School districts discuss priorities

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Administrators, school board members and education advocates from four counties are planning to present a united voice to state legislators on public education funding.

Last week, about 80 people from school districts in Denton, Parker, Wise and Tarrant counties attended the Greater North Texas Community Engagement Symposium at the LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex in Denton. The Denton school district hosted the event to bring districts together to discuss legislative priorities, share resources, talk about changing the perception of public schools and communicate a unified voice to elected officials about issues relevant to public education.

For more than two hours, attendees listened to a presentation on issues relevant to the upcoming 83rd Legislature and the priorities of area educators. The presentation also included myths generally told about public education and studies and news articles that debunk those myths, as well as information about the schoolpriority.com website and the “Make Education a Priority” movement.

The evening ended with attendees taking photos while holding “Make Education a Priority” signs and participating in videos being created for schoolpriority.com and its social media pages.

“I think it speaks volumes about the commitment our neighboring districts have to preserve the quality of education we have in our schools,” said Mia Price, Denton school board president. “I think all of the speakers confirmed my belief that Texas public schools are doing an excellent job educating all of the students in Texas.

“Everybody is very excited and ready to begin our continued advocacy for students.”

From this point, she said, it’s the job of school board members and administrators to educate one another, their constituents and elected officials about the successes of Texas public schools and the importance of adequately funding those schools.

During the last legislative session, the state slashed funding to public education by more than $5 billion.

While school districts like Denton have continued to achieve success despite fewer state dollars, reduced funding has made the job more challenging, Price said.

“To maintain and grow our level of success in public education, we have to adequately fund public education in Texas,” she said.

Over the next few weeks, members of the Denton school board and Superintendent Jamie Wilson plan to meet with local elected officials to discuss a list of 10 legislative priorities that will inform them about district needs, what’s anticipated and how elected officials can help. Other area school districts are also preparing priorities and meetings with local elected officials.

Events like Wednesday’s symposium could help educate legislators about the issues facing schools before they make important decisions, said attendee Ron Bullock, an Aubrey school board member. Many are not up to speed on education, he said.

“We’re at a tipping point in education, and we are at a point where we cannot stand any additional cuts or not have attention paid to education in the next legislative session,” Bullock said.

Faith Beaulieu, president-elect for the Texas Association of School Boards, said she liked that attendees were encouraged to participate in the fight for public education rather than just being spectators.

“I think it’s going to take all of us,” she said. “We’ve got to work as a team.”

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@dentonrc.com .


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