Monday, April 18, 2016

RISD's Horrible Clock Management

Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.
Source: George Will.
You know how you hate it when your favorite football team trails by two touchdowns late in the game and the team huddles with the clock running and then calls a running play that gains few yards and uses up even more precious time? The Richardson ISD is that team.

The RISD says it's been planning for the 2016 Bond for a year and a half. Yet they didn't include money in the proposed bond for elementary school expansion in Lake Highlands until February of this year. They said the delay was due to waiting for a report from a demographic study, finished in January. But when the demographic report came in and, to no one's surprise, it showed a need for expansion in Lake Highlands, the RISD wasn't ready with a play called for that outcome.

Instead, they huddled. The huddle consisted of a large committee of 48 members, the slowest of all management methods. Everyone in the huddle was suggesting plays. As the April 25th start of early voting got ever closer, the committee met six times in the seven weeks. They ruled out a dozen or so options, but in the end, they didn't reach consensus on a single option. Building 5th/6th grade centers at FMJH and LHJH received the most support but they couldn't eliminate the option of building a new K-6 school. And if the board picks the option to build a new K-6 school, the committee couldn't agree on where it should be built. There was one thing they did agree on: "Dr. Stone asked the committee, which voted to not call a vote related to a specific location." The community reflector committee decided to present two options to the board of trustees and let them pick one (which they would have to do in any case — the reflector committee's recommendation was never binding).

This is where things stood on April 13, less than two weeks before the start of early voting. That's when the RISD announced that the district would poll the community starting April 19, less than a week before the start of early voting. They didn't say how long that poll would remain open. Unless it's less than six days, it will overlap with early voting on the bond itself. Most important, no commitment was made that the board of trustees would decide on how to use the $41 million set aside in the bond for expansion before voters need to make their own yes or no decision whether even to put the money in the board's hands to spend.

If this were a football game, excitement would be growing as fans watch to see if the team can make up for poor clock management and somehow pull off a miracle finish, scoring just before the clock expires. But it's not a football game, is it? Board members assured the audience at a Lake Highlands community meeting April 13 that they will not let the clock dictate their decision. They will take the time needed to make the right decision. That assumes voters will give them a chance to come from behind in overtime. If too many give up on the team and head for the parking lots planning to vote no May 7th, there won't be overtime. On May 8th, we'll be kicking off for a whole new ball game.