Updated: 4:10 p.m. May 2, 2016
In the latest broadside to be fired in the battle over the name of Lanier Middle School, the parents group Lanier Watchdogs, with the help of consultant Wayne Dolcefino, are accusing Houston ISD trustees of deceiving taxpayers about the costs attached to the name change.
A copy of an email from Wanda Adams on February 9 shows the trustee asked Interim Superintendent Ken Huewitt, “Have we looked at the budget cost for renaming schools?” The response was: “No, this is not a budgeted item.”
When the resolution to rename the school was passed two days later, the word “none” appears next to the line “cost/funding sources.” Dolcefino and his group take this to mean that HISD was saying there would be no costs.
We put a call in to the HISD press office
and are waiting to hear back on their take on this line of text. We'll update when we hear back. Update: HISD press secretary Jason Spencer called to say that it is not true that the district said there would be no cost to the name changes. Although he couldn't explain why there was no amount listed in the document that HISD trustees voted upon.
"We estimate it will cost $250,000 per school for the name changes," said Spencer, adding that the district has cited that average cost estimate repeatedly in public meetings. He said the money to pay for this will come from the district's general fund. They anticipate the costs will be higher at some schools and lower at others, he said.
"This is a cost we've been very upfront about," Spencer said.
The Lanier group did its own cost analysis and computed the following:
- $275,000 to remove the Lanier name on top of the school
- $60,000 to redo auditorium seats
- $100,000 in uniforms
Dolcefino points out that HISD is already facing a $107 million budget shortfall and says a full investigation of the cost for renaming schools should be undertaken before any of this goes forward.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.