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Thu Jan 26, 2012, 02:15 PM

South Texas District Suspends Sports to Keep Afloat

Texas Tribune 1/26/12

South Texas District Suspends Sports to Keep Afloat

PREMONT — A plan to save a school district has come down to rows of yellow Post-it notes.

Dozens dot a wall in Premont Independent School District Superintendent Ernest Singleton's office, covering white poster boards labeled with the state benchmarks — 11 in total — that his district must meet in order to remain open next year. Each note points to a step toward the corresponding goal. Scrawled on one are two words that have brought national attention to the tiny 570-student school district in South Texas: "suspend sports."

Singleton came to Premont ISD in June. He received a letter from the Texas Education Agency in July saying that after years of financial disarray and lagging academic performance, the district would lose its accreditationand be absorbed into a neighboring district.

After the initial shock subsided — despite the district’s shabby record, Mr. Singleton said he did not expect closure so quickly — he took his case to Austin and asked for more time to turn it around. In November, Premont residents voted overwhelmingly for a 13-cent property tax hike to support the schools. A month later, the agency agreed to delay its decision by a year, setting out the stringent demands related to financial and academic improvement that now line the superintendent’s office.

The reprieve was hard-won. If Premont ISD fails this time around, there will be no appeal. With those stakes in mind, Mr. Singleton turned to a budget that he had already scrubbed bare and looked for more ways to save. The $150,000 that the district would spend during the next year on spring and fall sports, including football, stared him in the face.


Football takes a holiday in Texas. Freaking shocking. While it is sad that these kids will not have the same opportunities to compete in sports as other kids in districts nearby, at least they won't be doing a daily commute 20 or so miles to get to school. I could see that being much, much worse. And some families just making the decision not to send their kids to school.

This one belongs on the republican controlled legislature which has slowly been starving school budgets.


21 replies, 2706 views

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Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply South Texas District Suspends Sports to Keep Afloat (Original post)
sonias Jan 2012 OP
Melissa G Jan 2012 #1
white cloud Jan 2012 #2
sonias Jan 2012 #4
sonias Jan 2012 #3
TexasTowelie Jan 2012 #5
sonias Jan 2012 #6
sonias Jan 2012 #7
TexasTowelie Jan 2012 #8
sonias Jan 2012 #9
TexasTowelie Feb 2012 #10
WolverineDG Jun 2012 #17
WolverineDG Jun 2012 #16
TexasTowelie Feb 2012 #11
sonias Feb 2012 #12
TexasTowelie Mar 2012 #13
sonias Mar 2012 #14
sonias Jun 2012 #15
TexasTowelie Jun 2012 #18
TexasTowelie Dec 2012 #19
DhhD Dec 2012 #20
DhhD Dec 2012 #21

Response to sonias (Original post)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 02:26 PM

1. As Elizabeth Warren says we prefer tax cuts for the rich to investing in the middle class.

This is an example of what that looks like in Texas.

150K? What multiple of that was spent by tax payers on guarding Rick Perry's behind as he traipsed around the country in his megalomaniacal pursuit of the presidency?

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Response to Melissa G (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 05:17 PM

2. 3rd world country

prioity are backward. Beer, Alcohol, entertainment related sales $$$ are more important than funds for education.

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Response to white cloud (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 05:37 PM

4. Funny you should use 3rd world country

Because the up and coming economies that we've always considered third world are kicking our ass. Those countries are investing in their education systems and eating our lunch. While here in the U.S. we're dumbing down our education system, making cuts to please corporate masters and we are slipping quite rapidly to the bottom.

Very sad indeed.

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Response to Melissa G (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 05:29 PM

3. Good point

Rick Perry wasted another $2 million of Texas taxpayer money on his extra security detail. That's more than 13 Premont sized schools comparable sports budgets.

Man how I hate that taxpayer money black hole that is Rick Perry.

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Response to sonias (Original post)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 08:47 PM

5. The commute would be closer to 35 miles.

Last edited Thu Jan 26, 2012, 09:28 PM - Edit history (1)

I saw the story in the CC Caller-Times about a week ago. The plan was that the Premont ISD would be consolidated with the San Diego district. That created some anger in San Diego since the people there consider the people in Premont to be inferior.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 10:13 PM

6. 35 miles!

I can't imagine that nightmare at all. Even being bused, these kids would have to be up earlier and spend 1 to 2 extra hours a day just in the commute part of the deal.

What a mess.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 26, 2012, 10:16 PM

7. Had to respond to the "inferior" comment separately

"That created some anger in San Diego since the people there consider the people in Premont to be inferior. "

Was that meant for purposes of the football/sports competition or do you mean that there is some class or racism issue involved?

Just wondering.

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Response to sonias (Reply #7)

Mon Jan 30, 2012, 03:33 PM

8. sorry for the delay, but I'm in the process of moving.

The Csller-Times said there are gang and family issues between the two towns. I'll have full Internet service on Friday to fill in the details.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #8)

Tue Jan 31, 2012, 12:15 AM

9. Looking forward to it

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Response to sonias (Reply #9)

Sat Feb 4, 2012, 02:34 AM

10. I reviewed the article again and discovered that I wasn't correct.

Some of the comments mentioned gave me an incorrect impression of the situation. Here is the article from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that I was referencing.

http://www.caller.com/news/2012/jan/12/premont-isds-extension-cause-for-celebration-35/

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Response to sonias (Reply #7)

Fri Jun 29, 2012, 06:56 PM

17. No, it's a regional thing, Sonia

Like how Laredo sees the Valley & the Valley sees Laredo. Do NOT come campaigning to Laredo & gush about how much you love being in the Valley!!

Carrizo Springs v. Crystal City

PSJA v. McAllen (before McAllen became a powerhouse)

as for commutes, 35 miles is nothing compared to what the kids in the Edinburg district had/have to go through because of the rule that says school districts can't cross county lines. Some of those kids are closer to Falfurrias, but have to be bused into Edinburg.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #5)

Fri Jun 29, 2012, 06:52 PM

16. Well, Premont only has ONE stop light

San Diego has 3 or 4.

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Response to sonias (Original post)

Wed Feb 22, 2012, 12:33 PM

11. Another article about this situation appeared today in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

The final paragraph was poignant:

This school district's struggle is a cautionary tale for all others. Premont has gone where any of the more than 1,100 districts could go — especially in the current state funding predicament — but for the grace of sufficient taxable property value, dedicated educators and demanding parents. These are among the reasons that the Caller-Times has pursued Premont's story and why each chapter is so memorable. All Texans should live vicariously through Premont ISD. Its struggle is their struggle.


http://www.caller.com/news/2012/feb/22/no-more-sports-as-premont-isd-plays-for-keeps/

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 22, 2012, 03:02 PM

12. Class Warfare - Paul Burka's OpEd in Texas Monthly

Class Warfare by Paul Burka Texas Monthly March 2012 Issue

Class Warfare

Since 1984, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled over and over again that the state’s school finance plan is inadequate, inefficient, and unconstitutional. The outcome of the current lawsuit will likely be no different. Why is this the most intractable problem in state government?


Three days before Christmas, attorneys representing a coalition of 63 school districts delivered an unwelcome present to state officials: legal documents that would trigger the latest in a series of lawsuits over the way Texas finances—or more accurately, fails to finance—its public schools. The delivery was unwanted, but it was not unexpected. The ongoing battle between the state and its financially strapped school districts has become a story with a theme but no ending, dating back to the first successful school finance lawsuit, in 1984, Edgewood Independent School District et al. v. Kirby et al. (William Kirby was the commissioner of education at the time). Since then, Edgewood v. Kirby has been contested more times than the estate of J. Howard Marshall. David Thompson, the lead attorney for one of four groups of school districts that are suing the state, likens the long series of lawsuits to the Harry Potter novels: each one starts where the last one leaves off, and in the end, they fit together. Unfortunately, in school finance there is no philosopher’s stone that can turn bad policy into good.

It is, alas, all too easy to get lost in the intricacies of school finance and to lose sight of what is at stake, so let’s be clear at the outset: the argument is over nothing less than the future of Texas. When schools are underfunded, as they have been since at least 2005, students don’t learn. When students don’t learn, they emerge from high school unprepared for college. When they aren’t ready for college, they risk joining the 75 percent of adults in Texas who don’t have a college degree (the national average is 72 percent). When they lack a college degree, their chances of finding a secure place in the state’s workforce diminish accordingly.

(snip)
Sometime in the upcoming months, the case of Fort Bend Independent School District v. Robert Scott will be tried in Travis County. The state will lose. The case will move on to the Court of Appeals and then on to the Supreme Court. Years will pass. Little will be settled. After 28 years, we are still fighting over many of the same points. And yet, in the time between the first Edgewood case and the Fort Bend case, Texas has undergone profound demographic changes. That schools are the first public institutions to be affected by this is what makes school finance such a critical issue. It compels us to address a situation that many Texans remain ambivalent toward: the profound cultural changes taking place within our state. But if the political system turns its back on today’s students, what kind of future can Texans expect?


This piece might require registration on their site which I believe is free. This particular piece by Burka is spot on. Sometimes he just gets it. It's really, really painfully simple. We are dooming the state of Texas and the future of Texas with this cheap crap shoot game of not funding education.

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Response to sonias (Original post)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 11:56 AM

13. Some good news about what happens when people work together:

Of course the Repukes will think it's socialism.

CORPUS CHRISTI — Some Coastal Bend superintendents want to reach out to the troubled Premont ISD by encouraging their students to help the neighboring district.

"It's part of who we are when we say we are going to become a teacher," said Linda Villarreal, executive director for Education Service Center Region 2, which serves 42 school districts in 11 counties.

Many top administrators from those school districts said Premont Independent School District is working hard to meet 11 demands outlined by the Texas Education Agency through an agreement Premont trustees approved in January to keep the district open for at least another year.

<<snip>>

School districts across the region aim to help raise a combined total of $100,000 by May to help Premont open two fully functional science labs by Aug. 1., one of the demands from the state.


http://www.caller.com/news/2012/mar/04/coastal-bend-school-districts-plan-to-help-fund/

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Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #13)

Sun Mar 4, 2012, 02:12 PM

14. Awesome!

This is the spirit of teaching and students learning that we're all in this together. Republicans who only think in terms of "me, what's it in for me, it's all about me, me, me" will never understand this.

Lovely! Wonderful community spirit!

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Response to sonias (Original post)

Fri Jun 29, 2012, 04:42 PM

15. The Writing On the Wall -(Update to the story)

Texas Observer 6/27/12

The Writing On the Wall
The fight to save a South Texas school district.


THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL IS SUPPOSED TO be full of optimism and promise. It’s a day for blank notebooks, new clothes, fresh haircuts and a clean slate. But that wasn’t the case last fall at Premont High School. There was a sense of sadness among the students, parents and teachers. They had all heard the rumors: the state wanted to close them down. They were all but certain that this would be Premont’s final first day.

Ernest Singleton was determined to make it just another of many first days to come at Premont. The district’s new superintendent, Singleton had no intention of being its last. He had once helped save Benavides Junior High in nearby Duval County after the state threatened to shutter it, and he was planning a similar rescue in Premont. Over summer break, the school board had consolidated the high school and middle school to save money. One of Singleton’s first actions in his new job was to roll up his sleeves and join a top-to bottom cleaning and painting of the school building to get it ready for the new school year.

(snip)

“I am more confident now in the future for Premont than I’ve been since we first got that letter,” Singleton said recently. As the school year came to an end, the district was well on its way to satisfying all 11 conditions set by the TEA. Singleton insists it couldn’t have been done without the decision to cancel sports. “It was the turning point,” he said.

Even Navarro, the devoted cheerleader, recognizes this. “I would like to thank Mr. Singleton for sticking with us and not quitting. He didn’t give up on us.”

But while Premont has so far saved its school, the state’s funding formula that caused so much of the trouble hasn’t changed. Premont may have survived for the moment, but the state continues to endanger poor schools.


Wonderful recap and summary of the problem with the way Texas finances their schools - especially the poor districts.

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Response to sonias (Reply #15)

Fri Jun 29, 2012, 07:35 PM

18. Thanks for the update.

I'll have to check out the full article in a bit.

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Response to sonias (Original post)

Thu Dec 6, 2012, 12:02 PM

19. A new article from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times:

Premont ISD superintendent confident district has made good case to stay open

PREMONT — Nearly a year after Premont ISD got a temporary reprieve from closure, the superintendent said he is confident the district has met state requirements to remain open.

The district must submit information by Dec. 31 showing its progress toward achieving 11 state mandates.

After years of poor test scores, empty bank accounts and failing health inspections, Premont Independent School District has paid back a $400,000 line of credit, got a clean health inspection and opened two fully functioning science labs to replace the high school's deteriorating labs, closed for years and filled with mold.

The district, which for years had widespread problems with academics, finances, attendance and parental support, was able to right itself in the past year through tough decisions, including canceling sports, and a lot of goodwill, including donations from scores of area schoolchildren who banded together and raised money for the new labs.

http://www.caller.com/news/2012/dec/06/premont-isd-superintendent-confident-district-to/

The decision of whether the school remains open goes to Michael Williams--former railroad commissioner, failed Senate primary candidate, token GOP minority member and recently appointed Rick Perry crony.

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Response to sonias (Original post)

Thu Dec 6, 2012, 09:43 PM

20. Could this ISD be taken over by a Charter or State ISD privatization for the 2013-14 school year?

It is my understanding that the upcoming January 2013 Texas Legislature is discussing a move to remove/dismantle the Texas Education Agency so the the Legislature can seize control of Districts that are underfunded or performing poorly?

We will see.

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Response to DhhD (Reply #20)

Thu Dec 6, 2012, 09:52 PM

21. The Texas Legislature created the underfunding during its last session, Spring 2011.

Texas voters need to be made aware of the move to privatize education in Texas. Which Districts will be next? Hope the law suites by Texas ISDs, against the State Legislature, are won before the legislative session ends, by the end of May 2013.

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