Lewisville ISD superintendent Kevin Rogers is summarizing the status of LISD in a series of six coffee talks over the course of April.
There are two remaining talks, 8:30 to 10 a.m. April 19 in the Lewisville High School Library and 8:30 to 10 a.m. April 24 in the Flower Mound High School Library. The sessions feature a half hour talk addressing the state of the district, with an hour-long in-depth question and answer session. The school district plans to compile questions and responses online at the conclusion of the talks.
Rogers’ presentation covers a range of topics, including improvements related to the 2017 $737.5 million bond package. The package includes two new elementary schools — one to the far east on Josey Lane and one in Old Town on Mill Street where the Purnell Support Center sits. Rogers said the Mill Street school will help alleviate congestion and mixed-up populations in the current East Lewisville elementary schools Central and College Street
Rogers also addressed school safety, which about $30 million of the bond package is dedicated toward. Rogers said that all existing security cameras are being upgraded and, by September, the district will have cameras on every door, playground and pickup and dropoff area. Additionally, Rogers said money is being dedicated to hardening the school’s entrances.
Rogers also addressed LISD’s stance on arming teachers, a question which has been raised frequently in the wake of the shooting in Parkland County, Florida in February. Rogers referred to annual meetings he has with police chiefs that overlap with LISD.
“One of the first questions we’ve always asked our police chiefs is, ‘What are your thoughts about arming teachers?'” he said. “They’re adamantly opposed to that, and so that’s our stance as far as Lewisville ISD.”
Rogers also hit on legislative advocacy and school finance. LISD is heading into a budget crunch in the next few years, and board members have often grumbled about declining state revenue as the cause, and now it will face recapture penalties a year early after an unexpected drop in enrollment. Rogers said the state system for financing schools is so outdated they still get the same allotment for gasoline that they did in the 1980s.
Rogers said even though district voters have demonstrated a willingness to pay for public education with their tax money by voting for bond packages, an increase in taxes collected doesn’t translate to an increase in revenue. Rogers noted that LISD tax rates have actually gone down over the past few years, but the total property tax revenue has gone up with property values.
“What happens if we generate revenue because the property values go up, it just means the state sends us that much less money,” he said. “We generate $10 million more, they send us $10 million less.”
LISD has advocated at the state level for a better funding system and against school vouchers and high-stakes testing. Rogers thanked parents for being pro-public education, and said he supported pro-public education candidates. LISD is one of three school districts that has been in hot water over the past months for allegedly trying to inappropriately push an agenda on state elections.
Rogers called the idea of telling people who to vote for “un-American,” and encouraged residents to vote.
“I’m very appreciative of our board and our community for really being pro-public school folks,” he said. “However, we need them to vote.”
Rogers also talked about the district’s STEM and collegiate academies and the scheduling difficulties of school start times.