Friday, April 24, 2009

Round Rock ISD Policy

Just to catch everyone up on our journey in working with the RRISD school-board to change their facility-use policy, I want to give you a quick history of the last 12 months. Last April (2008), I made a presentation to the RRISD school-board asking them to revisit their facility-use policy (GKD-Local) that restricts access to their facilities on Sundays. RRISD is the only district in central Texas that does not allow organizations to rent their facilities on Sundays. The current policy is hurting the faith community in Round Rock (and therefore hurting the community itself) because fewer churches are being started in our city. More and more church-planters who want to start a church in Round Rock are opting to move their new works into surrounding areas (like Cedar Park, Leander, Georgetown, Austin, and Pflugerville, where schools can be rented on Sundays). Our city continues to grow every year, but the growth in number of churches is not keeping pace with the growth of the city, much less increasing as a percentage of the city.

After consideration, the school-board rejected my request and voted in June of 2008 to leave policy GKD as is. Following this decision, I joined up with other concerned Round Rock citizens to make sure we did our homework before we presented again. During the next 10 months, we met with district employees and trustee members to make sure that we knew why the original decision was made (in 2003) to change the policy, and what obstacles were in the way to changing the policy again. Our research was used to update our proposal and provide some possible solutions to these challenges. You can read our recommendations in the attached policy proposal. Following our year of prayer and research, we presented the revised proposal to the Round Rock ISD school board meeting on March 26th, 2009. I again asked the trustees to consider removing the Sunday restriction. The RRISD school-board agreed to refer the proposal to their policy sub-committee (which consists of 3 of the 7 board members). This policy sub-committee brought back a recommendation at the April 16th meeting held last Thursday. The sub-committee again recommended that the policy stay the same, but other members of the board asked for more information before making a final decision.

You can watch the 30-minute discussion that the RRISD board had on April 16th by going to the following link:

The discussion occurs between 1:47:40 and 2:16:36 on the video.

For more information, you can also read the story that the Round Rock Leader is publishing this weekend:

In response to the board’s concerns (as expressed at the April 16th meeting), we are taking the following next steps:

1) I am working to meet with Tracy Hoke, the district’s CFO to look at the financial impact of changing the policy. From estimates that I have made from looking at utility costs listed on the RRISD website, it does not seem like the district will be losing money by renting out its facilities on Sundays. However, we want to do our due-diligence to make sure that there are not unseen costs that we are not aware of. You can see my cost analysis in the policy-proposal attached (see attachment A).

2) We will be speaking again at the May 21st school board meeting (the next time this policy will come up for discussion) to show our support for the district trustees making this policy change. If you would like to come and speak in support, your presence would be greatly appreciated. The school-board meets at Round Rock High School on the third-Thursday of the month for their regular board meeting at 7:30 PM. You have to sign-up before the meeting and request to speak, and then the board calls on you to address them.

3) We compared the RRISD policy not only with other districts in the area, but with the districts in their cohort. Their cohort is made up of six other districts in the state of Texas that are similar in size and make-up to RRISD. None of these school-districts restrict the use of the facilities on Sunday. We hope to make the school board aware that they are the only district in central Texas and the only district in their cohort to have this policy.

So, how can we use your help at this point in the journey?

We are asking each of you who care about this issue to let your voice be heard by emailing the members of the RRISD school board and voicing your support of this policy change. Also, if you know others in your relational sphere who live in the district, forward this email to them and ask them to speak up on behalf of this change. The trustees of RRISD are elected representatives and need to hear from their constituents. At the last several meetings I’ve attended, emails from constituents have significantly impacted the discussion of the school board. Your email is very important! Everyone who lives within RRISD has a right to be heard on this issue. A list of the current school board members and those running for school board are listed below. When you contact them, make sure to state in your own words your desire for them to vote to change the current GKD Local policy to remove the Sunday restriction.

Brian Sellers, Place 1 (2008-2011)

Charles “Chad” Chadwell, Place 2 (2008-2009)

Diane Cox, Place 3 & President (2008-2011)

Dr. Linelle Clark-Brown, Place 4 & Secretary (2007-2010)

Sherry Johnson, Place 5 (2007-2010)

Glen Colby, Place 6 (2008-2011)

Pat Abbot, Place 7 (2006-2009)

Dr. Jesus Chavez, Superintendent

Antonio Champion, Candidate for Place 7

Bobby Seiferman, Candidate for Place 7

Gunnar Ristroph, Candidate for Place 2

Thanks so much for your prayers and support!

Please let me know if you have any input and thoughts before next month’s school-board meeting.

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