White Oak ISD’s response to our Legislators

March 23, 2011

White Oak ISD’s response to our Legislators

On March 4, 2011, petitions were delivered to Representative David Simpson’s office in Austin. The petitions included names and addresses of registered voters that were not in favor of the deep cuts being proposed in the Texas Public School System, and more specifically, White Oak ISD. At the same time, a large number of WOISD employees and residents wrote letters to several of our legislators expressing the same opinion on cutting funds for Texas Public Education. In response, we were given the following information:

• The Legislature is in this difficult position with the budget this year due to the downturn in the economy.
• Texas applies between 41 to 43 percent of the total state budget to Public School Education. Even with the cuts being proposed, this percentage remains the same.
• Districts do not need to cut cost by a Reduction In Force of Classroom Teachers. The cuts should be made by downsizing the District’s Administrative staff.

I would like to address each of these issues.

Blaming the current budget crisis on a downturn in the economy is not an accurate statement. The current issue we face can be linked back to a decision made by the Texas Legislature in the 80th Legislative Session. Tax compression was the goal of this session and the desire to make that happen outweighed any level of logic that could have/should have been applied to the process. The decision to compress the property by 33% was intended to fulfill the campaign promises made by those that obtained or sustained their place in office. The loss in revenue from the reduction was to be made up by the implementation of the “Margins Tax” on Texas Businesses. The budget shortfall
we face today started with the vote to compress the tax rate. In a letter sent to Governor Perry dated May 15, 2006 (http://www.window.state.tx.us/news/60515letter.html) Texas Comptroller Strayhorn stated that this rate compression would result in a shortfall of 23 Billion Dollars in five years. The year 2006 plus five years equal the year 2011 and the only thing she got wrong was the size of the shortfall! Comptroller Strayhorn did not predict a “downturn in the economy”. She did let state leaders know that the plan they put in place created a structural deficit that could have/should have been avoided at that time. If, by choice, the legislature voted to create this problem then, by choice, they should look for sources of revenue to solve the problem.
When we start to read about money issues in the form percentages, something is not right. Money is money and can be compared apples to apples across state lines. Representative Simpson uses percentages to indicate the level of commitment the state applies to Public Education. Appyling 41 to 43 percent of the budget to Public Education sounds like a firm commitment. The actual dollar comparisons do not paint the same picture. The latest data that I have been able to find shows Texas to rank between 43rd to 37th in per pupil spending out of 51 states and the District of Columbia. (http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2011/jan/31/wendy-davis/state-sen-wendy-davis-says-texas-ranks-44th-educat/) This information does not support the idea that Texas Public Schools are over funded and riddled with unnecessary personnel. Texas Public Schools have traditionally been funded well below the national average but at the same time, have led the way in school reform, assessment, accountability and improved scores for all socio-demographic subpopulations.
The third point to address is the idea that cuts can be made in administrative cost rather than through a Reduction In Force of educators and support staff. The highest paid employee of every public school district is the Superintendent of Schools. The latest TASBO salary information shows that Texas superintendent salaries average $120,000 per year. If every one of these positions were to be eliminated (1024 public school districts), the 5 Billion dollar cut expected from public schools would be reduced to a mere 4.9 Billion. If you want to use percentages, that would be a 2.4% reduction in the shortfall. Can certain positions be eliminated? Yes, but for the most part that would require the elimination of state and federal mandates that make up the bulk of the duties for these added positions. The cost savings will be very minimal.
As Superintendent of White Oak ISD, I recognize that we are in a financial crisis of greater magnitude than the state has ever seen before. I also understand that there is a need to tighten the belt to get through this difficult time. I do not believe that this can be accomplished with budget cuts alone. The Texas Comptroller told the Legislature in 2006 that this problem was coming and they chose to ignore the facts. The Texas Comptroller is telling the Legislature today that this financial crisis can not be solved with budget cuts alone and this time I hope they listen. For Public Schools, EQUITY IS THE ISSUE AND THE ONLY LONG TERM SOLUTION. As long as there are schools held under a system of Target Revenue that funds some students at less than $4,000 each while funding others at over $12,000 each, Equity can not be achieved. White Oak ISD is a Low Target Revenue School District ($4,954 per wada). We have “shared the pain” much longer than those districts being funded above the state average ($5,200 per wada). Those districts that have been funded at the higher value should absorb more of the cuts in state funding before WOISD sees a loss of state funds. I would ask our Legislative Leaders to listen to the experts and the Majority of your constituents and support the efforts to minimize the damage to our Texas Public School System. I would ask those of you that read this response to continue writing, emailing and calling your representatives. When they stop hearing from us, they assume we no longer care about the issue at hand. Please, do not let that happen.

Michael E. Gilbert
Superintendent of Schools
White Oak ISD

What does the worst case scenario look like at White Oak ISD?

The letter that follows this introduction was written to express the overwhelming concern of the employees at White Oak ISD. This is a real life crisis in the Texas Public School community.

March 2, 2011

Governor Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
PO Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Governor Perry,

I am an employee of the White Oak Independent School District and a resident of Senate District 1 and House District 7. The news that is coming out of Austin concerning the funding of Texas Public Schools is very upsetting. In a meeting with members of the House and Senate this week, our Superintendent was told to plan for the worst case scenario in preparing for the 2011/2012 District Operating Budget. The worst case scenario for White Oak is a decrease in funds of 1.4 million dollars or 14.3% of this year’s operating budget. Cuts of this magnitude will be catastrophic to White Oak ISD and the city of White Oak, Texas.
The question is, what would it take to meet this requirement with a revenue neutral budget? In White Oak, it will look like this:
• Cut all employee salaries/pay by 10%. (which is actually illegal by state law)
• Cancel all athletic programs and eliminate the Athletic Director’s position
• Cancel the Marching Band and UIL Band/Choral Programs
• Cancel all UIL Academic Competition
• Cancel all Cheerleader, Flags and Twirler programs
• Cancel all travel and professional development
When all of these cuts have been implemented, White Oak ISD will still be short of the target by over $350,000. That will mean a reduction in force of 8 professional staff members or 14 support staff members in addition to the cuts listed above.
It is my hope that you are not in favor of the destruction of White Oak ISD and many other districts across the state. I am asking for your support in the form of your vote on the following issues:
• Vote Against the current funding plan for Public Education
• Vote Against funding cuts to low target revenue school districts (Hold Harmless Target Revenue below $5,000 per wada) until high target revenue school funds have been reduced to our level
• Vote For the use of the Economic Stabilization Fund to minimize funding cuts in Public Education
• Vote For a new equitable funding system for Public Schools that does not depend on Hold Harmless Target Revenue values
The community, faculty, staff, and most importantly, the students of White Oak Independent School District need your support. Thank you for your service to the citizens of your district and to the Great State of Texas.

Every employee of every school district in Texas can put together the same type of information and let our Legislator’s know the real cost of the proposed cuts!

What Is Right With Public school Education?

What is right with Public Education?

Tough economic times and a great deal of media coverage about proposed cuts in state budgets have given many people the opportunity to voice their opinion concerning Public Education. Many of us that have spent our adult lives working in public schools know the benefits and success stories associated with our chosen profession. Starting with Global Statistics, we are bombarded with media coverage of failing schools that do not prepare students for international competition. The fact is, the US Education System ranks 20th in the world, according to the United Nations Education Index, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_Index), found on Wikipedia. This worldwide study compares the education provided by over 170 nations as related to literacy and educational opportunities K through Post-Secondary. If you believe twentieth is not impressive, consider the following information:

• The combined population of the nineteen countries ranked higher that the US are not equal to the population of the USA.
• Only seven of the countries ranked higher that the US have a population greater than New York City.
• Only five of those countries have a population greater than the State of Texas.
• None of the countries ranked above the US are regularly mentioned as economic rivals the US.
• Japan ranks #34, China ranks #97 and India ranks #145.

Public Schools in Texas are continuously improving in test scores overall and in the sub-populations determined by ethnicity and/or socio-economic characteristics. One of the most often heard complaints is that the increase in expenditures has not resulted in an increase in results. Although there has been an increase in total dollars spent on Texas Education, there has not been a significant increased in the cost per student. Texas adds 85,000 new students to the rolls every year. That is the equivalent of an additional Austin ISD each year. That figure takes into consideration those that graduate and leave the system. Increased costs are directly related to increased reporting and monitoring of Federal/State Mandated Special Programs. Personnel have to be in place to complete and submit as many as 500 reports/audits required by Federal/State law. This is no small task. We serve more than 5 million students and the Texas Public School System is the sixth largest employer in The World.
Finally, at the local level, White Oak ISD employs 170 dedicated individuals that provide an outstanding educational environment for 1430 students. Our budget for 2010/2011 is 9.8 million dollars dispensed over 180 days of instruction. If you use 7.5 hours as the length of a day at school (which seldom ever happens), the cost of educating a child in White Oak ISD is $5.08 per hour, per child! That includes instruction, food service, transportation and all extra curricular activities. The opportunity to succeed exists in White Oak and it comes at a price of $5.08 per student, per hour. When Legislators talk about decreasing funds for Public Schools, they are talking about cuts that will harm the future of our students and harm the future of the State of Texas.
Those that are in opposition to Public Schools are being heard in Austin. I would encourage those of you that support the efforts of your local school district to be heard as well. There is a difference in saving funds and cutting funds. When you can do the same amount of work, create the same outcome and/or provide the same level of service with less money, you are saving money. When the decrease in funding negatively affects the outcome of your stated purpose, educating children, you are cutting funds. Cuts are painful and difficult to overcome. Contact your Representative in the House and your Senator. Let them know you support your school district and that funding to Public Education should be cut Last and Least!

Problems with UIL Realignment

University Interscholastic League (UIL)
Realignment 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010 was the release date for the realignment of all Texas Public School districts that compete in football and basketball. It is certainly one of the most anticipated events in the world of extracurricular activities in the state. There are always surprises, disappointments and relief among member schools, depending on how the “rubber band” is stretched to group new districts. In my 30 years of involvement with this process, the one thing I know to be true is that nothing is sacred or exempt from change.
This year the Conference AA districts experienced a whole sale change in the process of realignment. The football districts were split into large and small school district at the start of the season instead of at the beginning of the playoff process. This was approved by the Conference AA Superintendents in a referendum. The vote was pretty much along the lines of big schools were opposed to the measure and small schools were in favor on the change. By approving this measure all districts knew there would be extended travel and the elimination of 32 teams from the playoff system due to the fact that only two schools will be allowed into the playoffs from each district. This action was taken as an attempt to remedy the inequity of very small enrollment AA schools having to compete against schools with almost twice as many students in high school. This disparity exists in each of the five classifications but Conference AA was the only one to approve the measure to create two divisions.
So, what’s the problem? The superintendents approved the referendum and the UIL put it in place, end of story. The answer to that question is simple. The problem is not with football and the approved measure, the problem is with all the “unintended consequences” that will befall the AA districts in every other area of competition. With the release of the new football districts, the UIL also released the new basketball districts that do not include the same schools as football. Before April 15, 2010, the UIL will release the remaining spring athletic and academics districts. These new districts can and most likely will be different than basketball. Conference AA schools are looking at competition in anywhere from four to six different alignments, having four to six different rules committees, limited to no possibility of combining travel between male and female sports (players or fans) and no consistency in the ability to work as a group of schools through out the year to provide a quality experience for all students.
I am, once again, very disappointed in the lack of concern the UIL shows for the overall well being of sports and academic competition for Texas Public Schools. If the plan of large and small schools was so important for football at the AA level, why is not important for volleyball, basketball, debate, track, and all the sports in AAA-AAAAA? Conference A schools have a unique set of circumstances that require this type of multiple alignments. In football Conference A schools can have no football, six-man football and 11-man football which can not be combined. Many schools do not play volleyball of one of the other sports, which again presents a need to have different alignments. These circumstances do not exist in any large scale in AA schools. There is no need to place the extra burden of multiple districts on Conference AA. History clearly shows us that once the UIL makes a decision it is next to impossible to create a climate for dialog and/or change. It is my hope that after we endure the next two years of multiple rules meeting and tremendous increases in travel and split crowds, change will come.
I have always believed that you should not “gripe” about and issue without having a possible solution in mind. I have two. First, let the big and small football district alignments stand for all sports. This will create a more equitable size of school situation for all involved. In so doing, there will have to be an adjustment to the playoff system that allows three teams to enter the playoff in all sports. This too, has its own set of issues with byes created in the bracket, but all sports except football have been using this system for years. Second, leave football alignments as it is and create one district alignment for all other extracurricular UIL activities. Two committees and sets of meetings are better than six (according to my understanding of math). Either of these choices is infinitely more appealing than the reality of where we are today.

What is the cost of an education in White Oak?

The Value of Education

White Oak ISD


            Recently there have been several articles on the topic of the cost of Public Education. I wanted to take the time to write this entry in the White Oak Independent and give the taxpayers some information about the cost of an education at White Oak ISD. It is no secret that the faculty, staff and administration at White Oak feel that our students are receiving a quality education that will be beneficial in the work place or as they continue in their academic endeavors. White Oak ISD is the only TEA Recognized School District in Gregg County. Our high school students score above the state and national average on both the SAT and ACT college entrance exams. We have graduates the have excelled at colleges and universities of all sizes. One of our graduates just completed an internship with the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

            All of our extra-curricular programs are successful and give our students an opportunity to pursue interests outside the 7.5 hour school day. Fine Arts (Band, Choir and Drama), Athletics and UIL Academics give our students multiple choices to enhance the lessons taught in the classroom. Our students understand words like podcast, blogs, wikkis and can produce outstanding work at all grade levels.

            All of this information is important to consider when talking about the cost of the education provided by your public school system. Now, here are the numbers. White Oak has an annual operating budget of $10,478,499 and an enrollment of 1390 students.


$10,478,499  divided by 1390 students = $7,538.49 per student/per year

$7,538.49 divided by 180 Instructional Days = $41.88 per student/per day

$41.88 divided by a 7.5 hour school day = $5.58 per student/per hour

At $5.58 per hour, the taxpayers of White Oak ISD are getting a great deal of “bang for their buck”. Transportation, maintenance, food service, custodial service, administration and all the instructional costs are included in the $5.58 per hour price tag.

            There are those in the community that have expressed a concern about the amount of money spent on athletics at White Oak and other schools in the area. The athletic budget is $538,255, including all employee stipends and the salary of the Athletic Director. That amounts to 5.1% of the total budget. If you add Fine Arts and UIL Academics, the total is 8.7% of the total budget. To turn that figure around, 91.3% of the White Oak ISD Annual Budget is not related to extra-curricular activities. Once again, I would say that the return on our investment as taxpayers is very high. All of our teacher/coaches and sponsors teach, including our AD. White Oak ISD Athletic Director is the only teacher/coach or sponsor that receives a salary for extra-curricular duties. Everyone else is paid a stipend for their assignment. The best part is that these individuals are Master Teachers and they do an outstanding job in the classroom.

            I hope you have found this information informative and useful. The theme at the high school this year is “Be a Difference Maker”. That is the most rewarding thing about education. We have the opportunity to “Be a Difference Maker” in the lives of young people every day. White Oak ISD is an outstanding place to live and work. You can have the best facilities, the most money and the latest/greatest equipment, but if you don’t have great students and great teachers, you can not have a great school. The students, faculty and staff at White Oak ISD are the reason for our high level of success and outstanding reputation. Thank you for your support of all that we do and I hope that when you are asked about the cost of public education you can say, “We’re getting our monies worth in White Oak!”

Senate Bill 2033

Senate Bill 2033
Local Control,
Where Did You Go?

White Oak ISD recently received Texas Association of School Boards Policy Update 86. For the reader that is not familiar, this is school districts operating procedures and state law mandates prepared as a service of our membership in TASB. Many of the changes that are sent have to do with changes in the law that we can not change or choose to ignore. However, school policy does include “Local Policies” that are in place to allow each school district a certain level of discretion concerning the way a district (WOISD) operates.
I am concerned about one of the changes being required of the district in Update 86. In policy EIA (LOCAL), Grading/Progress reports to parents, our district no longer has the local option of assigning a failing grade of no lower than fifty (50) on a students six weeks report card. Senate Bill 2033 passed into law by the 81st Legislature removed this local option for educators across the state. On the surface one might say this is a good thing. If a student does not do any work, that student should get a zero (0) and if his/her average is a twelve (12) then so be it! Please allow me to express another point of view that is well understood by educators. A student with a twelve average will not receive credit for the six weeks, as will a student with a fifty. The student with the twelve will have to average 99 out of 100 for the next two six weeks in order to receive a passing grade of 70 for the semester. The student with the fifty will have to average 80 out of 100 over the next two six weeks in order to receive a passing grade of 70 for the semester.
The obvious purpose of giving a student the grade of fifty that he/she did not earn is to give the student a chance turn a bad six weeks into a successful semester. If the student does not change his/her ways and continues to do poor work, they fail the course with a fifty average. There is not difference between a fifty no credit and a twelve no credit except that we gave the student a chance to succeed. SB 2033 will succeed in increasing the number of dropouts at the secondary level and will result in more discipline problems in our classrooms. A student that might have considered making a change in behavior will not change when there is NO REASONABLE CHANCE of improving the poor grade from the past six weeks.
Senate Bill 2033 removes a very vital measure of local control that schools can use to save students from dropping out of school. More drop outs and more discipline problems at school translate into a more difficult learning environment for students that want to succeed. This places greater demands on our public school faculty and staff members while the legislature continues to pile on more restrictions that seem to be designed to hamper our efforts to provide a quality education to all students. It is obvious that there are legislators that would like to see public schools fail to make way for vouchers and privatization of education. It must be very frustrating for those legislators to watch the faculty and staff members of the Texas Public School System as they take what ever is put in front of them and turn it into success stories for public education. Productivity in Texas Public Schools is on the rise even when we are handcuffed by laws passed by lawmakers that do not have our student’s best interest at heart. I am proud to be a part of the faculty and staff at White Oak ISD and proud to be a part of the Texas Public School System for over 28 years.

Response to Dr. Thomas Sowell’s Column “A Letter from a Child”

Here is a link to the column referenced http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell100609.php3

Dr. Thomas Sowell
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Stanford University

Dr. Sowell,

I would like to respond to your column titled, “A Letter from a Child,” that was published in the Longview News-Journal in Longview, Texas. I have spent 28 years teaching, coaching, and working as an administrator in Texas Public Schools. I am troubled by the idea of painting Public School Education with such a broad stroke of your editorial pen. Your accusations that public school teachers indoctrinate students with trivia at the expense of competing with students on a global scale are disturbing at the least.
A great deal of time and energy could be spent on the topic of the United States school children’s performance on international testing standards. As an educator, you are well aware of the factors that go into such analysis, and the fact that US students are making significant improvement on tests that compare “apples to apples” so to speak. According to the United Nations Education Index, the US ranks 19th in the world and 13th in the Human Development Index worldwide. There is not one country ranked higher than the US with a population equal to or greater than ours. Given that that kind of information does not help you make your point, I understand why it is not included in this column.
More to the point, I would like to address a few of your comments. You state that we are “frittering away time on trivia.” Texas Public Schools are governed by the Texas Education Agency and are required to teach the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to all students. Those TEKS are then assessed through the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test. In the fifth grade we are responsible for 344 TEKS for English, Math, Science, and Social Studies to be covered in 180 school days. That is two new concepts to master each day we are in class. That does not include the required material covered in Fine Arts, Technology, and Life Fitness. We do not have time to “fritter.”
The main point of your column has to do with a letter received from a fifth grade student at Sayre Elementary School in Lyon, Michigan. You assail the teacher for giving this student an assignment to seek the advice of “stranger in the media.” It must have been your hope that most of your readers do not know who you are. A person with three degrees in economics, forty-eight years working in the field of economics, and the author of seven books on economics should be a viable source for advice concerning problems in the economy. If you do not want to be bothered by school age children, just say so. You would have been more truthful and honest to quote W.C. Fields and say”, “Get away from me kid, you bother me.” Just using the information from your column, you have no idea what the scope of that assignment included and therefore cannot accurately judge it’s integrity.
Finally, I am always amazed that those who work within the most elite setting in education can determine the faults of those that educate everyone in their community. Your institution has very strict entrance requirements and a process of eliminating those that may not succeed. My school district enrolls every student that can produce a current water bill or any other valid proof of residency within the district. Your work history indicates you have spent your entire career in some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the United States. I challenge you to defend the idea that there is no indoctrination of students at Harvard, Columbia, The University of Chicago, and/or Stanford. There are good and bad teachers at every level of the education process. I firmly believe the public schools do more to weed out the weak than do our higher education constituents. I can assure you that when 60 to 70 percent of our students fail a course, we don’t blame it on the students. The men and women that get up every school day across this country and devote their time and energy to the education of our young people deserve better from you. It would be refreshing if we could wake up one morning and read the thoughts of an “Education Expert” that had taken the time to look at the big picture and decided to report on the good being done in public schools.

Michael E. Gilbert, M. Ed.
Superintendent of Schools
White Oak ISD
White Oak, Texas

School Finance

The Checks in the Mail!

1. Q. Is it true that the formulas are designed in such a way that when the federal money goes away, state money will pick up the difference (in 2011 and beyond)?
A. Yes. The state’s Foundation School Program (FSP) formulas will not change after the state no longer has stimulus funding. The FSP formulas will continue to form the basis of school districts’ FSP entitlements.
This is the first question asked and answered on the TEA Stimulus FAQ document. If you are to read the question and then just look at the answer “Yes”, it appears that the financial problems for Texas Public School District are over. The State of Texas will step up to the plate and maintain the funding levels established with Federal Stimulus funds. For White Oak ISD, that would mean an increase of more than $600,000.00 per year in state funds. This would truly be a cause for celebration if you don’t take the time to read the rest of the answer. In short, if the formulas do not change, the amount of money a district receives from the state does not change. My interpretation of this is White Oak ISD is $600,000.00 short beginning in 2011 and beyond.
At the August Special Called Board meeting to adopt the 2009/2010 Budget and set the tax rate, we chose to adopt a budget without the stimulus money included. Our budget shortfall was $425,000.00. I then explained to the board that for the next two years we have a chance to balance the budget with Federal Stimulus dollars. I did not want the members of the board to think that everything was OK during the time when stimulus money was available and then think we tanked the budget “post stimulus”. Our deficit budget represents the district operating on Foundation School Program Formulas. I will not mislead the trustees and community members into a false since of confidence that we are financially sound. If you are thinking you have all this extra money coming to your district in 2011, the checks in the mail!
On September 23, 2009, Senator Kevin Eltife spoke to a regional meeting of Economic Development Corporation members. During the conversation, he gave his view on the Stimulus Funds at the state level. Senator Eltife expressed his concern that when the stimulus funds are gone, Texas will experience a 13 Billion Dollar shortfall that will create problems in the next Biennium. While he was speaking my thoughts went to the question of the money promised to White Oak ISD. If the state is going to be down 13 billion, there is a good chance WOISD will not receive extra funds in 2011 and beyond. I did get a chance to ask Senator Eltife about money for school districts post stimulus and he did not see how more could be done with less. If you still think the state will continue to fund your district at the higher level, the check is still in the mail!
Finally, my thoughts go back to the past legislative session. The fight for a system to fund education with dynamic driver based formulas died in the Senate Education Committee chaired by Senator Shapiro. One of the most powerful arguments against SB 982 was the extra 5 Billion Dollars it would cost the state. The powers that be could not support such a large sum of money for the betterment of Education Funding in the state. The decision was made to keep the system of Target Revenue in place and to mandate pay raises that would consume far more than half of any extra money allotted to districts. I had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Education Committee and to let them know White Oak ISD was a deficit budget district before HB 3646 and will be a deficit budget district after HB 3646 even with the passing of a Tax Rate Election to add 13 cents to the burden of our local tax payers. HB 3646 passed and I was right.
The Texas Legislature could not/would not come up with 5 billion dollars to make the necessary changes needed in school finance during the last legislative session. The Texas Legislature will not make the changes needed to come up with sufficient funds to keep school districts at stimulus funding levels in 2011 and beyond. For those of you that still believe the state will maintain your district at the higher funding level, I’m sorry to say there is no check in the mail. My final thought is simply this, don’t count until you see it and don’t spend it until it is in the bank.

White Oak H1N1 Report

White Oak Independent School District
H1N1 Influenza Report

In the past few weeks, and increasingly over the past few days, concerns about the H1N1 Flu have increased. It is my hope that the information included in this report will help many of you understand the nature of the problem and give you some piece of mind about the actions being taken by White Oak ISD.
First, let me say that we do have students that are ill with flu-like symptoms. There is little or no evidence to say that they have the H1N1 strain. Some local doctors are making a clinical diagnosis of H1N1 but there is no laboratory test data to use for confirmation. The doctors are most likely correct with the diagnosis and will be the first to tell you that the treatment is the same for H1N1 vs. Type A Influenza. If you or your student show symptoms of fever over 100 degrees and a cough or sore throat, it is recommended that you see your family doctor at once. Early diagnosis will allow you to recover and prevent the spread of the flu.
The faculty and staff at WOISD are monitoring the actions of our students to insure proper procedures are being followed to limit the spread of the flu. Antibacterial hand soap is available to all students and staff. The custodial staff is cleaning and disinfecting all common-use areas every night, including the use of industrial strength aerosol disinfecting “bombs” on a rotating basis throughout the district. Attendance at WOISD remains at 96% for the week of September 14, 2009. White Oak ISD has been approved to receive the H1N1 vaccine for all students and staff. There are no firm dates at this time as to when the vaccine will arrive. When we know for sure when the vaccine will be available, instructions on where and how the disbursement will take place will be provided to all involved.
There is no doubt that this flu strain is very contagious and that we must be diligent in our efforts to keep everyone healthy. I know that if all the stakeholders in White Oak will make themselves aware of the facts concerning this problem, we will be able to stay healthy and continue the education process for our students. You can find more information about the flu and the vaccination process on the following websites:


Thank you for your help in keeping facts separate from rumors. Everyone at White Oak ISD is concerned about the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community.

Local control of Public Schools

Loss of Local Control
Texas Public Education

When did the idea of “local control” become so distasteful to the Legislative Body in Austin? White Oak ISD is putting the finishing touches on the budget for the 2009/2010 school year. This process is always difficult and very time consuming but this year it has also become “baffling” for lack of a better word. It is very difficult for a district that is struggling financially to complain about any kind of financial help made available from any source. At the risk of seeming ungrateful, I am complaining just a little. It appears that we are going to receive about $670,000.00 in Stimulus Funds. Approximately $80,000 must be spent in Title I grades K-5. Another $260,000.00 must be spent in compliance with IDEA (Special Education) guidelines that apply to approximately 15% of the student population. Both of these fund sources are strictly to be used to supplement not supplant existing programs within the district. In other words, buy something new instead of pay for what is working. The remaining $400,000.00 can be used to offset some expenses if they meet predetermined approved Federal Standards. One of those approved and required items is a $974.00 per year raise for eligible faculty members. The raise will be funded by Stimulus Funds for two years and then picked up by the local district since the increase is permanent but the Stimulus Funds are not.
All of that information is in place to set the stage for this question, Why can’t the local school district Board of Trustees and Administration decide what would be the best way to spend $670,000.00? White Oak ISD will adopt a deficit budget for 2009/2010 in the amount of $435,000.00. By applying the $670,000.00 Stimulus Funds as required by the Federal Standards, WOISD will still have a deficit budget of over $40,000.00. That is my concern, complaint, gripe and/or burden if you will. My math skills are good enough to acknowledge the fact that $40K in debt is better than $435K in debt. Those same skills tell me that applying $670K to a $435K deficit should solve the problem.
Why can’t the local district decide what to do with the money? If you allow local control of the money, somebody somewhere will put in a new turf field, new gym, new field house or even a sauna for the administrators, that’s why. In other words there will be situations where the money is used inappropriately. It is my belief that the overwhelming majority of Texas school districts will use the funds to better the education and learning environment of their students. I believe that there should be a level of accountability for the use of any taxpayer funds. Require us to provide a plan on how the money will be used and hold us accountable for following the plan. Just don’t tell me from thousands of miles away that the money is coming and you will use 40% of it on less than 15% of your students, 15% has to be a pay raise that I will have to maintain after the funds are gone and 12% can only be used in grades K-5. I believe in the public school system in Texas. I believe Local School Boards want to do right by the students they are charged with leading. I hope that some day there will be a shift in the negative stigma placed on the idea of Local Control to make the best decisions to solve Local Issues.