Weatherford Democrat

January 13, 2013

Local, area school districts unite to address legislative education issues

Weatherford Democrat

— We, the superintendents and school board presidents representing the Aledo, Azle, Brock, Garner, Millsap, Paradise, Peaster, Poolville, Santo, Springtown and Weatherford independent school districts, have agreed to unite as a group to prioritize what we believe are the most important legislative issues regarding public education in the current 83rd Texas Legislature. Collectively, we have approximately 26,000 students in our care.

Rather than stand alone as separate entities, we stand together in unified agreement on the importance of public education in our society and what legislative priorities are critical in the upcoming legislative session in Austin.

First, we all agree on the following:

• Public education is a cornerstone in each of our respective communities and worthy of financial and public support.

• Teachers and educators in public schools are persistently dedicated to the success of all students.

• Our school districts provide students from all backgrounds the opportunity to learn, grow and become successful citizens.

• Our school districts are governed by duly-elected school board members who live in our communities and are invested in their success.

• Too frequently, critics of public education use partial truths, myths, political agendas, or actual misinformation when discussing educational issues.

Secondly, we agree that the following Legislative issues and outcomes are critical to our school districts in the 83rd Texas Legislature:

• We advocate the restoration of an equitable and adequate school funding system. Cuts made in 2011 were funding formula cuts and unless restored or revised, with increased student enrollment, they essentially amount to continuing cuts each year.

• We oppose vouchers or any legislation that allows diversion of funding from public schools to private or parochial schools.

• We advocate the redesign of our accountability system. We all believe in accountability that includes a balanced approach to assessment, is understandable to our families and community, and prepares our students for a competitive global economy.

• We oppose unfunded or underfunded legislative mandates.

• We advocate a fair and accurate discussion of educational issues apart from misconceptions and political agendas.

• We advocate maintaining the current teacher retirement system (TRS) as a defined benefit and worthy of continued support.

In the coming weeks, superintendents and board presidents from our coalition will present more specific positions regarding these issues.

Standing together in a unified voice,

Aledo ISD – Dan Manning, superintendent; Bobby J. Rigues, board president.

Azle ISD – Dr. Ray Lea, superintendent; Bill Lane; board president.

Brock ISD – Richard Tedder, superintendent; Bill Cooper, board president;

Garner ISD – Marion Ferguson, superintendent; Michael Collins, board president.

Millsap ISD – Dr. David Belding; superintendent; Dr. Dene Herbel, board president.

Paradise ISD – Monty Chapman, superintendent; Homer Mundy, board president.

Peaster ISD – Matt Adams, superintendent; Scott Johnson, board president

Poolville ISD – Jimmie Dobbs, superintendent; Lynn Duvall, board president.

Santo ISD – Greg Gilbert, superintendent; Randy Parker, board president.

Springtown ISD – Mike Kelley, superintendent; Amy Walker, board president.

Weatherford ISD – Dr. Jeffrey M. Hanks, superintendent; Charlie Martinez, board president.