April and May are crucial months for RISD’s future.

The Texas Legislature will be meeting in special session to remedy the school finance system that the Texas Supreme Court held to be unconstitutional. A new finance system must be in place by June 1. Failure to meet this deadline has a sure consequence: Texas public schools will not be funded for the coming school year.

The legislature’s assignment has been compared to a “take home” exam. Only a single question must be answered: “Does the new finance system provide to local school boards meaningful discretion in the raising and spending of local tax dollars?” Although this exam is tough, it is an open-book, pass-fail test for which legislators have had months to study and prepare.

Each spring TAKS tests are administered to Texas public school students in a number of subject areas. Texas schoolchildren continue to show strong results and continued improvement in these tests, living up to the mandate of state legislation. Now is the time for our legislators to pass their own TAX test. Simply, they must live up to the expectations of constituents. The future of Texas is at stake.

On May 13, RISD voters will have the opportunity to ensure that RISD continues on its 20-year plan to maintain and improve its physical facilities and provide for other tangible needs of the district. The $145.4 million bond proposal is broad in scope and essential for our students, staff and community. Furthermore, it was formulated after months of study by RISD residents and school personnel. The bond will provide funding for major items in the areas of:

  • Instruction (capital items and expanded career and technology education)
  • Technology (infrastructure and upgrades of essential equipment)
  • Facilities (e.g., significant renovations at Lake Highlands High School, revitalization of 1960s-era campuses, water management systems, stadium renovations and handicap accessibility improvements, auditorium sound/lighting enhancements and security management for school buildings)

Bond 2006 will not increase property taxes. In fact, this bond will enable the Board of Trustees to lower the debt service tax rate for property owners by 1-2 cents per $100 valuation based on current total property value assumptions.

Details about Bond 2006 are available at risd.org. I encourage you to review this information and attend one or more of the neighborhood meetings that will be held during the coming weeks to discuss Bond 2006.

Don’t forget: Tutor your legislator, and help him pass his test.

See you at the polls May 13.