As long as Dr. Thomas is saying that the voters just don't understand how construction works, let's take a look at the articles that ran two years ago regarding the bond and what promises were made then. He is now saying that it has ALWAYS been a price tag of $43 million, not $29 million as the media is saying he originally told taxpayers.
Here is a document that was archived on the Beaumont Enterprise website that came from BISD. Guess what it has budgeted for the athletic facility? $29.8 million.
This is one of my favorite articles I found. It's by Beth Gallaspy (an excellent long-time reporter veteran) on November 9, 2007. In it, Dr. Thomas says the complex shouldn't be more than $30 million otherwise they would have to "review what they are doing." He went on to say that there will be enough funding IFthey meet the time.
REMINDER: HOW MUCH IS SALLIE CURTIS DELAYED??? Will it meet the time?
An excerpt says:
Board member Martha Hicks said people want to know why the complex is in Phase One and asked Thomas to explain.
"The sooner we can get projects built, we beat inflation costs," Thomas said. "... You can't build more than four elementary schools at a time because there's only so many places to put students."
Board member Woodrow Reece asked for an answer to rumors that the district will not build everything that is promised.
"I think we have adequate funding if we meet the time," Thomas said. Taking more time would mean more money for inflation, he said.
After the meeting, Thomas responded to a question about what would happen if bids on the athletic complex came in well above the $30 million budgeted. "I hope it should not happen," Thomas said. "I feel like we're going to be reasonable in the ballpark."
If they were significantly higher, "I think we're going to have to go back and review what we're doing, but I don't think that's going to happen. That's the whole idea behind this study," Thomas said.
When the bond passed, this article ran in the Enterprise on November 27, 2007 by Ryan Myers (who is no longer at the paper, but was a thorough reporter). Among the highlights:
- "We hope any changes to the construction phases will be minimal, but they may come to us and say something just isn't feasible," Thomas said.
- The first phase also includes purchasing land for a districtwide multi-purpose center, a $29.9 million project that will include a stadium and swimming complex.
In this article which ran November 25, 2008, it presents a project-by-project analysis of the $388.6 million BISD bond proposal. Some of the items include:
Year Built: 1956
Proposed: New school for 550 students
Supporters: Aging school; too expensive to renovate
Opponents: No organized opposition
Year Built: 2008
Proposed: New athletic complex, including stadium and natatorium
Supporters: Economically feasible to build anew rather than renovate existing stadiums; could host regional games and competitions
Opponents: Not enough money for the project and if done first, will prevent completing other projects
Yet another article is here that ran November 23, 2007 that talks about pros and cons of the athletic facility. An excerpt:
"The current bond proposes the building of a new stadium, field house and natatorium for $29.8 million. Those in favor of the bond said a new stadium makes more economic sense than spending money to bring the existing facilities up to current standards and continuing to rent the stadium at Lamar University. They also said a new facility would attract outside playoff games, band competitions and other events, bringing revenue to the district. Those opposed to the bond believe there is no way a complex like the one being proposed will cost $29.8 million based on other projects they have seen around the state. Another issue with the stadium is that it is the first scheduled project and the opposition believes the athletic complex will go over budget and take away from the project - particularly money for the elementary schools. Those for the bond said the athletic complex is scheduled first to save money on inflation."
I found this gem in a link from BISD in 2007 that was on the previous article. It says: "Accountability milestones will be established in the schedule & monitoring of the building cost progress will be communicated regularly to the public."
This September 21, 2007 article outlines how much is budgeted for the various projects. And it says that it'll be $29.9 million for the complex.
As you look at ALL OF THESE ARTICLES, ask yourself: Is the media really lying? There are more articles out there and I can certainly post them all.
If I were Dr. Thomas, I would have been angry at the media two years ago for not telling the public that the figure for the complex was actually $43 million. Oh, wait - maybe that would have hurt the chance for the bond to pass. Let's just let the public believe it's $29 million and we'll blame it on the public later for not understanding the construction process.
Shouldn't the leader of our school district be setting a better example? I would have more respect for someone who admits they are wrong than trying to place the blame on others for missteps and mistakes. It's easy to point the finger at the media, but I think we've shown, it's not the media who has screwed up here.
If the media was WRONG, why didn't the district accuse the media of spreading lies two years ago like they are now? Maybe, just maybe, it's because the media is right. Gosh, it must hurt to know that the reporters are going back and looking at that and holding BISD accountable. Bravo to them!! Keep it up.
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