiterate.
19. Not accepting John Saxon’s offer of free math textbooks for a high school and a junior high if the textbooks would just be tried out. [John Saxon was a noted educator, math teacher, and former military officer who is well known for his math curriculum that really works.]
20. Retaining a Central Office administrator who didn’t understand that the Texas Legislature meets every TWO years and that the state budget covers TWO years, not one.
21. Developing KMAC at a cost of millions, and then using it.
22. Hiring Xpediant.
23. Housing the Xpediant techies in the Administration building.
24. Increasing Kindergarten from half to full days without any public discussion.
25. Using school board “committees” of citizens to make decisions that the elected school board members should legally be making.
26. Naming schools for administrators (each other) instead of public heroes or prominent Katy citizens or teachers whose fame is older than twenty years or so.
27. Using the same architects (PBK and SBVW) for each level of all the schools built from 1999 to 2014.
28. Hiring a superintendent (Frailey) who doesn’t have an educational doctorate.
29. Hiring two superintendents (Merrell and Hayes) who didn’t have a superintendent certificate.
30. Using the same headhunter to keep bringing the same kind of superintendents to KISD.
31. Using the DARE program for years and years until 2012 when the District was running out of slush funds. The DARE program took elementary students out of academic classes for 18 hours each semester of the fifth grade.
32. Allowing the students in high school to use cellular phones in the halls.
33. Laying off 300+ teachers in 2011 in such a cruel and unprofessional manner.
34. Daring to set up an IB program costing millions of dollars in operational expenses at the same time the superintendent (Frailey) was firing teachers due to budget concerns.
35. Discussion of a new 16,000 to 18,000 seat football stadium possibly right next door to the current football stadium. (Now it’s down to 12,000 but they are still putting it right next to the old one!) Can anyone say “traffic jam”?
36. Letting the RN’s go and then finding out no money was saved using LVN’s.
37. Not having the good sense to return to the use of registered nurses in our schools.
38. Eliminating 50 bus routes, affecting approximately 6,600 students or nearly 21% of the 32,000 students who rode buses to school in the previous year thus lowering the value of homes where there is no school bus service and placing young children, especially, in harm’s way every time they walk to school in the street.
39. Padding bond requests by 30% and then going on a spending binge each time the District claims they bought the new stuff with “savings.”
40. Subscribing to Web 2.0, Animoto, Edmodo, etc.
41. Installing a second Wifi network in the schools for the students.
42. Silencing of Katy citizens at school board meetings by school board members because the citizens’ topics of discussion are not to the board members’ liking.
43. Escorting members of the community by force from board meetings when the board president does not like what they are saying.
44. Causing school board members to not talk with the press and instead deferring to the president of the board as the “official spokesperson.”
45. Having the school board members become a “Team of Eight” with the superintendent who is their employee thus diminishing their power as elected officials.
46. Setting up a school foundation when there never appears to have been an agenda item to do that approved by a majority of the Board. [Correct me if I’m wrong on this, but I can’t find the agenda item.]
47. Giving out KISD student and parent information to a PAC so that KISD Board Member Joe Adams could make Robo calls to cell phones when he needed votes. Some of those cell phone numbers were not supposed to be used unless there was an emergency regarding that parent’s child. And then doing it again in 2014 “by accident.”
48. Voting to use Linebarger, et al, to collect taxes for the school district.
49. The Board’s not taking advantage of the loophole provided by the State Legislature in 1995 to not participate in TAAS testing with a simple majority vote to that effect.
50. Buying out the contracts of two superintendents (Brown and Woodward) for hundreds of thousands of dollars because the current board at the time didn’t like their administration of the District. (All a Board has to do to get rid of a superintendent is stop increasing the length of the contract and stop raising his/her salary. They’ll leave on their own if the Board does that because, in my opinion, getting hired somewhere else with such a record makes getting hired much more difficult.)
51. Letting PTA’s create plant beds around the schools that they never maintain.
52. Not having the Maintenance Department mow the grass very often around schools during the summer.
53. The use of Astroturf on football playing fields when grass is easier on the players’ heads, feet, knees and elbows and is cheaper to buy and cheaper to maintain and looks better.
54. Allowing schools to be designed and built that look just like most every other new school in Texas.
55. Not providing KISD students the right to “due process” as provided in the United States Constitution.
56. Using tax dollars to pay for “leg room” for the superintendent (Frailey) when he travels by plane.
57. Tearing down the old Kilpatrick School without any public discussion. (They could at least have sold off the bricks to people who think that was a extraordinary school.)
58. Putting the definition of “public lewdness” in the Discipline Management Plan and requiring all students to read it.
59. Removing ability grouping in KISD without Board consent or public discussion in 1992 which was the first step in eviscerating an academic education for public school students.
60. Having almost a 1:1 ratio of teachers to all other employees in Katy ISD.
61. Having a site for a new football stadium next to Tompkins High School which was already paid for and then selling it on the QT to a home builder and secretly buying another spot that is in a much worse place and paying twice as much for it.
62. Hiring a superintendent (Frailey) who didn’t know that one cannot file for a Homestead Exemption in two Texas counties (DeSoto and Ft. Bend) at the same time. (In doing so for two years, he was cheating both of them.)
63. Managing to make teachers and other employees feel like somehow the administrators know how they vote in school board and bond elections. (THEY DON’T KNOW!!!)
64. Not opposing in 1991 the Western Gas proposal to place nine (9) well heads and nine directional wells and accompanying pipelines in the midst of South Katy for access to a salt dome where natural gas is injected. (Wellheads are located just south of the intersection of Roesner and Westheimer. One of them blew out soon after it was installed. There are huge homes that have since been built right across the street.)
65. Not changing the KISD “bullying policy” to punish the bully instead of the bullied.
66. Calling the people for whom schools are named, “namesakes.” The school is the “namesake”!
67. Hiring administrators who are rejected by other school districts to apparently give them a job.
68. Having one administrator for every four teachers!
69. Having the school board pass a meaningless “resolution” on two occasions before an election just to make themselves look good.
70. Putting two principals on “administrative leave” and not telling the public what they did to deserve their removal.
71. Building an arena that was too small to accommodate graduation ceremonies from the very first year that it was built!
72. Buying land from old Katy citizens that is still not being used decades and decades later.
73. Paying $1,000,000 for the land for Rhodes Stadium when it was merely a cow pasture and not worth anything.
75. Buying AR-15’s for Katy ISD policemen.
76. Adding an “associate” principal at the high school level in addition to the multitude of already in place “assistant” principals” at a cost of $96,835.43 each!
77. Refusal by the Board and the Superintendent to talk about KISD’s gang problems and to release information to all the Press regarding a gang incident at McDonald Junior High.
78. Four and five year old Special Education students allegedly were mistreated by a Special Education employee in May of 2016. The employee was apparently allowed to resign with no charges or punishment! Read about it here: http://www.fox26houston.com/news/198360435-story
79. The School Board and Administration in 2016 created a program called BEAM. The purpose of the program (Because Everyone’s Attitude Matters) was to “join together in building and sustaining a culture of educational excellence supported by a respectful environment both in the school community and the community at large…the cultural shift focuses on positive behavior of individuals of all ages and embraces the idea that everyone must work together for the greater good.”
In addition a lighthouse was chosen to represent BEAM and “it is a symbol of security and guidance toward a safe harbor. The lighthouse guides ships to calm harbors, providing protection from cresting waves and turbulence. A windswept lighthouse sits on the water’s edge and is built on top of a strong solid foundation. Similarly, the BEAM lighthouse sits on bricks representing core essential traits, providing a strong foundation for Katy ISD students that helps them withstand the challenges that are encountered in their development as healthy, resilient individuals.”
In a widely distributed brochure on “BEAM” the quote “Man must behave like a lighthouse; he must shine day and night for the goodness of everyman.” Mehmet Murat ildan was included.
Fortunately our new superintendent apparently took one look at this silly effort and canned it. Try to find anything about it on the KISD website! I also wonder about the person being quoted. Is he an atheist? Is that someone KISD students need to emulate?
My point in putting it on this list is that this is just one of many ridiculous ideas that emanate from the KISD administration. They are meaningless, cost money, waste paper and students’ time, and are not necessary. They aren’t supposed to be running a circus and making an effort to entertain or guide principles or create behaviors. They are supposed to be providing an academic education for all the students. That’s all. Those other things are the purview of the students’ parents!
If you go to www.katyisd.org/students/beam it will say “This page does not exist!” I wonder if one can still send email to “BEAM@katyisd.org”?
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SUBMIT OTHER INSTANCES OF STUPID DECISIONS BY THE KATY SCHOOL DISTRICT AND/OR ITS EMPLOYEES AND BOARD MEMBERS.