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Letters – Reader questions Accountability Report Card

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To the Editor:
I recently received a report titled “Texas Education Agency 2014-15 School Report Card – Lockhart Jr. High.” Lockhart Jr. High fell behind the state average in most categories. Lockhart Jr. High did receive an Academic Achievement designation in Math. The report shows 100 percent of the students achieving the satisfactory or above standard in math

. I sincerely hope that is accurate but that number strikes me as suspicious. The Junior High “met standard” which is the highest rating set by the state, but overall the numbers are not very encouraging. Every teacher I have spoken to about the state’s accountability rating system believes that the scores are not representative of the quality of education the children are receiving. While I believe in some aspects that is true, the overall results for 2014-15 report card are cause for concern.
For one thing, Lockhart Jr. High is way behind in expenditure per student. The state average expenditure per student is $8,692 a year while Lockhart Jr. High comes in at only $5,537 per student. That’s a $3,150 difference per student! In addition, the classroom sizes at Lockhart Jr. High exceed the state average by as much as six students per classroom. It appears we need more secondary schools. As most of you know, Lockhart has only one Junior High and one High School and four elementary (not counting Carver, which is only PreK and kinder) with a fifth elementary school on the way. Could sports be part of the reason we don’t have more secondary schools? LISD sports begins in seventh grade. Imagine the challenge of running multiple sports (and band) programs at different junior high and high school campuses. Whatever the deterrents, we need to figure them out. LISD needs to get classrooms size to a manageable number.
Of course the problem is not all about money and the school system. Good education starts and ends at home, but the Junior High students need and deserve better from our schools. Carting children off to expensive private schools should not be the only option. The staff at the Junior High that I’ve met all seem to be dedicated people and care about what they are doing. However, with limited resources there is only so much the staff can do.
Was it Einstein that said you cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it? Solving problems take a new mindset. LISD recently appointed two top people from Lake Travis ISD – Susan Bohn as Superintendent and Kimberly Brents as Deputy Superintendent. Lake Travis ISD is rated as one of the best schools in the Greater Austin Area. Call it intuition but I have a feeling these two women bring a new mindset and along with it needed changes. As a community we need to accept that change is necessary and be supportive of the entire LISD staff.
Together we can rise from below average to above average!
Chris Schexnayder
Lockhart

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