McKinney Board of Trustees President Curtis Rippee addressed the McKinney Chamber’s Government and Legislative Issues Committee on Friday, May 3. Mr. Rippee was joined by fellow Trustees Lynn Sperry and Amy Dankel. He spoke about the State of Education and touched on education in the U.S., education in Texas and the state of education within McKinney Independent School District.
With regard to education on a national level, Mr. Rippee shared that often when the test scores of U.S. students are represented as lower when compared to students in other developed countries the comparison doesn’t tell the whole story. The reason is most other countries do not test all of their students while we do in the U.S. In many other countries, college and career determinations are already made and they only test the college bound or higher level students. In addition, Mr. Rippee shared that the single greatest determining factor of the academic success of a student is their economic status.
As a way of providing some comparative analysis he indicated that Texas ranks 49th in per student spending (down from 41st) and ranks 38th in teacher salaries (down from 31st).
On the state level, the primary issues currently being addressed are high stakes testing, school finance and the possible use of vouchers. The State legislature is currently reviewing measures with regard to the number of year end tests per grade level as Texas has far more end of course exams than other states. School administrators want to have accountability, he said, and should but there are various means of implementing that accountability without relying solely on high stakes testing.
With regard to funding, $5 billion in cuts were made during the last legislative session. The primary funding mechanism currently under consideration by the legislature does not provide significant benefit to McKinney ISD as it will primarily raise revenue per student for districts that have a lower per student revenue. With the current proposal that is under review to restore some of the previous funding cuts, only approximately 9% of what was previously cut from the McKinney ISD budget would be restored.
In light of continued growth, McKinney ISD is performing at high levels. From 2004 through 2012 MISD had a 50 percent increase in enrollment. With the addition of 8,000 new students only three positions were added to Central office. Administration is trying to be responsive to needs but keep the focus on the classroom.
With regard to fiscal performance the District maintains a AAA bond rating and has been awarded the Sunny Award for Financial Transparency. The District has received numerous academic recognitions including: 10 National Merit Scholar Finalists, two National Merit Scholars and one Presidential Scholar. Two campuses were recognized at Intel Schools of Distinction, the State Teacher of the Year last year hales from McKinney and the State Nurse of the Year for this year is also from McKinney ISD.
Mr. Rippee stressed that it is the goal of the Board of Trustees to be good financial stewards for the taxpayers and to ensure we have the highest quality school system. He also feels it is the Board’s responsibility to highlight the impacts that state financial cuts have had on the district and their ability to maintain high levels of performance under those economic conditions.