Conroe, June 14 – Conroe Independent School District (CISD) and PBK Architects, the scofflaw architecture firm which acts as a political consulting firm to manipulate votes in favor of giant school district bond referendums, have scammed local taxpayers out of another $90,000 under a contract for a “2018 Long-Range Master Facilities Plan” which doesn’t actually exist.
How this newspaper discovered the fleecing
As part of our continuing investigation into PBK Architects, the CISD vendor which seems to dictate policy to the school district’s administration which then tells the Board of Trustees what they should do, this newspaper asked on May 21, 2019, CISD for the two most recent written contracts with PBK. CISD General Counsel Carrie Galatas responded to the request on May 24.
One of the two PBK-CISD contracts the school district provided was a $90,000 Professional Services Agreement, dated April 3, 2018, in which the school district sought a 2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan. The first page of the PBK contract follows as well as the exhibit page which shows the definition of the scope of work.
That expensive Professional Services Agreement begs an important question, particularly in light of CISD’s constant scheming to place another bond referendum before the voters on the first Tuesday in November. Sources inside of CISD have confirmed that PBK and Construction Director Easy Foster are pushing the bond, because the money spigot has slowed down considerably after voters soundly rejected CISD’s $807 million bond proposal on May 4.
The question is: Where is this “2018 Long Range Facilities Master Plan”?
Therefore, the Publisher of this newspaper sent another Texas Public Information Act request to CISD on June 6 as follows:
Dear Conroe ISD:
Pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act, please provide with all of the following materials:
1. The 2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan;
2. All materials provided to members of the Board of Trustees prior to the June 4, 2019, Board of Trustees meeting;
3. All materials provided to members of the Board of Trustees during the June 4, 2019, Board of Trustees meeting.
Item 2 includes all emails from Curtis Null to the Board members as well as all other materials provided to the Board.
I prefer electronic production for convenience and to save expense.
On June 11, 2019, CISD’s General Counsel Carrie Galatas responded and, amazingly, actually provided some documents! Specifically, Galatas provided four (4) documents in response to the request which include a copy of the 2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan for which taxpayers paid $90,000 to CISD’s favorite vendor, PBK.
The first of the four documents is one with which readers of The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, are well acquainted. It’s the “priorities list” which CISD used for the school bond. Obviously, that document is not the 2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan, which PBK prepared, because (1) it’s not a facilities plan, (2) Superintendent Curtis Null has repeatedly said that CISD employees prepared that document, and (3) both CISD Spokesperson Sarah Blakelock and General Counsel Carrie Galatas have identified the document as one CISD employees prepared internally.
The “priorities list” first page follows.
The next document CISD provided in response to this newspaper’s request for the 2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan was a snazzy PowerPoint presentation, which PBK Architects obviously did prepare, to sell the CISD Board of Trustees on another bond referendum in order to keep PBK’s money coffers nice and full. PBK’s logo is all over that document. Nevertheless, that document clearly is not the 2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan either, because (1) PBK prepared it specifically for the June 4, 2019, workshop (a euphemism for the brainwash sessions where CISD and its vendors tell the Board of Trustees how to vote), and (2) it’s only a presentation concerning CISD’s $150 million remolding of Conroe High School, which CISD has made clear will not provide one additional student seat for the school district!
The first page of the Conroe High School presentation follows.
Notice how nice PBK’s presentation is in order to make the CISD Board of Trustees feel as though they’re actually doing something other than just following PBK’s and Null’s orders.
The third document provided in the Galatas document production to this newspaper was a small number of emails from Null to the members of the Board of Trustees giving them instructions on how to think and vote. Clearly, there was no 2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan in Null’s emails.
The final document was in the form of a link, https://www.conroeisd.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Preliminary-Budget-Presentation.pdf. Notice that the link has the title “Preliminary Budget Presentation.” It is actually a 20-page document which has very little to do with facilities and most focuses on a discussion of how much administrator pay raises should be for the coming budget year. The last page of the presentation is the best page as far as wanting to make you imitate Ren Hoek.
Here’s the last page of the CISD budget presentation which will surely allow you to feel the same:
What’s so fascinating about this budget presentation is that CISD’s administrators kindly gave the Board of Trustees five different “options” to implement salary increases. CISD came up with the brilliant name for the slide: “Salary Increase Options.” The Board received no options which involved keeping salaries the same. The only options the brainwashed Board of Trustees silently received from CISD’s administration were different options as to how large an increase administrators, all others, teachers, librarians, nurses, and counselors would receive. What’s particularly interesting is that none of the options would even limit the salary increase to the cost of living adjustment. None of the options consider no increase at all.
Nevertheless, the critical point here is that there simply was no “2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan” anywhere among the documents!
Six minutes after receiving the documents from Galatas, the Publisher of this newspaper brought to her attention that the “2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan” wasn’t among the documents CISD had provided.
At 2:58 p.m., on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, Galatas dropped the bomb on the citizens of Montgomery County:
Huh?! The crazy 50-page spreadsheet with the $21,562.50 appearing 117 times, which Superintendent Null repeatedly told the public that CISD employees had prepared internally inside of CISD, is the “2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan”!!!
It’s not a plan. PBK Architects charged $90,000 to prepare a 2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan. CISD’s refers to the 2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan in the official Budget Document the Board of Trustees approved.
CISD has revealed the truth:
- There is no 2018 Master Long-Range Facilities Plan;
- PBK charged $90,000 under a Professional Services Agreement, which CISD’s Board of Trustees and administration approved;
- In return for the $90,000, CISD and its taxpayers received NOTHING!
Does that make you more excited about a November bond referendum?