Trustee letter/email template

Dear Trustee,

I am aware of the proposed HISD magnet funding allocations to be voted on by the board on June 19, 2014. As a tax payer, home owner, and Houstonian, I am alarmed at how carelessly this proposal was determined; there are no known metrics or research behind the proposed allocations. And the fact that the proposal has changed numerous times also indicates a lack of due diligence.

After reviewing the latest iteration of the proposal, the biggest question I have is what does the PUA have to do with Magnet allocations? Either there is a PUA returned to the district schools district-wide or there is not. The PUA is irrelevant and should not be factored into this inequitable redistribution of magnet funds. The determination of magnet funding was done without regard to the programs or funding required to provide those programs. The District is releasing information about other budget items as if the magnet funding changes are part of the reason why they can fund other programs, and in reality the magnet issue is simply a redistribution of the same moneys to different places.

At a recent town hall meeting hosted by Trustee Lunceford, it was specifically stated by a district representative that the allocations were based on “simple Algebra and Politics.” This is unacceptable and alarming.

I recommend delaying any changes to magnet funding for the next year and to work with each of the principals to provide their budgets for their magnet programs, along with the performance of those programs. This will provide a true cost/benefits analysis that can be used to fund the programs that are working and replicate successful programs in under-served sections of the district so that each student in HISD will have the opportunity to be close to a successful magnet program. Equity is not mediocrity spread among all; equity is providing opportunity to excel throughout the district.

I appreciate your commitment to our schools. The underlying issue is that no one in the administration took the current programs into consideration before making these changes and that will result in damaging many of our best schools and advocates. Please vote NO on the magnet funding proposal, Let me know how I can help resolve this issue.


The fight for Magnet funding continues!

Dear Kolter Families,

We had a good turnout of Kolter supporters at the 6/12 HISD School Board meeting. Thank you to those families who took the time to represent our school. The meeting ended at about 8:30pm. Although our agenda item was moved to the 19th, I think it was a great learning
experience for those of us who had never attended a board meeting. I’d like to share some of the lessons learned so that we can all benefit and be prepared for THE BIG ONE(6/19 Board meeting).
1. It is a very long meeting and not suitable for young children(**see the note about The Zone below).
2. Bring water and maybe a snack since it will run past dinner time.
3. Arrive at 4:30 to secure a seat in the board room. Latecomers will be seated in the overflow rooms. The boardroom will be filled to capacity for this meeting!
4. Less is more – a few well-rehearsed speakers with a clear message is better than 50 speakers. There were so many parents and kids speaking after the meeting last night. I noticed the board members were talking among themselves while parents/kids were addressing the board. At one point, Dr. Grier even stepped out of the room!

Our big moment is drawing nearer. This week, the HISD school board will vote on the magnet funding reallocation. This proposal reduces our magnet funding significantly which will result in losing 1-2 of our language teachers and thus losing our language programs! We only have a few days to stop this proposal, so the time is NOW to take action. To ensure that this proposed budget does NOT get approved, we need you to do two very important things:

First, we urge you to lobby for our cause and contact any and all elected officials like the board trustees, Dr. Grier, city council members, the mayor, state representatives, etc. Write a letter, make a phone call, or send an email. We have listed sample letters and emails you can use on the PTO website. If you need help, please contact Rysse Goldfarb.

Secondly, attend the HISD School Board meeting on

Thursday, June 19th at 5:00pm Hattie Mae White – 4400 W 18th St. Houston, TX 77092

The Board is currently expected to vote on the magnet funding allocation issue at this meeting. The agenda with a specific time has not been released. Again, plan to be there at 4:30 if possible. If you can’t make it that early, come anyway! Better late than never!


In addition to our group of speakers, we need as BIG of a presence as we can muster. Please wear a Kolter Tshirt. Shirts are available FREE of charge from Lorena (832-443-9432) and Rysse before 6/19.

Our school administrators (Dr. Shetzer, Ms. Dickinson and Mr. Anderson) plan on attending the June 19th meeting.

***We have set up childcare at The Zone (10371 Stella Link Rd Houston, TX 77025 (281)317-7529) from 4:30-8:30pm. The cost is $25 per child and this includes pizza, drink and a snow cone.***

Here is the bottom line:

We have no interest in entertaining any change to our current program.

With Cougar Pride,
Lorena Estrada
Kolter PTO President

(Original available here)

Call to action: Magnet budget cuts still going ahead!

Hello Kolter Family,

It has become increasingly apparent that HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier will not listen even to his own Board of Education. He is determined to cut funding to several HISD Magnet Schools which will devastate those schools. In light of this we are asking all parents, neighbors, family and friends to contact your local and state elected officials, including council members, state representatives and state senators and urge them to directly contact Dr. Grier and ask him to stop the proposed cuts. It is our belief Dr. Grier will only listen to elected officials prompted by their constituents.

Below (at bottom of this post) is a draft email you may use to contact any and all officials you personally know or who serve you (and need your vote). NOW (this weekend) is the time to talk to your trustees, to the press, to your city council members…to anyone who may be in a position to affect change. We need Grier’s email to be flooded with messages from elected officials ASAP as critical meetings will be held Monday and Thursday.

Find your state rep here:

List of State Committee on Education, headed by Senator Dan Patrick (Harris a County)

Search here to find your reps by address/zip (when link opens scroll to bottom):

Search here to find your Houston City Council Member:

TIP: If clicking their name doesn’t lead you to find their email, you should be able to Google them to find websites for your reps which should have their email. Sometimes typing in their name plus the word ‘email’ will usually find it.

Please continue to express to our community (not only school families, but our greater Houston community) that this threat to our funding is very real and very serious. If at all possible, please show up at these two meetings and show your support for your school! We need to show them our strength with our numbers! While it is not necessary that you speak at the meeting, you are certainly invited to give them a piece of your mind! Should you wish to speak before the board, please email: so that you can be walked through the process.

Monday, June 9th at 3:00pm – Board Meeting Agenda setting meeting

Thursday, June 12th at 5:00pm – Regular Board Meeting (Childcare available at The Zone: see email from room parents for detail)

Location for both meetings: Hattie Mae White HISD Building at 4400 West 18th Street, Houston, Texas 77092.

And now…please write your representatives! THANK YOU for standing up for Kolter!

Be sure to convey to each of your reps, your outrage at the lack of due diligence by Grier and his gross disregard of the impact these cuts would have on our schools, neighborhoods and commerce. Please be sure to send each official the attached list of schools slated for funding cuts as well as the attached letter they can use to draft a memo to Dr. Grier.

Please click HERE to open an email template with the following message (may not work in all browsers/email clients). The attachments you’ll need are at the bottom of this post.



I wanted to make you aware of an issue coming before the Houston ISD Board of Trustees next week that I am extremely concerned about. HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier has decided that he does not want specialty “Magnet” Schools funded at the same levels as previous years. Incredibly, there has been no investigation or systematic planning with regards to the proposed cuts. The school programs being cut have had no review or critique; they have just re-allocated funding to projects of Dr. Grier’s choosing. I have attached a list of the schools being cut and they are some of the top schools in our area.

Also attached is a draft letter for your use if you would like to send a letter to Houston ISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier. Any help you can provide to stop these budget cuts would be greatly appreciated!

Had the district done their due diligence and provided valid documentation as to why these programs or dollars should be reallocated then we would not have a problem. However, these cuts will be devastating to many of the schools (home values, and communities) and irreparable harm will be done if this is allowed to continue. Education is a key factor in businesses moving to Houston.

Thank you and I am available on my cell.







5th grade letters to HISD

Kolter’s 5th grade students wrote letters to the HISD School Board in response to the proposed budget cuts for language magnet programs.

You can read them directly below, or use this link to share them on your favorite social media platform:

Magnet Funding email


Hello Kolter Families,

As promised, here is the link to the online petition to protect our magnet funding.  Please encourage spouses, friends, relatives, and neighbors to support our cause.

Thank you for your support!

Lorena Estrada



**Can you help this petition win by asking your friends to sign too? It’s easy to share with your friends on Facebook – just click here to share the petition on Facebook.

This is a message you can easily copy, paste, and share with friends


I just signed the petition “The Houston ISD Board of Education: Petition to Preserve and Protect Kolter Elementary School Magnet Funding and All HISD Magnet Funding” on

It’s important. Will you sign it too? Here’s the link:


Lorena Estrada

Kolter Elementary PTO President


Kolter Rocks Quilt!


Kolter Quilt Keepsake!


Kolter Rocks Classroom Projects

Amending the Budget-What You Need to Know


When developing the 2013-2014 PTO budget, we used very conservative estimates to set our fundraising goals for the year. As of December 2013, we have raised significantly more money that we had projected, specifically through the I Heart Kolter Campaign and the Kolter Cantina.


Fundraiser Budgeted Profit Actual Profit Additional Funds Available
I Heart Kolter Campaign




Kolter Cantina Auction




Kolter Cantina Event




Fall Product Sales




Total Additional Funds Available


Recently, members of the Executive Board met with Dr. Shetzer to assess the needs of the school and determine how these extra funds could best be utilized. Ideas included:

  • ·         Setting aside $10,000 to ensure the 2014-2015 PTO starts with a cash reserve (required by the Bylaws)
  • ·         Creating a new standing budget category for Grade Level Field Trips. For this year, we would set aside $4,000. For future years, we would recommend a starting budget of $6,000
  • ·         Creating a new standing budget category for Assemblies and Community Events. For this year, we would set aside $2,000. For future years, we would recommend a starting budget of $2,000.
  • ·         The remaining $29,722 could be spent on some combination of the following items:

o   Additional PE equipment

o   Creation of a track

o   Addition of a privacy wall to the Girls’ bathroom

o   Replace the current audio system in the cafeteria

o   Install additional projection screen in the cafeteria to enhance viewing during school programs and assemblies

o   Final payment of the iPad Language Lab

For us to move forward with these expenses, we need your approval. Please be sure to attend the January 14th PTO meeting so that we can make the needed changes to the budget.

Holiday Shopping at Amazon

Amazon School Rewards

Click on the School Rewards link and shop as you normally would. will donate to Kolter 4% – 8% of your purchase total. Anyone who accesses through the link on our PTO website will help raise money for all of the wonderful things that the PTO sponsors at Kolter.


Berry Hill Tamale Fundraiser Pick-Up This Saturday, Dec. 14th

Hello Kolter Families

The Fundraising Committee has 2 very important announcements regarding the Berryhill Tamales Fundraiser:

1. If you ordered delicious tamales, you can pick up your order this Saturday, 12/14 from 12-4pm at Berryhill Baja Grill in Bellaire-5305 Bissonnet St, Bellaire, TX 77401 . Berryhill will not keep any unclaimed orders.  Please make arrangements for a friend or relative to pick up your tamales if you are unable to do so!! They come frozen with easy cooking instructions.

2.  We need volunteers to help fill the orders. If you can help for an hour or two, please contact Daniella Guzman ( or Monica Medrano (

Thank you for your support!

The Fundraising Committee

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