Keller ISD joins in rally to support Texas schools

Posted Monday, Jan. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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KELLER -- Texas public schools are strapped for funds, burdened with onerous testing requirements and hamstrung by too many state and federal mandates, according to some local district officials.

Trustees and administrators from Keller, Carroll and Grapevine-Colleyville school districts have joined together for the second time in the last three years to generate support from the community. "Our Schools, Our Voice," a rally to support Texas schools, will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at Grapevine High School, 3223 Mustang Drive in Grapevine.

The same districts hosted "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly," a forum on education finance, in October 2010. About 900 people attended.

"We kept the group together and chatted intermittently," said Keller Trustee Cindy Lotton. "We all struggle with many of the same issues with assessment, career paths in high school and local control."

Keller Superintendent Randy Reid said that the rally can help parents and community members understand the challenges schools face and how they can be advocates for positive change.

"We want to give them ideas about how to stay engaged in the process over the next several months," Reid said. "We want to make sure our legislators keep public schools at the forefront of their thoughts."

The group is arranging several trips to Austin during the current legislative session.

The forum will focus on three main areas: finance, testing/paths to graduation and local control.

While most Texas educators believe no major changes in funding will occur until the education finance lawsuit works its way through the system, officials want community members to understand the gravity of the situation.

School districts have been at the same level of funding for the last six years, and in 2011, had their budgets cut by 6 to 8 percent, Reid said.

"You can't do that and sustain it without some holes starting to show up," he said.

While finance may be in a holding pattern, a consensus is building that there are too many required tests, placing a heavy burden on students, teachers and district budgets.

"We're looking for a significant reduction in the number of tests our students take," Reid said. "Parents don't want our kids over-tested."

Educators also are looking for more flexibility in state graduation plans so students are prepared for success after high school, Lotton said.

The other primary focus for the forum is local control. Reid said that many of the new legislators in Austin came to power under the idea of less government and allowing local entities to determine what's best for their constituents.

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