As you know, the Texas Legislature failed to pass a new school finance bill which resulted in a loss of almost $6 million in state aid for Lovejoy ISD. This loss of funds required us to either drastically cut programs or to find alternate ways to fund the LISD budget for the 2017-2018 school year. Our Board of Trustees approved a budget which protected all of our programs by choosing several strategies including charging a fee for extracurricular activities and bus ridership. Over the last several years, the State of Texas has continued to reduce the state's share of funding for our public schools. The state's share of funding our schools statewide has fallen to ~36% of the total which has shifted the burden to local property taxpayers. In my career as an educator, there was a time when our schools were funded at the 80% level by the state and 20% by local property taxes. This shift is the reason our property taxes have continued to climb.
The Texas Legislature will convene into special session on July 18, 2017. We remain hopeful the legislature will take action to restore some or all of our state aid which could allow our Board of Trustees to reduce or eliminate the anticipated fees and/or the use of fund balance. We are working with other ASATR districts to assemble a large contingency of residents who are willing to travel to Austin on July 24th to visit a group of Texas legislators, reminding them of the importance of maintaining our state funding.
We are targeting the second week of the special session to make one more concerted effort to implore the legislature to do the right thing and restore our funding. On Monday, July 24th, ASATR school districts from across the State of Texas will meet in Austin, to visit the legislative offices of our elected officials to remind them of the critical importance of funding, and the effect the loss of state funds will have on the students in our district. We will focus on Senate offices as well as legislative leaders. We hope you will join us as our goal is to assemble at least 100 Lovejoy residents to make the trip.
We will meet as a group on July 24th at 10:00 AM at the La Quinta Inn Austin which is within walking distance of the Capitol. During this briefing, you will be provided with maps of the Capitol, talking points, the strategy for the day, and contact information should you have any questions or require assistance during the day.
We are planning to offer a charter bus on the morning of the 24th, if you are interested in traveling to Austin as a group. The cost of a charter will be $35-$50 per person. If you can join us on the 24th and would like a seat on the charter bus, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The larger the number of participants, the better chance we have of our voices being heard. Please respond to email@example.com if you can join us in Austin and/or if you are interested in a seat on the chartered bus.
I plan to spend the night at the La Quinta Austin on Sunday night. If you will be staying overnight in Austin on Sunday, July 23rd, there are two hotels within walking distance of the Capitol:
La Quinta Inn Austin
300 E. 11th Street
Austin, TX 78701
DoubleTree Suites by Hilton
303 W. 15th Street
Austin, TX 78701
I appreciate your support of our school district and hope you will add your voice to our communication to the legislature.