Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
The public is invited to an unprecedented event which will discuss the future of education and issues surrounding local school districts.
Superintendents representing the five Orange County school districts will participate in a public forum at 6 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 13, which will be held in the Orange City Council Chambers at the Orange Public Library, 220 N. Fifth St. in Orange. Superintendents participating include Dr. Pauline Hargrove of LC-M CISD, James Colbert of West Orange-Cove CISD, Mike King of Bridge City ISD, Dr. Stephen Patterson of Orangefield ISD, and Dr. Jay Killgo of Vidor ISD.
All residents are encouraged to attend, whether they have school-age children, or not. The topics that will be discussed affect all tax payers, no matter which school district receives their financial support.
There will be an opportunity for attendees to ask questions of the superintendents following remarks by each.
“Education is always at the top of the priority list when it comes to preserving our liberty and place of leadership in the world,” Hargrove stated in a press release. “Yet, the $5.4 billion cut to public education funding from the 82nd Legislative Session was one of the most brutal cuts we have ever experienced.
“With standards, testing, and accountability continuing to increase, we are expected to do far more with much less,” she added. “Our way of life, based on our educational system, is at a significant crossroads. We, the people, must become informed and involved in order to remain the greatest country on earth.”
Each superintendent will present a topic which every district in Orange County and across the state faces.
Dr. Stephen Patterson of Orangefield ISD will address spending cuts and other financial obstacles, which are impacting the education of all Texas students, while Dr. Jay Killgo, the new Vidor ISD Superintendent and longtime principal of Vidor High School, will discuss accountability and testing.
Dr. Pauline Hargrove will explain “Vouchers, School Choice, and the Taxpayers Savings Grant,” programs that siphon more funds away from public education, but have no established systems to measure accountability, financial transparency, student performance, and college readiness to ensure a quality education, as there are for public schools.
Superintendent James Colbert of West Orange-Cove CISD will give an overview of the six lawsuits addressing inequitable funding that are currently being heard in Texas courts. These involve approximately 600, or two-thirds, of the State’s districts, and Bridge City Superintendent, Mike King, will address the Teacher Retirement System and Education Service Centers and the threat to those systems that are posed if current legislative proposals are enacted.
“The focus for us at this forum is to provide information about the upcoming legislative session and how it could affect all of us,” King said in a telephone interview. “It’s a very important year and this legislation could have a big impact. It’s also very important to the general public, and we’ll talk about what they can do to be involved in the process.”