Friday, August 4, 2017

The Supt Dish            
                              August 4, 2017

                                                                                                                    Dave Plymale, Superintendent
As summer comes to a close, we prepare to open another school year, excited to welcome our staff and students.  All staff will be back on August 9th when we have our Rally Day to celebrate the start of 2017-18 while students return on August 16th.
As many of you know, one of my hobbies is golf. My father introduced me to the game when I was 9 years old. Probably no comparison between golf and life is more appropriate than the idea that it is necessary to persevere under trial.

If you have played golf for any length of time, you know trouble is just one stroke away. It could be your fault or it could be a bad break. On the "your fault" side, it could be a tee shot hit out of bounds, a bad iron shot from a perfect distance, or a missed three-foot putt. On the "bad break" side, it could be your ball landing in a divot, a perfect 3-wood plugging in the soggy fringe, or a 10-foot putt hitting a spike mark and just missing the hole. Some days are tougher than others.

Jordan Spieth's victorious Sunday performance in The Open Championship recently was the perfect example of persevering under trials. Spieth produced a flurry of excellence after yet another bad shot threatened to undo him on the thirteenth hole. With our legislature in a special session this summer, we are enduring what may or may not happen with our elected officials in the Senate and House. However, we, too, will persevere.

GISD had two school district trustees go to Austin July 24th meeting with Senator Kolkhorst, Representative Morrison, and Marian Wallace, Education Policy Advisor for Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.  Our trustees, Brandon Huber and Destry Gruetzmacher, represented GISD well in telling our story and what the legislature needs to do to ease our local taxpayers burden with funding issues of our public schools. We are also very proud of our retired teachers and staff members that attended a rally for public education at the Capitol July 17th.

With 12 days left in the Special Session, we are “on the back 9 with very few holes left to play”.   We need to, and our legislature needs to finish as Jordan Spieth did at The Open.  You can help by contacting our legislators and let them know that we want a school finance solution and until there is one, we need some relief with the loss of ASATR. Some of our neighboring school districts need relief with the elimination of the small school penalty. And our retired teachers need relief with their health insurance and retirement.
Regardless of what happens over the next 12 days at the Capitol, we will welcome our students with smiling faces, excited to begin the school year. We will continue to provide our students with quality and engaging lessons, preparing them for life’s challenges. For I know our teachers and staff have the perseverance to meet any challenge just as Jordan Spieth did!
Contact Information:
Marian Wallace, Lt. Dan Patrick’s Education Policy Advisor,  (512) 463-6054
MacGregor Stephenson, Chief of Staff for Representative Geanie Morrison,  (512) 463-0456
Ben Barkley, Education Policy Advisor for Senator Lois Kolkhorst,  (512) 463-0118

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 1, 2017

The Supt Dish                  
  June 1, 2017

During the spring, the Board of Trustees and I, along with many of you, wrote letters, sent emails and made phone calls to our elected officials in Austin in an effort for legislative action to extend ASATR funding for Goliad ISD.  Due to legislative action in 2011, ASATR funds are to expire on September 1, 2017.
Last year the Texas Supreme Court ruled our school finance system  “satisfies minimal constitutional requirements” however is “byzantine and undeniably imperfect with immense room for improvement.”  The day I was present to testify for the House ASATR bill, HB 811, State Representative Dan Huberty, who chairs the House Public Education Committee, presented a new school finance bill, HB 21. This bill would have provided Hardship Grants for ASATR districts for a two-year period and injected $1.6 billion in additional funding to public schools. Although I did not testify on HB 21, I did let Representative Geanie Morrison’s Chief of Staff, Dr. MacGregor Stephenson, know that we are in favor of this bill and applaud Chairman Huberty and members of the House Public Education Committee for developing a new school finance system while bringing some relief to ASATR districts.
But the Senate changed HB 21 to reduce the new money the House had injected from $1.6 billion to  $530 million and inserted Educator Savings Accounts, or vouchers, for parents of special education or 504 students. This was not agreeable and thus, the school finance bill did not make it to Governor Abbott.
With the close of the 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature, the Texas House and Senate failed to fund Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) or agree on a new school finance system. Goliad ISD along with approximately 150 other school districts across Texas will lose close to $250 million in state funding. For Goliad ISD, this means the loss of approximately $4 million, or 28% of the total Goliad budget, placing Goliad per student funding lower than 2006 levels. This equates to approximately $2,800 LESS funding per student at Goliad ISD in 2017-18!
Regardless of where you stand on school choice (vouchers, education savings accounts), I am disappointed our elected officials could not come to a consensus to approve a new school finance system with Hardship Grants for ASATR districts or pass a bill to extend ASATR for those school districts in need. Education Savings Accounts seemed to be the issue with the House voting 103-44 in April that no public funds be used for vouchers or education savings accounts while the Senate voted 21-10 to insert Education Savings Accounts in HB 21.
As we continue to prepare the 2017-18 budget with less funding and no resolution to a new school funding system, lets hope and pray that Governor Abbott will call for a Special Session. Our elected officials need to pass legislation that will provide additional funding of our public schools, relief to ASATR districts, and not hold our schools hostage over school choice.  As Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman stated in the school finance lawsuit ruling, “shortfalls in both resources and performance persist in innumerable respects, and a perilously large number of students are in danger of falling further behind.” Putting our students in danger of falling behind, places our state in danger of falling behind in a global economy.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

January 5th

The Supt Dish    
                                                                January 6, 2017

On Friday January 6, 2017, the Texas Education Agency will release to the public a “what if” or “provisional” rating of Texas public schools with the soon to be implemented A-F Accountability System. The “what if,” is rating our public schools A-F based on the 2015-16 STAAR test scores using the soon to be implemented A-F formulas.
HB 2804 was approved by the Texas Legislature in 2015 and is to be implemented for the 2017-18 school year.  The reasoning by politicians for this system was to reduce the role of student assessment in measuring public schools.  State Representative Sylvester Turner stated in 2015 that this was a “horrendous mistake…that places more of a stigma on kids who are trying to rise above circumstances.”
Several states have taken action or are in the process of taking action to repeal their A-F accountability system. Virginia repealed their A-F system in 2015. Oklahoma researchers recently conducted a study on their A-F rating system and found that test scores have not only declined in general, but performance drops have been most severe among low income students.
Recently the State Board of Education released a report entitled “Texans Speak.” This report revealed that people across the state have made it clear that they are tired of our schools and children being defined by a test. Although the A-F rating system was intended to reduce the role of state assessments, tests are the primary component of the A-F rating system accounting for 55% of each campus and district rating.
When our Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) met during the summer and fall developing a five-year strategic plan, the SPC also developed and the school board approved a “Profile of a Goliad Graduate.” During our conversations, we discussed that we want our graduates to be effective communicators, lifelong learners, collaborative team members and productive citizens. At no time did we discuss grades.
The A-F rating system has flaws and still relies on measuring schools based on a test given on one day. The provisional A-F ratings released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on January 6, 2017 are solely a preliminary evaluation using data available from the 2015-2016 school year. In its design of the system, TEA restricted “A” ratings to only 10% of campuses and “B” ratings to only 15%. When fully implemented in the summer of 2018, each letter grade will be associated with a target score released and will not be based upon a pre-determined proportion of campuses receiving A’s and B’s.
The A-F provisional grades we have received are NOT an accurate reflection of the quality education, dedicated staff, supportive parents and students with a vast array of talents, interests and opportunities. On Monday January 9th, I will present and recommend to the Board of Trustees that Goliad ISD join with many Texas school districts to adopt a resolution for the 85th Texas Legislature to repeal the A-F rating system. This system does NOT take into consideration the vast diversity of our state or the available resources for meeting the high expectations required to achieve the desired outcomes.

At Goliad ISD, we will continue to work collaboratively with staff, students, parents and community in meeting the high expectations that are identified in our campus, district and strategic plans. Goliad ISD remains committed to the success of all students by preparing them academically for future pursuits, as well as equipping them to become effective problem solvers, effective communicators, and responsible and engaged citizens.