The education focus on many RISD taxpayers has turned from the administration building at 400 S. Greenville to Austin. The regular session of the 79th Texas Legislature is underway, and education issues are at the forefront of the agenda.

Although school finance is on most folks’ minds, the legislature also is debating school reforms. There are almost as many plans as there are legislators, and each proposal is viewed in light of “what does it mean to my school district?”

As we all review and debate school issues in this early stage of the session, it is important to remember a time-honored phrase about legislation: “The devel is in the details.”

We are meeting with our area legislators to remind them about the needs and challenges of RISD, the state’s obligation to provide sufficient funds, and the expectation that decisions about local schools should be made by local decision-makers. Your RISD trustees have adopted a series of legislative priorities to advocate for you and the RISD community.

With respect to the marquee issue, school finance, we are working for legislation that:

  1. provides a long-term solution to funding public education;
  2. dedicates more overall dollars for public education;
  3. increases the state’s share of education funding;
  4. creates growth in the funding formulas to match the cost of delivering services;
  5. provides local districts with flexibility to meet the diverse needs of their community and students.

The detailed priorities address the topics of finance, governance, school choice and personnel and can be viewed at RISD.org.

Lake Highlands is represented in Austin by quality individuals who are waiting to hear your opinions, suggestions and comments. (I know firsthand that you are passionate about our schools and will make your voice heard.) Sen. John Carona and Reps. Tony Goolsby, Will Hartnett and Bill Keffer have been receptive to our positions, but they need to hear from you, the people who sent them to Austin.

Work continues on RISD’s 2005-2006 budget – we cannot and will not wait for promised financial relief from the legislature or courts. The tough times continue, and tough decisions must be made in order to maintain our balanced budget. We will not shy away from our responsibilities, and we will work to make sure that our legislators do the same.

My prior column encouraged you to become involved within RISD. Today, I encourage you to become involved for RISD.