Take a stand against Birdville schools bond package

Posted Saturday, Apr. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The price tag on the latest Birdville school district bond package is $183.2 million. The school board has adopted a take-it-or-leave-it approach.

Voters are left with a dilemma: Do we vote for the kids or against a government with its out-of-control spending? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

The only way to the elusive middle is through leadership. So far, debate has failed to bring out the creative leadership needed to find a sustainable solution. Trustees refused responsibility to lead on this bond package, instead rubber-stamping the bond committee's recommendations.

It is crucial that careful consideration is given when a choice is made to close a community school. It has long-term consequences that affect parents, students, home values and neighborhoods. The results can be devastating to any community, particularly to a small city.

The city of Richland Hills, its parents and students, were not given due process. The city was never consulted when the proposal was brought before the committee regarding closure of our elementary school.

The City Council passed a resolution asking the committee and the board to consider alternatives to closure of Richland Elementary. The city manager and two council members met with the superintendent and two board members to offer a viable alternative and express council's willingness to work with the school district in the best interest of the community. But district officials gave no consideration to those alternatives.

Communities treasure and are passionate about their elementary schools. Walkable neighborhood schools are the glue that holds the community together. In Richland Hills, we saw the need to go a step further by implementing the almost-completed "Safe Routes to School" sidewalks project to provide walkable areas for our students throughout the city.

The bond package designed by the committee has all the elements needed to get voter approval (security, technology, efficiency and consolidation). Most of the changes focus on upgrades to maintenance items such as structures, tracks, irrigation, etc., and offer little in the way of programs to help students achieve higher grades or to give teachers much-needed resources to impart the best education for our students.

In today's economic climate, most of us must stretch our dollars and be prudent with spending. Shouldn't we expect the same from our school district?

This election, we need to ask for creative and cooperative leadership. Ask the Birdville school district to recognize the many aging neighborhood schools in our community and the role they play. Ask trustees to be prudent with their spending.

We will support a bond that incorporates sensible spending. But, sadly, if this bond package passes and Richland Elementary closes, families most affected will not have been heard.

Are small cities and communities too insignificant to make a difference? Small communities too often are the hardest hit because their voices are barely audible. Let's challenge our board to find creative solutions and give more thought in spending the public's money while preserving and building communities.

Roland Goveas is a Richland Hills City Council member.

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