Legislative Update

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the TASB/TASA Legislative Conference in Austin. It was one of the most informative events I have attended in recent years. Among the presenters were Ross Ramsey, co-founder and executive editor of the Texas Tribune, Senator Larry Taylor, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Beaman Floyd, lobbyist and consultant for TASB, Senator Royce West, Dineen Majcher, co-founder of Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment, Representative Jimmie Don Aycock, and Representative Larry Gonzalez. There were also presentations given by representatives of TASA and TASB.

The main focus of the conference was to discuss the current legislative session. In this session, there have been almost 6,500 bills filed. As you would expect, a number of these bills deal with education. Some bill deal directly with the actual instruction in the classroom; other bills are more indirectly related to education. There is no way I can present each bill that was mentioned, so I will try to include the major issues.

Both the House and Senate are considering measures to lower taxes that Texans pay. The Senate is focusing on property tax relief with a possible increase in the homestead exemption. One proposal would provide the “average” homeowner in Texas with a $264 annual savings. While I am all for lower property taxes, we have already seen that property taxes can be difficult to control. In 2006, the legislature “reduced” property taxes by decreasing the maximum tax rate for school districts. Unfortunately, most of this relief has been eroded by rising property values (over which school districts have no control). In addition, if property taxes are lowered, the revenue lost to school districts will have to fall to another source.

The House is looking at possibly lowering the sales tax rate. Both proposals have positives and negatives to consider.

Senator Taylor provided his beliefs on what would provide the innovation necessary to best prepare our students:

  • Teacher Preparation and teacher pay. Senator Taylor stated that districts needed more flexibility in they pay teachers.
  • Money – Not just more money, but how we spend the money in education. Senator Taylor pointed out that the Health and Human Services budget now exceeds the education budget.
  • How do we assess our students?

Beaman Floyd gave a very detailed discussion on the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. He discussed the three major components of the retirement system: TRS Benefits, TRS ActiveCare (the insurance program for current school employees), and TRS Care  (the insurance program for retired teachers). The TRS Benefit program is in sound financial condition and should continue to be so in the future. The TRS ActiveCare program, which was established in 2001, has been subject to extreme inflationary pressures. He pointed out that the state has not increased their contribution to employee’s insurance since the beginning of the program. Many school districts have either increased their contribution or provided salary increases to employees to help offset the increased cost of premiums. Finally, TRS Care is not doing well financially at all. It is suffering from serious underfunding. The legislature will need to provide an additional $800 million this biennium to keep the program sound; however, this is not a long term solution. The problem will continue into the future.

Dineen Majcher discussed the Texas high stakes assessment system. Since 2000, Texas has spent about $1.2 billion on high stakes testing. She pointed out that the majority of both parties supported reducing high stakes testing. She also pointed out that Texas requires more high stakes testing for graduation than most other states. Ms. Majcher also discussed numerous bills that have been introduced that would either reduce the number of high stakes tests or eliminate some of the tests entirely. Several of the bills focus on the writing assessments in grades 4, 7, and high school. Other bills are seeking to eliminate the social studies and science tests at the 5th & 8th grades.

The greatest surprise came when Representative Aycock announced HB 1759 that would repeal the entire school finance system. He believes that it is within reach to make significant changes to how Texas funds its schools. Among the bills highlights include basing the transportation allotment on ADA (transportation allotment has never been increased since its introduction), eliminating the Cost of Education Index (which again has never been modified since its inception) and putting that money back into the funding formulas, and eliminating the Mid-Size School Formula. The new system would add $3 billion into school funding. Representative Aycock stated that 94% of the children would see a funding gain.

There have been several bills that would introduce vouchers, grants, tax credits, or taxpayer savings accounts to allow public funds to be used for private schools.

There have also been numerous bills introduced that would alter the school start and/or ending date.

Today, I received a notification that the Senate has passed a bill that would begin rating all campuses on an A-F scale. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

If you have any questions about any of these topics, please do not hesitate to contact me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net. Also, I have summarized greatly in this article. If you are interested in knowing about specific bills, please let me know.

This Week

Congratulations to Zach Hughes on placing 11th at the state power lifting meet this past weekend in Abilene! Zach put in many hours of work to make it to the state meet.

Monday – Wednesday will be end of course and STAAR testing in writing.

A reminder that EISD will be in school this Friday as a bad weather make-up day. Friday will be an early release day. Buses will run two hours early.

Monday – End of course – English I; STAAR – 4th & 7th Grade Writing Day 1

Tuesday – STAAR – 4th & 7th Grade Writing – Day 2; Reading 5th & 8th Grade; Softball and Baseball at Rice – 5:00; Middle School Track at Malakoff

Wednesday – End of Course English II

Thursday – High School Track at Malakoff

Friday – Early Release Day; Primary and Intermediate Easter Egg Hunts; JV & V Softball at Arp – 5:00; Varsity Baseball at Arp – 6:30

I hope everyone has a great week!

 

 

State Power Lifting and This Week

Congratulations to Sunni Goodell on placing 2nd at the State Power Lifting meet this past weekend! Congratulations also go out to Marshalla Padgitt who placed 12 in state in her weight class! Both of these young ladies put in a lot of time and work to make it to this level. The power lifting coaches are Clay Ard and Nick Shutak. A picture of all four is at the end of this post.

This Week
Monday – MS Track at Kemp; One Act Play Zone Competition – Van

Tuesday – Kindergarten Family Reading Night; JV & V Softball v. Mildred – 5:00; JV & V Baseball v. Mildred – 5:00

Wednesday – UIL Middle School Concert and Sight Reading at Canton; One Act Play District Competition – Van

Thursday – 2nd Grade Family Reading Night; HS Track at Ferris

Friday – JV & V Softball v. Troup – 5:00; Varsity Baseball v. Troup – 5:30

Saturday – Boys State Power Lifting Meet – Abilene

I hope everyone has a great week!

State Power Lifting Meet - Clay Ard, Sunni Goodell, Marshalla Padgitt, Nick Shutak
State Power Lifting Meet – Clay Ard, Sunni Goodell, Marshalla Padgitt, Nick Shutak

March-May 2015 Theater Arts Schedule of Events

Attention Parents and Theater Arts Students:

Dear Parents,

If you’d like to be involved with any of the events listed below by volunteering time for concession, sewing costumes, providing snacks for meets, etc. Please contact Ms. Beaty at tbeaty@eustaceisd.net. Thank you!

Updated Calendar of Events listed for Theater Arts Program including U.I.L. One Act Play

All Theater Performance Dates, Workshops, Deadlines, Trips & UIL Meets:

March 2015- May 2015

March 15th—Sunday: OAP Script & Community Standards due to Judge

March 18th- Wednesday: TxDot PSA Students meet to film video 5:30 p.m.

March 20th—Friday: Alice in Wonderland One Act Play Sneek Peek Public Performance @ 7:00 call time 5:00 p.m.

March 20th– Friday: Tx Dot PSA Video Due

March 21st- Saturday: Alice in Wonderland One Act Play Sneek Peek Public Performance @7:00 p.m. call time 5:00 p.m.

March 23rd– Monday: One Act Play Zone Contest @ Van High School

March 24th- Wednesday: Dallas Theater Center/Project Discovery Teacher Workshop for Colossal rehearsal with Mr. Kennedy only

March 25th– Wednesday: One Act Play District Contest @ Mabank High School

April 2nd—Thursday: Early Release Day— Rehearsal until 2:30 p.m.

April 3rd—Friday: Bad Weather Makeup Day

April 8th—Wednesday: One Act Play Bi-District @ Mabank

April 13th– Monday: Dallas Theater Center—Teacher Workshop for Sense and Sensibility- Rehearsal with Mr. Kennedy only

April 15th– Wednesday: Colossal at Dallas Theater Center—No Rehearsal

April 16th– Thursday: One Act Play Area-Waco Midway High School -District Track Meet same day

April 24rd—Friday: One Act Play Regional –Blinn College

May 1st—Friday: School Principal’s Day– Drama Club sponsors

May 6th– Wednesday: DTC Sense and Sensibility Trip– No rehearsal

May 15th- Friday: Drama Club Banquet 6:00 p.m.

May 26th– Tuesday: One Act Play State Meet at Austin

Welcome Back, Cheerleaders, and This Week

I hope everyone had a great and relaxing spring break! Counting today, I believe that we have 59 school days left in the 2014-2015 school year. With all the activities and events that are scheduled in the spring, those 59 days will go by quickly!

Cheerleaders

Tryouts for High School and Middle School cheerleaders were held on March 6. The following students earned a spot on the 2015-2016 Middle School Cheerleading Squad:

Co-Captain – Stephanie Carlson
Co-Captain – Destani Thomasson
Mascot – Sara Caldwell
Dylan Evans
Natalie Tunnell
Jaciana Keller
Samantha Dockins
Gracie Herron
Kami Johnston
Brooke McCord
Jeanne Pickett
Lauren Herring
Faith Sweet
Rubi Bailey
Tatum Gorden
Keidria Hurd

The 2015-2016 JV Cheerleaders include:

Head Cheerleader – Jessica Plunk
Mascot – Kenzie Rogers
Cheyenne Walters
Sierra Castillo
Lilly Sorrells
Colton Gorden
Destinie Culpepper
Madison Fisher

The 2015-2016 Varsity Cheerleaders include:

Head Cheerleader – Ashley Purselley
Co-Captain – Samantha Ferrell
Mascots – Gabi Corder & Lane Smith
Zoie Bailey
Erica Hoops
Anna Gaddis
Madison Lilley
Alexis Ramsey
Payton Schwartz
Haley Purselley
Sadie Cates
Matthew Clark
Myia Bullard
Layne Scott
Abbie Cates
Molly McAtee
Brooke Caldwell

Congratulations to all these cheerleaders!

The Lady Bulldogs softball team is 1-1 in district play. The Lady Bulldogs defeated West Rusk and fell to Arp.

This Week:

Monday – High School Baseball at West Rusk (make-up game)

Tuesday – High School Baseball and Softball at Malakoff – 5:00

Thursday – NHS Secret Pal Luncheon; High School Track at Rains

Friday – Baseball (5:00) and Softball (6:00) at Frankston; Girls State Power Lifting Meet

Saturday – Girls State Power Lifting Meet

I hope everyone has a great week!

 

 

 

Band Contest, Intermediate Grant, Board Meeting Last Night

A reminder that today is an early out day. Buses will run 2 hours early. On Wednesday, the Eustace Bulldog Band competed in the UIL Concert and Sight Reading Contest in Canton. The Bulldog Band received 1st Divisions from all 3 judges in the concert portion of the contest. In the sight reading portion on the contest the Bulldog Band received an overall rating of 2nd Division, receiving one 1st Division and two 2nd Divisions. I want to congratulate all the students and the band directors, Todd Felty, and Crystal Heidle, for their all their hard work in preparing for this contest. Later today, a video of the concert portion of the contest will be uploaded to the Eustace ISD YouTube page. Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative recently provided Eustace Intermediate School with a grant of $4,200 to provide 20 student with backpacks full of personnel care items. I would like to thank TVEC for their generous contribution to help expand this program for our students. The Eustace ISD Board of Trustees held their regular monthly meeting last night. The meeting started at 7:00 PM and was held in the High School library. The Board heard the following reports:

  • Texas Taxes Field Guide
  • Region VII Board of Election Update
  • Certification of Unopposed Candidates for School Board Election
  • Update on Certification Classes and Dual-Credit Classes for 2015-2016.
  • Update on Enrollment and Attendance

The Board took the following actions on items:

  • Approved minutes from previous meetings.
  • Approved financial reports as presented.
  • Approved Order of Cancellation for School Board Election.
  • Approved a Resolution urging the Texas Legislature to consider providing full funding for Pre-K programs.
  • Approved a Motion allowing the District to proceed to the next step with regards to establishing its own police force.
  • Approved Agreement with Smith, Lambright & Associates for Audit Services for the Fiscal Year Ending August 31, 2015.
  • Accepted the resignations of Che Martin & Jennifer Clarke.
  • Approved the recommended employment list of Probationary and Non-Probationary employees for 2015-2016.
  • Approved student transfers as presented.
  • Adjourned

A reminder that the girls qualifying for the regional powerlifting meet will be competing in the regional meet today in White Oak. Also, a reminder that our boys and girls track teams will be competing today in Eustace. Field events will start at 2:30. I hope everyone has a great weekend and a safe and happy Spring Break!

Regional Qualifiers in Power Lifting

Congratulations to the following Lady Bulldogs on qualifying for the Regional Power Lifting Meet:

Sunni Goodell, Raini Goodell, Ashley Purselley, Marshalla Padgett, and Jessica Miller

The girls regional meet is this Thursday at 3 PM in White Oak.

Congratulations to Zach Hughes on qualifying for the regional power lifting meet on the boy’s side. The boys regional power lifting meet starts at 9:00 AM this Saturday in Elkhart.