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Parker: Back to School 2015

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tan parker mugBy State Rep. Tan Parker

Having the recent opportunity to take my family on a simple summer vacation gave me back those precious moments of just being a Dad to two little wide-eyed girls whose parents were once again at the center of their attention.

It was a wonderful feeling, even if short lived. And it was short lived because barely had we been back home when my oldest started bouncing off the walls with the anticipation of being an upper-classman at her high school next year. A high school upper-classman? My daughter? Watching her, I quickly came to two conclusions: my daughters are not little girls anymore; and the summer break is almost over.

If you are like me, this notion is hitting you for the first time just mere weeks away from when school starts back. Denton, Lewisville and Argyle ISDs all start back on August 24. Northwest ISD starts back the following day. Fellow parents, it’s time to get ready to go back to school. In getting ready to send your kids back to school, I want you to first know that the Texas Legislature made improving public education a top priority during this recently concluded legislative session.

We fully funded enrolment growth and added another $1.5 billion to the Foundation Schools Program. Lawmakers also updated our school rating system so that students and parents can more easily understand the performance of their local schools. Acting on Governor Abbott’s leadership, we also created a grant program to fund top quality pre-K programs offered by local school districts who meet our high standards for excellence.

Dual credit opportunities were expanded and graduation criteria was revised so that no single test outcome could unilaterally keep a student from receiving their high school diploma. It was a great session for public schools, so now let’s get ready to send our kids back to their classrooms.

For most parents, back-to-school preparation first starts with clothing and supply shopping. Before you set out on your family shopping outing, first familiarize yourself with what supplies your local schools require and their dress code policies. Luckily, this weekend (August 7– 9) is Texas’s Sales Tax Holiday Weekend, meaning that almost all of your back-to-school needs can be purchased tax free. Get out and take advantage before this tax savings opportunity expires.

Next, be sure you are aware of the immunizations required for your child to attend school, any physical fitness clearance they may need to play sports, and other necessities. Also make sure that you and your children are familiar with their school campuses. Take the time to meet their teachers and principals. Having an open line of communication with your child’s educators can be a great advantage to their development. This can be especially important if your child is starting a new school.

Lastly, start the back-to-school routine a week before your school start date. Get your children used to going to bed at an appropriate hour and rising in the morning early to be ready for school. Plan some developmental activities for the day to help them prepare for the mental stimulation and exercise that awaits.

Start their day off with a full breakfast and serve them a nutritious lunch at a set scheduled time while also only allowing for those snacks throughout the day that your little students can expect to enjoy in the classroom as well. It is just as important to get their meal schedules well-adjusted as it is their sleep and activity agendas.

I hope that your family enjoys a safe and fun back to school season. As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives, and I welcome your feedback on this and any other critical state issues.

If you would like to share a thought with me, please feel free to contact me at my capitol office at 512-463-0688 or by e-mail at tan.parker@house.state.tx.us.

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