What is the Issue?
A high quality public education system is a key factor for businesses during their site selection process. Companies here in Collin County recruit from all over the country, and as prospective employees come to the area one of their first questions is always about the educational system in the area. While many of our school are considered among the best in the state, maintaining and improving the level of quality is likely to be a challenge in the face of rapidly expanding enrollment. Additionally, periodic court decisions regarding the school finance system often lead to reactionary changes at the state level to address the current crisis rather than the development of long-term strategies to ensure high quality education.
Currently, there is a widening gap between skills that are demanded by the industry and career-readiness of students graduating from high schools and universities. The Collin County Business Alliance also understands how vital it is to invest in the education of youth in the community to prepare them to be the business and community leaders of tomorrow. We strive to help students become more “college” and “career” ready. By instilling leadership and industry-specific skills in Collin County’s youth, the community can look to a positive business climate and good quality of life for the future.
What is being done?
The Texas Legislature is currently considering bills that would respond to the most recent court decision, which once again found deficiencies the statewide funding system, and provide relief to taxpayers. The current “Robin Hood” funding system has been criticized for failing to provide adequate funding to districts with lower local tax base levels while penalizing those with higher property values. One proposed bill would provide increased state funding to 94 percent of districts while reducing the impact of “recapture” payments to the state from districts with higher property tax base levels.
Both the House and Senate versions of the state budget being considered for the Fiscal Year 2016-17 biennium would provide significant increases in funding for the Foundation School Program (FSP) system which uses a formula to allocate state aid to school districts and charter schools. However, $2.5 billion of additional funding will be needed during the next two year budget cycle just to cover the cost of new students across the state.
The Legislature is also considering bills that would create new business tax credits to provide “scholarships” or “vouchers” to certain students to attend private schools and that would increase the number of “dual credit” college courses that could be taken by high school students.
The CCBA has been working to identify academic areas the community can help improve. And in doing so, the CCBA organized its first-ever education summit in February of 2014 that brought together an array of leaders to identify and address gaps in the current education system in Collin County. Participants in the summit ranged from top educators from local schools, officials from various school districts, and university presidents to local elected officials and CEOs from various businesses. Several innovative ideas were envisioned for the long-term, including advocating for the creation of an IT business academy. And, as part of these efforts, CCBA member companies are looking to offer funding, resources for academies and school programs, and possible high school internship opportunities as well as training to teach specific skills and spark industry specific interests early on.
The CCBA also continues to closely monitor local, state and federal initiatives that further our goal of a high quality education system for Collin County and, when opportunities arise, we will lend our voice to support our local community.
Local School Districts
- Allen – http://www.allenisd.org/domain/66
- McKinney – http://www.mckinneyisd.net/about/
- Frisco – http://www.friscoisd.org/about/district-overview/home
- Plano – http://www.pisd.edu/about.us/index.shtml
- Wylie – http://www.wylieisd.net/Page/1431
Colleges and Universities