It’s back to school time and, for some districts, that means staff convocations this week.
Among those not canceling their staff assemblies for budgetary reasons was Sanger Independent School District in Denton County. But the budget woes that plagued the end of the last school year were still a fresh wound on everyone’s minds.
That’s where Jackie McBroom, Sanger ISD assistant superintendent for educational services, stepped in. Using the Hee-Haw Buck Owens melody from the song, “Pfft, You Were Gone,” McBroom put pen to paper and wrote a satirical song to address the proverbial elephant in the room. (Read more from columnist Bruce Felps here.)
McBroom appeared on stage during the yearly staff assembly in red long underwear, alongside Superintendent Kent Crutsinger, dressed in overalls and a funky ZZ Top beard, and Deputy Superintendent Eric Beam -- also in overalls. Chris Miller, director of instructional technology, was on guitar.
As the familiar tune began, Crutsinger sung, “There's bus transportation, school breakfast and lunches. I asked Mr C, he said ‘That all is fine.’ He says he's quite sure that we can do all this… as long as it don't cost this district a dime.”
Then, Archie Campbell and Gordie Tapp-- oops, that is, McBroom and Beam -- join in with the chorus.
“Where, Rick Perry, are you tonight? Why did you leave us here all alone? You promised us funding for all Texas children; but then you heard "White House" and -- pfft -- you were gone.”
The crowd of school district employees exploded with laughter and applause. As the song continued, the laughter grows with even more thunderous cheers and applause.
“The song was written to be fun,” lyricist McBroom said during a phone interview Wednesday.
“It was supposed to be funny -- it was satire. It was not intended to be a political statement of any kind,” McBroom clarified. “I’m not even a political person.”
Still, McBroom said he and his colleagues are being hit in all directions. The district experienced an about 8 percent reduction in revenue from the wide-reaching education budget cuts across the state earlier this year.
“And there's a lot of pressures from state and federal accountability. Now we're in transition from one assessment to another assessment,” McBroom said.
"Salaries have been frozen. We didn't have any layoffs, but we didn't replace some people that left," he said.
McBroom said the budget is "just one thing on top of the other."
“We wanted to do something that was fun, light-hearted and humorous," he said.
The SISD leaders seem to have done just that. They said they got no negative feedback from any staff member who attended, and a video of the performance posted on YouTube has more than 400 hits since it was posted three days ago.
NBCDFW.com contacted Gov. Rick Perry's office for comment. Spokeswoman Lucy Nashed released the following statement late Wednesday:
"Ensuring Texas remains a leader in job creation depends on the development of our workforce, and is imperative to Texas' future prosperity. In fact, since the 2000-2001 biennium, Texas has increased general revenue spending on public education by $11 billion. Every state agency and program was asked to tighten its belt this session, and the governor appreciates the Legislature's work to balance our budget without raising taxes, while preserving more than $6 billion in the state's Rainy Day Fund and protecting essential services."
McBroom said that while Perry is the subject of the thrice-repeated chorus, he wasn’t the only subject of the song. It also touches on the aforementioned accountability standards, as well as a strange reference in the second verse to what McBroom calls the district’s wonderful teachers, parents and school board.