The Midlothian ISD Board of Trustees met last week to discuss the varying platforms of those running for Texas' lieutenant governor and how those stances could affect teachers and districts across the state. The board plans to vote on passing a resolution that would call those at the Texas State Capitol to action.
Midlothian ISD Board President Todd Hemphill explained, “Hopefully by putting this out on a legislative agenda format, we can get other districts to do similar things. This can also serve as a roadmap to work more diligently with legislatures both locally and in Austin as we move forward.”
MISD Chief of Communications Karen Permetti said, “This is the first time for our school board to take such a strong stand, legislatively speaking.”
During the next school board meeting Monday, Feb. 19, the trustees will present an action item covering four agreed upon priorities.
1) The opposition of vouchers that divert public education funds to charter or private schools with no accountability.
2) Opposing the A—F accountability system, where all schools are held to the same standard regardless of the student population and student needs.
3) Creating a reliable financial system in public school that helps serve the whole child.
4) Keeping a pension plan in place and providing better health care for current and retired teachers.
Hemphill said he'd noticed a significant deficit in state funding from about 55 percent to the current 37 percent over the last six years he has served on the board.
“That means that more of the burden has been shifted onto the backs of local taxpayers through property tax,” Hemphill explained.
In the meantime, the current state lieutenant agrees on how property taxes are too high. During the 85th Texas Legislature, the Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick regularly spoke in favor of property tax reform, even once stating, “Texans pay the sixth highest property taxes in the nation and the high rates are taxing people out of their homes and hampering business growth. This must change.”
Hemphill iterated the State Constitution, Article 7, which states government will create a public education system and fund it. He pointed out the government is not meeting the second half of the obligation by “shunting much of the responsibly onto local property taxpayers.”
Over time, these foundational issues have impacted districts differently. Hemphill said the MISD budget is in the clear as of now but worries if more state funding is eliminated and local taxpayers stress, MISD could be adversely affected in the long run.
“Basically we are standing up as a district saying this is what we stand for as a school board and a district to support public education, we support the ‘independent’ that’s in our name,” Hemphill added, “We believe school districts should have that local control that’s been steadily eroded by the state. And we also stand up for our staff and retirees and believe they’ve been treated unfairly in regards to retirement benefits and medical care.”
Trustees exhort voters to attend Monday’s meeting to get educated on the current issues that have presided over Texas public school districts and hear more about the foundation MISD stands for.
“I can tell you from an educational perspective this March primary is major for public schools. It has impacted greatly on the entire state,” Permetti emphasized.
Those running for lieutenant governor of Texas Lieutenant include Republicans Dan Patrick (incumbent) and Scott Milder, and Democrats Mike Collier and Michael Cooper.
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