First of all, I would like to thank all of our stakeholders that voted in the school board election that ended this past Saturday. It is refreshing to see democracy in action when citizens cast votes to elect people to a public office. Exercising our voting privilege is one way to honor those that currently and in the past have made sacrifices to ensure that we have a right to elect representation by a popular vote.
Rockdale ISD has two new board members as a result of this past election: Lin Perry was elected in Place 6 and Kent Bowermon in Place 7. The current law requires a three-year term for these positions. I will come back to them later in this column. Outgoing board members, Barbara Grayson and Lisa Gerthe, served RISD well over many years. We recognized both of them for their years of service this past Monday night at our regular board meeting.
Barbara has served for 15 years and Lisa for nine years. Their combined years add up to a lot of time of service in this community. They have had many opportunities to participate in different school events and the number of changes that have taken place over the past two decades. I want to publicly thank both ladies for their support and excellent representation before and during my tenure in Rockdale ISD. They are both true Tigers.
Mr. Perry and Mr. Bowermon will begin their service in one of the most challenging times for education. I am certain that as a team of eight (all board members and the superintendent), we will be able to make the best decisions for the students of RISD. Our district faces difficult decisions in these uncertain times. I want to emphasize uncertain as the House of Representatives last week decided to discontinue their version of an Education Funding Bill. Jim Pitts, Chairman for the House Finance Committee, announced that he and others will postpone all of the House bills related to funding the gaps in HB1 (the budget bill) until July 11.
He said the House will wait until SB1811 and other funding bills come over to the House from the Senate. Pitts stated that if we do not get a school finance bill out in the next two weeks, schools would be funded under current law until approximately February 2013, and at that time they would most likely have to close down. This would happen, however, only if the 2013 Legislature did not come into session and provide additional funding.
So, the pressure is on the Senate to deliver an education funding bill based on the budget passed by the Senate Finance Committee. The good thing is that there are senators from both parties that want to see education funded more appropriately than the House members. The problem is that they are stuck on the Senate version of an education funding bill, Committee Substitute 22.
As of the weekend, they did not have enough votes to get it passed. CS22 cuts education by $4 billion and does not provide equity to the lower funded school districts, but it does provide more funding than what was the House version (before they gave up on their bill).
What does this mean for Rockdale? Our district will have to pass a budget by June 30 based on current information (which is very little). We will also have to provide a budget that is flexible enough to withstand an education funding bill that will not be determined until August and possibly following one or two special sessions. It will be an interesting summer for RISD administrators and school board members. Remember, our trustees serve this district without pay. Their main motivation is inspired by their desire to see all RISD students receive an excellent education.
Thank you to all of those board members that have served in the past and welcome aboard to Mr. Perry and Mr. Bowermon. firstname.lastname@example.org