Houston Chronicle article by Helen Eriksen regarding the Katy Watchdog$ speaking in the Public Commentary portion of the School Board meeting.  Watchdog$ speaking were Chris Cottrell, Fred Hink, Kevin Tatum, A. D. Muller, and Kari Crow.


Katy ISD budget proposal draws support, critiques


Posted on August 24, 2005 | By riksen

As part of the district’s requirement to approve its annual budget, a public hearing must take place first. That happened Wednesday in a work study meeting that lasted 3 1/2 hours.

  Right off the bat, I noticed three Katy ISD trustees were missing – Joe Kimmel, Eric Duhon and Judith Snyder – who board president Jackie   Birkel explained were out of town on business.


CFO Bill Moore explained that the budget was based on the district educating 47,245 pupils, about 2,800 more than last year.


The total budget expenditures ($396,878,573) exceed revenues ($379,983,766), he said.


Opponents were fairly dominant as far as comments went. Here is what they had to say:


Chris Cottrell criticized the district for being in debt and spending less than the state average on student instruction. According to Cottrell, Texas spends 50 cents per student and KISD spends 49.2 cents. He also questioned the district’s expenditures of computers and CD burners.

“What the district needs to address is how to reduce spending,” Cottrell said. “We need to quit whining about Austin and stop using the excuse that KISD is just doing what every other district is doing. We need to work to wean ourselves off the state and federal money troughs. We cannot continue down a path of deficit budgets. And finally, why is it that the Taj Mahal school construction continues to take place?”


A.D. Muller expressed concern about the possibility that taxpayers are funding lobbyists to fight against issues that taxpayers support. He said the board belongs to organizations such as the Texas Association of School Boards and Texas Association of School Administrators, which lobby against reform issues such as changing school board elections to November. Muller also saluted Bill Moore for an excellent presentation.


Kari Crow, who challenged Duhon in the May school board election, said:

“I wonder if the board has considered renaming rights to the arena (Leonard E. Merrell Center) in trying to close the deficit?”


Kevin Tatum asked:

“What new schools are being proposed for 2005-06? Why are we building new schools when other schools in the district are not currently at capacity?”


But there were others in the room who supported the budget, but did not come forward to speak.


Said Barrett Ross, a reading specialist at Schmalz Elementary:

“I don’t agree with a lot of the speakers’ comments. It just shows that they’re not informed. I know that the district worked hard on making the budget work.”


Joan Arasteh said:

“Districts are bound by mandates that aren’t backed by money, and they are left to fund them at local levels. That’s difficult without raising or cutting services.”


If you didn’t make it to or speak at the board meeting, you have a chance now to express your opinion by clicking on comments below. [Which have now been removed by the Chronicle.]