QUESTION: How much money does the East Texas Regional Airport bring in, considering the large amount of money spent on it each year?
ANSWER: The big picture might be a little surprising. Even Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt said he was “pleasantly surprised” when he obtained information from the county’s 2012-13 audit to respond to this question.
That audit looks at revenues and expenses at the airport two ways — with and without money the federal government provides for capital projects at the airport.
The audit showed that without those federal dollars, 2012-13 airport revenues were more than $2.1 million, including more than $1.8 million in property tax revenues and $234,609 in rental income. Property tax revenues and rental income are related to the various businesses aviation activities at the airport. Expenses were a little more than $1.9 million.
With federal money, revenues were $4,508,748, while expenses were about $7,000 less, at $4,501,180. The revenues include more than $2.3 million in federal funding, which the county matched at 10 percent.
“It was pleasing,” Stoudt said of the audited figures, but he said that still doesn’t tell the whole picture of the airport’s economic impact on the area.
Operating an airport is expensive, he said, but, “to put a dollar figure on what it means to have a commercial airline and a viable airport, that’s a really tough thing to do.”
The Texas Department of Transportation tried to do that six years ago, based on data from 2005. A report presented to the Gregg County Commissioners Court in 2007 said the airport and businesses in the business park generated about $55.3 million for the economy, created 685 full-time jobs and $22.1 million in payroll.
Q: How do the results of the traditional kindergarten program offered at Johnston-McQueen compare to the Montessori programs at all the other elementary campuses in the Longview Independent School District?
A: I’m sure there are lots of different ways to look at this, but I assume we’re talking about some kind of test results. There is no state-mandated testing for kindergarteners, but the district does conduct its own assessments in math and reading.
“(Traditional kindergarten and Montessori) both address the TEKS,” said Dr. Jacqueline Burnett, Montessori and early childhood director for the school district, referring to the state’s requirements for what children are taught each year. “They just address them in different ways.”
Those tests results for the school year that just ended show fairly close reading results at each campus, while there is more variation in math results.
The test results show the percentage of students who are on-level or above in reading: 87 percent at Johnston-McQueen; 89 percent at Bramlette, 88 percent at Everhart, 87 percent at Ned E. Williams, 84 percent at Ware and 85 percent at South Ward.
End-of-year math assessments results show the percentage of students who met an 80 percent passing rate on the test: 92 percent at Johnston-McQueen; 79 percent at Bramlette; 96 percent at Everhart; 94 percent at Ned E. Williams; 70 percent at Ware and 86 percent at South Ward.
Burnett said the district believes the two programs are preparing students evenly.
“Each program will have its strengths,” Burnett said, explaining the Montessori program is more individualized while traditional kindergarten focuses more on small and whole groups. “We’re finding out when they get into first grade and (Montessori students) go back into a traditional lane, all our kids are holding their own.”
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