Thursday , 24 August 2017

Reader Opinion: Parents, Support MISD Funding Election

vote for mckinney kidsBy Cindy Evans

McKinney residents will soon vote on whether to replace reductions in state funding to McKinney schools with local funding to maintain the quality of our schools. Vote FOR McKinney Kids is a group of parents who have spent the last few weeks learning about this election, and now we’re asking all McKinney parents, grandparents, business people, teachers and residents to support our kids and teachers by voting FOR this funding.

Here’s what we learned as we looked into this election, and what we want every parent and voter to know:

The MISD is asking voters to pass a 13-cent (per $100 valuation) tax increase, about $20 a month for the average-priced home. This is not new funding to increase the budget or create new programs. It is replacement funding to make up for the amount of money the State Legislature quit giving to McKinney. MISD’s tax rate will still be 33 cents (16%) lower than just a few years ago, and homeowners over 65 will not see their taxes go up.

Why Is There Less Funding Now?

MISD schools are funded through money from the State (45%) and local property taxes (55%). Over the past several years, the State Legislature cut its share by millions of dollars. MISD made it through the first three years of cuts by

1) cutting spending. It cut 11% of its administrators and 4% of campus employees plus many cuts to general spending. Smart meters cut the power to parts of buildings not in use after school and weekends. Printers were removed from teachers rooms. And coaches are now driving the buses to and from games. And many, many more cost-saving measures were put in place.

2) Second, the district tried to ride out the State budget cuts by drawing on its “fund balance,” which is basically the District’s savings account.

Most of us hoped the Legislature would restore funding this spring, and they did restore 64% the cuts statewide. But because of a bizarre funding formula, it only replaced 27% of the cuts to McKinney. This leaves us with a $10.7 million shortfall for 2014-2015 and two options:

• Cut teachers and programs by $10.7 million

• increase the tax rate to replace State funding with local funding

Fast Facts:

• This is not new money for new programs or enrollment growth, it is to replace money the state cut to continue current programs.

• 80 % of the MISD budget is payroll, which means teachers, nurses, band directors, etc.

• Administration makes up just 2% of MISD’s budget. Most of the 134 positions cut in 2011 were in administration. Ironically, many of these positions are required to comply with state mandates.

• All of the Collin County Districts who held this election have passed it: Allen, Blue Ridge, Celina, Community, Farmersville, Lovejoy, Prosper and Wylie have all passed TRE Elections and Frisco and Plano are planning TREs.

• This funding is for daily operations and cannot be used for construction, renovations or other capital projects.

• If we pass the TRE, the State will provide an additional $1.7 million per year.

What Does Not passing the TRE Mean for Parents and Students?

Potential cuts being discussed include:

• As many as 290 teachers or other employees cut

• Larger class sizes. Elementary classes could jump to 24 kids per classroom and 5th grade through high school has no limit. There is no way our kids learn as well in this environment. What will this mean for kids with ADHD, dyslexia, speech issues, and other learning differences. What does larger class size do to bullying?

• Sharing nurses among campuses — a huge concern for children with asthma, diabetes, severe allergies, etc.

• Cuts to programs like Career and Technology classes, Advanced Placement (AP), AVID, Communities in Schools, fine arts (band, choir, orchestra, art), literacy, etc. These programs would probably be first on the chopping block in order to maintain classroom teachers in core subjects.

If you are not a parent, we’d like you to know we pay fees for our children to participate in extracurricular programs like drill team, band and athletics. Our Booster Clubs work hard to raise tens of thousands of dollars for these programs — thanks to a very supportive business community! — and parents pay as much as $2,000 a year for some programs. We volunteer hundreds of hours to support our kids, hand-sewing uniforms, loading trucks, buying supplies, organizing carnivals and book fairs, etc. With these cuts, our fundraising efforts would need to be stepped up even further to compete with the huge schools in Plano and Allen where many more residents share the load and taxes are subsidized by huge businesses and retail centers.

And we are in competition to attract those large companies, sports venues, families, restaurants, new customers for local businesses and to maintain the quality of life that continues to gain McKinney national recognition as a great place to live, work and grow a business.

But the State Legislature is making it harder for McKinney to stay on par with our neighboring cities. They passed an inequitable new funding formula that bases State funding on the amount of money each district spent per student in 2005-2006, and whether the district has passed a TRE. McKinney spent less per student in 2005-2006 and hasn’t passed a TRE, yet, so we receive less money per student than neighboring districts. McKinney ranks among the lowest in Collin County for the level of funding per student set by the state. Plano is planning for a TRE in November, so if our TRE fails, we will be dead last in the funding formula for our area. If it passes, the state will give us an additional $1.7 million.

State Formula for Funding Per Student

1. Blue Ridge: $9,519

2. Prosper: $8,878

3. Lovejoy: $8,430

4. Community: $8,027

5. Farmersville: $7,834

6. Celina: $7,827

7. McKinney (If TRE passes: $7,542

8. Princeton: $7,353

9. Allen: $7,292

10. Wylie: $7,277

11. Anna: $7,200

12. Frisco (current*): $7,104

13. Melissa: $7,010

14. McKinney (current): $6,949

15. Plano (current*): $6,935

* Plano and Frisco are planning for TRE’s

What Can Parents Do to Help?

• Vote. Early voting is Sept. 4-13, election day is Sept. 21

• Organize and advocate for the kind of schools and programs you want for your kids!

• Speak in favor of replacement funding to every parent you know

• Like us on Facebook at Vote For MISD Kids and share our page with your friends.

• Visit our blog at voteformckinneykids.wordpress.com.

Cindy Evans is a parent and volunteer for Vote FOR McKinney Kids

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