Friday, May 25, 2007

CCISD: Why are CCISD Students allowed to run at large during school day hours?

CCISD: Why are CCISD Students allowed to run at large during school day hours?

Education is for our Children, our Youth, our Future. Children and Youth need constant redirection and set boundaries at home and at school as well. When a minor is allowed to run at large during the school day hours whether it is in the halls, leaving or returning a closed campus or simply unaccounted for is irresponsible of the caretaker whose custody in which he / she is placed.

An absent student is one who does not arrive at school in the morning and is absent for the WHOLE Day. The student was never on campus. The Parent is responsible for the student getting to school (requiring the student to attend school). If the student does not get to school it is the Parent’s responsibility not necessarily the Parent’s fault. There are circumstances where the student will walk in the front door and out the back door without attending a single class. This is where the attendance officers need to improve their due diligence like the old days.

Once the student is counted present in the morning; the Parent has required the student (child) to attend school. Once the student is verified in attendance at the beginning of the school day the student is in the custody of the School.

If the student is tardy or skips class (on campus or off campus) this happens on the watch of the school. The Parent if informed should cooperate and communicate with the School Counselors Administrators and the Attendance Officer to correct the behavior. The Security and Attendance officer should take notice and tighten the belt. This is a security issue as well; there is no excuse for students coming and going outside of the lunch period and it is imperative that attendance irregularities be dealt with within 24 hours. This is easily done with our modern technology.

Instead, what we are seeing is the Attendance Officers documenting the absences as they accumulate and filing on the Parent and student when the number of absences are achieved.

Texas Public Education Watchdog Authority

Sunday, May 13, 2007

City has stagnated since '60s thanks to Self Dealers

Developing Corpus Christi: A game of chance

City has stagnated since '60s thanks to recurring debates on projects, experts say

By DENISE MALAN Caller-Times
May 13, 2007

A developer's bayfront project died at the hands of this sharply divided city. He had endured years of bickering, even a bomb threat to his house, and it was time to surrender.

"No one project is going to save the economy," he said afterward, "but we could have been doing things years ago that would have bolstered our economic situation now."

That was 1986, when developer Joe Gardner scrapped plans for a new landmass and festival market in Corpus Christi Bay.

Twenty-one years later, his words just as easily describe today's Corpus Christi, a mid-size city that has struggled for decades to fuel economic growth in a region and state seemingly passing it by. Long-time residents can rattle off nearly a dozen failed ventures that continue to surface in political debates.

Through all those, the rallying cry of politicians, civic boosters and developers has changed little - the city needs jobs of all types, our young people need reasons to stay, tourists' dollars will lower residents' tax burdens, those who disagree just don't like change.

Arguments from residents opposed to various projects also remained much the same through the years - city leaders were secretive, they didn't heed public concerns, the public has a stake and therefore should have a vote. What about environmental impact? And why should we give up a public asset just for some developer to get rich?

Really, about the only changes, from controversy to controversy, are the faces (sometimes) and the specifics of projects. Otherwise, comparing one project to another is like hearing the remake of an old tune - it sounds so familiar, just with a different voice.

"The hope, energy and argument that surrounded these undertakings can obscure the reality that none of these efforts have so far succeeded in creating a new foundation for growth," historian Alan Lessoff wrote in a recent paper about the local economy. "Four decades of effort have mainly reinforced the city in the situation it already had attained by the early 1960s."

Corpus Christi nearly quadrupled in size between 1940 and 1970, but the next 30 years saw minimal growth that paled in comparison to nearby cities. Towns across the Southwest were growing rapidly during the Sunbelt boom of the 1960s-80s, and Corpus Christi leaders felt left out, according to Lessoff's paper.

The feeling pervades even today with the tendency to compare Corpus Christi with San Antonio, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley.

"We're kind of a perpetual adolescent," said John Trice, a local banker who has pushed for several development projects. "You look at San Antonio, and they're a 40-year-old, full-grown adult. We have been at the same size for so long, it's like our growth is stunted."

Austin's growth rate tracked Corpus Christi's fairly closely from 1940 to 1970, when Corpus Christi had 205,000 people and Austin 252,000, according to U.S. Census figures. Austin exploded to 657,000 by 2000, while Corpus Christi grew to 277,000.

By 2005, the capital of Texas was the 16th largest city in the country, up 40 spots from No. 56 in 1970. San Antonio has grown at a steady clip and now is the seventh largest in the United States, compared with 15th in 1970. Houston also moved up from sixth to fourth.

Corpus Christi in those 35 years dropped from 62nd to 64th.

"From Fresno to Beaumont, the region is dotted by cities where, as in Corpus Christi, the sense prevailed that the Sunbelt bypassed them and that their most dynamic period was in the past," Lessoff wrote.

Lessoff, a former Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi professor, now works at Illinois State University but retained his fascination with Coastal Bend history and economics. His recent paper, "Corpus Christi: The Search for a New Direction, 1965-2005," details the city's quest to re-energize an economy based on four pillars - petrochemicals, the port, the military and tourism - that peaked in the 1970s.

The city hasn't broken from that past, and so has struggled for almost four decades to build upon those industries, Lessoff writes. The only reason Corpus Christi is growing even at its slow rate, he postulates, is the boom elsewhere in Texas and the Gulf Coast.


Nearly all the major controversies in recent decades have involved two main ingredients - public-private partnerships and waterfront property - that set off debates from Baltimore to Memphis to San Diego. Public-private partnerships are projects in which private developers seek public funds or space.

Civic leaders met with resistance in the 1960s and '70s to the Bayfront Convention Center, their first effort to revitalize the rapidly declining downtown. Some opposition came from within the city; then-Mayor Jason Luby thought those who would profit from the center should pay for it.

Starting with Packery Channel, all 11 major debates since the 1950s played out against the public-private dynamic, except one - the city's proposed gift of the Oso Beach Municipal Golf Course to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, a deal between two public entities.

TRT, the company that in 2005 proposed an amusement park on the Memorial Coliseum site, planned to raze the coliseum and build a carnival on public land. Gardner's company, Bayfront Associates, sought a 40-year lease of underwater public land for its land mass proposal in the 1980s. Landry's Restaurants Inc. also wanted a long lease for its theme park proposal in 2002.

Sometimes the private interest isn't as direct. In the community debate that led to the dredging of Packery Channel on Padre Island, developer Paul Schexnailder proposed a $677 million resort if the channel was dredged. It was, with public money.

But the development never was built. Last year, Schexnailder wanted to ban vehicles on a 7,200-foot stretch of beach, which he said was necessary for him to build the resort, which had grown in scope to $1.5 billion. Residents voted the proposal down last year. Opponents noted the unwillingness of Schexnailder and city officials to compromise and set aside some space for vehicular access at the Packery Channel south jetty, coveted by surfers and fishermen.

The majority of debates involve waterfront or near-waterfront locations - the bayfront, downtown and the island.

"I think what you have are competing visions regarding the waterfront that people feel very strongly about," said Elizabeth Flores, a political science professor at Del Mar College. "They're not necessarily mutually exclusive, but sometimes when we discuss them they almost appear to be."


Among those who consider themselves pro-development, there are two basic schools of thought on how to go about it.

The first is that city leaders should just make the decision, not buckle under opposition and let the success of the project prove them right in the long run.

"We can't all hold hands in Cole Park and sing 'Kumbaya' on every issue," developer Joe Adame said. "Sometimes a leader just has to say, 'That's it,' and do it."

Developers sometimes act in secret out of necessity, said Trice, the local banker.

"The problem is, in lots of deals, particularly development deals, it's hard to be inclusive because you have privacy issues," Trice said. "And it's hard to structure deals so it looks like everybody will win."

In Corpus Christi, though, projects that left the public in the dark tended to breed petition drives that resulted in public referendums that killed the projects.

The other approach suggested by pro-developers is to involve the public in the planning, even before development proposals are on the table. That's the process championed by Project for Public Spaces, a nationwide nonprofit that travels at invitation to various cities to plan development in public areas, from transportation hubs to waterfronts and city parks.

The Project for Public Spaces lists the following as its first step toward creating a successful waterfront: Make public goals the primary objective. Communities need to create a shared vision, and city leaders must ensure development fits in that vision and preserves public access to the waterfront.

"You're always going to get people saying no about something," said Jennifer Vickers, president of Community Investment Corp., a nonprofit geared toward bringing business and the public together in Austin, and a board member of the Project for Public Spaces. "But if they participate in the planning of it, they are much more likely to support the outcome, even if it's not everything they want."

Giving this idea lip service - such as holding a public meeting and eventually dismissing the ideas offered by residents - won't work, Vickers said. "You have to have real processes because people get it pretty quickly if you have a meeting and say 'What do you think?' then do something anyway," she said.

Project opponents in Corpus Christi often complain their voices are not heard. In the beach access case, many opponents said they would have agreed to a compromise with wooden posts to control vehicle traffic around the resort and allow access to the Packery Channel south jetty. But the developers were adamant about an outright vehicle ban.

Brad Lomax, who owns the Water Street Market businesses downtown, attributes the recent successes - American Bank Center and Whataburger Field - to leadership that had a clear plan and involved city officials and the public. In both cases, the public had a vote and the proposals won at the polls.

David Engel, a local business consultant who led efforts for voters to approve those projects, said although some people will always oppose developments, an open, public process is the best way to go.

Nolan Ryan and his sons resolved not to change their plans for a waterfront ballpark, even when many residents thought downtown was the wrong spot. But they weren't afraid to attend public meetings, face criticism and answer questions, Engel said.

They also had the benefits of Nolan Ryan's celebrity and the support of the entire City Council and Forward Corpus Christi, a citizens group formed two years earlier and chaired by Engel.

"The Ryans came to this community, they talked to the right people," Engel said. "They were very public. They were very specific about what they would do and wouldn't do."

Instead of learning lessons from those successes, in Lomax's view, city officials wasted their political capital on secret negotiations with Landry's and asking for 3,000 additional feet of vehicle-free beach after first approving 4,200 feet and saying they wouldn't ask for more.

The resulting mistrust hampers future efforts and could be a large reason for opposition to the Oso golf course proposal, Lomax said.

"Somebody wise once said that a reputation is won by many acts and lost by a few," Lomax said. "We've got credibility issues with the business establishment and city government that's hurting us on valuable projects. It's hurting us on the university.

"There's going to have to be a period of making amends. Somebody's going to have to rebuild a track record to gain the public trust. Everything going forward is going to have to go overboard on informing the public."

In his recent book "Planners and Politics," Roger S. Waldon outlines eight instances in which city planners successfully carried the banners for various projects.

Sometimes they dealt with difficult politicians, and sometimes a vocal public, but Waldon emerges with a theme of gathering public input and adjusting plans accordingly.

Public engagement has become more and more important in the information age, when residents can almost take control of a project, Waldon writes.

His subjects point out that rowdy neighborhood meetings aren't necessarily bad, and planners need to be flexible and positive when responding to public input.

"It's great if a planner's preferred approach to planning issues fits a community's values," he writes. "If it doesn't, the planner needs to change his approach so that it fits the community. If he is not willing to do that, he needs to find another community."

Contact Denise Malan at 886-4334 or at maland@