Ahead of an important and almost certain bond election in November, the board is making mistakes that could undermine the community's confidence in it. And that could have a disastrous effect on any bond election.
Its handling of improvements at Trinity Mother Francis Rose Stadium has been clumsy and needlessly divisive.
Ernest Deckard of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said the proposal to create a multipurpose field at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium and downsize the track is not acceptable, even if the district commits to upgrade John Tyler's track and field complex.
He added that the district has not provided enough opportunity for public input and debate about the issue despite a community member's request at the March meeting for that.
“We're objecting to everything because of what they haven't done,” he said.
In the same meeting, the board approved upgrades to the John Tyler High School track and field.
But the improvements at John Tyler aren't the point. Giving Tyler residents a say in their own school district is.
Board members knew the issue was contentious for a number of reasons; opponents viewed the district's recommendation to upgrade Rose Stadium's turf at the expense of two track lanes as a “slap in the face” after Earl Campbell and Emma Barrett contributed so much to this city and school systems.
The late Mrs. Barrett coached John Tyler girls track for the first 30 years of the program.
Although the district never proposed to cancel the relays, the idea of moving them to another location and the lack of a certain location for their future upset some residents.
More than 100 people appeared at the last school board meeting; nine spoke about the issue. So why wouldn't the board set aside some time on Monday to allow public comment?
The school board should know how important the community's confidence is to such elections. Who can forget the 2002 defeat of a $293 million bond package at the polls? The chastened school board then hired a consultant, whose most important recommendation was to better engage the community.
Currently, the district is facing infrastructure needs of upwards of $485 million (according to its long-range plan and projections). Now, more than ever, it needs community buy-in.
Perhaps the board decisions on Rose Stadium and John Tyler were the right ones.
But was the process everything we should expect of the board?