Athens Independent School District Superintendent Blake Stiles told the Athens Kiwanis Club on Tuesday that school finance, testing and campus security are issues he’s watching closely this year.
The battle in Washington over sequestration has billions of dollars in school funding hanging in the balance, Stiles said. Sequestration, enacted by the Budget Control Act of 2011, would mean $85 billion in budget cuts if Congress does not intervene.
“This may be hard to believe but in the state of Texas alone $67.8 million in funding could be lost,” Stiles said. “You’re talking about a lot of Head Start teachers who could lose their jobs if this happens.”
Stiles said with the AISD’s high poverty level, many of the district’s 3- and 4-year-old children could be affected by the losses to Head Start funding.
On the subject of state funding, Stiles said he agrees with District Judge John Dietz’s recent ruling that declared Texas’ system of supporting schools both unconstitutional and inadequate. However, Stiles said he doesn’t think it will mean much relief for school districts this year.
“I doubt that they’re going to get anything done in this legislative session, which will make it interesting for me in budgeting next year for our schools. I think next spring they’ll go back for a special session and try to iron it out,” Stiles said.
There are several bills filed in the House and Senate that could have an impact on public schools. Stiles said he is particularly interested in House Bill 5 that covers issues related to graduation requirements, student assessment and accountability.
The bill creates one diploma for all high school students called the “foundation high school diploma.” It also gives students an opportunity to earn endorsements added to the diploma in areas such as business and industry or arts and humanities.
HB5 cuts back on the amount of tests students are required to take and also installs an easier-to-understand “0 to 100” grading scale. Stiles approves cutting back the testing burden to allow students more time with their daily studies.
“You don’t grow a pig by weighing it,” Stiles said.
On the topic of school security, Stiles said the high school and middle school do not have secure vestibules at their front entrances.
“We need to fix that,” Stiles said. “We need to at least have a way to slow somebody down if an intruder came to our door.”
The security problem at the high school is increased by the fact that it consists of two separate buildings. Stiles said the district could possibly construct a hallway between the two buildings.
Another problem Stiles sees is the area where middle school parents drop off and pick up their children.
“It’s terrible,” Stiles said. “I’ve seen cars stacked up on the highway. We really need another car loop.”
AISD’s Stiles says challenges ahead for Head Start, school budget
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Bursting with beauty
A shining star already in her parents eyes, Geraldine Nieto displayed her ray of beauty Sunday in Tyler to claim top status in the Sunburst Talent/Beauty Contest.
The 5-year-old Athens resident is the daughter of Jaime and Karla Nieto.
Dozens attend council meeting for recovery, transfer station
Nathan Bullard, owner of Yellow Box Environmental LLC, was at Gun Barrel City Hall to explain future development plans for property located at 546 Gun Barrel Lane.
Bullard said he wanted to introduce himself and his company to the neighbors who own property close to his project.
Bullard was on hand to inform the public and address any concerns about the company’s plan to build a recovery and transfer station.
Commissioners sign proclamation for San Jacinto Day
The battle of the Alamo may be the best remembered conflict in Texas’ fight for independence, but the battle at San Jacinto closed the deal.
Representatives of the Sons of the Republic of Texas were on hand at the Henderson County Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday in observance of a proclamation, declaring April 21, San Jacinto Day.
Ram to donate $20 per test drive to FFA Organization
On April 26 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. the Ram Truck brand and Elder Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram will host The Next Crop Project fundraising event at the dealership to benefit the National FFA Organization and local FFA chapter leadership programs in Henderson County.
Athens tables large purchase
The Athens City Council Monday tabled awarding a bid for a large piece of equipment that removes asphalt from the surface of paved roads to make way for repairs.
City Director of Utilities Glen Herriage recommended that the council award the bid to RDO Equipment Co. of Irving for a Road Hog cold planer. The RDO bid was for $123,267.06, which is below the budgeted amount of $134,000.
Former TVCC basketball coach Joe Curl passes
Joe Curl, the former head coach of the Lady Cardinal basketball program, passed away at the age of 59 on Monday.
Review earns six awards
The Athens Daily Review was honored with six awards for journalism excellence during the North and East Texas Press Association yearly convention held Thursday-Saturday in Tyler.
Mabank civic leader Alene Gibbs, 94, died Friday
Long time Mabank civic leader Alene Gibbs passed away on Friday, April 11. She was born in Van Zandt County on Jan. 18, 1920. She was 94-years-old.
Here comes the champs!
Friday was a big night for the Eustace FFA at the Henderson County Livestock Show and for Jordyn Costlow, who presented the Grand Champion.
Saturday was payday at HCLS
Payday came Saturday for the youth who placed in the 54th annual Henderson County Livestock Show.
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