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Archive for March 12th, 2009

Humble ISD Legislative Committee, March 9, 2009 Meeting Summary

Posted by Texas Education on March 12, 2009

Members of the Humble ISD Board of Trustees including Charles Cunningham, Dan Huberty, Dr. Bonnie Longnion, and Robert Scarfo, as well as Superintendent Guy Sconzo, shared their observations from the Legislative Reception in Austin to start the meeting. About 15 PTA members and three Quest students attended the reception. Representatives Senfronia Thompson and Joe Crabb, as well as aides from the offices of Sen. Dan Patrick, Sen. John Whitmire, Sen. Rodney Ellis and Rep. Debbie Riddle also attended.

Members of the Board and Guy noted that:

  • They were especially pleased that Rep. Joe Crabb attended.

  • The Texas Senate appears to understand and strongly support the need for additional funding and more equalized funding. House members’ efforts are not as cohesive.

  • Two bills – which are mirror images of each other – appear to be the ones we need to hang our hat on at this time. They are SB 982 (written by Sen. Van de Putte) and HB 1555 (written by Rep. Diane Patrick). There are no reliable simulations on how the money would flow at this time.

  • The last day to file bills is Friday, March 13th.

  • It appears that about $4.0 billion in new money will flow into the education system. $6.0 billion is needed to begin to make us whole. The $4.0 billion is a bridge until the funding system can be overhauled.
    • The good news is that legislators understand that there are huge disparities in WADA (it varies from around $3,000 to $12,000). This should be more equalized.
    • There will always be some weighting due to variations in property wealth in districts, but the disparity is way too large in the current funding system. Legislators understand the need to keep more equitable funding between school districts.
    • No more target revenue. This is a good thing.
    • No school districts will lose money in SB 982 and HB 1555. Those who have had high funding levels would get smaller increases than districts that have been short changed. That is, some will not gain ground as quickly as others because they have been funded at higher levels in recent years.

  • A possible special session is already under discussion. This is due in part to the Federal stimulus package. All that it encompasses – and the strings attached - are still being studied. Communication from Washington has been slow. Once there is more clarity and transparency from the Feds, then the information must be assimilated by those who must administrate it. Bottom Line: It will take time and unless it is done quickly, we may not know in July what our financial picture is going to be when school starts in August. Legislators know – as do we – that we can’t get school finance done right with the stimulus package on the table with more questions than answers at this point.

  • The governor has backed off the 65% rule (for instruction) largely thanks to Rep. Rob Eissler from the Woodlands who chairs the Public Education Committee in the House. This definition about what could be counted toward the 65% did not include some rather critical areas such as counselors, librarians and nurses, for example. These kinds of omissions were a sticking point to school districts.

Suggested next steps include:

  • Margaret Fraissinet will draft a Letter to the Editor for the local newspapers and for the Houston Chronicle and circulate a signature interest form for committee members who want to have their names included (At this writing, the letter is done and the signature interest process is underway. GO MARGARET!)

  • Hard copies of the Postcards will be available after Spring Break. Call 281-850-7693 if you need some.

Contact Legislators!

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Humble ISD – update 3/10/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 12, 2009

Just in – update from Humble ISD. I missed Tuesday night’s meeting, and it looks like there was much covered. The trustees voted on next years calendar, so you will need to synchronize your calendars with your children’s. Elementary #25 gets a name Lakeshore Drive, oops, my bad, it’s just Lakeshore, I guess…Elementary. And Wood Creek for the newest middle school, ummm….that one is going to be hard to get used to, to open in 2010. Also, a regional program for the deaf, in conjunction with New Caney ISD, great idea! I’ve always assumed things would come to this, sharing with other districts. It’s come up in past budget meetings, and it’s not a bad thing! Using a commissioning agent for ES# 26 and future construction projects? ES #25 cost us $30,000, no comment! Then Dr. Sconzo’s comments, he goes on about the bond and the PSF, oh, not so good. And finally, the board’s comments. We are working hard at bridging that huge gap between school districts and the Lege. I’m feeling optimistic too Bonnie.

2009-2010 School Calendar
The Humble ISD Board of Trustees approved the school calendar for the coming year. The 2009-10 calendar mirrors this year’s and includes a two week Winter Break, a one week Spring Break, and a three-day Thanksgiving holiday. School starts on August 24, 2009 and ends on June 2, 2010 for students. View/Print the new calendar

Elementary #25 gets a name: Lakeshore
Lakeshore Elementary is the name selected for Humble ISD’s 25th elementary school. The name was chosen based on preferences expressed by parents, students and community through a web site survey and the review of the Board’s School Naming Committee. The school opens in August 2009. It is located at 13333 Breakwater Lane, Houston.

Woodcreek Middle opens in 2010
Woodcreek Middle will be the name of the school district’s eighth middle school. The name was selected based on the preferences expressed by parents, students and community through a web survey and the review of the Board School Naming Committee. The school will open in August 2010. It is located at 14600 Woodson Park in Houston. It is near Beltway 8 and West Lake Houston Parkway.

Establishing a Humble ISD regional program for the deaf
The Board approved a shared services agreement with New Caney ISD to establish the Humble Regional Day School Program for the Deaf. In this agreement, New Caney will pay tuition to Humble ISD for serving its deaf education students. This is expected to be a more comprehensive and cost efficient way for both school districts to provide services for deaf children.

In other business, the Board approved:

  • United Healthcare as Humble ISD’s new third-party administrator for our Health Care Program.
  • Using a commissioning agent for elementary 26 and future construction projects. A commissioning agent adds a level of professional review of design documents, assurance that operating systems function properly, pre-operation reviews and recommendations, start-up testing with verification of system’s efficiency, one year follow-up assessment, etc. The total cost is $.30 per square foot. For Lakeshore Elementary, the cost was $30,000.

Superintendent’s comments
Dr. Guy Sconzo noted that the last bond sale from Bond 2005 and the first sale from Bond 2008 were planned for this month, but will be delayed. The state’s Permanent School Fund (PSF) is not available to guarantee school bonds at this time. The problem is that there has been no Federal action to approve the increase in the eligibility cap for securing bonds with the PSF yet.

One of the negative ripple effects of the current economy is the demise of all bond insurance companies. Purchasing bond insurance instead of having the PSF guarantee is no longer an option. Without the PSF guarantee or insurance for bonds, Humble ISD would pay a significantly higher interest rate on bonds sold. This is why a delay in selling bonds is necessary.

Dr. Sconzo noted the need to avoid losing ground on “must have” bond projects that need to begin this summer. Losing ground could mean up to a year’s delay in necessary roof and HVAC replacements, Community Learning Center renovations and additions, ES #26, and Turner Stadium renovations. The immediate amount required to begin and/or complete these critical projects is $12.9 million.

To avoid the interest costs of short-term borrowing, the district plans to temporarily redirect a significant portion of unencumbered balances in Bond 2005 projects to fund the “must have” summer projects. Humble ISD’s financial advisors believe that the climate will be better for the planned bond sale in September or October 2009. In the worse case scenario, the school district might have to consider conducting the bond sale absent the PSF guarantee at that time.

Dr. Guy Sconzo reviewed the progress of the Citizens Boundary Advisory Committee and the Summerwood community’s representatives regarding Lakeshore Elementary’s boundaries. Action on this is expected in April.

Comments by Board Members
Humble ISD Board members have been actively working with legislators in Austin to increase funding for education and to provide more equitable funding solutions for Texas. Charles Cunningham, chair of the Board’s Legislative Committee, noted that Board members have talked with at least half of the House and Senate Education Committees’ members and have received a warm response and an invitation for the superintendent to “have a seat at the table” to help legislators work through funding solutions.

Board members Dan Huberty and Dr. Bonnie Longnion expressed cautious optimism about the response from legislators. Huberty noted that it is difficult for legislators to argue that the current funding formula is equitable when districts like Katy and Humble with their similar demographics, have such disparate funding.

Longnion stated that she is especially pleased with our local community’s enthusiasm and public engagement. She noted that the Humble ISD Legislative Committee’s work is especially energetic and that we must keep up the effort.

For complete information about this Board meeting, see the board packet .

Note: the complete packet is posted by the end of the day after the meeting. If you would like to be on the list to receive this report by email every month, please visit Your Schools Insider and sign up!

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