Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Budgets and Magnets - My Letter to HISD Board Member Mike Lunceford

Dear Mr. Lunceford:

In my capacity as Braeburn Super Neighborhood President, I attended both the Budget Conversation and the Magnet Discussion at Bellaire High School. I will, of course, write to my State Legislator and Senator to ask them not to cut school funding. But frankly I have much more faith in HISD than I do in anyone up in Austin. That’s why I’m writing to you first.

Allow me to reiterate what I said at the Magnet Discussion. School budgets are not a zero-sum game. Investment in schools pays off in increased property values around those schools. Increased property values mean more tax revenue for those schools. It might be tempting to slash budgets now. We may have no choice. But if it’s done in such a way that kills schools, it will actually mean less revenue in the long run.

According to the Budget Conversation, magnet funding is only 1% of HISD’s budget. Slashing magnets won’t solve HISD’s budget problems; and could in fact cost more money in the long run. It would be smarter to redouble cuts elsewhere in the budget, and increase funding to the magnets instead of cutting it.

Where should HISD cut? How could HISD raise more money? Maybe HISD could after alumni and parent donations, like private schools do. (There is a vast, untapped pool of HISD grads, parents, and concerned Houstonians who can help.) There are surely other, better ideas. Now is the time for creativity, and doing more with less. Our President summed it up best in his State of the Union Address: “we need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.”

Thank you for your consideration, and I am very happy that you were at the Magnet Discussion at Bellaire High School.

Kindest regards,

The Civic Architect

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