Citizens opposed to wasteful spending in bloated school bonds often find themselves on the losing end, but a citizen-driven effort in Baytown showed that with some effort, transparency, and backbone, success is within reach.

On Saturday, the Better Baytown Bond Committee, a group formed by Thomas Parent and Byron Schirmbeck to oppose Goose Creek CISD’s massive $437.5 million bond package succeeded in their efforts. The unofficial results showed the $376 million Proposition 1 losing by 445 votes and the $60 million Proposition 2 losing by 714 votes. The total turnout for the bond election hovered around 3,800 votes.

Throughout the campaign, the school district and the bond committee desperately twisted the facts while accusing their opponents of doing the same.

To show the extent to which the district went to deceive voters, the district spokesperson, Beth Dombrowa, recently interviewed with the Baytown Sun and said that opponents were misleading voters by including interest in the total amount of the bond when explaining it to voters, even though the district did the same thing on their bond promotion page. The bond was filled with unnecessary spending on things like mobile devices, an athletic center, and a robotic arena. However, the bond didn’t address the problem of GCCISD’s overcrowding that requires them to teach kids in temporary classrooms.

The 25,000 student district already has $640 million in debt from previous bond issuances. If voters had approved this proposal, GCCISD taxpayers would have had well over a billion dollars in bond debt.

Killing unnecessary spending by bureaucrats is no easy feat, the Better Baytown Bond Committee and its supporters deserve praise for highlighting the downsides of this bond and putting forth effort to communicate concerns to the voters.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.