Spring is definitely here

I trust that your children or grandchildren enjoyed spring break this past week. It seems like this year is passing by so fast with all of the activities taking place in our city, our county and our school district.

With spring comes those annual events such as the UIL academic meet, One-Act Play, FFA contests, banquets, prom, band contests, baseball, softball, track, tennis, golf, TAKS and STAAR testing, graduation and promotions, school board, city council and primary elections and budget development for the next school year.

Be proud of your child if they are involved with any of the student activities that are listed. It is important for students to be involved; in fact, research indicates that student grades improve if they are involved in school activities. Dr. Douglass Reeves reported in January that there is a positive correlation between the number of events a student is involved with and their Grade Point Average (GPA). His research indicates that the GPA of a high school student is higher if they are involved with one school activity compared to no involvement.

This spring also includes the budget development for the school district. I reported the results of the 82nd Legislature to the Rotary Club last week and described how the $5.3 million dollar cuts to the state education budget have affected Rockdale ISD. It is clear that our state revenues (that include your taxes) have dropped significantly. Costs such as utilities, fuel, food, and supplies have gone up. Now your taxes may not have dropped, but what the district earns and is allowed to keep has dropped by at least $2.9 million dollars (the state keeps $2.1 million). We will lose another $750,000 this next year. Our district has to make serious reductions to our operations and maintenance budget. This means that we must cut more money from programs than we did last year and that we will have to operate with quite a few less people working in our district than last year. In my article last week and to the Rotary Club, I mentioned that we would put out a survey that asks our stakeholders their thoughts on budget cuts.

The spring time includes elections this year. RISD will hold elections for two board positions on May 12. This year, the primary elections will be held on May 29, for state and national candidates. Both of these elections are important to the future of our district. The candidates for the school board election will likely be people that you know and people that you will converse with more often than state or national candidates. If you are not satisfied with the staff and program cuts that are occurring in RISD, then please get to know your candidates at the state and national level before you vote.

This Saturday is the Save Texas Schools March in Austin, beginning at 11 a.m. This was a huge event last year and is composed of parents, educators and students that support education and want their voices heard. Next week is another week of STAAR testing, so please make sure that your children get plenty of rest.

As a final but very important note, please keep Pam Hammett, one of our finest teachers, in your thoughts and prayers as she recovers from a terrible automobile accident.

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