Topics at the Town Hall meeting focused on budget and school issues

BY GAIL M. WILLIAMS
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

Texas State Senator Kel Seliger stopped in Muleshoe Monday as part of his Town Hall Tour of the District. The senator and Muleshoe Citizens gathered at AimBank and discussed several issues, focusing in large part of state financing and education.
“The budget is a big thing,” Seliger said.
While the general revenue, sales, auto and fuel taxes are all up, Seliger said that with population growth and inflation, Texas is operating on a pretty tight budget.
Education is the biggest spending priority.
“The real solution is easy,” Seliger said. “Go back to state funding of 50 percent.”
The voucher system is often under discussion by legislators. Under the system, a certain amount of money would be allotted on a per pupil basis, and parents could choose the school their children would attend.
Seliger said that expensive private schools would benefit from the system. He theorized that if five people decided to move out of the system, Muleshoe school system wouldn’t benefit by one nickel more, but would have to do without some 35,000 odd dollars.
He remarked that we have a right in the United States to start any kind of school we want to, but that public funding should go to public schools.
Disaster funding is
supposed to be covered by the Rainy Day Fund. However, Seliger said, “People in the capital are adamant that they won’t spend that money for a rainy day.”
While it makes good economic sense to have a reserve fund, not spending that money when it’s needed “is just bad management.”
Healthcare is another issue that concerns citizens, Seliger said. As healthcare costs continue to go up, Medicaid costs continue to grow.
“We need to address this,” he said.
On school security, Seliger believes that a police force on each campus, which Amarillo schools have, will eventually be the best solution.
A question was asked concerning the state’s school A-F grading system. Previously, schools were graded on a “met standards” or “failed to meet standards” system. Muleshoe schools were graded “C” under the new system.
Seliger was asked whether it was possible to make an A. He answered that it was. A follow-up question concerned whether it was possible for every school to make an A. He replied that if that were so, it wouldn’t be much of a grading system.
Muleshoe High School Principal Cindy Bessire said the school needs to understand what the criteria are, what they’re targeted for, and why they’re targeted. Seliger answered that this was the first year under the system and that we shouldn’t draw any conclusions yet.
Regional Service Centers, he said, are a good thing, integral to processing the dialog between the schools and Education Commissioner Mike Morath.
Bessire said that so many corrective action plans were in place that all their time was being spent on the various plans. She asked whether there was a way to streamline those. Seliger responded that if anyone had ideas for streamlining the plans, they should write them up and send them to Johanna Sheffield, communications director.
Difficulties in teaching ESL students who come in to the system using different dialects and truancy were discussed.
A question concerning school busing was brought up. The attorney general had an opinion about buses crossing school district boundary lines, but the education commissioner overruled the opinion.
Seliger said he couldn’t see that that was in any way unconstitutional. It was stated that the school board had written a letter concerning the problem and when they received a reply, they will send a copy to Seliger.
For contact information, search Kel Seliger on the internet. Contact information is available as well as a button that allows you to click directly to the senator.

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