Enterprise Editorial: Audit, charter bring optimism to BISD

Beaumont Enterprise

Enterprise Editorial: Audit, charter bring optimism to BISD

November 17, 2019

After the disturbing reports of bullying and violence at Martin Luther King Middle School, the Beaumont ISD was a district that needed some good news. Fortunately, it got that last week — not once but twice.

First came the welcome report that the district had received a clean audit, in fact, its fourth consecutive clean one. Granted, this is the kind of news that shouldn’t be news. Taxing entities at all levels should be operated ethically and professionally. The most controversial thing that should come from an audit is gentle advice to tweak this fund or that policy.

But as Beaumonters know, that hasn’t always been the case in the district. The previous board and administration ran its finances into the ground, and there was even blatant corruption and waste on their watch. This is one of the main reasons the state had to take over the dysfunctional district.

Those days are gone now, and they must remain in the past. When the board returns to full local control early next year, sound financial practices must remain a top priority.

The other piece of good news is more future-oriented. Officials with the Port Arthur-based Bob Hope School said they are in talks with the district about operating one of its elementary schools, probably for the 2021-22 school year, though the BISD has not yet confirmed this report. The BISD has already transferred responsibility for three of its campuses to charter school operations to avoid closing them because of failing test scores. Bob Hope already has one private campus in Beaumont and is hoping to expand in coming years.

If this happens, the change would be encouraging, and not because charter schools are perfect. They’re not, and a few have even failed spectacularly. But across Texas, public-private partnerships with traditional school districts and charter operators have breathed new life into K-12 education.

Charter schools offer parents and their children another option when their public schools are letting them down. And let’s be honest; charter schools rarely if ever come into successful school districts. But when public schools can’t or won’t deliver the security and excellence that every student deserves, charter schools might be able to step in and fill that need. If nothing else, there’s no harm in trying something like this because it has a chance to succeed when there was little hope of progress from business-as-usual.

Bobby Lopez, superintendent of the Bob Hope School, summed up the potential of charters in this case when he said, “If you are a parent, and you have the chance to have a kid play a stringed instrument by first grade, and it is free, you may want to put your child in the school. If you are a parent that has a child that has a chance to learn Mandarin Chinese as a third language, you may want to put your child there.”

No parent in Beaumont is going to quibble with opportunities like that. Kids in Beaumont, like kids anywhere, can learn if they attend a school that enables them to master their courses in a safe, productive environment. They can grow up to become astronauts, CEOs and governors, even if they’ll be the first members of their family to attend college.

But it all starts in elementary school, and soon we hope that more children in Beaumont will have a chance to embark on an exciting journey like that.











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