Woods' Weekly is written by Superintendent Brian T. Woods and is sent to Northside ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.
|October 27, 2014|
Good morning! Just this weekend we hosted two events that truly show our dedication to arts education in Northside. The UIL Area Band contest is so large it had to be run at both of our stadiums simultaneously. Six of our ten marching bands qualified for the finals and of the eight bands from our area that move on to state three are from Northside – Clark, O’Connor and Taft. Congratulations to these directors and their students – what an accomplishment!
Los Leones is an annual event organized by the Northside Education Foundation in cooperation with the City of Leon Valley. As usual, I was amazed by our students’ art work and how difficult it was for judges to pick winners. We had an outstanding turnout for the awards program and the other events on Saturday that included theatrical performances and “chalkfest” – all featuring talented NISD students. Thanks to all who played a role in Los Leones and a special thanks to our art teachers. The arts is one of those areas where students choose to display grit and determination on a regular basis and I was very pleased with the products of that hard work. A special thanks to James Miculka, Dr. Sharon Chumley, Elizabeth Sanchez-Lopez and David Cain – our NISD Fine Arts Department Staff. Saturday was proof positive of the success of arts education in Northside ISD.
In August of this year, the Executive Director of the Texas Municipal League (a group that represents Texas cities) wrote a letter to state Senator Donna Campbell. Senator Campbell had presided over a hearing that focused on a topic that we hear a lot about from state leadership these days – local debt. The letter crystallizes my criticism of state leadership when they focus on local debt while both ignoring rapidly rising state debt and simultaneously refusing to fund necessary services thus passing that burden to local groups like cities, counties and school districts.
The letter cites data from the Texas Bond Review Board that from 2009 to 2012 local debt increased by 12.2% while state funded debt increased by 20.3% during that same time period. The letter goes on to say, “School funding, as you know, is a constitutional obligation of state government.
The state has chosen to discharge that obligation by creating local school districts that levy the needed taxes. In reality, the $63 billion of school district debt ought to be thought of as state debt because that’s how the state has chosen to fund schools. Shift that $63 billion over to the state debt column and a vastly different picture about which governments may be falling dangerously into debt emerges.” I love it. This puts in specific light the hypocrisy that some state leaders suffer from – that somehow their fiscal house is in order and if it weren’t for us big spenders in local governments then all would be well. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Near its conclusion, the letter states, “TML would suggest that the recent focus on local debt (despite the fact that state debt is growing faster) likely relates to the reality that Texas state government...has gotten out of the business of building new state infrastructure with state dollars. Instead, locals are expected to pick up the slack...” All I can say is Amen!
Finally, I wrote a couple of weeks ago about hearing Dr. Steve Murdock speak about the changing demographics in Texas and what that means for public schools. I was reading his most recent book and came across some interesting numbers. Murdock and his team predict that the Texas school population will increase by around 93% (almost double) between 2010 and 2050. They predict that those students requiring some special services like special education or gifted and talented will roughly track the general population increase. However, other special populations will increase at a much greater rate. They indicate that economically disadvantaged students will increase by 110% in the same time period and that by 2050 there will be a 150% increase in LEP students.
So, what do these data mean for us? It means that what we have seen in the past with demographic change will continue into the future. It also means that the pressure to fund (locally and state-wide) programming for at-risk students will not decrease. Further, our own practice will need to be continually reviewed and improved to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our students as those needs change. Thanks for all you do to meet these highly varied needs day in and day out.
Have a great week!