Focus on Students, Not Buildings

Cost of EducationLetter to the Editor: As many residents have probably noticed, there are quite a few “Yes” signs placed in yards throughout the Pleasant Grove Independent School District. The residents of Pleasant Grove are being urged to approve the upcoming bond election this May.

In the past, the residents of Pleasant Grove have been more than generous with their tax dollars. The current tax rate for PGISD places the district in the top 16% of the highest taxed school districts in the state (see the Texas Comptroller’s website @ http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/taxrates/). Furthermore, the voters have approved three school district bonds that will not be paid in full until the year 2032 (see Texas Bond Review Board @ www.brb.state.tx.us). The total amount of the District’s debt obligation that is currently due is nearly $54.5 million as reported by the PGISD School Board in the Tax Rate Impact Analysis dated January 29, 2015. According to the Texas Comptroller’s website, Financial Allocation Study for Texas (“Texas FAST”), https://mycpa.cpa.state.tx.us/fast/single/019912/district.do, the total amount of tax-supported debt principal outstanding per student is $18,242 compared to the state average of $12,806. The numbers don’t lie – Pleasant Grove voters are one of the top spenders in the state when it comes to providing for our children.

Unfortunately, the reasons why an additional $18.6 million bond should be approved are not clear. But, there are many reasons why voters should vote “NO.” Approving the bond will:

  • Result in the school district’s current tax rate being greater than 86% of all tax rates in the state of Texas;
  • Cost the voters of this district a whopping $36.1 million over the life of the bond (per the Tax Rate Impact Analysis);
  • Increase the total debt of the district from $54.5 million to over $95.5 million (per the Tax Rate Impact Analysis);
  • Place the school district in the top 7% of all Texas school districts for the amount of debt per student as reported by Texas Transparency @ www.texastransparency.org; and
  • Reduce the amount of resources available to pay our teachers, who are currently paid nearly 9% less than the average pay for teachers in Texas according to Texas FAST.

But more importantly, there is little evidence that spending another $36.1 million will improve the academic performance of our students. Texas FAST is a website sponsored by the Texas State Comptroller’s office (www.fastexas.org), and measures “…how relative spending in Texas public school districts and campuses compares to student academic progress.” Put simply, the site measures the amount of “bang for the buck” a school district realizes relative to the other school districts in the state of Texas. And while the residents of Pleasant Grove have been more than generous in their spending as demonstrated above, Texas FAST places Pleasant Grove High School’s academic progress in math in the bottom 23rd percentile, as averaged over a three year period (and that is down from the 38th percentile in 2010). In other words, while the PGISD spending is up, academic progress from that spending as measured by the Texas Comptroller’s website is DOWN.

The voters of Pleasant Grove School District are not getting their money’s worth, and the PGISD School Board has offered no reasons how spending another $36.1 million will improve this metric. It is time that the PGISD School Board focus on our students, not buildings. Rather, the School Board should work to ensure the district is able to attract the best and brightest teachers in the state, and to develop a robust, advanced curriculum which will prepare our students for beyond high school. It is time to vote “NO!”

(signed) PGISD Better Education

0 thoughts on “Focus on Students, Not Buildings

  1. I live in the Pleasant Grove district. My taxes are too high already. Believe me when I say, I’m voting NO on this measure. Everyone else is tightening their belt in our current economic climate. It’s time for the schools to do the same.

  2. I am a teacher at Pleasant Grove Elementary school. We need a new building for our students. Even though my kids go to PG they will not benefit from this proposed facility. Even so. I will vote YES! On a teacher’s salary I will vote YES! I believe in our district. I believe in the legacy we want to
    Leave for the future! I want to be a part of something positive and long reaching so I will vote YES! Unfortunately, there are those who do not want to see us succeed in this noble venture. They want to feel powerful by stopping our progress. First we have the people who want the land PG owns for their own personal gain. This group has attempted to scare parents saying the site is not safe! They scare older voters planting fears of out of control taxes. And then they moan about lost tax revenue, forgetting we are going to have our current location for sale and that land will produce a healthy tax revenue. The next group of naysayers is harder for me to understand. This groups just wants to make a name for themselves by being the opposition. They insult out school and our teachers all the while saying they are on our side. They seem to think if we don’t pass the bond this money will magically be available for other uses?!!! We don’t need these people to protect us from ourselves. We need to confront them and shut them down! They are wolves in Hawk clothing and they need to be outed! Finally we have the people whose kids are through PG . Their kids benefitted from all our district could give. Now they don’t care. These selfish people make me want to vomit! Where’s the loyalty? Where is the pride in being a part of something positive? Again, I will vote YES! I will. be part of something good. I will be a Pleasant Grove Hawk supporter!

  3. I find a school teacher being a cyber bully to those who have differing opinions is appalling, she offered no facts to support her position and name calling, and hate speech is the best she can do? Besides she forgot to mention the real estate developer, who is wanting the land at the intersection where the school is now, how convenient

  4. The Downtown Post office was built in 1933, can was assume justice cannot be served by the Federal Courts in the building, because it’s old? The First Baptist Church Downtown was built in 1898, are the Sunday School teachers unable to teach the children about Jesus, because the building is old? Sometimes it’s what in the building, that counts more than the building per se.

  5. I agree, the teacher’s comments are ill-conceived and expressed poorly. This is a clear illustration that the district’s money can be better spent recruiting and retaining competent staff.

    The current administration is over-paid and under-qualified. My children graduated from PG and were not prepared for college success. I made the mistake of equating an A with learning. In fact, it was an incompetent teacher just coasting.

    The key is a highly-qualified, motivated teaching staff, not buildings the district cannot afford to sustain.

  6. A quick glance at how PGISD compares to the State of Texas average pay scale, clearly shows where the focus is, and it’s not with teaching children.

    Professional Support 3% below average
    Teacher 9% below average
    Campus Admin. 5% above average
    Central Admin. 16% above average

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