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Home News Rep. Pitts meets with Ellis County ISD superintendents
Rep. Pitts meets with Ellis County ISD superintendents PDF Print E-mail
Henry Martinez, Ennis Daily News, December 3, 2008

Shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, State Rep. Jim Pitts met with the superintendents of Ellis County school districts in a meeting hosted by Ennis ISD.

Rep. Pitts spoke with the superintendents on Nov. 19 about the upcoming state legislative session that is set to begin in January.

“We are grateful that Rep. Pitts took time out of his busy schedule to speak with us about many important matters that the Texas Legislature will be addressing in the upcoming session,” said Dr. Eddie Dunn, EISD superintendent.

The top item discussed at the meeting was school finance. Although EISD is not among them, some school districts have gone to the voters in tax rollback elections to increase revenue needed for their day-to-day school operations. It is estimated that school districts which are in good shape financially will likely exhaust their reserve fund balances within the next 2-4 years if no action is taken by the state on school finance.
In a related issue, the transportation allotment – which is part of the formula used by the state to determine funding for school districts – has not been changed for many years. In the interim years, transportation-related costs for school districts have risen sharply.

In the last legislative session, the burden for funding public education shifted from property tax rates, which were lowered, to increased reliance on other revenue sources such as business taxes and cigarette taxes. However, the revenue generated from those sources has not been as much as expected. In addition, because of the current economic downturn, the surplus in the state’s budget is expected to dwindle as legislators prepare to reconvene.

“As he has always done before, Rep. Pitts listened intently to our concerns and displayed a keen understanding of the issues that face public education in Texas,” Dr. Dunn said. “He understands his constituency and has consistently shown himself to be a thoughtful advocate for the schools in his district.”

Other issues discussed during the meeting included:

  • The transition of exit-level testing from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) to end-of-course tests that must be passed before a student can graduate. Superintendents agreed that while it will be an improvement over the current TAKS requirement, end-of-course testing will require adequate teaching, training and common sense in determining the passing levels for exit-level students.“In areas such as math and science, we must be careful not to set the levels such that we have high rates of failure during the initial years of implementation,” Dr. Dunn said. “Like we did previously with the TAAS and TAKS tests, we should make a sensible transition over several years so we can be best prepared to meet the higher standards.”
  • The state’s mandate to have a uniform Grade Point Average (GPA) system implemented for high schools across the state of Texas. While the intent may be well-intentioned, superintendents expressed concern that it might discourage some students from taking more rigorous coursework for fear of lowering their GPAs. Student GPAs are important in college admissions, particularly under Texas’ top 10 percent rule for automatic admission to flagship universities.
  • The state-mandated date to start the school year. After lobbying from the travel industry, the Legislature mandated that Texas public schools can start the school year no earlier than the last Monday of August. Most school districts in Texas are expected to start school next year on Aug. 24. As a result, school districts have been challenged to develop school calendars that provide the appropriate number of instructional days, teacher training days, and holidays, nudging the end of the school year into the early part of June. Superintendents expressed their opinion that the school start date should be a matter of local control determined by each individual school board.

Pd. Pol. Advertisement by the Jim Pitts Campaign 310 W. Jefferson Street, Suite 2 Waxahachie, Texas 75165 Sam Meade, Treasurer |
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