The Woodlands and Conroe, March 31 – Conroe Independent School District (CISD) Superintendent Curtis Null spoke to a crowd of 63 people at an $807 million bond package advocacy meeting at The Woodlands High School on Thursday, March 28, 2019. The audience of at least 54 CISD employees and their children and 9 other individuals whose affiliations were not certain enjoyed the plush seats in the auditorium.
After working the crowd and shaking hands with every person in the room, in a Bill Clinton-esque style, Null gave his canned speech showing the same slides and making the same jokes as he does at every bond advocacy occasion. After his 38 minute speech, Null answered questions but only those in writing which other CISD administrators initially censored before providing them to the Superintendent.
One of the questions was “What are the consequences if the bond doesn’t pass?” Null had a perfectly canned answer: “Hard to say. So savings would be staff changes, rezoning opportunities, and a future bond package as well.”
“Q: What are the consequences if the bond doesn’t pass?
“Null’s answer: Hard to say. So savings would be staff changes, rezoning opportunities, and a future bond package as well.”
It’s important to break down Null’s threats in his carefully-rehearsed answer to the censored question.
Threatened “staff changes”
First, Null threatened “staff changes.” Null knows better than that. Staffing for the CISD comes from the Maintenance and Operations portion of the CISD’s Budget. That portion of the Budgeted property taxation is $1.06 cents per $100 valuation. That portion has nothing whatsoever to do with this bond package. There are already enough schools, if one includes Stockton Junior High School opening in 2021 and Suchma Elementary School opening in 2020, to cover the student enrollment capacity of CISD through 2028.
Therefore, Null’s implicit threat of teaching firings is nothing short of crass manipulation and lying. In actuality, defeating the bond will likely help teachers in CISD, because more funds would be available to provide them better salaries and to provide them with additional funds to provide better teaching to the children of the school district out of the operations budget, rather than taking massive amounts of funds to spend on interest and debt payments.
As for Null’s comments about rezoning, in private meetings with elected servants and other government employees to try to convince them to support the $807 million bond, Null told them on at least two occasions during the month of February, 2019, that CISD will have to do a major rezoning of the school district regardless of whether the $807 million tax hike passes or not. Null confided in those elected officials that CISD is not announcing the rezoning before the May 4 election, because the school district wants to make that announcement “in other ways,” a phrase Null has used repeatedly, according to four different individuals who met with Null but who also requested anonymity for fear of political reprisal.
Clearly, Null and CISD chose not to inform parents and other citizens within CISD of the plan to rezone before the 2019-20 school year, because they wanted to use rezoning as a threat to convince people to support the $807 million bond package, the precise threat Williams made during the March 21 Woodlands Township Board meeting.
Future bond package
A future bond package is not a threat at all. Clearly, CISD should pull the $807 million bond package and start afresh to examine what new bond package is appropriate.
In order to craft a proper bond package, however, it’s clear that the process must be very different from the one CISD utilized this time, because this time the process was entirely political and ignored the needs of the children enrolled in CISD.
If the consequence of voting down the $807 million bond package is a “future bond package,” that’s a consequence towards which all voters should run by voting “no” and defeat this ill-advised bond.
One other question posed to Null during his presentation at The Woodlands High School was about the very seats in which the group of 63 sat. CISD proposes to spend $300,000 on The Woodlands High School auditorium seats because they want “critical wider seats, don’t have to sit as low, seats need to be wider.”
The seats, however, are plush, comfortable, and in excellent condition. They’re wide enough easily to handle an individual as wide as the Publisher of this newspaper who actually fit quite comfortably in one of the seats during Null’s canned presentation last Thursday evening.
The questioner asked, “The Woodlands High School seats look good. Why do we need to spend money to replace them?” Null, who stood during the entire meeting, answered “Sitting in them is easier than getting out of them.”
Everyone at the meeting, including the Publisher of this newspaper, seemed quite capable of getting out of the auditorium seats at The Woodlands High School. Perhaps, striking $300,000, the cost of a person’s home, from the bond package would make more sense than squandering those funds on such a silly item.