Many of you may be not aware, but our Four Point’s academic booster, Viper Nation Education Foundation, along with the Leander Educational Excellence Foundation, are currently fighting for their existence. These two organizations have only done great things for our students, but our relatively new Superintendent has determined that the Viper Nation Education Foundation has to cease operations as a stand-alone entity and operate as a single, district-wide foundation.
Dr. Troxell has stated that VNEF’s existence is raising “equity” issues within the district, which may open the district to potential legal liability. I believe this to be a fallacy. A false argument that Dr. Troxell is using as an excuse to abolish VNEF.
I say this since VNEF has been in existence since 2009, and under the previous district administration, legal liability was never an issue. Why now? What has changed? Furthermore, why would private dollars cause any legal liability since the district provides no resources to VNEF in raising those funds. I believe this is an overreach and money grab by the new district administration.
From my perspective, we do have a district-wide discrepancy when it comes to financial resources. Due to the large socio-economic diversity of LISD, the district spends an inordinate amount of its tax revenue in schools that are not in the Four Points area.
For example, at Leander HS, the district spends an average of $7,219/student (LHS total spend $15,809,610), while the VHS spend is $5,738/student (VHS total spend $14,798,302). This spending discrepancy can also be seen at the middle schools (LMS avg. $7,017/student vs. CRMS avg. $5,240/student), and the elementary schools (Bagdad avg. $7,943/student vs. LWBE avg. $5,448/student).
One of the reasons VNEF was founded was to provide Four Points schools with the necessary financial resources to help offset the district’s spending discrepancy.
Booster clubs next?
You may wonder how exactly does this affect all the other boosters. In the Feb. 6 edition of Community Impact, Dr. Troxell stated: “I think the first step in this journey […] is to get to the idea of how do we certainly recognize the incredible value the two foundations have given to this school district and how do we get them to work in harmony to one foundation,” Troxell said, “And then once that’s formed […] have some conversations with booster clubs at that point.”
So, you football, band, robotics, dance and all the other athletic and club boosters, take note – once the education foundations fall, Dr. Troxell will be starting similar conversations with you all. He has already attempted this with LISD PTAs, but the state PTA organization stepped in and told Troxell to back off.
Here’s what I believe:
- If VNEF is abolished, the educational experience of students in the VHS feeder pattern will be negatively impacted. Programming that VNEF currently supports will either be eliminated, or school administrators will have to scramble to find other funding sources, which is next to impossible for schools like ours.
- The idea that a single, district-wide foundation will raise funds equal to, or greater than, VNEF and LEEF currently raise as stand-alone entities is a lie. My rationale is twofold. One, if VNEF goes away, so does its major fundraising event, the annual VNEF gala. This event raises between $125,000 – $150,000. Secondly, VNEF employs a full-time Executive Director, who acts as a liaison between the eight-area schools and the Four Points area, garnering community support for school initiatives and financial needs. Again, no VNEF, no VNEF Executive Director.
- Last month, VNEF reached it’s $1million milestone in fundraising. These funds have positively impacted all current and past students within the VHS feeder pattern, along with LISD students. If Dr. Troxell is successful in VNEF’s demise, there will be no $2 million.
Call to action
Many of you may be wondering what can you do to show your support for VNEF and LEEF. It’s simple. Email the Leander ISD Board of Trustees @ Governance.Team@LeanderISD.org and tell them that you support the Viper Nation Education Foundation and Leander Educational Excellence Foundation and you want them to remain intact and in their current form. Also, when you send your email, do the VNEF folks a favor and cc: President@ViperNationEF.org in your email. This will show the VNEF board that you support them and believe in their mission.
Also, join the online conversation at Parents of Leander ISD Facebook group. Show the LISD community that you believe parents have a right to support their children’s education.
Kai A. Lamb
Parent, Four Points Resident
VNEF Board President, Co-founder 2009-2017