On Friday evening, a concerned citizen requested for Rex McBeath's elaboration on a facebook advertisement publication, showing the EPISD School Board candidate's new revealed sign and platform:
✔️ Education... NOT Jobs for Family! ✔️ END Excessive Taxation... Tax Cuts NOW! ✔️ All Students at Grade Level! ✔️ Highest Paying District in State for Teachers
Rex McBeath elaborated as requested instantly when EPNL communicated with him and made him aware of the concern the citizen had, and this was his quick response:
"Thanks for your interest in a better EPISD for our students, staff and community. In the very near future I will be releasing a comprehensive platform outline of many issues, challenges, goals and potential solutions to make EPISD better and as the campaign progresses discuss and debate these openly before EPISD stakeholders. Your request for elaboration on these particular issues is well taken and I am more than happy to open the discussion and debate.
Education . . . NOT Jobs for Family - With Lupita Fuentes removed from the school board, I do not see anyone else abusing the public's trust as blatantly in creating jobs and promotions to be filled by her family and friends. While this should have never been allowed to happen, I can't understand why my opponent, Hilda Martinez, somehow bought into the idea that "excellence in education" can only be delivered by Fuentes' family members. Surely there are quality competent individuals with many more years of experience available who are being denied jobs and advancement because of these unfair employment practices.
END Excessive Taxation . . . Tax Cuts NOW! - Cash surpluses are built up only by excessive taxation. Currently EPISD has a cash surplus of at least $42-million. With the tax increase the school board voted in just days ago the EPISD cash surplus is going to grow to at least $80-million by this time next year. That is just uncalled for as far as I am concerned. What do you think? How much is too much when it comes to cash surpluses? The state of Texas makes the first payments to school districts no later than September 25. To operate EPISD until September 25 costs less than $11-million so this would be a bare minimum. And I don't believe you need to go much higher than this because if the state of Texas defaults on paying school districts timely, than EPISD is broke anyway and having $100-million in surpluses taken out of taxpayers' pockets would still not be enough. In short, if the state fails to meet its obligations the doors will have to be closed. And cash surpluses lead to wasteful spending . . . $10-million for luxury offices for administrators; $5-million for two new extra gyms; another $2-million for a cross country track; $15,000 to $25,000 annual raises for the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendents; $10,000 Christmas bonuses for these same administrators; and probably much more still hidden from EPISD stakeholders.
While these first two are pressing issues facing EPISD, the next two are goals - realistic goals for our public school system.
Highest Paying District for Teachers in the State - The EPISD compensation package for teachers is competitive, only slightly behind the state averages. Fortunately, the best paying school districts are really not that far above us and not out of reach to what our local taxpayers are providing funding to meet, even before the excessive tax increases of the past two years. EPISD compensation packages for administrators, support staff and manual trades are above average. If EPISD administration and school board trustees did not repeatedly every year treat classroom educators as second class peons when it came to merit pay raises, we might already be there. Certainly, we can get there with a new school board.
All Students at Grade Level - According to the raw data of STAAR testing results, only 51% of our students are at or above their grade level. Before anyone twists this fact in a negative political way, let me say the high "B+" (87) TEA awarded to our school district was very much deserved and credit should be given to our students, teachers and parents. TEA is grading on a curve against all school districts in Texas and the 87 B+ grade says we are performing that much better than the state averages ("C" as low as a 70). Is it possible to do better? Yes and easily. STAAR testing began in 2011-2012 and is obviously a demanding exam. By now we should know what material some education experts have determined students should know at each grade level. Armed with this knowledge we align our curriculum to teaching at these high standards. This requires redirecting financial resources into academics and classrooms which this school board and administration oppose. Additionally, we must abandon the idea of passing the buck to the next year teacher. If a student is not prepared to meet the challenges of a higher grade level we must retain that student for additional learning. We will see major strides in reaching our goal of TRULY delivering "excellence in education" to all our students.
Hilda Martinez could fix the excessive taxation issue right now. The final tax rate does not have to be adopted until the end of September. All she has to do is stop drinking the Ismael Mijares, Gilberto Gonzalez and Lupita Fuentes kool aide and show us some "proven leadership" like she claims instead of the "proven follower" we have seen from her over the past five years."