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.

Friday, December 2, 2016

December 2, 2016

The Supt Dish            
                                                                December 2, 2016

With the November elections over, many of our elected state officials have filed several bills that will have an affect on education. The 85th Legislative Session begins January 10, 2017 but many committees have conducted several hearings during the fall listening to testimony to assist in crafting bills. If you have kept up with the news, public education will most likely be under attack by those who want to pass a voucher or educator savings account bill to privatize education.
Over the last two weeks, the leaders of the Texas Senate, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Texas House Speaker Representative Joe Strauss, have very different public educational priorities. Lt. Governor Patrick has a high priority on vouchers, while Representative Strauss has a priority on addressing and fixing the school finance system.
Locally, I have spoken at several groups this fall concerning the projected loss funding that Goliad ISD is facing. This funding pool, Adjusted State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) was put in place during the 79th Legislature in 2005. During the legislative session, the legislature cut school property taxes by one third. No business or corporation much less a school district can lose 1/3 of their revenue and continue to operate efficiently, thus the state replaced this lost revenue with ASATR. However, as we faced an economic crisis in 2011, the 82nd Legislature voted to phase out ASATR by September 1, 2017.
As we have weathered the school funding crisis and received a Supreme Court decision with the school finance lawsuit over equity, ASATR was not addressed in the Supreme Court’s decision. Since the action taken by the 82nd legislature, many school districts have slowly had their ASATR funding phased out. As of the 2016-17 school year 253 school districts including Goliad ISD, receive ASATR funding. Most of these districts rely heavily on ASATR funding for their budgets. Of the remaining ASATR districts:
·      83% qualify as small districts
·      75% serve populations with more than 50% economically disadvantaged students
·      65% pay recapture
·      61% are rural
·      13% are mid-sized
·      5% are fast-growth

As you can see, the districts receiving ASATR funding vary in size and geographic location with the majority qualifying as rural and small districts. In the ESC 3 region, 21 districts still receive ASATR funding. For Goliad, ASATR funding is approximately 30% of our revenue for the 2016-17 budget. Of the district’s $14 million budget, GISD receives approximately $4 million in ASATR funding. This percentage is similar with many of the 253 districts still receiving ASATR funds.

GISD initiated strategies in the Spring 2016 to reduce expenditures as GISD faces the fiscal cliff with ASATR funding. The net savings the district initiated was approximately $1.1 million. GISD is still faced with having to reduce the budget an additional $2.9 million.

As our state legislature prepares for the opening of the 85th Legislative Session on January 17, 2017, we ask that you express your concerns to our elected officials below and ask that the Legislature extend ASATR funding to GISD and school districts in similar circumstances.

State Representative Geanie Morrison                       Senator Lois Kolkhorst
Room 1N.9                                                                 PO Box 12068
PO Box 2910                                                              Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78768                                                   Austin, Texas 78711                  

Friday, November 18, 2016

November 18th

The Supt Dish  
                                                        November 18, 2016   

The holiday season is my favorite time of the year. Thanksgiving is a time that offers us time to reflect on the many blessings we have.
As I reflect on the school year, we are blessed to have such a wonderful staff, a UNIQUE staff. Each of you has dedicated your life to making a difference in our children’s lives. Our students’ successes are due to the impact you have on their education and life. We have had many successes so far; several Ag Science teams have qualified for Area competition, students in elementary science are doing amazing experiments, girls’ cross country qualified for Area and two GHS students participated in the State meet, the Roarin’ Tiger Marching Band was the Sweepstakes winner, the fine arts department is performing the musical “Lil Mermaid” this weekend, our football team won the District and plays in Area tonight, and our girls’ volleyball team went undefeated in District and plays for the State Championship tomorrow!
We have faced many challenges and will continue to face challenges with strength, determination, and with confidence. This is something I remind myself ever day as we work together in achieving our goals. So far, we have met these challenges as reflected with our students’ successes. Challenges are what make life interesting, overcoming them are what make life meaningful.

During the Thanksgiving break, please take time to give thanks for the many blessing we have. We are fortunate to work and live in a supportive and caring community. As you reflect on the year, please remember the difference you make in each other’s life and the lives of our students. For those of you traveling, be safe on the highways.