Gasaway shares vision for MFISD with City Council
Becoming a “district of destination” is a top priority for Marble Falls Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Jeff Gasaway as the newly minted head administrator seeks ways to set his district apart from other area schools.
Gasaway discussed his vision for MFISD along with future educational opportunities in the district, the challenges facing public education, and plans for how to combat those obstacles during an update to the Marble Falls City Council on Tuesday, April 18.
“One of the things you’re going to hear from me is that I want Marble Falls ISD to become a district of destination,” Gasaway told councilors. “I want to attract families to our district.”
MFISD plans to upgrade its profile by increasing its social media presence.
“If we’re not telling our story, we’re letting others tell our story,” Gasaway said. “Otherwise, we’re letting other people tell our story on social media, and they’re not as kind as we want them to be or we’re answering what they’re saying.”
Gasaway also detailed new educational programs, such as early college high school, to entice more families into the area for its educational resources and expand the district’s ability to prepare students for life after high school.
“In a year from now, not next school year but next year, our freshman class will have the ability to walk out as a senior with an associate’s degree,” Gasaway said. “We feel like that’s something that — when you think about Llano, Burnet, Johnson City, Lago Vista, Lake Travis — might be very attractive to parents of kids who want to become a part of us, our city, and our community.”
Gasaway also spoke on several difficulties facing the district, including the teacher shortage.
“We are in a national, state, and local teacher shortage,” he said. “Getting a teacher on a $50,000 salary to be able to afford a place here in Marble Falls is a challenge.”
Politics have also complicated school business, Gasaway said.
“Schools have become political footballs right now,” he said. “I hope, you know, don’t watch Fox News and assume the schools they’re talking about are Marble Falls ISD. I would even go beyond that and say Burnet County as a whole.”
Another factor impacting the district is the state school financing law, commonly known as “Robin Hood.” Enacted in 1993, it drives property tax revenues from rich districts such as Marble Falls to underserved school districts statewide.
“We’re giving $17 million back of recapture to the state of Texas,” Gasaway said. “To put that into context, we’re a district that is 65 percent low (socioeconomic status). That means 65 percent of our kids qualify for free or reduced lunch, yet we’re giving $17 million back to the state of Texas. Something is philosophically wrong with that.”
Regardless of the challenges MFISD faces, Gasaway told councilors he is confident the district can overcome adversity.
“I think there are a lot of places that are fighting and struggling, but I think we are blessed to live in the Hill Country,” he said. “We’re blessed to be in the city and community of Marble Falls.”