During the 2006 bond election when the Katy Citizen Watchdog$ were active, the administration baited the members by suggesting that if they thought the bond proposal was too much, if they thought spending policies were out of hand, if they had better ideas, then as they said, “Bring it on.”

Of course it wasn’t the job of the Watchdog$ to come up with budget cuts, it was Frailey's, and it was apparent that he couldn't think of any or he wouldn't have been asking us, and we told them so. But at the same time, I started thinking about how there were so many things that I could see that were wasteful and how the Watchdog$ were constantly getting anonymous emails from teachers telling us of the waste that they saw.

So I started keeping a list.  It is an on-going list, and I’m always open to suggestions about things that could be included. Send them to

I think that any budget cutting proposal begins with the School Board and the Administration.  THEY have to set the tone for keeping spending under control.  If the Administration seems hell bent on being compensated at the highest rate of any district in the state, and the Board doesn’t seem to have the willpower to stop them, then nothing anyone can say, including me, stands a chance of thoughtful consideration.

But let’s pretend that they are a conscientious bunch.  Let’s pretend that they really do want to use tax dollars wisely.  Let’s pretend that they aren’t all left leaning liberals who think people who actually earn a living by working 12 months a year with two weeks of vacation somehow owe a large part of their earnings to them!

The first thing that should happen is that the School Board, whenever it meets, should be open and above board about what it is they are doing.  So that includes, carrying on the business of the district in the open, not closed part of the session; announcing to the public when and where all meetings are that are open meetings and doing so on time and in all places; providing video coverage of all open meetings as they happen as well as in a recorded format; and providing on line and as soon as all Board Members receive it, a copy of the actual Board agenda for each meeting, all PDF’s and other ancillary materials and anything else like Power Point Presentations that are made at the meeting. The public should also be able to see the agendas in ample time to make arrangements to attend meetings so that they can speak to the Board on items that interest or concern them.  The actual minutes of the meeting, not an encapsulation of what the Board would like to release, should be placed on line as soon as they are approved by the Board.  The minutes should not be the kind that they have come to use where nothing is really recorded.  Previously, the Board minutes included a description of all agenda items, what was said and who said it and then a record vote of how each board member by name voted.  We pay the Board Secretary $55,808.62, [now $57,429.33] so that’s the least she should do.  Board secretaries used to do that and got paid much less than fifty-seven grand!

[Please note that by 2014 many of my suggestions have been implemented.  Of course, there are many things that did NOT get implemented.  And some things like cutting bus service to students when their parents moved to Katy because KISD HAD bus service is one of the things that makes no sense.  The District lost the bond election in November 2013 partly because of the bus issue, and people will not forget it.  The value of homes where there is no bus service have decreased in value and have become more difficult to sell, but our property taxes have not been adjusted.  MM] 

After the meeting, all board members should stick around and answer questions from the media or the public.  They ran for this office to REPRESENT the people, not themselves, the administration or anyone else, and they need to speak for themselves.  Having the superintendent or the Board president speak for all seven board members is really stupid, and there’s just no other way to put it. If they can’t hold their own with a member of the Press, then they have no business being there.  And I do realize that they cannot speak for the Board as a whole, but then neither can the Board president.  They CAN speak for themselves, and that is what I am looking for in a Board member. 

Compare them, if you will, to any other governing body.  They look like little kids playing tea party.  They can’t think, speak or act for themselves.  It’s ridiculous.

The next most important change that needs to occur is that the Board needs to stop going to taxpayer funded brainwashing sessions provided by the Texas Association of School Boards.  This NGO (non-governmental organization) which operates on tax dollars but has no obligation to the public, trains Board members to act, with the superintendent, as a TEAM OF EIGHT!!!  There is no law anywhere that suggests that is an appropriate arrangement or required. The manipulation of the statement in Senate Bill I (1995) to suggest that the board is a "body corporate" and must act as one is bogus and needs to be challenged in a court of law.  The TASB or whoever dreamed up that interpretation should not be granted such power as to define the law. A court must do that. It is simply a way of forcing free thinking board members to conform to what the superintendent wants.  The TASB is an organization controlled by former public school administrators and now some former board members, and it is, in my opinion, a totally self-serving organization. It certainly doesn’t exist to serve the students, the public or the teachers.

And lastly, with reference to their organization, the School Board needs to always keep in mind that they have ONE employee, and that is the superintendent.  He is NOT their boss, and he should never act like he is.  They should set reasonable goals of student improvement (not based on quirky TEA standards but some other achievement test), and if he does not meet them, then he needs to move on immediately.  No second chances.  Superintendents are a dime a dozen, and none of them are worth fooling around with if they can’t do the job.  The average tenure of a superintendent is three years.  Katy ISD seems to keep theirs forever!  It's also embarrassing that the School Board would hire a man who is apparently not able to get his educational doctorate--especially when everyone else in town has one, and they are seemingly easy to come by.

So after those basic matters are taken care of, THEN the work begins.

Hopefully, if the Board becomes empowered and not led around by the nose, they will once again start asking questions, meeting for more than 10 to 20 minutes once a month in their regular voting meeting to take care of an organization that has (as of the end of the 2009-2010 school year) $573,951,951 in total net revenues, $571,604,661 in total net expenses, $1,212,088,518 in total assets, $1,072,749,501 in total liabilities with $949,408,986 in capital assets, and $990,763,837 in total outstanding debt.  At the end of the 2012-2013 school year these numbers were $648,849,941in total net revenues, $636,262,172 in total net expenses, a $146,512 fund balance, $11,560,122 in total assets, $5,391,091 in total liabilities, $6,169,031 in capital assets.  (And if these numbers are incorrect, please send me the correct ones!  KISD's Annual Report is intentionally made difficult to read!)

Add to all of that the $459 million dollar bond issue that passed last November, and then think about the fact that overseeing all of this money is a superintendent who doesn’t even have an educational doctorate, who couldn’t figure out that he couldn’t claim a homestead exemption in two Texas school districts at the same time, and who didn’t even have a permanent superintendent’s certificate until a year after he was hired. Also add to that the fact that Bill Moore, who kept the District afloat for decades, has now retired. In addition we have a Board that is supposed to provide oversight of all this money and, besides being pretty much rubber stamps,  has been led in the recent past by a guy that works with computers and wants to convert the “clubhouse” in Simonton into a “wedding and social event venue” and who signed up to run again and then while drawing for a position on the ballot was at the same time sending out his press release announcing that he was no longer a candidate (precipitated by his assurance that he would be able to select his suitable replacement),  a woman who claims to be a “business executive” but we’re never told which business, a woman who claims to be a volunteer and who gives motivational speeches, another woman who is a volunteer and who is smart enough to be a good board member, but who so far, in my opinion, has been only a follower, a man who has claimed in the past to be a mechanical engineer but who is now listed as “working at Aker Solutions (but we're not sure what he does there),  a man who owns a Venetian blind company, and, thank goodness, a man who graduated from Rice University with a petroleum engineering degree and who has an MBA, but who, by all accounts, is disliked by the rest of them because he has the audacity to disagree with all of them and state his opinion every now and then!

So the next thing that needs to happen is to vote out most of this bunch and elect some people who are more interested in academics than political power.

When all that gets taken care of, then the cuts can begin.

Here’s my list, and it's intertwined with a list I compiled in 2008 when a detractor was acting like I couldn’t think of anything to cut.

My first cuts would come at the central administration building which is rife with waste.

Just go down the hall and shut down every other office.  No one will miss them.  Start with “staff development.”  That’s the place where all the brainwashing goes on for the teachers.  It is a waste of teachers’ time.  If it’s going to be done, at least schedule it so that a substitute doesn’t have to be hired to cover the teacher’s class while he’s out being brainwashed.

I would suggest that academic teachers should not be cut, period. Cutting teachers means higher pupil/teacher ratios, bigger classes, the elimination of some classes, and a reduction in the quality of teaching as less time gets spent with each student.

Stop using bond funds to hire anyone. That’s not what people thought the money was for, and it is deceptive to use it that way. In my opinion, the District just uses that money to hide what they are doing. The salaries of those bond funded employees appear not to be included in the salary lists.

Get rid of KMAC and let teachers teach what they learned in college. KMAC is simply a means of control over teachers. If teachers can’t figure out what to teach without KMAC, fire them.

Rent the Arena to people who pay for it and pay on time.  Tell the public how much it REALLY costs to run the place.  Be sure to include all the outrageous salaries of the people who are basically rental agents as well as the maintenance costs and set up costs.   Our tax dollars aren't supposed to be used for renting public property to private enterprises.  When did we all decide that doing that was proper?

Stop increasing administrative salaries at the same rate as the teachers’ increases.  The formula that is used is very unfair. Being a public school administrator is not supposed to put one on Easy Street.  Easy Street is reserved for those who WORK for a living.

Go out for bids on everything that costs over $10,000. 

Keep up the maintenance on the property that we already have so things don’t have to be replaced so often--like roofs and chillers and swimming pools.

Stop such boondoggles as putting Astroturf on practice fields when no one but the superintendent wanted it there.

Take better care of and keep the Astroturf at Rhodes Stadium for ten years --it should last at least that long.

If the District isn’t going to buy personal underwear items for girls in athletics, how about not buying them for the boys either? Isn't that a Title IX violation anyway?

End the practice of hiding all the tax increases and purchases in the Consent Agenda so no one can see what the Superintendent is doing.

Don't put expensive signs on every corner when the District wins a bond election just to proclaim the victory. That's just rubbing it in to the opponents and serves no useful purpose and makes the Board look petty.

Stop putting electronic signs in front of schools.  They are unnecessary and a blight on the landscape of a residential area, and the electricity to run them is paid for by the taxpayers. The school district funds should not be used to keep sign salesmen in business.

Keep the library books that are already paid for instead of throwing them away or giving them to questionable non-profits.

Use newer technology that doesn’t become obsolescent so fast.  (There is a system that puts laptops with keyboards and monitors that don’t have to be replaced accompanied by one teacher unit (server) that actually connects to the Internet.  It allows for control over content, and only the teacher unit needs replacing so often.) 

Don't buy any television set  (flat screen or otherwise) that’s not going to be used for anything but the daily announcements.

Stop auctioning off old technology equipment for pennies on the dollar.

Set up a five year deal for leasing out the name of the Arena like other districts do  to the first company/corporation that can come up with a million dollars to pay for the right. One can find hardly anyone who will state that they are FOR the naming of the Arena after Leonard Merrell. 

Stop allowing the superintendent to bill the taxpayers for $39 each way for extra leg room every time he gets on an airplane to go to an educational convention.  If he needs extra leg room, he can use some of that $288,400.00 to pay for it himself.

Build outfield bleachers at the Katy High school baseball field in the right place the FIRST time they are built so that they don’t have to be done twice.

Put dirt from the Brazos on our ball fields instead of going all the way to the Mississippi to get some.

Stop paying for land for schools if they’re being built to help a developer sell houses.  Let the developer contribute the land as was done with Fielder Elementary.

Better yet, build schools AFTER the students exist to fill them as we did until the 1990’s so buildings don't have to sit half empty for years (Seven Lakes HS) (Tompkins HS) or so students don’t have to be bused from across town to fill them.

Cut out stipends for coaches who move to other non-coaching positions and no longer earn them. Stipends shouldn't be a permanent gift for anyone.

Justify stipends every two years and make certain they are given equally and fairly to all teachers for work done by the hour outside of the regular class day. Six million dollars in stipends given to employees who already make way over the state requirement, is unjustified.

Stop paying more for land than it’s worth. The district just spent $2,665,000 on 16.65 acres behind the Powerhouse Church.  They didn't put it publicly on the agenda.  They didn't give a reason for buying it.  They didn't announce in any agendas or notes on agendas that they had bought it.  That price works out to $160,060.06 an acre!  Sure hope we needed it! [Turns out they wanted it for a double stadium for the City of Katy and the Katy Tigers!]

Sell some of the KISD land that will never be used and put it back on the tax rolls.

Leave pre-schoolers at home with their mothers instead of trying to drum up four year old students by opening pre-school classes in schools with declining enrollments. Now that the State is cutting pre-school funds, Katy ISD REALLY needs to cut this program.  There is no empirical evidence that this level of education helps anyone.  It is just a baby-sitting service pushed by liberals who want to "help" everyone.

Tell parents that their children don’t legally have to go to school until they are six years old.

Change Kindergarten classes back to half a day (which cuts out half the Kindergarten teaching staff) because that’s all the school they ever needed.

Teach our students to read using phonics so they don’t have to struggle through school for twelve years, often repeating courses which costs money unnecessarily, or which causes them to have to be "remediated" in a junior college somewhere before they can continue with their education.

Stop feeding board committees like they’re celebrating the first Thanksgiving every time they meet.   

Stop sending principals on two free convention trips every year. 

Stop sending all the Central administrators to whatever convention they want to attend. 

Bring those "great speakers" that frequent those conventions to Katy so we can see what they are telling our administrators and board members.  That would be cheaper and much more enlightening.

Cut out the free coffee at the Administration Building if that's still the practice. 

Stop buying so many flowers.  Write a note instead.

Decide without the help of PBK which buildings we need to build and quit padding the bonds by 30%.

Use some other architect every other school so we can see what savings might occur and not have so many identical, look-alike schools. 

Get the District’s “in house” architect to oversee school construction like we used to do and do without the expensive "construction manager at risk." An employee that makes $142,750.47 a year needs to do something to earn that much money.

Let the District’s “in house” demographer provide prognostications since, in my opinion, they can’t be any worse than the ones we get from the consultant whose retainer costs forty grand (or thereabouts). She's been predicting we'd have 80,000 students for years and years, and we still don't have that many students!

Dump the bad idea of an IB school at Wolfe so that the District can stop sending people all over the world to “investigate” having one. They have spent thousands and thousands of dollars already to gear up to have these schools.

Establish a REAL bond oversight committee to keep the spending of the bond money accountable. 

Dump the POWER (formerly the DARE)  program which almost all research shows doesn’t work and which robs fifth graders of 18 hours of academic class time.   Keep the officers to patrol our district. [Can't believe they actually did this one.  KUDOS!]

Stop paying for personal memberships for administrators to almost every education association that exists. 

Go back to “zero based budgeting” for individual schools and administrative departments instead of the current “add 10% to whatever we had last year."  

Make administrators work in the summer five days a week 8 to 4 instead of four days a week 8 to 5 which cheats the taxpayer who is paying for them to work full days during the summer. (AND too many of them leave at 3 o'clock instead of 5 anyway!  Sit out front on a summer day and watch them start coming out way early.)

Stop handing out worthless but expensive mementos to students (during Board meetings) who have already received the REAL award somewhere else just so board members can have photo ops and get their pictures in the paper. 

Stop purchasing $800 portraits of the board members to hang at the Ad building. 

Use a forensic audit of the financial books instead of what is done now. 

Hold open board budget review meetings like most other school districts in Texas. KISD may be the only one that hides this process from the public by having only three board members attend at a time--thus escaping the intent of the Open Meetings laws.

Tell the public how much the District spends on legal matters. 

Let the superintendent get a physical every year for the same cost that other employees get one. [Actually he did get one locally last year--at Kelsey-Seibold Clinic.]

I'll be happy to add anything else that is verifiable.  If I've erred in anything on this list, let me know so I can fix it.