Generally positive discussion ranged from sharing ideas on how to cut costs to sending correspondence to legislators. One issue discussed by the superintendents was the negative public perception about school districts and education in general that is escalating because of the cuts that districts will be forced to make. Much of the public does not realize that school district funding from the state has remained stagnant since 2006. At that time Karnes County districts were locked into a low target revenue funding amount that ranks in the bottom 15% of the state.
The superintendents were unified in supporting the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) 2011 Legislative Priorities and the Equity Center’s talking points. These priorities developed by superintendents and other administrators across the state emphasize the education of our Texas children is far too important to reduce funding. With more children entering Texas schools each year, districts need additional dollars rather than working with less money. With accountability demands increasing, the viability of educating all students will become increasingly difficult even if funding would remain at a stagnant level, let alone be reduced.
Some of the priorities that Karnes County superintendents support are:
• Advocating against cuts to the Foundation School Program;
• Advocating against expansion of charters while public education will be cut;
• Advocating that the state fully fund enrollment growth for the next biennium;
• Advocating for the continuation of discounts that some school districts currently receive from telecommunication providers;
• Revising spending requirements for compensatory education to give districts greater flexibility with those funds;
• Advocating for the continuation of funding for dual credit courses;
• Utilizing all of the Rainy Day Fund;
• Restructuring the Franchise Tax;
• Accessing other revenue enhancements;
• Eliminating Target Revenue and fully implementing an updated cost-based formula system;
• Advocating for funding levels that are efficient and adequate for the education of all children;
• Advocating for the 20% discount on electricity costs that higher education institutes receive;
• Advocating for flexibility on personnel issues;
• Advocating for relief from unfunded mandates; and
• Delaying the implementation of new exams and accountability system for one year
Additionally, the Karnes County superintendents discussed that many legislators are pushing for consolidation. Currently all districts in Karnes County have already consolidated services in a large number of areas. These areas include disciplinary alternative education program services provided by Floresville ISD, special education services provided by Goliad Special Education Cooperative, a variety of services offered by the Region 3 Education Service Center in Victoria, joint applications for state and federal grant initiatives, and assistance from the Karnes County Drug-Free Coalition. These shared service arrangements enable Karnes County school districts to function efficiently and remain compliant with State regulations while simultaneously maintaining their small school atmospheres that are important to their individual communities.
Karnes County superintendents are joining other superintendents across the state in enlisting the aid of parents and community members to contact legislators in support of funding for the education of our children. They are asking everyone to write, call and email senators and representatives for adequate funding, enabling the districts to continue providing a quality education for Karnes County students.