Three candidates are seeking two seats from Area 2 on the Travis School District’s governing board. They are incumbent Donna Bishop and challengers Riita De Anda and John Dickerson.
This is Dickerson’s second try for a school board seat. He was among four candidates seeking two seats in November 2011. Those seats went to an incumbent and a challenger, providing the board both with continuity and a fresh voice.
The district benefits from federal impact aid dollars from the government due to its proximity to Travis Air Force Base. That money is on top of money the district gets from the state, which allows the district to envision and execute programs that lead to student success.
That success is real and measurable, even as impact aid dollars dry up – more so, given the across-the-board federal spending cuts known as the sequester. Unfortunately, none of the candidates can articulate a plan should this federal money – more than $400,000 this year – go away.
Then there’s the shift to Common Core state standards, which heralds the end of No Child Left Behind.
The Travis district fared well in required testing under No Child Left Behind, but the result of larger class sizes in the wake of recent budget cuts brought about by the Great Recession and its aftermath may be showing – and not in an entirely positive way.
All of the regular schools in the Travis district saw their API scores fall in testing that took place during the 2012-13 school year. The district’s aggregate API score fell 17 points. One Travis school – Cambridge Elementary – fell below the state target of 800 points. All other regular schools remain above the 800-point target, though not as convincingly as they were a year prior.
One bright spot in Travis testing: the district’s alternative school saw a vast improvement in its API score.
Each candidate sees the need to reduce class sizes within the district. That’s already taking place. Implementation of the Common Core also requires even smaller classes in kindergarten through third grade in coming years. Each candidate this go around brings a passion for the district to the table, as well as an understanding that the needs of the children should come first.
Voters in 2011 opted for a mix of the old with the new. In doing so they created a board dynamic that has seen the district come through the worst of the state budget crunch. We recommend that voters in the Travis district do so again.
Vote Bishop and De Anda on Nov. 5. In fact, we encourage you to do so today if you’re voting by mail.