From the Tiger’s Den: September 29, 2011
The following column was written by Commerce ISD Superintendent Blake Cooper. This is the first of several articles he'll be writing periodically throughout the year to help communicate events and news at CISD.
It is hard to believe that we are already through the first six weeks of school. Needless to say, the employees of CISD are glad to be doing what we enjoy most, working with the students of our district to help them be the best they can be. There are a lot of exciting things happening around our district from the classrooms to the athletic courts and fields. Students are excelling inside and outside of the classroom and need our community’s support. An area that I want to briefly mention is the political participation of our community in regard to education funding in the state of Texas.Equity in funding across the schools is one of the major issues. A short summary regarding school funding is that legislators reduced local school property tax rates by one-third and dedicated more state money to the schools to replace the local money in a special session in 2006. Because the funding plan legislators adopted isn't performing as advertised, however, the state has not kept up its level of funding. During the regular session that adjourned earlier this year, the state reduced its obligation of state school districts by $4 billion. That forces districts to make up the difference and that exposes funding disparities. Basically, the state has told us that students in CISD are worth close to $2000 less than a student in another district while CISD taxpayers have a higher tax rate. Commerce ISD has done several things to account for our reduction in funding of close to $700,000 for the 2011-2012 school year. From the passage of a tax ratification election, a reduction of employees, to cutting non-employee related areas, CISD has done everything possible to make sure we have a balanced budget for this school year while not having a major impact on the ultimate goal, the student’s classroom experience and opportunity to learn at high levels. Over the past 3 years we have reduced our budget over 15% and will have to continue to look at ways to make sure we do what is necessary to maintain a balanced budget in the future. Another area of interest for almost everybody across the state is accountability. CISD has received a rating of Acceptable for the 2010-2011 school year. Within these results are some exciting happenings: CISD increased scores in 18 of the 24 areas that are analyzed. We were also rated Exemplary orRecognized in 18 of the 24 areas. Included in those results are the increases in the number of students that scored Commended in these same areas. A major impact on scores was the state’s no longer allowing a Texas Projection Measure and including all of the special education students in these results. When you look at a lot of schools across the state there was a drop in their rating because of the inclusion of these students, however, CISD did not drop. While we are pleased with the direction we are headed, we are not satisfied. We believe that ALL kids can learn and we have a staff that will work to help our students to achieve the Exemplary Expectations we have for them. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve CISD as its Superintendent for close to three years. I believe we are making great strides in student achievement and making sure we are being efficient with the monies we are entrusted. I believe CISD will continue to reach for higher achievements in the days, weeks, and years ahead. This is the first of several articles I will be writing periodically throughout the year to help communicate events and news pertaining to CISD and education in general. I hope that if you have any questions concerning what is communicated through this forum, you would contact your Campus Principals or Central Administration. Go Tigers!