Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

January 24, 2013

CISD discusses school vouchers, election

District stands to lose $500,000

By Amber Washington/reporter@trcle.com

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After the discussion of concealed firearms on campus at Tuesday’s Cleburne ISD board meeting, trustees tackled more traditional business. 

Among items on the agenda was discussion on school choice vouchers, and the Taxpayer Savings Grant Program, largely opposed by many public school administrators.

No exception is Superintendent Tim Miller, who presented several points about school choice vouchers and similar potential public school funding cuts. 

The problem with school choice vouchers, Miller said, is that students may leave the district for homeschooling where parents might use the money from a voucher as they pleased, unlike public schools which have strict rules on state funds.      

“The concern is taking funding away from public schools,” CISD spokesperson Lisa Magers said. “We feel that we want to reject all attempts to divert funding [from public schools] to private schools [and home schooling]. If tax dollars are awarded to private schools, they should be held to the same standard as public schools.” 

Trustees, save for Jay Wilson, who abstained from voting, approved a resolution calling on the Texas Legislature to “reject all attempts to divert public dollars away from public schools in the form of vouchers, tax payer savings grants, tax credits or any other mechanisms that have the effect of reducing funding to public schools.” 

The Taxpayer Savings Grant Program was suggested during the 82nd Legislative Session but did not make it into legislation. However, trustees said, it is likely to come up again in 2013. Magers said the resolution will be sent to state Rep. Rob Orr, R-Burleson, and Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, as well as the Texas Association of School Administrators. 

In other business: 

zx Trustees approved a joint election with the city of Cleburne for May 11. Places 6 and 7, held by MJ Larrison and Wilson, respectively, are up for election.

zx The board accepted a $15,000 donation from Gerard Elementary School PTA. Gerard Principal Joel Blalock said the donation will go toward funding new playground equipment. 

zx Trustees approved $45,000 toward Jill M. Norris-Smith Speech Therapy Services out of a Special Education Consolidated Grant. Trustees also approved an additional $10,000 over an already-approved $35,000 out of the special education budget to extend Conquest Speech Therapy Services to meet student needs. 

zx Assistant Superintendent Tammy Bright presented enrollment numbers as well as a truancy report. Enrollment is down 108 students from Jan. 7, 2012, but continues to go up, she said. According to average monthly enrollment numbers, the district is down 67 students. Average daily attendance is also slightly down from the same time last year, 94.9 percent compared to 95.6 percent. The decrease is being blamed partly on the early flu season. 

zx Chief Financial Officer David Johnson presented a budget report, which shows the district stands to lose more than the original projection of $1.5 million. Because enrollment is down by roughly 100 students, the district will lose an additional $500,000 in state funds. 

zx Trustees approved the hiring of Katie Masteller, English teacher at Wheat Middle School; Lana Milsap, English inclusion teacher at Cleburne High School; Susie Sarchet, interim assistant principal at Adams Elementary School; Michael Thompson, building trades teacher at CHS; Janie Galan, PEIMS coordinator for CISD; Jared Hutrya, counseling secretary for CHS; Rylee Jenkins, computer lab aide at Coleman Elementary School; Brock Ostrander, life skills aide at CHS; and Angela Turner, principal’s secretary at CHS. Miller approved the resignation of Stacey Ibarra and retirement of Susan Farquhar.