Highlands gives Goose Creek trustees an earful

BAYTOWN— Highlands residents, upset over a proposed high school rezoning plan based on socio-economic equality rather than proximity to the school, took their concerns to the Goose Creek CISD Board of Trustees Monday night.
A standing room only crowd of more than 100 erupted in applause when the Rev. Tim Edwards told board members that the community wanted all students at Highlands Junior School to attend the same high school. Edwards called the proposed X and Z rezoning plans “jerry mandering” and reminded the board that they were under an obligation to do what was best for the students.
Speaking on behalf of the Greater Highlands Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce, President Jessica Woods said that plans X and Z were at odds with the idea of neighborhood schools. Highlands, she said, supported the bond election to build the third high school because they trusted the district. The proposed plans, she said, would be a waste of tax dollars by sending students to a school 10 miles away (Sterling) rather than four miles away (third highing the board that plans X and Z were “fiscally irresponsible.” She accused the board of ignoring the recommendations of the rezoning committees, saying that if socio-economic issues were such a concern the board should have made that clear from the beginning and that the elementary and junior high lines should also be redrawn to address this.

Complaints were also addressed directly to Superintendent Dr. Barbara Sultis. Betty Michalsky asked her why did she come to the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and ask for the community’s support if the district was going to treat them as second class citizens.
At this point Board President Carl Burg broke in and asked the audience not to refer to specific employees by name. Burg, at the beginning of the public comment period, drew criticism from the audience when he said that he would only allow 30 minutes for the entire public comment period. He added that if someone wanted to speak to the board and someone had already addressed the issue it would be better for them to not speak but give their time to someone else.
Of the 14 people who signed up to address the board, 13 made it to the podium before time was called. Burg did say, however, that he allowed them to go “a few minutes” over the 30 allotted to them.
Burg reminded the audience that the board had not made a decision yet and in the end it was their decision not the school administration.
“The board owns this decision,” he said. “This is not a district decision.”
The board will meet in a workshop session on May 9 at 6:30 p.m. A final decision is not expected until June.