East Texas schools forced to do more with less

By Jena Johnson - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Douglass Principal Eric Samford is proud of his students, all 376 of them. But wishes he could give them more.

"There's certain classes that we wish we could offer to our kids, but because we're so small, we're unable to and in some cases I think our students get left behind," Samford said.

He's not alone. State funding is on the mind of rural East Texas educators.

"The funding for school is always going to be an issue, when they start talking about being more efficient, we think we are efficient," Jasper ISD Superintendent Jon Whittemore said. "There's always going to be somebody that thinks you can do with less, less people, less facilities, less whatever. So I think the funding is the frightening part."

Some insist the state's funding is going to the wrong places.

"We've got three or four ISDs within ten miles of each other and there's absolutely no reason for all these principals and teachers and superintendents for tiny, for 20 kids that graduate, 25 or even 30," former educator Ray Hartenstein said.

According to the Texas Education chairman, Rob Eissler, Texas is close to leading the country with the highest number of adults without high school diplomas.

"It kind of hurts me, you know, because I'm proud of our state," Samford said. "It is sad that we have so many that don't have a high school diploma."

Eissler says the state's mission is to get kids ready for college. For Samford, that's why he's here.

"When they score well on a test, you get excited for them and then when you see them graduate, move off and go to college, you feel like you've done what you're supposed to be doing," Samford said.

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