Hays bond arguments split district

Residents’ tempers flared during a public forum Monday at the Hays CISD Monday night Board meeting.

The audience attendees spoke about mistrust of the HCISD administration and the 2017 Bond projects.

Of the eight total public comments, six were from residents speaking out for or against the bond projects; most raised concerns about the lack of trust for the current adminsitration.

Will McManus called the proposed 2017 Bond projects “the latest of many leadership deficit issues that we (Hays CISD) are suffering from.”

Describing the current leadership in the district, McManus said, “At best we have allowed a root of indifference and mediocrity to be planted and, at worst, we have been deceived into believing that it is okay to be that way.”

McManus referred to low student test scores, low SAT scores and a low AP pass rate across the district as a few of the many concerns he has with the current administration. He also said Hays CISD has a poor rating on www.niche.com.

McManus also took his entire five minute time to address his and other residents’ mistrust in the district after feeling forced to vote for an expensive bond package or see Hays CISD students suffer the consequences of inaction.

Matt Ochre also complained about the 2017 bond projects, saying he was “underwhelmed with the current leadership” of the district.

Ochre called for more transparency from the district on the cost of the bond projects and claimed that the way the administration promoted them felt more like coercion than cooperation.

“Some people in the administration or on the board wanted to make it very painful for residents to vote No to the bonds,” Ochre said, using the Federal government shutting down National Parks as an example of trying to teach people a lesson in obedience.

Zack Hall addressed the board regarding his mistrust with the current administration as well as his begrudging support for the 2017 bond projects.

“We have been put in a position where, if we don’t support these bonds, the students will be in very bad shape,” Hall said.

Hall said that board members had “some tough choices to make.” He talked about the strength of  district’s current leadership, compared to the public perception and district scores in the 1980s and 1990s.

Trace Shelton echoed Hall’s sentiments about the dominance of the Hays school district in the region in the 1980s and 1990s, but added, “We don’t need to go backwards to be great.”

Shelton said the district needed a change in culture, calling it one of fear instead of creativity, innovation and excellence.

“This administration and in some cases this board have really destroyed my faith in people,” Shelton said.

In addition to the culture of Hays CISD, Shelton said he and many others were concerned about the integrity of the administration and cited the controversy over the Hays High Fight Song “Dixie” as an example.

“Let’s fight for a better district,” Shelton said defending his choice to stay, instead of moving to Wimberley or Dripping Springs.

Both Carla Perez and Laura Millet voiced their support for the bond projects but insisted that a change in leadership may be necessary in order to achieve results.

“Perhaps it’s time for a change,” Perez said.

“We must not be held back by a lack of administrative leadership,” Millet said.

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