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Trustees consider state funding suit
POTH -- The Poth Independent School District (ISD) is considering whether it will join a school funding lawsuit, along with many districts across the state. District Superintendent Andrew Peters outlined the suit for the board of trustees during its April 16 meeting, advising it is part of a Texas-wide effort to sue the state for inequities in funding, and fueled by dissatisfaction over the vast differences in state funding that Texas schools receive. School districts across the state are seeking compensation or at least justification for the funding inequities.
With the court date set in October, the legal team hired by the districts will attempt to prompt new legislation to make per-student funding equal for all public school districts.
The lawsuit may serve a greater purpose, though, simply by raising awareness about the issue, according to Peters. A court decision is unlikely until 2013 or 2014, he said. If the suit is lost, the districts plan to continue on to higher courts.
Peters also reported on dual-credit courses, stating a change in providers may be in order. Due to complaints about substandard customer service and high tuition prices, the superintendent suggested that the board switch providers for dual credit courses for Poth High School juniors and seniors from Palo Alto College to Coastal Bend Colleges.
“No one pays currently,” Peters said after the meeting. “Palo Alto is changing their policy and will require a payment -- they don’t care if the students pay or the ISD, but they will get their payment.”
Currently, neither students nor the Poth ISD pays for classes. But the district does not have funds to pay for these next year, and classes at Palo Alto cost $640 per three-hour course, per student, more than three times the Coastal Bend tuition rate, Peters said. Students will have to pay next year. However, the $216 tuition for Coastal Bend is not the only reason for a switch.
The overall customer service at Palo Alto has been a source of criticism from a number of parents, as well as students, Peters said. The district is waiting for permission from Palo Alto for the switch; by law, the college must agree to a contract severance. If Poth ISD is released, dual-credit courses could begin with Coastal Bend next school year.
Also addressed was a continuing issue regarding the district’s fuel supply for vehicles. The tanks must comply with Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulations. Peters suggested a self-contained system for the board’s consideration.
Dial Lubricants, a North Texas company that supplies fuel storage tanks to oil company EOG, has offered to give the school two diesel and gasoline tanks with an attached containment basin underneath. The basin, which can hold up to 110 percent of the tanks’ capacity, will allow the school to comply with environmental regulations.
As part of the deal, Dial Lubricants has offered to perform all maintenance required on the tanks. All of this, however, is dependent on the continued purchase of fuel through the company.
While the board cannot promise business, it can use them if they provide the lowest bid. At this point, according to Peters, Dial Lubricants’ bids have been “four or five cents cheaper” than what the school pays currently.
The trustees also addressed contracting for special-education services. Following the dissolution of the special-education co-op that existed between Poth ISD and the Floresville ISD, Poth now is responsible for its own speech therapy program. The board approved a contract with Speech Works, based in Poth, at a cost not to exceed $76,000, the same amount Poth was paying the Floresville ISD.
Speech Works will provide the district with assistive technology, a physical therapist, speech pathologist, and occupational therapist, starting with the 2012-13 school year.
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