I am the parent of two graduates of the McKinney Independent School District. In 2006, I lived away from my family for a year, so my daughter could graduate from McKinney High School. We returned to McKinney in 2008, specifically, so my son could graduate from McKinney High School.
Over the past few years, I have grown increasing concerned about the direction, that our Board of Trustees and the administration of McKinney ISD, has taken the district.
Here are some of the low lights:
- McKinney North High School Cheerleader scandal that brought national shame and ridicule to the community. Besides firing the principal involved, we have no indication that the district implemented any of the suggestions or recommendations of the independent investigator. The incident is merely dismissed, as if it never happened.
- Lost millions of taxpayer dollars in legal fees and penalties by initiating and dragging out an Eminent Domain condemnation case for nearly ten years, until the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear the case in April of 2007.
- Squandered millions of dollars building four “energy efficient” elementary schools that actually used more electricity than the cheaper traditional designs.
- Refusal to stop the forced socio-economic busing; despite parental objections and proof the effort actually hurts all students. Test scores across all demographics have dropped since busing started in 2006. Economically Disadvantaged have dropped to below the state average, since the district began the program in 2005.
- Busing costs exceed $7 million per year. Persistence in pursuing policies that are not effective over parental objections is not courageous, it is stupidity.
- Over parents objections, shut down the ACT Academy, the only junior or senior high in McKinney to ever be rated “exemplary”, for cost savings reasons.
- A board of trustees that extended the length of their term of office from 3 years to 4 years, with virtually no public discussion.
- A school board member, who kept a DUI conviction secret from most of his fellow board members, ignored board policy by refusing to resign.
- Board members refused to remove him from the board, ignoring the public outrage.
- This same board member was subsequently awarded a 5 year term of office by fellow board members, in apparent violation of Section 11.059 (e) of the Texas state Election Code.
Now, the district is claiming to be destitute and threatening to fire teachers and cut valuable programs, unless voters approve a tax hike, that would force local homeowner to pay the highest school property tax rate in Texas.
Why should we believe them?
- The district claims to have cut approximately “11% of its administrative/support staff”, while they actually added 20% new administrators and almost 12% additional support staff.
- They also claim to have initiated a “Salary freeze”. The reality is the district gave teachers a 2% increase, that barely covered increased insurance costs, the support staff received an average 4.1% increase, while administrators gave themselves an increase of almost 9%.
- They are neglecting to inform taxpayers that the district is projecting a 1.4% drop in enrollment for the coming school year.
The truth is the district does not have a revenue problem, they have a spending problem.
- Some Board of Trustees members go on four to five tax payer paid junkets to various conventions and seminars.
- The board has sent to the Texas Association of School Boards an average of almost $700,000 per year since 2009, presumable for lobbying Austin for more money.
- The district has chosen to cut spending for Classroom Supplies and Educational Assistance.
- The district has radically increased spending on Computers, purchasing over $6 million of Apple Products, since announcing the teacher layoff in April 2011.
- And Consultants
I refuse to believe that firing teachers and cutting programs are the only options.
Here are some suggestions for cost savings and student performance enhancements:
- Encourage, instead of discouraging community, business and parental involvement in the district and in the classroom.
- Increase salaries for teachers! Set up teacher incentive and accountability programs. Reward the high performers and remove the low ones.
- Cut central admin staffing headcount.
- Reverse administrative salary increases since 2010.
- Expand corporate and business sponsorship opportunities.
- Remove all non essential support personnel, return to 2010 levels
- Slash busing by one half. Stop socio-economic forced busing
- Cut 100% of the subsidies for TASB and limit board travel to maximum of two per year. Require majority of board members to approve member travel. Require summary of travel and make the report publically available.
- Restrict all administrative travel.
- Explore and eliminate redundancies with county and city functions (i.e. payroll, personnel, purchasing, etc)
- Replace Bilingual Programs with English Emersion
- Bid alternative vendors for Food Service. Explore replacing with local vendors and suppliers.
- Revive innovative programs like the ACT Academy that were proven performers.
- Webcast all Board of Trustees meetings and make archive of videos publically available. Board must be open and accountable
- Texas Ethics refresher classes for all board members and administration.
- Set up strict ethics policy, eliminating acceptance of gifts, dinners and entertainment from vendors for board members and MISD personnel.
- Replace technology spending and buy textbooks.
- Return all Apple iPads and Macs. Stick with cheaper Windows based systems.
- Begin a cooperative program with local businesses to hire MISD students for summer employment.
- Offer dual credit Associate Degree program with Collin College, allowing ambitious student to obtain college credits and degree along with high school diploma. This will cut class sizes and save parent money.
- Eliminate all consultants.
- Form citizen committee with local business leaders to explore, evaluate and institute cost saving initiatives.