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FISD to Urge Lawmakers to Adequately Fund Public Education

Nov 14, 2016

The Frisco ISD Board of Trustees is expected to urge state lawmakers to fix the broken school finance system, reduce the emphasis on standardized, high-stakes testing and provide more local control to independent school districts across the state.  

Discussion of draft legislative priorities for the 85th regular session, which begins in January, is one of several items on the Board agenda for Monday night. The regular School Board meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at the FISD Administration Building, 5515 Ohio Drive.

If approved as drafted next month, the legislative priorities list would call on the Texas Legislature to address a number of issues related to funding, assessment and accountability and local control/governance. Among them:

  • Support an adequate, equitable and sustainable school finance system that provides for the education of the whole child and addresses:
    • the Cost of Education index that includes adjustments for today’s learning standards and expectations, inflation, regional cost of living and appropriate weights for types of students served;
    • the impact of losing locally-generated M&O revenue from growth in property values;
    • an updated formula for transportation funding; and
    • the financial consequences of loss of ASATR funding.
  • Oppose any form of diverting public tax dollars to any system of private education, whether it be in the form of tax credit scholarships, education savings accounts, entitlements or vouchers whereby the recipient of public tax dollars are not held to the same rules, regulations and requirements as any other Texas public ISD. Any non-public education recipients of public/taxpayer funds should be under the same laws, mandates and requirements as Texas public schools. Charter schools should also be under the same laws and accountability standards as traditional public schools if they are to continue receiving funding.
  • Support a rating system that eliminates the use of letter grades and that values student growth and achievement over performance on standardized, high-stakes testing.

Draft Attendance Zones

The Board and community will also get their first look during the meeting at draft attendance zone changes for the 2016-17 school year.

The District will propose zoning modifications between existing schools in order to provide overcrowding relief and delay the need for construction of future schools. Leaders will also look at a few adjustments that will clean up boundary lines, align feeder patterns where possible and balance enrollments, particularly in areas where there are currently no or few students.

With the delayed opening of four new schools, rezoning proposals will impact far fewer students than in typical years. A total of 306 students are projected to be impacted by the rezoning proposals, including students who are currently enrolled or anticipated to enroll next school year. That includes 227 elementary school students, 40 middle school students and 39 high school students. The total represents 0.5 percent of the projected 58,253 students anticipated for 2017-18.

The District is discussing an in-depth study of building capacity and usage prior to rezoning for the 2018-19 school year. Read more here.

District of Innovation Public Hearing

Trustees will also host a public hearing Monday on whether to develop a local innovation plan to become a District of Innovation. This designation would allow Frisco ISD to access most of the flexibilities available to charter schools under state law. Following the public hearing, the Board will have the option to either appoint a committee to develop a local innovation plan or decline to pursue the designation.

If created, the committee will determine if or how Frisco ISD could benefit from becoming a District of Innovation. For example, the local innovation plan could include exempting the District from a law that requires the school year not begin prior to the fourth Monday of August. 

If the process moves forward, the committee’s proposed local innovation plan would be posted on the District website for 30 days prior to being considered for approval at public meetings of the District Improvement Team and Board of Trustees. It must be approved by a majority vote. 

Counselor of the Year

In addition, trustees will honor Scoggins Middle School Counselor Jody Clark as the Texas School Counselors' Association (TSCA) Junior High/Middle School Counselor of the Year for 2016-17. The award recognizes individuals who make extraordinary contributions to their campus community.

“When Ms. Clark sees a need, she works hard to figure out a way to meet that need,” said Scoggins Middle School Principal Barbara Warner. “She is continually seeking ways to learn and grow, and to better serve our middle school students through supportive and often innovative programming. She also builds extremely positive relationships with our students, families and staff members. She and her partner counselor, Christie Combest, are an outstanding team, and we are so fortunate to have them at Scoggins.”

Annual Financial Report

Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Pickens will present the District’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. Among the highlights:

  • The District’s main operating fund recognized a $31 million surplus for the year, which was the result of positive variances on both revenue and expenditure budgets, but was largely attributable to state aid settlements from prior years, as well as higher than projected enrollment growth.
  • The District issued $163,355,000 of school building bonds and refinanced $233,980,000 of existing debt during the year. The two advanced refunding transactions that were completed saved the District $59.9 million in future debt service requirements.

Financial Integrity Rating Public Hearing

The Board meeting will also include a public hearing on the District’s rating through the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas. The system is designed to encourage Texas public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes.

Frisco ISD received 98 of 100 total possible points, earning a superior rating for 2016. This rating is based on the fiscal year ending in June 2015.

Assessment & Accountability Report

Dr. Gary Nye, director of assessment and accountability, will present on the District’s efforts to develop students’ college and career readiness skills. Opportunities include coursework in specific career fields, certifications, internships, Project SEARCH program, Independent Study & Mentorship (ISM) program, Advanced Placement and dual-enrollment courses. These opportunities demonstrate the District’s commitment to student success that goes well beyond a test score.

Other Items

The Board will also consider and act on the District Action Plan for the 2016-17 school year and hear presentations regarding the impact of the Independent Study & Mentorship (ISM) program and partnership with ICS Connect, a subsidiary of AmerisourceBergen.

Watch Live Online

Live video of the meeting will be available on PC and Mac computers, as well as iOS devices including the iPhone and iPad. Just visit http://bit.ly/FISDlive to watch. The full Board Book is available here

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