Gooden calls for more money for retired educator healthcare program

Lance Gooden

State Rep. Lance Gooden on Friday sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott asking for the issue of the retired educator healthcare program, TRS-Care, to be added to the upcoming special session of the State Legislature.

Gooden also filed a bill Friday to “appropriate $1 billion from the Rainy Day Fund for TRS-Care to be appropriated over the next four years, while providing guidance to TRS and enhancing the program.”

See the complete text of Gooden’s letter to the Governor below.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dear Governor Abbott,

As a supporter of retired teachers across our great state, I know you share my concern for current and future retirees. Many educators have expressed their disappointment and outrage about legislation and lack of funding passed in the regular session for TRS-Care and the retired educator healthcare program.

As a result of rising healthcare costs and a long-term disconnect between medical costs and the TRS-Care revenue stream, the program entered the 2018-2019 budget process with a $1 billion projected shortfall. HB 3976 was passed in both chambers to save TRS-Care from total demise, but the lack of funding for the program has resulted in an overwhelming financial burden for retirees living on fixed incomes.

I have listened to stories about retired teachers who are, for the first time in their lives, choosing between healthcare, necessary living costs, and taking on a new job to cover expenses. Our retirees deserve better than what we in Austin have delivered so far. Reminding retirees how much worse off they would have been without HB 3976 is a strategy that many legislators are finding difficult to express.

While there will no doubt be competing ideas for how we secure the present financial needs and long-term funding required to ensure retirement security for Texas educators, I respectfully am requesting the addition of TRS-Care funding to the call for the special session.

Today I filed HB 151, which would appropriate $1 billion from the Rain Day Fund for TRS-Care to be appropriated over the next four years, while providing guidance to TRS and enhancing the program. Since yesterday’s Senate announcements, I have spoken with retired teachers who are not in support of legislation that relies on gambling revenue, has no certain revenue source, or is coupled with contentious education proposals like those that died at the end of the regular session. We cannot afford to have the security of our retirees held hostage in an effort to pass other legislation that does not have broad support.

I appreciate your leadership and look forward to seeing you next week. I implore you to consider adding this necessary item to the call. I am confident my colleagues in the Legislature have heard retired teachers loudly and clearly, and we stand ready to make this right.


Lance Gooden

Athens ISD provides supplies for elementary students

By Toni Garrard Clay/AISD Communications Coordinator

Hate going back-to-school-supplies shopping? Well, there’s very good news. If your child is entering pre-K through fifth grade at Athens ISD, you won’t have to this year.

As a show of care and support for its students, Athens ISD is providing all the necessary supplies for its elementary students to begin the 2017-2018 school year. Pens, pencils, papers, scissors, glue, erasers, crayons, compositions books, spiral notebooks, etc., will be waiting on pre-K through fifth-graders when they return to school in August. The supplies will be purchased through the use of federal Title 1 funds. Backpacks will made available upon request, through the generosity of the HELP Center.

“This is something we’ve been considering for a while,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Janie Sims. “We believe this will be beneficial to the families we serve, and we’re always looking for ways to support and encourage our community.”

TVCC and Eustace ISD partner for welding program grant

Press release

The Eustace Independent School District has been awarded a Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant to establish a welding program at Eustace High School. The grant was a cooperative effort between Trinity Valley Community College’s Dual Credit department and EISD, and will provide more than $100,000 in specialized equipment for welding instruction.

“This equipment is rarely found in a high school welding program in a school the size of Eustace,” said EISD Superintendent Dr. Coy Holcombe. “These machines will give our students a chance to be trained on how to operate machinery in a high demand job area.”

Continue reading “TVCC and Eustace ISD partner for welding program grant”

Athens ISD announces leadership shifts

By Toni Garrard Clay/AISD Communications Coordinator

Athens ISD Superintendent Blake Stiles announced some upcoming changes in key district personnel assignments Wednesday.

Effective July 1, Athens High School Principal Jami Ivey will take over as director of secondary curriculum and instruction for the middle school and high school. Athens Middle School Principal Ginger Morrison will replace Ivey at the high school. And Central Athens Elementary Principal Jennifer Risinger will step into the principal’s position at the middle school. The district will begin a formal search for the principal’s position at Central.

Continue reading “Athens ISD announces leadership shifts”

More honors for Malakoff and Tool elementary schools

Press release

Malakoff ISD announced last week that Malakoff Elementary and Tool Elementary have been selected by Educational Results Partnership (ERP) and the Institute for Productivity in Education (IPE) as two of 727 public schools in Texas to receive the title of 2016 Honor Roll school.

“We are so proud to be recognized by education and business leaders in Texas as an Honor Roll School District,” said Malakoff ISD Superintendent Randy Perry. “Our teachers and administrators at both Malakoff Elementary and Tool Elementary work tirelessly to keep the focus on high expectations and student academic achievement and to continuously improve our practices. This hard work and dedication is paying off for all of our students, no matter their background.”

The Honor Roll is part of a national effort to identify higher-performing schools and highlight successful practices that improve outcomes for students. Schools receiving this distinction from leaders in the California academic and business communities have demonstrated consistent high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement levels over time and reduction in achievement gaps among student populations. For High Schools, the Honor Roll recognition also includes measures of college readiness. The Honor Roll is comprised of two different awards, the “Star Schools” Award and “Scholar Schools” Award.

Star Schools are those with significant populations of socio-economically disadvantaged students that have shown a significant increase in grade-level proficiency over time. Scholar Schools are schools that are showing significant levels of academic achievement, but do not have a significant socio-economically disadvantaged student population.

“These Honor Roll schools are clearly improving outcomes for their students, as the academic data show,” said Charles Miller, chairman of IPE. “The next step is to understand how their educational productivity then translates to economic productivity. To do this, we must link academic and financial data to measure educational funding vs. student outcomes. Our economy will thrive when we are boosting student achievement without spending more – that is to say, when we are getting the biggest bang for our education buck.”

“Many schools across the country are doing well, even those with high numbers of historically disadvantaged students,” said Jim Lanich, ERP President and CEO. “The Honor Roll proves that all schools, no matter what zip code they are in, can achieve this kind of success. School and school district leaders have a great opportunity to find out what’s working at these Honor Roll schools and replicate it.”

The Texas Honor Roll program is made possible by generous support from numerous businesses and organizations including the Texas Business Leadership Council, American Automobile Association (AAA) Texas, Macy’s, Wells Fargo, Enterprise Holdings Foundation, and several private foundations. Chevron Corporation provides support for the STEM Honor Roll.