As we enter what will hopefully be the home stretch of the DISD funding issue for special schools, here are a few things to keep in mind this week as the rhetoric ratchets up in anticipation of a vote, possibly on Thursday…

• DISD released a new staffing formula breakdown for what looks to be every school in the district; you can check it out yourself by clicking here on the pdf available on DISD’s website. Admittedly I’m no financial guru, but I took some time to look through the funding formulas (basically how many teachers, administrators, clerks, guards, etc., that would be funded for each school for the upcoming year), and what struck me was how little the current staffing formula would change, if adopted this week by the DISD board.

Those who have been beating their chests about the "gutting" of the TAG/magnet schools would do well to read this document carefully. Yes, those schools are losing a couple of teachers and other staff here and there, but to my eye, they’re relatively minor losses and should in no way compromise the learning environment at these schools.

More after the jump…

The biggest and most unfortunate change I noticed: middle school learning centers currently are allocated six music/fine arts teachers per school, and those teaching positions are gone; meanwhile, I can’t tell how many comparable positions will be staffed at the neighborhood middle schools, but I can tell you it has been nowhere near six for a long, long time. Funding willing, all schools should have music and art instructors, but no school should have six such instructors while a comparable school has only one or two.

It will take you longer to flip through this 19-page, small-print PDF than you will spend writing a comment to this post, but it will be time well-spent if you’re concerned about the issue.

• Last week, we had a brief discussion about whether TAG/magnet students were being cheated out of athletics, courtesy of the Dallas Observer‘s Jim Schutze. Some people thought students were blocked from athletic programs if they choose the "academic" route at the special school; other people said the students weren’t blocked from athletics.

The correct answer, according to DISD: Any magnet/TAG student can compete in UIL events (including athletics teams) if he/she lives within the attendance zone of the school he/she is representing and as long as he/she doesn’t represent the TAG/magnet in other UIL events. In other words, the TAG/magnet students aren’t being cheated out of athletics participation.

A couple of commenters to our prior posts (here and here) on the subject have used the phrase: Let’s lift all kids up rather than dragging some kids down, or words to that effect. I agree that sounds great. But if you have an idea about how to do that, now’s the time to offer it up  — don’t say "fire all the board members" and think that’s a realistic solution. That phrase is great as a sound-bite or throw-away comment, but it doesn’t really say anything — if you have a specific way to improve educational opportunities for all DISD kids, let’s hear it.




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