I don’t know about you folks elsewhere, but the election results earlier this month here in Mid-County surprised the dickens out of me.

Personally, I was stunned at the results of the bond election in Nederland. Maybe if I’d listened to a wise old friend of mine who has his thumb pretty much on the pulse of that city, I wouldn’t have been so astonished. You see, during one of our regular Tuesday luncheons, he suggested that some folks might be in for a ‘surprise’ when the results were tallied.

I disagreed, believing the bond would pass. If it didn’t I figured it would fail by a narrow margin. But, no matter how you slice the cake, 79% to 21% against the issue ain’t what anyone would call ‘narrow’.

Nederland voters didn’t speak, they shouted at the top of their lungs!

Mandate is a cliched expression today, but I don’t know what else to call the decision of the majority. But, a mandate for what? Maybe folks are mighty uneasy about the economy. Maybe they’ve caught up in an epidemic of ‘make do with what we got’. Maybe they caught the ‘we just don’t need it’ epizooties.  

Maybe they were concerned about the fiasco over in Beaumont.

You remember, tearing down buildings or constructing new buildings, none of which had been included in the bond issue.

I can see where uninformed Nederland voters would have had the same reservations about their own district’s spending discipline. 

But if they had the opportunity to know the superintendent as I do, they’d realize she is too conscientious, too professional to spend outside the guidelines of the bond. Spending problems with her?

Forget it! No bank could take better care of your funds.

Another surprise was the trustee election in Port Neches, and the next surprise was the turnout being almost fifty percent higher than the previous election.

Two of my three candidates didn’t make it.

One common remark from the new trustees seemed to be that they’d constantly heard the community’s feeling that the school board did not listen to them. That could account for the larger voter turnout.

Now, in my forty-one years in education, I learned a lot, and one thing is that most school boards listen.

My first twenty years with the school district, anyone could call up a board member and talk to them, anyone. I mean parents, kids, and yes, even teachers.

Once when I was working for Dr. Tommy Huff in the early eighties, I was in his office when we were interrupted by at least three different board members who came in to question him about comments they had picked in the community.

That was the way the system worked then. We voted the trustee in, which meant if we wanted to complain, we complained to her or him.

Some years back a new superintendent came in and promptly shut that process down, instructing the board to forward all constituent calls to his office. His rationale, and it makes sense, was that the board is a policy making process, not a complaint-solving machine.
Not long after is when I started hearing the first complaints of ‘not listening.’

Personally, I think it’s a pretty good process. It saves the board members some headaches, but let’s not be so naïve as to believe they still don’t field complaints.

Well, both Nederland and Port Neches-Groves boards have a new makeup. We’ll see what takes place.

Now is the time for Nederland ISD to head back to the drawing board and PN-G to show the community they are ‘listening’.