Orange County school district superintendents have released details concerning an upcoming Legislative Forum, which will be held on Thursday, December 13, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Orange City Council Room at the Orange Public Library, 200 Fifth Street in downtown Orange. All residents are encouraged to attend, whether they have school-age children, or not. The topics that will be discussed affect all tax payers, no matter which school district receives their financial support.

According to Dr. Pauline Hargrove, Little Cypress-Mauriceville Superintendent, “Education is always at the top of the priority list when it comes to preserving our liberty and place of leadership in the world. Yet, the $5.4 billion cut to public education funding from the 82nd Legislative Session was one of the most brutal cuts we have ever experienced. With standards, testing, and accountability continuing to increase, we are expected to do far more with much less. Our way of life, based on our educational system, is at a significant crossroads. We, the people, must become informed and involved in order to remain the greatest country on earth.“

Each superintendent will cover a challenge that every district faces. Dr. Stephen Patterson of Orangefield ISD will address spending cuts and other financial obstacles, which are impacting the education of all Texas students. Accountability and Testing will be discussed by Dr. Jay Killgo, the new Vidor ISD Superintendent and longtime principal of Vidor High School. Dr. Pauline Hargrove will explain “Vouchers, School Choice, and the Taxpayers Savings Grant,” programs that siphon more funds away from public education, but have no established systems to measure accountability, financial transparency,  student performance, and college readiness to ensure a quality education, as there are for public schools.

Superintendent James Colbert, of West Orange-Cove, will give an overview of the six lawsuits addressing inequitable funding that are currently being heard in Texas courts. These involve approximately 600, or two-thirds, of the State’s districts. Bridge City Superintendent, Mike King, will address the Teacher Retirement System and Education Service Centers and the threat to those systems that are posed if current legislative proposals are enacted.

This forum is an excellent vehicle for taxpayers and parents to gain a greater understanding of the public school system and the impact that informed individuals can have on the education of Orange’s greatest natural resource, its children.