Recapture Payments, Special Education Student-Teacher Ratios discussed by school board

By Laura Lyles Reagan

Special to the PRESS

PI-ISD school board members recognizing Arturo Rinza of Pirates Landing. The restaurant donated use of their pier and locale for the Hooked For Life Fishin’ event last week. Photo by Laura Lyles Reagan.

The regularly scheduled school board meeting of the Port Isabel Independent School District was called to order by Vice President, Jimmy L. Vela in the absence of President Jennifer Pinkerton. First on the agenda were presentations to the community and each campus’ principals. 

The community presentation of a certificate and gift basket was made to Arturo Rinza of Pirates Landing, in grateful recognition of their support of PI-ISD and Hooked for Life Fishin’ event last week. Pirates Landing donated their locale and pier free of charge to the event which had 250 students and their family members in attendance.  

Each principal was presented a certificate and gift basket also, “in recognition of their hard work and dedication,” said Superintendent Alarcon. 

Next on the agenda, administrative staff presented a new Texas Education Agency (TEA) option for recapture payments. The TEA legislature requires payment from wealthier districts to a state fund which are then dispersed to poorer districts in order to offset their lack of funding due to their area’s property tax levels. It is often called the “Robin Hood” fund. 

The staff reported to the school board that TEA is allowing one annual lump sum payment which allows the district to earn interest on the designated amount instead of making monthly recapture payments. The estimated projected interest earnings on the designated amount is $100,000. Therefore, the district will make one lump sum payment due in August 2020. 

Staff also presented a curriculum update on special education services which focused on teacher student ratios. The ratios are less in elementary schools and higher in the high school where students have more independence. When Board Secretary Alicia Baldovino asked what the special education student-teacher ratios should be according to best practices, Assistant Superintendent Holland responded that they were told by Region One Education Service that ratios vary depending on the type of disability. 

The average ratios according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) has a survey of 141 elementary and 70 secondary teachers with mild handicaps nationwide, the average student-teacher ratio was 4.7:1 with a range of 1:1 to 15:1. PI-ISD elementary schools’ student-teacher ratios are approximately 2:1 and the average student-teacher ratio in junior high is 9:1 while the high school has the highest ratio of 18:1. Board member, Cecilia Castillo asked if there was a plan in place to improve the ratios in the junior high and high school. Superintendent Alarcon answered yes. She stated they will be re-assigning staff. She will report back to the board about the changes. Mrs. Castillo also asked if the district was adhering to the federal requirement of least restrictive environment for the delivery of education. Administration responded affirmatively. 

The consent agenda was approved unanimously. There was one public comment after the public comment rules were read. One employee requested that her letter of resignation be accepted. 

Agenda Items for discussion and voted followed. 

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