San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 16th, 2015
SMCISD trustees decline proposal to add three facilitators for gifted students

PHOTO: Trustee Anne Halsey was the San Marcos CISD board’s most forceful advocate for doubling the number of elementary school gifted and talented facilitators, from three positions to six. The proposal failed 3-3 at Monday’s school board meeting.


San Marcos CISD trustees voted on Monday to hire one additional gifted and talented teacher instead of the three proposed in an Internet petition signed by about 80 San Marcos area residents.

Led by Amber Walter and Eduardo Rios, the parent group’s proposal would have brought the number of gifted and talented teachers up to six, one for each elementary campus. Currently, three GT facilitators are assigned two campuses each.

Pointing to disparities between the percentage of students identified as gifted and talented among SMCISD elementary schools, trustee Anne Halsey pitched the new positions as an investment in reaching lower-income, minority and other students at-risk of disenfranchisement.

The school district’s 231 primary-level students designated as gifted and talented last academic year were not evenly distributed between the school district’s six primary-level schools. On one end of the spectrum, 68 students are designated as gifted at Crockett Elementary, comprising about eight percent of total enrollment; by comparison, only 3.4 percent of Bowie Elementary (36 students) and 2.2 percent at Mendez Elementary (15 students) were identified as gifted and talented.

“I do think having a full-time GT coordinator at each campus is an issue of equity. I think our current coordinators [are] stretched too thin. … In order to cultivate and identify [gifted and talented] students in an at-risk population takes other means,” Halsey said. “We are trying to do more with less all of the time. And I think this is one of the times, you can’t do more with less.”

Superintendent Mark Eads said three additional gifted and talented facilitators would initially cost $180,000 annually in salary and benefits, a few thousand more than the $176,700 price tag calculated by Walter and Rios.

Eads recommended that trustees authorize one additional GT facilitator, at a cost of $60,000, to be assigned as needed to identify and instruct gifted students in under-represented schools.

“If this were a zero-cost proposal, I would be very quick to support it,” trustee John McGlothlin said, adding later: “I would like to get to a place where we have a coordinator in each campus but I don’t think that has to be the leading edge.”

Halsey’s motion to fund three new GT positions starting with the forthcoming 2016 fiscal year failed to win a majority, 3-3, with support from trustees Juan Miguel Arredondo and Kathy Hansen. McGlothin and trustees Margie Villalpando and Lupe Costilla voted against; John Crowley was not present.

The board then voted 6-0 to approved Costilla’s motion to add one new GT facilitator to the current three.


Proposal/petition for new elementary GT facilitators [pdf]

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12 thoughts on “SMCISD trustees decline proposal to add three facilitators for gifted students

  1. San Marcos elementary schools do not even have a single gifted and talented specialist assigned to each school and the trustees just voted down a proposal to ammend that. This is why parents with the resources to do so in this district either send their kiddos to private school or drive them to Austin or Wimberley to get a better educational experience. I have lived in several university towns but never one that put so little into public education.

  2. Unfortunately, resources are finite and at each election, it is the parents of gifted and talented students who are singing the praises of our schools.

    We need more resources for at-risk students. I heard the other day that we are at or near zero bilingual educators, for the entire district. If you look at comparable districts, with superior performance, they have a lot of bilingual educators.

  3. As a parent and citizen of San Marcos, I was disappointed and surprised to see the San Marcos trustees decision. First, I’d like to say that I think that San Marcos schools and teachers are doing an ***excellent*** job with their present resources. Having two young children in Travis, I see the material evidence of both the teachers’ and administration’s commitment on a multitude of levels. The trustees John McGlothlin, Margie Villalpando and Lupe Costilla have gone down in my opinion. If there cannot be significant investment in the education of this community’s children and leaders of tomorrow to what wiser purposes is the taxpayers money being allocated?

    To note, our mayor, Daniel Guerrero is a product of the community and he also needs to take a stand here. Our community exists in the shadow of Texas State, an academic community predicated on the unspoken and implicit ***value*** of education. Municipal support of the schools needs to be included. The current Texas legislative administration has recently shown its commitment to higher ed: The children of San Marcos are our primary treasure and perhaps most valuable ‘resource’ of which we also need to be developing as future leaders.

    I also took the time to read the Mercury’s useful link to the proposal. It is well reasoned, modest and fair on a number of levels. I also wonder if it would have been the same if the trustees had visited the recent Kindergarten graduations at some of the San Marcos schools where the hope and goal of ‘university education’ was explicit. Banners were placed to plant the seed in our children. Future local role models are needed and these important associated ‘programs’ supported. Similarly, the Rotary club Knighting ‘virtue’ ceremonies at our schools serve to develop future leaders. I believe there would be different choices if the ‘trustees’ begin to attend a few ogyms full of San Marcos voter parents watching their young ones in cap and gown.

    To note, Former President, Lyndon Johnson, Texas State grad was originally a *teacher* of previous ‘diverse’ populations in Texas. He also signed the Higher Education act into being in San Marcos in 1965 – The trustees should listen and reflect to what he says regarding an educated diverse local Texas community and investment in education: .

    Grade school education needs to be a much higher priority.

  4. Yes, grade school education of the students who are not being well served today needs to be a much higher priority. Those graduating at the top of their classes, are not at the top of the list of those in need of help.

  5. Ted, if resources for gifted students were available, perhaps we would have a much higher percentage of high performing students in our schools…and fewer social problems. I don’t for a minute believe the statistics in this article that indicate that several of our elementary schools have such an abysmally low number of gifted students. With no gifted resource teachers to identify and nurture talent, we are wasting these precious minds…and devaluing our entire community.

  6. If resources for at-risk students were more plentiful, perhaps a higher percentage of students would graduate college ready, or ready for a career path, something gifted and talented students don’t even have to worry about.

  7. Ted, you are right on that all of them are equally precious. I do not mean to suggest that resources should be taken from more needy students and reallocated toward GT, but instead that this state and this municipality needs to make a higher total investment in education and serve all students regardless of their current performance level. We pay extremely high property taxes here in San Marcos, and sales taxes are high as well. If this state is the wealthiest in the nation as the politicians love to proclaim, why are our students not getting a top rate education? All of them!

  8. I agree, but while our tax rate is high, our property values are low, and we like to spend a lot of money on football stadiums.

    SMCISD does not have the money to fund everything to an optimal level, as far as I can tell.

  9. Until these “at risk” students start to see increased emphasis on education AT HOME, there’s no amount of money we can throw at them that will improve the situation.

    I understand the feeling that we “need” to do something via the school system….but education starts at home. Too many kids in this district have the family mindset that school is something to tolerate until they hit 16 when they can drop out and get a job to help with the family bills.

    Our son just graduated kindergarten and made the 25 point A/R reading club. There are fifth graders in the 5 point club. Like most parents, we like to think our kid is pretty smart…..but there’s simply no excuse for that sort of disparity.

  10. Myopic, narrow view.

    Many of these students don’t have the resources at home, that G&T students do.

    Many of these students don’t have parents at home.

    So, we punish the students, for what we consider the failings of their parents?

    That seems to work well.

    The reality is, every time someone says our schools are fine, and there is merely a “perception problem,” it is some city council member, making a film about his valedictorian daughter’s experience there.

    Meanwhile, the districts that outperform us, offer far more resources to the kids at the bottom.

  11. Even your reply highlighted why you are wrong.
    If these kids are worried about helping their parents pay the bills, that is huge. If I thought my parents were at risk of losing their home, I would do ANYTHING, sacrifice ANYTHING, drop EVERYTHING, to help them.
    When you are a child, these issues are magnified x1000, because you have no life experience to tell you that everyone is going to get through it.
    The challenges many of these kids face, would crush many adults, and our entire community continues to reap the “rewards” of turning our backs and putting it all on the parents.

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