January 30, 2009
The Honorable Kevin Eltife
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711
The meeting of the 81st Legislature is of great interest to all Public School Superintendents in Texas. We are in need of your support and rely on the fact that you have been an advocate for Public School Children through out your career. White Oak ISD is an outstanding place to live, work and educate young people. All stakeholders in White Oak are supportive of the effort to provide a quality education at White Oak Schools.
That being said, we have serious financial issues that are beyond the scope of our collective ability to solve. White Oak ISD approved a Tax Rate Election last fall that will add approximately $680,000 in revenue to the district. With this extra revenue the district will still have a $200,000 deficit budget for the 2008/2009 school year. We are not wasting money. I can provide volumes of data that compare our spending and staffing ratios with districts in this area and around the state that support our belief that we are being good stewards of the taxpayers money. The Tax Rate Election represents the final act that we can perform to fund WOISD at the local level.
I have two requests of you and the other members of the Senate. First, please consider carefully the proposal of the Equity Center to return to a formula based funding system for the Public School Systems in Texas. The current Hold-Harmless system is crippling to White Oak ISD and will certainly be fatal if not changed in the near future. Second, I am asking you to support a formula based method for the distribution of the funds coming into the state by way of the Federal Stimulus Package. At our Mid-Winter Conference, we were told that there is a consideration to put the money out through Competitive Grants. That method will not give the students of White Oak ISD much hope of receiving any funds.
I would like to spend some time with you in person to discuss these issues and provide you with the data that has been collected to support these points. Please let me know the best method of making an appointment and I will be glad to come to Austin. Thank you for your time and any consideration you may give to these requests.
Michael E. Gilbert
Superintendent of Schools
White Oak ISD