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.

Feb. 13, 2017  

Good morning!  Recently we held the annual PTA Founders Day event.  The celebration moves from one of our high schools to the next.  This year O’Connor hosted and the students and staff did a fantastic job.  The event featured students from the fine arts programs at Helotes, Krueger, Kuentz, Los Reyes, and Nichols ES and Jefferson and Stevenson MS as well as O’Connor HS.  I was so impressed with the performances!  PTA is a great organization that advocates for all children.

I recently attended a state-wide conference for professional learning and to advocate on behalf of Texas public schools.  In one of the meetings we got a legislative update.  Items of interest include:

  • A-F is likely to remain law, but there is some hope that we can make improvements.
  • Many are skeptical of the Senate school finance subcommittee as it is likely tied to the passage of some type of voucher statute.
  • There may be a desire in the House to use some of the “Rainy Day Fund” to pay for one-time expenses.  This is good news.
  • Business groups are starting to understand the ‘Taxparency’ issue where local property value increases are not staying with schools, but rather going to the state’s general fund.
  • Health care represents 20% of US Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  By comparison, during the height of the Cold War, the entire Military Industrial Complex represented just 11% of GDP.  This is an area in serious need of nation-wide reform.

I’ll have more to say on these and other items as we get further into the session.  The Teacher Retirement System (TRS) also came up and I will put something about this in next week’s edition.  It appears we will need to advocate against changes to TRS yet again.

I noticed several articles recently where charter schools are lobbying the legislature for additional funding to cover the cost of facilities.  The argument is that only ISDs can levy a tax to generate funding 

to build and maintain facilities and that charters should have access to the same.  What is often left out of the conversation is that ISDs must have the approval of their patrons before taking on debt.  The charters are asking the legislature to simply grant additional dollars that are not subject to any voter approval.  Also, ISDs are required to take any and all students.  As our population grows, we need to build additional classrooms.  Charters are not required to take more students than they can handle given their budget.  In essence, they can say at any time that they are full and stop taking students. 

Further, there is the myth that because charters do not have access to tax dollars for facilities that their total funding per student must be much lower than ISDs.  While the average charter in the state generates about $675 less per student than the average ISD, that is not true for all.  For instance IDEA charters generate more per student in attendance than does Northside including the revenue we generate to support facilities.  KIPP, Inc., another large charter operator in this area, generates over $1,400 per student more than does Northside; again, that includes the revenue we get for facilities.  Enough on this topic for today, but I wanted you to be armed with information if this comes up at your H-E-B or around the dinner table.

Finally, there is a lot of political discussion at both the federal and state level about immigration policy.  Some of this discussion will inevitably filter into our schools as any school is, in part, a reflection of the community.  However, I want to emphasize that as of this writing, the law on this matter is clear.  We are forbidden by law from considering the immigration status of children in decisions about enrollment or service.  This is not a political issue for us; it is a matter where the courts have given us clear guidance.  Further, we will not tolerate discrimination against students, parents or staff based on perceptions about immigration status.  As a public school, we proudly serve all who come through our doors.  This is a part of what sets us significantly apart from others who offer schooling.  This too is not a political statement, but in this case a moral and ethical one.  

 

Have a great week!

BTW