School finance, assessment and accountability, student safety, school choice and teacher benefits are among Spring ISD’s top legislative priorities for 2019, as adopted by the board of trustees at its March 19 meeting.
In the midst of the 86th Texas Legislature, the Spring ISD board discussed its legislative priorities as a school district during a workshop March 7 and again at its regular board meeting March 19, before unanimously adopting the agreed upon priorities.
“On school finance… we are very concerned about over-reliance on property taxes and the state of Texas has been contributing less and less, percent-wise, in support for schools, and we feel like that’s a trend that should change,” trustee Deborah Jensen said during the meeting.
Jensen added that unfunded state mandates and mismanaged permanent school funds were also legislative concerns raised by the board.
Regarding student safety, the board advocated for a multi-pronged approach that includes both physical safety measures, like metal detectors, as well as mental health initiatives and social media monitoring.
The board also advocated for a level playing field in terms of transparency and equitable funding for all publicly supported schools, including charter schools, to which Spring ISD is losing a significant portion of its middle school student population.
Additionally, the board pushed for multiple measures to evaluate school districts instead of relying solely on standardized tests.
The board’s last legislative priority involved teacher benefits, with an emphasis on the increasing expense of the district’s health care plan, TRS-Active Care.
“As the cost of health care has gone up over the years, the state’s contribution to the premium has remained flat, so I think we’re hopeful that there will be bills that will increase the contribution [by]the state so that the burden doesn’t fall so heavily on our teachers and other personnel,” trustee Donald Davis said.
HONORING SISD LEADERS
The board also unanimously selected its namesake for the new Spring High School Naval JROTC facility: Capt. James C. Boyer.
Boyer is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds a double master’s degree, both from the National Resource Strategy Industrial College of the Armed Forces and from the University of Southern California, according to the board. He received his pilot wings in 1976 and upon retirement 18 years ago, started SISD’s Naval JROTC program.
The program has since become the largest of its kind in Texas and the third largest in the U.S. Since its inception, $145 million in scholarships have been awarded to SISD Naval JROTC students. Trustees also stated that Boyer has been instrumental in the creation of the Spring ISD Memorial, which is slated to open on the site of the district’s new stadium this fall.
“Capt. Boyer is a model of servant leadership and I think something we are lucky to be able to point our students towards as something we should aspire to as leaders in our community so I fully support this,” trustee Winford Adams said.
Finally, the board unanimously adopted a resolution nominating SISD Superintendent Rodney Watson for the Texas Association of School Boards’ 2019 Superintendent of the Year award.
“Dr. Watson has done a phenomenal job under extraordinary circumstances, particularly in the last year, and when I looked at the past nominees… I think Dr. Watson stacks up pretty well, and I think we should put him forward for this,” Adams said.