I am compelled to thank all of my board colleagues, the administration, teachers, and all the support staff for being a fantastic team. It is little wonder that the district is Recognized under the state mandated Academic Excellence Indicator Score (AEIS).
We should be very proud to have the area's highest Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) scores when compared to other schools that receive more money, teachers and resources than Port Aransas. Through the leadership of our superintendent, our administration, our teachers and paraprofessionals, we continue to show positive attitudes, professional credibility and true love for all the students. I fully anticipate that we will achieve the Exemplary rating for the district in the near future.
As we enter the last cycle of the school year, I have to think, where has the time gone? Maybe my mind is still swimming from the humbling duties and responsibilities of being president of the board. There is a huge learning curve in being a trustee. I thought that with 28 years experience as a business adjunct professor at various universities and colleges, the learning curve would be shortened. Ah, I am humbled once more in finding out that one needs a year or more to reasonably understand the complexities of the Texas public education system. Now, having been on the board nearly four years, I am constantly trying to understand and remember dates, acronyms, finance, duties, policies, forms, parliamentary procedures, etcetera.
I would like to remind the public that the board acts as a "body whole". We are responsible for policies, rules and procedures. This means that no one individual can accomplish anything without the support of the majority (and sometimes two-thirds) of the board.
We are not a "rubber stamp" support group for the superintendent. Anyone who has attended our meetings has witnessed a broad range of excellent opinions and ideas from this board. I try to see that we are efficient and effective in our meetings. Yet, we can take over four hours going over the agenda trying to do what is best for the district while fulfilling our fiduciary responsibilities to the community.
What makes us a team is the fact that we all put the interests of the children and the school first. As a group, we are heterogeneous in our knowledge, skills and abilities. Our backgrounds include several people with graduate degrees along with an array of public and private sector experiences. Yet, we are harmonious and homogeneous in the direction we pursue.
I honestly believe this board is selfless and committed to the achievement of excellence for all students (as reflected in our mission statement). I challenge you to ask anyone who has attended our meetings for hhis/her unbiased opinion.
On another note, the public needs to be aware of several issues facing the district. First is the apparent trend of declining enrollment and the possible effects. We currently have 34 fewer students than at this time last year. We are supported, in part, from the Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA). Using the current financial template, this means that we lose approximately $5,700 in state funding for every student who leaves the district. It is our hope that the rising property costs will abate, and that more families with school age children will move into the district.
Your property tax rates have been reduced by the actions of this board as well as House Bill 1 (see exhibit I). We have voted to reduce and/or keep constant the school tax rate the past two years. Unfortunately, the taxable property values have increased substantially (See exhibit II). There was a 10.3 percent reduction in the school tax rate, yet a corresponding 39 percent increase in taxable valuations. You paid higher tax bills!
If property values remain constant this coming school year and House Bill 1 remains unchanged, the property owner in Port Aransas will see a reduced tax assessment (See exhibit III). This could amount to a 23 percent reduction over last year's taxes paid. I still foresee the district subject to recapture (giving away) by over 50 percent.
It continues to be an honor and privilege to serve this district. We have accomplished a lot but still have work to do. We will continue to keep the focus on our children and strive for fair, equal and consistent application of our policies, rules and procedures to all kids. Your comments and questions are always welcome. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Smith is president of the PAISD Board of Education.