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Area school districts pass resolutions calling for school finance reform

By Sonny Long
Dec. 5, 2010 at 6:05 a.m.

Andy Peters

TO LEARN MOREFor more information about the Make Education a Priority movement and read a sample resolution, go to www.schoolpriority.com, call 817-992-4454 or e-mail Bobby Rigues, vice president, Aledo school board at brigues@att.net.

Several Crossroads school boards have joined more than 200 others statewide in passing resolutions calling for school finance reform during the 2011 Texas legislative session.

One of the major problems is the inequity in funding. Some districts receive less state funding than others, although taxpayers pay the same amount of school taxes, said Jeff Black, Ganado superintendent of schools.

"The state is requiring Ganado students to compete against other Texas students with unequal resources providing that education," he said. "This inequity has been bad enough for the last six years, but with the projected $23 billion Texas budget shortfall, there is talk in Austin of cutting school funding for every district by 5 to 8 percent."

It's this framework that has spurred school districts to join forces to support finance reform.

Make Education a Priority is the rallying cry of the movement.

The resolution passed by school boards states, in part, "...in light of our current Texas economic challenges and the complexity of financing public education (that) improvements in school funding be established with an attitude where education is found as the highest priority.

"...This attitude begins within the leadership of Texas school districts and together, we respectfully share one unified message to all involved: Make Education a Priority."

In addition to Ganado, other school districts in the area that have passed the resolution include Beeville, Cuero, Gonzales, Louise, Moulton, Nordheim and Schulenburg.

Organizations lending their support include Texas Association of School Administrators, Texas Association of School Boards, The Texas Association of Mid-Size Schools, The Texas Rural Education Association, Gulf Coast Area Association of School Boards and the Association of Texas Professional Educators, among others, according to the Make Education a Priority website.

Moulton superintendent Michael Novotny said he hopes the collaboration has its intended effect.

"We are asking that the legislators make education a priority by minimizing any possible reduction of education funding," he said. "If education funding is reduced, I hope the cuts are in the state education grants and not from our regular school district funding."

If funding is cut, it will be the children who suffer, according to reform supporters.

"We need to fund public schools adequately in order to continue to provide a quality education and prepare students for their future," said Novotny.

Other superintendents agree.

"Student achievement is necessary for our economy now and in the future," said Henry Lind, superintendent of Cuero schools. "Education is a must have."

If funds are cut, school districts like Ganado will have to scale back already limited services, Black said.

The same holds true in the Louise school district.

"We are looking at having to cut 10 percent of our staff," said Andy Peters, Louise superintendent. "The school board approved the resolution because the legislature won't do anything without pressure."

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