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Superintendent column: Dana West, Amarillo ISD

It’s my honor to welcome you back to a new school year. As I am typing this, state legislators are in Austin discussing the future of public schools in our great state of Texas. Back here at home, Amarillo ISD teachers, counselors, principals, custodians and many other staff members are diligently working to welcome your child to a new year of academic encouragement, challenge and growth.

One of the many things I appreciate most about our Amarillo community is that while our state lawmakers banter about possible laws to drive new policy, we continue to rise above the debate. While members of the House and Senate wrestle to determine how much (or how little) to fund education, the people in our community always step forward to help feed, clothe and educate the scholars in our schools.

It is also a blessing to work with a financially responsible and fiscally conservative board of trustees. In our budget, 85 percent goes to pay for our team of 5,200 staff members in AISD. The remaining 15 percent of the budget funds a multitude of items like utility bills and other day-to-day operations. Fortunately in the last 10 years, our conservative stance has allowed us to fund other necessities like:

Campus door replacements: $237,000

Water and sewer line replacements: $251,000

Parking lot repairs and replacement: $1 million

Science labs: $4.2 million

Classroom additions: $12.6 million

And, we’ve done this all without a maintenance and operation tax increase for the past 11 years, even though the average age of our buildings is 58 years.

AISD continues to move ahead to fulfill our vision of empowering our scholars to be thinkers, communicators, collaborators and contributors. We know that you expect us to complete our mission of “graduating every student prepared for success beyond high school” each and every year. It’s easy to get excited about a new school year, mostly due to the fact that we always know that our…

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