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Next Year’s Super Bowl and HISD Budget Woes: Friday’s Show (February 5, 2016)

Sunday’s Super Bowl reminds us that Houston’s turn to host the annual NFL championship game — and all the hype and spectacle that comes with it — is just a year away. A delegation of Houston officials are attending Sunday’s game to observe the event in preparation for next year. Among them: Kevin Hoffman, Executive Director of the […]

NRG Stadium. Photo: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public Media.

Sunday’s Super Bowl reminds us that Houston’s turn to host the annual NFL championship game — and all the hype and spectacle that comes with it — is just a year away. A delegation of Houston officials are attending Sunday’s game to observe the event in preparation for next year. Among them: Kevin Hoffman, Executive Director of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation. On this edition of Houston Matters, he gives producer Michael Hagerty a tour of some of the upgrades being made at NRG Stadium.

Also this hour: Houston Independent School District anticipates a $107 million budget shortfall next year. The district contends it’s due to Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code, which requires “property wealthy” school districts to return significant funding back to the state to help less well-off districts. HISD and hundreds of other districts have sued the state over this so-called “Robin Hood” payback scenario. A state district judge ruling from 2014 siding with the districts is being appealed by the state. Meanwhile, lawmakers had previously sought to avoid this scenario for the Houston and Dallas school districts, but did not do so during the last legislative session. So this would be the first time the district may reach the revenue level triggering the payback.

We talk with Houston Chronicle education reporter Ericka Mellon about the controversial payback scenario and what options exist for HISD to address this shortfall as the district prepares a budget for passage in June.

Then: A lot can happen in a week: some of it good, some of it bad, some of it downright ugly. When faced with intriguing developments in the week’s news, we turn to a rotating panel of “non-experts” to parse The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of it all. Today, Tamara Tabo, Charles Kuffner and Mary Flood contemplate Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland’s legacy (Chief McClelland announced this week that he plans to retire at the end of the month), the Denton City Council’s renouncement of a long-ignored “whites-only” cemetery deed restriction, and a Corpus Christi church’s plans to build the largest cross in the western hemisphere.

Plus: We talk with architect James Gast, author of The Astrodome: Building an American Spectacle.

Houston Matters offers a free daily, downloadable podcast here, on iTunes, Stitcher and various other podcasting apps.

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