Students have returned from the holidays and the education of our students is in full swing. Our world continues to change at a rapid rate, and with new legislators coming on board, it looks like 2013 will be another year of changes in our nation and state.
First of all, this is School Board Appreciation Month—a time when we recognize those elected non-paid officials that oversee our school district. We will be celebrating all month the work that board members do. Please take some time this month to let them know that you appreciate their work and their willingness to lead.
One of the changes in our district calendar that is different than in years past is the first semester is still in progress. It will not end until Friday, Jan. 18. Ending a semester in mid-January is a common practice in school districts in an attempt to balance the number of days in each semester.
On the state side, the 2014- 2015 legislative session began this past Tuesday. There is a new group of representatives and senators heading into their first term in office. Texas has a lot of challenges ahead with education, health, water and transportation agendas looming. The good news is that State Comptroller Susan Combs released the biennial revenue estimate for 2014-15 this past Monday, indicating that the state will have $101.4 billion available for the next budget cycle.
With $92.6 billion in general revenue and a projected $8.8 billion surplus from the current biennium, lawmakers are projected to have $101.4 billion available for general-purpose spending during the 2014-15 biennium. The state’s Rainy Day Fund is projected to have approximately $11.8 billion.
Even though there is growth in our economy and available funds, our state will continue to be challenged by an annual increase in students, a current school funding shortfall, an inequitable funding system, a question of graduation pathways for students, an overwhelming number of state assessments required for graduation or promotion to the next grade, and a broken accountability system that is confusing to parents, the community and to students.
This past December, I had the opportunity to speak and listen to newly elected and re-elected legislators. It was an encouraging conversation as they were listening and asking for solutions to some of our education issues.
Your voice as a parent, a student or a community member is very important; in fact, legislators are very willing to listen to your concerns. If you are concerned about proposed legislation, please contact your legislator during this session through e-mail, letter or telephone.
Rockdale ISD parents and community stakeholders are essential to our public school system, and I appreciate your comments and thoughts when there are differences or similarities in our opinions. We learn from you and value your input.
In ending this piece, I want to say thank you to the Rockdale Police Department for all of their help assisting us in tracking down unfounded stories regarding school safety questions during the week prior to Christmas break and to the parents of non-ill children (about 88 percent) that called to express their concerns and gather information from our investigations regarding things that they had heard and then continued to send their children to school.