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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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Update on Humble ISD Legislative Committee – 3/9/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 9, 2009

Not a real busy night at the admin building. I was late because I was all a mess with the time change – yeah, sure 😉 But, most importantly, our message is…well, just that, our message. We are pulling our hair out trying to figure out how to get the message to the Lege…FUND OUR SCHOOLS!!! But…we must get our message out to the community to get our message out to the Lege. Well, thanks to Karen Collier, she’s quicker than me, some links to help you and more sample-letters-to-legislators to use to send to our legislators.

Here are links to the House and Senate Education Committee members:
House Education Committee (pdf)
Senate Committee (pdf)

Our group is following, and supports two bills:

1. House Bill 1555 – Rep. Diane Patrick, Ph.D. and the House sponsor of the only school finance bill filed at this time – HB 1555 (which is identical to SB 982). Rep. Patrick, which she titles “The Texas Public Schools Investment Act”. According to her, this act returns to a formula driven system where every student wins. The act is a fiscally responsible option for legislators to consider.The bill also:

· Restores local control through meaningful discretion

· Meets all three criteria of TEA Budget Rider 89

· Increases funding per weighted student (WADA)

· Cuts calculated recapture (Robin Hood) in half

· Provides method for property tax reduction


2. Senate Bill 982 – sponsored by Senators Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), and Royce West (D-Dallas)

Learned about a new website at the meeting to, to keep you updated on School Finance Equity & Adequacy in Texas called Equity Center.

Read more about HB1555 here and SB 982 here

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Humble ISD Legislative Committee – update 3/3/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 4, 2009

Below is a compilation of information the committee has put together for anyone interested in contacting any of our legislators, or writing letters to the editor of your local paper, or even major papers. Sorry, I did not update from our last meeting, but here are the results. Our next meeting is:fistmoney1

Monday, March 9
6:30 pm
Administration Building – Board room

Letter to Community Organizations, Local Media and Friends

March 3, 2009

Dear Humble ISD Residents and Business persons,

We have a very serious situation facing every person who lives in the Humble Independent School District area today. Despite the school tax increase that was approved in November 2008, and $27 million in school budget cuts in recent years (including $9 million for 2008-09 alone), Humble ISD is still in serious financial trouble. Humble ISD will become insolvent within 18-24 months unless it receives additional state funding or makes cutbacks that will lower the standard of education we have come to expect and also further depress our home values.

You may ask how this can be, given the budget cuts and increase in school taxes we have endured. The following is a summary of the issues causing this situation: State funding for education has been frozen at 2005 levels despite inflation.

Humble ISD’s State Funding allocation amount (WADA)—currently $4,937 per student per school year—is well below the state average. Compare this with other districts that have over $6,000 per student and the difference amounts to thousands of dollars per classroom.

Humble ISD does not receive any additional tax revenue from increased property values or new businesses that open in our fast-growing district.

Because ours is a fast-growing school district (#24 in Texas out of 1000+), Humble ISD must benefit from local property tax revenue growth without an equivalent reduction is state aid.

The bottom line is that Texas has a seriously flawed education funding system that needs to be overhauled. I am writing this letter to ask for your help in contacting your State Legislators to request a change to this outdated and inadequate State Education Funding system. Please try to do this by Friday, March 13th, 2009, which is an important deadline for the legislature.

No matter what, though, it is critical that we express our concern as quickly as possible!

We need increased state funding for Humble ISD and we need it NOW!

Sincerely,
Members of the District’s all-volunteer Legislative Committee and
Other Concerned Residents of Humble ISD

*For legislators’ contact information and a sample letter on the District’s website, click here*

**For more sample letters to state legislators, see attached sample-letter-1 and sample-letter-2 and sample-letter-3**

Suggested recipients (for phone, e-mail and/or letter) – and for more click  here:

Rep. Joe Crabb
1110 Kingwood Drive
Suite 200
Kingwood, Texas 77339
281-359-1270 (phone)
281-359-1272 (fax)
joe.crabb@house.state.tx.us
adrian.rocha@house.state.tx.us (chief of staff—Austin)
philip.ivy@house.state.tx.us (Kingwood office)

Sen. Tommy Williams
P.O. Box 8069
The Woodlands, Texas 77387-8069

281-364-9426 (phone)
281-364-9473 (fax)

tommy.williams@senate.state.tx.us
janet.steinben@senate.state.tx.us (chief of staff—Austin)
amanda.montagne@senate.state.tx.us

Many thanks to Margaret Fraissinet for putting all this together!

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Crabb, Dr. Sconzo and the HB 1 Bill

Posted by Texas Education on November 19, 2008

A dear friend of mine telephoned Rep. Joe Crabb’s office recently to find out how he had voted on the HB1 bill. She was interested because she had just read Dr. Sconzo’s article in the paper on that bill. She was told by his aide that Rep. Crabb had conferred with Dr. Sconzo before the vote and that Dr. Sconzo was very much in favor of it. When she told the aide that she was surprised by that, given the negative impact its passage had on our district, his reply surprised her even further, he claimed that board members told him that “the district’s financial problems were more a result of errors by past school boards than by HB1. Board members said that Kingwood Park should never have been built like it was, that it was a mistake…”. Suffice it to say, my friend was completely shocked by such “candid” remarks.

I don’t want to say I don’t believe a word of that…but! Also, once again, Mr. Crabb sends his lackey to do his bidding, as always.

My friend contacted Dr. Sconzo to get his reply. She told Dr. Sconzo that she is a former educator, a parent of two children who have been in Humble ISD schools for the last 10 years and is very pro-public education. Further, she added that she and her husband have been extremely pleased with the education their children have received in this district, at every level. The impression she got from the telephone conversation with Rep. Crabb’s office was that his vote was based on Dr. Sconzo’s recommendations. She stated that she strongly believes that we should hold our elected officials accountable for their votes and she was just trying to understand how we arrived at our current economic crisis.

She also thought Dr. Sconzo’s article was very informative, but was very confused by the remarks coming from Rep. Crabb’s office. She asked Dr. Sconzo to comment on those remarks and clarify what he believes the focus for the next legislative session should be regarding school finance. Dr. Sconzo thanked her for giving him the chance to share his thoughts, and very much appreciated and valued her for taking the time to get the facts straight. He also was sorry that she received some conflicting information.

With respect to my meeting with Rep. Crabb and his aide prior to the vote on H.B. 1, I vividly recall my openly supporting the teacher salary increase, new $225 per student in grades 9-12 high school allotment, and lowering of the M&O (operating budget) property tax rate to $1.00 with the state paying for the loss of local revenue to school districts for the difference between the $1.50 tax rate and the $1.00 tax rate. I also vividly remember articulating that H.B. 1 was not the long-term fix needed for school finance in our state and that we and virtually all school districts would be in trouble financially and back to the Legislature in 2007 for help.

Knowing our past and current Trustees as I do, I do not at all believe that any Trustee would state or even feel that our financial crisis is the result of mistakes made by previous Boards, rather than H.B. 1. If that were the case, and again, I do not believe that for one moment, then I wonder how the Representative’s office would explain why we are now one of over 200 school districts in the state having to go to our voters for a tax rate election in just two years of the full effect of H.B. 1? I wonder how his office would explain why the majority of school districts state-wide had to adopt deficit budgets this year? Did every school district’s board make a historical mistake, or is H.B. 1 the serious funding problem I contend that it is!

To me, the real issue is not who voted for or against H.B. 1, the issue is what’s the legislative commitment to correcting this state-wide public education funding train wreck? H.B. 1 gave school districts ONLY one means of increasing operating revenue to a level greater than the level of total operating revenue received in 2005-06 and that is to increase the local operating tax rate. Our board exercised that by increasing our operating tax rate from $1.00 to $1.04 by a vote of the Board and now is asking the community to increase it to the state maximum cap of $1.17 in order to avoid an additional $17 million in budget reductions in balancing this year’s budget.

Truly and reasonably fixing H.B. 1 for a long term solution, in my opinion, involves…

  • Allowing school districts to keep any additional local property tax revenue realized by either higher appraised values or new properties on the tax rolls and NOT offsetting those increases dollar for dollar by a reduction in state aid.
  • Closing the equity gap in Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA) funding to school districts. Our WADA funding level is $4,937 and Sheldon ISD’s is over $6,100. There is no acceptable reason for that inequity and statewide, the gap in WADA ranges from $4,000 to over $12,000!
  • Building in at least an inflation factor revenue increase for school districts on an annual basis. I used the train wreck analogy because when operating revenue is frozen at the 0-06 level and clearly expenses are not, it is only a matter of time before indeed there is train wreck!
  • Legislators will tell you that we do realize an increase in WADA funding per increases in enrollment, and that is true. However, when our WADA is frozen at the 05-06 level, we get to a place where especially as a fast growth school district, we today receive a WADA of $4,937 as revenue, but our actual operating expenses per student exceed $6,800!

I must commend Dr. Sconzo for his promptness, his complete openness, and how he truly cares about our school district. And I would like to see the board members response to these allegations by Rep. Crabb’s office.

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“Updated: Target Revenues Per WADA”

Posted by Texas Education on July 16, 2008

Looks like Joe Smith over at Texasisd.com has reported some information on WADA, or weighted average daily attendance for our school districts, on how our schools are funded. Also, looks like he is waiting for some ‘splaining the TEA needs to do concerning the WADA. I have posted some of our surrounding ISD’s for your perusal. This is where it becomes extremely “unfair,” as our children would put it. Why? Don’t ask me, go ask your mother! List All Districts Target Revenue Per WADA.

District S1 S2 S3 MAX
ALDINE ISD 4,908 4,924 4,727 4,924
ALIEF ISD 4,674 4,665 4,665 4,674
CHANNELVIEW ISD 4,627 4,664 4,687 4,687
CROSBY ISD 4,894 4,962 4,962 4,962
CYPRESS-FAIRBANKS ISD 4,489 4,485 4,485 4,489
DEER PARK ISD 5,277 5,651 5,330 5,651
NORTH FOREST ISD 4,699 4,645 4,662 4,699
GALENA PARK ISD 4,736 4,808 4,636 4,808
GOOSE CREEK CISD 5,065 5,446 4,926 5,446
HOUSTON ISD 4,697 5,102 4,883 5,102
HUMBLE ISD 4,938 4,819 4,819 4,938
KATY ISD 5,128 5,180 4,876 5,180
KLEIN ISD 4,786 4,806 4,806 4,806
LA PORTE ISD 4,942 5,304 5,187 5,304
PASADENA ISD 4,582 4,703 4,611 4,703
SPRING ISD 4,728 4,830 4,799 4,830
SPRING BRANCH ISD 4,826 5,106 4,883 5,106
TOMBALL ISD 5,151 5,783 5,605 5,783
SHELDON ISD 5,175 6,180 5,226 6,180
HUFFMAN ISD 4,820 4,817 4,792 4,820

Joe says: On July 11, TEA updated “The Target Revenue per WADA”. Since this is a very critical number for projecting your 08/09 revenue and many of you are having budget workshops, we encourage checking this number for your districts and making the appropriate changes to your 08/09 revenue projections. While I was not able to identify all the changes that were made, I did note that the critical number, “target revenue per WADA”, was increased for the 3 districts I reviewed. I am including an updated list of the “Target Revenue Per WADA” for each district. If you wish to review the target revenue calculations, they are part of both of the 06/07 calculations as well as the 07/08’s. I will update this information as soon as TEA posts its explanation of the changes. – js webmaster@texasisd.com

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Humble ISD board meeting – July

Posted by Texas Education on July 8, 2008

Surprisingly, all board members (and Dr. Sconzo) were in attendance tonight. There were lots of minutes meetings packets, but no accommendations nor any public comments, which I’m sure the board took a huge sigh of relief. The meeting didn’t get started until approx. 7:20 and President Martin wanted someone to call Mr. Graves to give him an update on possibly the shortest board meeting in history, it ended just before 8 p.m.

Not much discussions, pretty much only one on High Point. It costs the school district a whopping $17,800 per student. So there was some discussions as to creating our own High Point campus, so to speak, to hopefully save some money there. Dr. Sconzo would like to look into that in the coming year for possibly the next school year. The one thing they approved of that I personally have a bone to pick with them is approving Latte 4 U to provide coffee vending machine service to ALL high school campuses and various support facilities within Humble ISD. Gotta say, it may not be much money saved, but do we really need to put coffee at our high school campuses? I won’t comment further on that one.

Also noted on the board reports, the board and Dr. Sconzo have followed up with Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst in regards to the WADA funding (which moi has been reporting on.) The Lieutenant Governor has been very encouraging believing that the legislature must adjust the method of determining WADA. Once again fellas, I’m not holding my breath.

One last item, Ms. Dania Rovengno has been appointed to the position of Principal at Atascocita High School, effective July 1, 2008. Ms. Rovengno is currently the Associate Principal at AHS.

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What you need to know!!!

Posted by Texas Education on June 28, 2008

Districts face higher costs – for fuel, insurance, supplies, employee compensation and more – and yet state funding is frozen at the level received in the 2005-2006 school year. The state funding formula does not account for inflation.

This is problematic, wouldn’t you say?

There are huge discrepancies from one district to another in the amount of sate funding that districts receive based on WADA (weighted average daily attendance.) For example, Humble ISD receives $4,937 per WADA while Katy ISD receives $5,174 per WADA. It would mean an additional $9.2 million in sate aid if Humble ISD was to receive the same WADA as Katy ISD.

The state transportation allotment to school districts has not been increased since 1984.

Umm, how would you like to be working off income from 1984??? This is insane. I honestly can’t believe the Texas Legislature is putting it’s constituents through this. How is this even remotely fair???

Districts do not benefit from increased property valuation. The state reduces, dollar for dollar, the amount it sends to districts receiving more money from local taxpayers due to raising property values.

Again, fair?? I think not. Oh, but there’s more:

The Humble ISD Board, along with school boards all over the state, faces difficult decisions in adopting a budget for next year. With millions in cuts and much more to come, discussion of a possible roll-back election is beginning to be heard in the community. A tax rollback election means that residents would vote on whether to allow the district to raise the property tax rate to generate more operating money. School income is essentially frozen in Texas, since any rise in property values benefits the state, not the school district. The state decreases its share of aid to the schools when property taxes rise.

Wow, so, come fall, we need to make sure we VOTE the tax increase. I know, I know, we certainly are taxed to death, but, unless we want our school district to become a ‘minimal’ school district, or worse – close, we HAVE to do this.

This information was obtained from the Humble ISD website.

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