March 20, 2018
"THE SWEETEST MUSIC IS PLAYED ON THE OLDEST VIOLIN"
My wife and I spent last week at our family's farm. When my sister and I inherited the place that was settled by our great grandfather in 1899, the original "home place" that he had built was still standing - but barely. The foundation had stopped providing any stability many years before. The house had been vacant for at least sixty-five years. For many years it served as a hay barn, and the varmints and lack of care had not been kind.
The time to demolish the structure had arrived, but for sentimental reasons, we did not want to destroy it completely. Board by board the old two-story house was dismantled.
In its day, this house had been one sturdy structure! Built with all oak, even 100+ years later most of the lumber was still usable. As built by our great grandfather the floors were all three-inch oak hardwoods, every interior wall was shiplap, and the ceilings in the entire home were beadboard. None of the planks that survived the demolition were beautiful, but they were hearty!
After a little discussion, it was determined that we would use the first of the wood to build a story and a half barn. It is not a large structure, but it has proven to be not only useful and functional, but a nice reminder of our heritage. Upon the completion of this project, there was still A LOT of usable wood available. Since our daughter and her husband planned a major addition and remodel of their home, they had first "dibs" on the remaining lumber. When their project was completed, we all had a glimpse of how lovely the old home place must have been during its prime.
After sanding and refinishing, the old oak hardwoods still made for beautiful flooring. The shiplap wall they designed looks outstanding. Even some of the beadboard found its way into their renovated home. A bit of the wooden treasure found its way into the most beautiful shutters that can be found anywhere. With the remaining wood they have, a one of a kind dining table is planned. With work and a lot of love, these "kids" brought a stack of old wood back to life!
Public testimony was received yesterday by the Texas School Finance Commission as the group works to find a fair, equitable, and efficient way to distribute state funding to our schools. Suggestions in the marathon hearing ranged from "blow it up" to suggestions that amounted to tinkering with the current system. The words "band-aid" were mentioned several times during the day to describe the system that we use today.
This is not the first time the state has tried to solve the problem of financing the state's schools...and each of the other efforts ended in failure. The challenge before this group is great!! As the commissioners deliberate over the next few weeks, I hope that they can learn the lesson my family learned about old wood: there can be real beauty in old things that seem to have outlived their usefulness.
The basic structure of our state's school finance system is sound. Within it is the flexibility and the recognition of the various needs and challenges schools face as they "pay the bills" to educate our state's 5.4 million students. Of course, the system needs a close examination. I am sure some parts may need to be discarded, some current parts updated, and other new things added. However, in the end, the state's school finance system must be, like the barn we built, functional, useful, and possibly a reminder of Texas schools' heritage.
If you did not make it to Austin on Monday, don't despair. It is not too late for you to have your say. Let the commissioners hear your school's challenges; tell them your story. An email firstname.lastname@example.org will provide you with your chance to get into the act. These commissioners want to hear from you!!
CALLING ALL SUPERINTENDENTS
The TACS Spring Conferences are just around the corner. We will be in Tyler for the east Texas conference on April 4th. It will be held in the Ornelas Activity Center at UT-Tyler. The activity center is located at3402 Old Omen Road. Then the next week the west Texas conference will be held in Abilene on the Hardin-Simmons University campus at the Johnson School of Business on April 10th.
This year an outstanding program is planned for both events. Participants at each event will hear from Scott Braddock, the editor of the Quorum Report. Scott is one of the most respected and knowledgeable journalists covering the Capitol. You will not want to miss his perspective on the drama that is Texas politics today. Additionally, state representatives who represent each of the regions will be available at their respective conferences to provide their insights and to answer your questions. Finally, the UIL will be at both locations to "keep you in the loop" with news from the UIL.
Both conferences will be a half day program with a light breakfast and a full lunch included in the cost of registration. There is golfing at both locations in the afternoon. Why not go to www.tacsnet.org for more information and to register?
Here's an idea, bring your administrative team and board members with you. Board training hours will be awarded. The only thing that can make these conferences better is you!
YOUR HELP PLEASE
CHILDREN AT RISK, a Texas-based research and advocacy non-profit, is looking for your help. In order to have better knowledge concerning the current state of recess in Texas public elementary schools, they have created a survey for district leaders, campus representatives, and parents to collect data on school districts’ recess policies. The data collected will be used to produce a report to help frame a conversation around recess in schools.
Please take a moment to review the survey here, and complete it at your convenience. The information you provide may be critical for your young scholars!