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November 14, 2012

Superintendents fight for school equity

Quinlan Independent School District Superintendent Michael French said the case he and three other superintendents are presenting to the Texas Legislature is one of the most important issues facing public schools.

French will be presenting his case on Nov. 26 in Austin for school equity.

“This is the most important issue I believe facing school districts,” he said. “This will affect 43 percent of school districts in the state.”

According to French, Texas is putting an unequal value on students.

“The state is picking winners and losers and picking a value on kids that’s not fair,” he said. “I don’t believe any kid in Texas deserves any less than another kid.”

Blake Cooper, superintendent of Commerce ISD, agreed with French on the school equity issue.

“It’s been a problem for a long time now,” Cooper said. “Basically school districts are unequally funded.”

Cooper gave an example of how the issue is affecting CISD.

“We have a district close to us that has a $1.05 tax rate and gets $7,500 a student,” he said. “And we have a $1.17 tax rate and only get $5,000 per student. That’s a $2.5 million difference. There’s a whole lote more we could fund with $2.5 million.”

According to Cooper, if the state is testing schools the same, then it should fund them equally as well.

“As long as we’re all being tested in the same manner, we should be funded the same,” he said.

Texas schools have the second highest testing standard in the nation but are 48 in funding schools. French said he is fighting to change that.

“No superintendent is afraid of accountability,” he said. “But the word is equity. We want what’s equal and fair.”

According to French, if nothing is done soon, the outlook for school funding is grim.

“Something’s got to give,” he said. “The cost of everything is increasing, but we have no new revenue.”

French said keeping a balanced budget with no new revenue is getting harder.

“We’re one of the few districts that has a balanced budget,” he said. “But we’re having to cut everything. In order to balance the budget through cuts gets old.”

French said the children are the reason he is fighting for equity.

“I am blessed to be down there and will keep fighting the good fight,” he said. “This is an issue worth fighting for.”

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