Fort Bend ISD’s board of trustees held its second joint meeting with an area city council to advocate for greater state education funding and show opposition to the Texas Education Agency’s A-F school ratings system. On Tuesday, trustees met with the Missouri City City Council at Elkins High School, where the two bodies discussed legislative priorities and long-term growth strategies they have in common.

Both bodies agreed to a resolution calling on the state to increase funding to public schools.

“I think this board wholeheartedly agrees with you that school funding is something that should be addressed,” FBISD Board of Trustees President Kristin Tassin said to Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen. “It’s probably one of the most pressing issues and is being ignored on one side of the capitol.”

The school district also wrote joint resolutions with Missouri City and Sugar Land city councils opposing the state's new school ratings system, which was signed into law in 2015 and is due to take effect in 2018. Preliminary A-F ratings for all Texas public schools were released in January, and FBISD has been vocal in its frustration with what it sees as an incomplete way to measure student progress.

“I’m totally opposed to the ratings system that’s going on,” Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen said. “I think it’s unjust, anyway.”

The council—minus council members Chris Preston and Yolanda Ford who were absent—voted in favor of the resolution Tuesday but will need to formally ratify the document at a future council meeting. Changes have been proposed to the ratings system by state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, but Tassin said that from what she knew of the proposal it does not go far enough.

“I think, no matter what, we’re still giving kids a grade, and primarily the kids that are going to get the bad grade is going to be the kids that live in low socioeconomic areas and who struggle,” she said.

Tackling growth together

As FBISD and Missouri City face population increases in coming years, trustees and the council said they would need to work together to support each other’s efforts when possible. The council said supporting school growth would be critical to Missouri City’s economic development and housing market vitality.

“When people go buy a house today there are two things that consistently show up on that [wishlist]: crime and schools,” Council Member Jerry Wyatt said. “And so we just need to work together to see how we can help.”

FBISD Superintendent Charles Dupre said this also included city leaders helping the school district reach parents and community members through activities such as churches, athletics and other service organizations of which school officials are potentially unaware.

“Because we can do a lot as a school district, but we need the full community and the parents to meet us in the middle,” he said. “In today’s society, unfortunately, the school has taken on a bigger and bigger role. We’re basically a health and human services organization, unlike what we used to be.”