NAACP Not Convinced On School Bond Proposal

With less than two months until voters weigh-in on a $805 million Houston school district bond proposal, members of the local NAACP are raising questions about just how much community input district leaders have gotten. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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When district officials unveiled their school bond proposal last month, they expected some opposition. After a half-dozen town-hall meetings and visits to local schools, the district still doesn't have the complete support of the Houston NAACP despite concessions in the original plan just this week. The organization's James Douglas says he's not convinced Superintendent Dr. Abe Saavedra is committed to getting real input.

"The superintendent has to understand that he is to provide the kind of education that the community desires, not the kind of education that he himself and any person who works for the community who considers the community an outsider has some serious problems in terms of being a public servant."

The NAACP says Saavedra has rejected requests to meet with the organization about its concerns, citing scheduling conflicts. The NAACP's Bishop James Dixon says HISD should embrace community input, not reject it.

"It makes good sense, it's logical, that those who are working on behalf of our community would consult with us to help us understand what their plans are and to hear our input and our concerns, such that whatever the revised proposal is has been agreed on by a consensus of the stakeholders."

Saavedra says he's ready to talk to the NAACP and does want community input.

"I'm very confident that as we continue to talk about our bond proposal and answer questions that this great organization, the NAACP, will support the $805 million bond issue and I'm prepared to continue the dialogue with them. I have great respect for their thoughts. I have great respect for their concerns and I'm very optimistic that at the end, we're going to come together."

The revised HISD bond proposal calls for renovating more schools and consolidating fewer schools. Under the plan, 24 new schools will be built and 134 renovated. State representative Sylvester Turner has spoken out against the bond proposal and says questions still need to be answered.

"Do the changes make the bond proposal better? I think people can say yes. But are there significant questions that remain? I think the answer to that is yes and until people have those answers I think there will be a question as to whether or not the voters themselves will look at it and deem this something that's acceptable and I think it's just a wait and see."

Voters will make the final decision on the bond proposal November 6th. It's the third part in a series of school bond proposals, the first two passed by voters in 1998 and 2002.

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Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...