WAXAHACHIE — A little more than two months after several Ellis County school districts voiced opposition to three potential agenda items of the 85th Texas Legislature, the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees had researched, deliberated and heard enough — the seven board members were ready to hop on the opposition train.
The WISD Board of Trustees reached the decision to sign a board resolution of legislative priorities during their most recent regular session.
In the resolution, signed March 20 by all seven trustees and provided to the Daily Light Tuesday, March 28, the board stated it has a commitment to support, assist and prioritize the collective efforts of more than 60 school districts in Region 10 of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that stand in opposition of three key legislative priorities. According to the Region 10 website, 80 schools comprise the region.
The two largest elephants in the room lie in the A-F Accountability System and potential the issuance of vouchers or education savings grants. The third legislative priority addressed by the board is the approach to educational funding, which the resolution states should “be raised creating additional funding for all districts in Texas,” rather than from increased property values.
Waxahachie ISD joins the school districts of Italy, Ennis, Midlothian, Milford, Palmer and Red Oak in the stand against the three legislative items. The Daily Light previously reported the other six districts, all of which fall into Region 10 of the TEA, opposed the points in an article published Jan. 8.
The resolution states that the WISD Board of Trustees see “no evidence” that the A-F grading system would positively alter the performance of school districts or its students.
“The system is designed to rank order schools within each domain to allow for comparison of schools or districts. The bulk of the rankings will be based solely on a once a year STAAR or EOC assessment that has been proven to be defective, not statistically significant or reliable, and detrimental to students and the teaching profession,” the resolution reads. “The present standard setting process indicates that it will be impossible for all schools to earn an A.”
According to an article posted on the TEA website on behalf of the superintendents of Region 10, "[...] Letter grades for schools only creates a culture of fear where individual campuses and districts are pitted against one another. Region 10 districts seek a repeal of this new law. Other states have struggled with implementation and, in fact, Virginia has already repealed its A-F system."
The second large agenda under consideration by the Texas Legislature that the board opposes is the vouchers or education saving grants. The resolution states the trustees oppose any state mandated voucher plan, tax credit, taxpayer savings grants, tuition reimbursements or any program that “diverts public tax dollars to private entities, homeschool students or parents with little to no academic or financial accountability to the state, taxpayers or local communities.”
“The Waxahachie Independent School Board of Trustees respectfully urges that the members of the 85th Texas Legislature demonstrate that an investment in Texas public school children, in partnership with the Waxahachie School District and the Region 10 area districts, is of the highest priority in order to guarantee the best possible future for our students,” the resolution concludes.
Other items approved during the regular session of the WISD Board of Trustees held March 20 at the WISD Administration Building included:
Approved a contract with Pyro Shows of Texas to conduct a fireworks display following the Waxahachie High School graduation June 2. Approved for new sod at the Finley Junior High Field. Approved to a adopt a strategic plan, a final plan for the “District of Innovation” and the 2017-18 academic calendar during the Curriculum and Academics section of agenda items. Heard several updates concerning facilities and construction. Amended the 2016-17 academic calendar to give students a holiday April 17 and May 26, which will still allow for the district to comply with HB 2610. The agenda item states “teachers and staff will still be required to fulfill contract days through alternative staff development.” Took no action on sale approximately 125 acres of land owned by WISD between Cox Road and Perimeter Road, west of Interstate-35E. Approved the sale of approximately 52.02 acres of land owned by WISD located on the north side of U.S. Highway 77, about three miles north of the U.S. Highway 287 Bypass. According to the agenda item, the resolution to sell the property was approved Jan. 11, 2016, by the WISD Board of Trustees. ----
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith