Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly

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.

September 222014     

Good morning!  Last week we held the annual Northside Education Foundation Pillar Recognition and Banquet.  The event is both a fundraiser for the Foundation as well as an opportunity to showcase six NISD graduates and the pillars of character they were chosen to represent.  I would encourage you to look at the profiles of the graduates we honored (found at http://nisd.net/news/articles/53972).  What an impressive group!  As you know, I am proud that we teach students a lot more than the TEKS and certainly character education is key in that.  Thanks to Cassandra Miranda and the Partnerships Department staff and all of the volunteers in the Foundation for a wonderful event that greatly benefits NISD students and staff.

Also last week, the KENS5/SACU Excel Award for all of Northside ISD was presented to Rawlinson MS social studies teacher Jennifer Vasquez.  I’m told that Jennifer is a fantastic young teacher and it was great to see her recognized.  Congratulations to Jennifer and the Rawlinson MS family!

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that one solution for the legislature to consider in the short term to deal with the decision in favor of school districts in the finance lawsuit was to revisit the funding formulas that impact some of our most at-risk students.  I want to circle back to that and give you some numbers that you can use.

One example of how the funding system is disconnected from reality is the Cost of Education Index (CEI) which was last updated in 1990.  Since that time, over 1,500,000 students have been added to the state’s rolls – an increase of over 45%.  However, it is the nature of those students that makes them simply more expensive to educate.  In that same time period, the percentage of economically disadvantaged students has increased by 130% and the percentage of our student who are English language learners has ballooned by 150%!  Judge Dietz was clear in his ruling that these two groups are being underserved in our state due to a 

lack of funding for local schools to provide adequate intervention services.

This is just one example of how the school funding system in Texas is irrational.  Other weights used to determine funding including bilingual, transportation, compensatory, gifted and talented, career and technology and special education are significantly out of date and need a reality check.

As we near the end of the month, I need to remind you about a change in Teacher Retirement contributions that you will see on your September pay stub.  As you will recall, in the 2013 session, the legislature increased both individual and district contributions in an attempt to shore up the fiscal stability of the system – even though the system was in good shape to begin with.  District contributions went up 1.5% (over $6 million per year in NISD) starting this school year.  Individual contributions will ramp up over time as shown below.  I just didn’t want you to be surprised by this increased deduction.

Previous contribution   6.4%

Effective 09/01/14       6.7%
Effective 09/01/15       7.2%
Effective 09/01/16       7.7%

For everyone who has an impact on student attendance – and that is a lot of us – please reinforce the importance of this as often as possible.  We need to teach students and parents that attendance is directly related to positive outcomes and we need to make sure that attendance means something important.  In other words, students need to believe that something significant and wonderful is happening every day.

Finally, and tied to the comments I made to begin this edition, is a reminder of the NEF employee pledge drive.  Only about 15% of the funds the Foundation raises each year comes from the pledge drive, but it is important because it shows our belief in the significance of their work.  Please consider participating before the deadline of October 3.

    Have a great week!