Two teaching positions eliminated by Frenship ISD Board of Trustees

Two teaching positions were eliminated Monday night by the Frenship Independent School District Board of Trustees.

The board voted unanimously to not renew the contracts of one automotive teacher and one manufacturing engineering teacher, following up their vote in February to change those programs. Auto tech will lose one teacher, while the manufacturing program will be eliminated.

A father and son addressed the board regarding the program changes at the beginning of the meeting, but Board President Brad Draper told the two speakers that the board would have no official response to their statements.

David Mullen told the board that the instructors made sacrifices to be at Frenship, and said not all students could be athletes or, someday, lawyers. But some could benefit from job training.

“I believe it’s a dreadful mistake,” Mullen said of the program changes and elimination of two teachers. He said if there is a budget shortfall, perhaps donations from local auto shops could help to cover that.

One instructor cannot do all that two auto tech instructors currently do, Mullen said, including their duties as ordering parts, customer service, teaching and inventory. He said it would also be safer in that sort of class to have two instructors.

His son, Jeremy Mullen, said he is currently a senior at Frenship High School and has spent four years in automotive technology classes, where he said he has learned hands-on skills.

Jeremy Mullen also said he worries about safety in that classroom, where he said two instructors are needed to keep students and the environment safe.

Jeremy Mullen presented the board with a petition with 115 signatures from parents and dealerships around town.

The school board also voted to suspend portions of its local policy, eliminating the state-mandated clause that requires districts to include the new STAAR test results as 15 percent of each freshman’s final grade.

Michelle McCord, assistant superintendent of administrative services, said it’s possible that the policy could be permanently eliminated, but this year’s recommendation is only a one-year suspension, as allowed by the state.

Board members voted unanimously to cancel its May elections because no candidate will be running opposed.

The board also heard a presentation from David Thompson, a school law attorney from Thompson and Horton LLP, whose firm is suing the state over school financing.

Thompson presented a Powerpoint presentation on the lawsuit, one of five currently pending against the state regarding school financing. He pointed out that under the Texas Constitution, the state legislature must make “suitable provision” for the schools. He said he would argue that the state has backed into funding the schools from property taxes, a violation he said they have been found guilty of as recently as 2005.

Thompson said Thompson and Horton is representing 42 districts, including Houston, Dallas, Austin, Ft. Worth, Katy, Allen, Coppell, Roundrock, Midland, Odessa and Abilene. The other lawsuits represent more than 400 other school districts from around the state.

Board Member Kelley Grimes asked about funding models in other states.

“Nationally, who’s doing it right?” she asked.

Thompson said he likes North Carolina’s model, but he doesn’t believe Texas would shift to that. He said he does not believe Texas will shirt to a state income tax system, either.

The attorney noted that Texas is getting above average results for below average expenditures right now.

The school board took no action on Thompson’s presentation.

The board also approved a consent agenda, which included:

  • Minutes from the Feb. 20 meeting;
  • A financial report; and
  • Personnel recommendations, including professional employee contracts for 2012-13 and assistant principal contract renewals.
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