Dear Dr. Breithaupt;
I was just informed by a constituent and parent of a Alice High School student of the new district lines for U.I.L. and how they negatively impact Alice I.S.D.
As a product of Jim Wells County schools, a four time U.I.L. State Qualifier and a 1997 U.I.L. State Champion, I am fully aware of the tremendous toll that traveling takes on the mind and body of a young student. Being raised in this rural county, I became accustomed to traveling in the coastal bend region on a school bus for district U.I.L. competitions.
As a result, I was shocked when I was informed of U.I.L.'s decision to place Alice I.S.D. in the following district:
Eagle Pass Winn (400 miles roundtrip)
Floresville (200 miles roundtrip)
San Antonio Harlandale (250 miles roundtrip)
San Antonio McCollum (250 miles roundtrip)
San Antonio Southside (250 miles roundtrip)
Uvalde (370 miles roundtrip)
These are 2 coastal bend schools which have been in coastal bend drawn districts. In fact, all of the other coastal bend schools are still in coastal bend districts. The following is one of those districts:
CC Flour Bluff
CC Veterans Memorial
Corpus Christi Carroll
Corpus Christi King
Corpus Christi Miller
Corpus Christi Moody
Corpus Christi Ray
As a legislator for the past 3 legislative sessions, I am fully aware of the recent statutory and non-statutory sunset recommendations for U.I.L. However, it wasn’t until I did research for this review that I realized that U.I.L. considers itself a state agency but it cannot be abolished by the sunset review process. U.I.L. can choose to act or not act on our recommendations. Furthermore, I am fully aware of the appeals process for Alice I.S.D. But by looking at that overwhelming appeals process, I am concerned that no school would ever be able to get the approval of every school in the current and potential districts. Therefore it is with the upmost urgency that I ask you to utilize any discretionary authority you may have to give these school children a chance to compete with sound healthy minds and not unintentionally deprive them of the benefits of U.I.L. competition by overly burdensome extreme travel hardships.
In addition, unlike just about every other state agency, the U.I.L. governance structure shows that U.I.L. is a program under the University of Texas Division of Diversity and Community Engagement which is under the President of the University of Texas. As a result I will also be requesting for immediate relief for my constituents from the Dean of that program and the University of Texas President.
As a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, I can tell you that the UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, the division under which U.I.L. operates, has a publication entitled "Access and Excellence". I guarantee you that requiring students from Alice, Texas to travel approximately 375 miles roundtrip (Alice to Uvalde) in a school bus for district competition is substantially limiting access and will discourage many Alice students from benefiting from the same excellence I received from U.I.L. The University of Texas would never support such a decision.
As a legislator, I will be preparing legislation to make sure no poor under privileged school district in the State of Texas ever has to go through this again. "Extreme travel hardships" is clearly a subjective phrase. But any reasonable person can easily look at a map, calculate mileage and envision kids on a school bus for X amount of time. Respectfully, I sincerely believe that Alice should never have been put in that district to begin with and am hopeful it was an oversight. In any event, I ask for U.I.L. to be proactive and correct this injustice immediately.
I would also like you to conduct a thorough review of this most recent realignment process and provide my office with a comprehensive report before the appeal deadline. In addition, I would like a report on all of the realignment appeals and the disposition of the those appeals for the last 5 realignments before the appeal deadline.
I want to thank you for your past cooperation with the Texas Legislature and the Sunset Commission. I truly look forward to working with U.I.L., an organization that played a large and positive role in my life.
Thank you and I await your prompt attention to this matter.
Chairman - Redistricting Committee
Texas House of Representatives