TSB—February 2009

Page 1


February 2009

Staying fiscally fit CU NEW HT IRES SLA PROGRSH AMS




School districts react to economy

Also in this issue: TASPA photo feature TCTA Friends of Education In the Spotlight Kevin Dyes, Bandera ISD

Meet the President TASBO’s Pattie Griffin, San Angelo ISD


TSB CONTENTS School districts explore how to stay fiscally fit in an ailing economy


Raven L. Hill

TASBO President Pattie Griffin embraces spirit of collaboration among public educators


Amy E. Lemen

Texas Classroom Teachers Association bestows Friends of Education awards


TASB/TASA salary survey tallies teacher pay across the state


In the Spotlight: Superintendent Kevin Dyes, Bandera ISD


Elizabeth Millard

PHOTO FEATURES TASPA hosts winter conference in Austin




TSB Professional Development & Events Calendar

From the Editor


Young’s Inbox



The Law Dawg — unleashed


The Back Page


Who’s News


From our Readers


In Memoriam


Advertisers Index


Katie Ford Jim Walsh

John Young

Riney Jordan

On this page: Pattie Griffin, TASBO president and director of human resources for San Angelo ISD, reviews the district’s compensation plan with Jeff Bright. The views expressed by columnists and contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or Texas School Business advertisers. The publisher also makes no endorsement of the advertisers or advertisements in this publication. February 2009 • Texas School Business


From the Editor As I write this, we are one week away from the kickoff of the Texas Legislature’s 81st Regular Session. I know I am among many who are eager to find out what our legislators will decide when it comes to policies affecting public education in our state — particularly given the weakness and uncertainty of the state’s economy. There’s no doubt Texans are feeling the recession. With all state revenue sources taking a hit, it likely means that our school districts will have to continue doing more with less, but let’s see what our elected leaders decide. In this month’s cover story, Raven L. Hill talks to education experts and economists to find out how school districts in Texas and nationwide are reacting to the recession — from making budget cuts to reducing new hires. Speaking of school business, in this issue we also feature San Angelo ISD Human Resources Director Pattie Griffin. We talked to her about her role as the president of the Texas Association of School Business Officials. And “In the Spotlight” this month, we bring you a colorful tale on Bandera ISD Superintendent Kevin Dyes. Early in his career, this longtime cowboy found a way to combine his passions for education and for ranching. As he puts it: “I think there are parallels between being a rancher and being an educator. It’s all about watching things grow and develop and making a difference in that process.” We hope you enjoy the February issue. It was a lot of fun to put together. As always, I welcome your feedback, which you can send to katie@texasschoolbusiness.com. You’ll note on page 22 that I’m also soliciting ideas for future “In the Spotlight” profiles. If you or someone you know has an interesting story to share, I’d love to hear from you. Happy reading! Katie Ford, editor

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) February 2009 Volume LV, Issue 5 1601 Rio Grande Street, #441 Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-478-2113 • Fax: 512-495-9955 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Publisher Ted Siff Editor in Chief Jim Walsh Editor Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Riney Jordan, Jim Walsh, John Young Advertising Sales Manager Jim Johnson Business Manager Debbie Stover Director of Marketing and Customer Relations Stephen Markel ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620

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THE LAW DAWG – unleashed by Jim Walsh

Practicing lawful love


he state of Texas has done us all a great service by spelling out exactly what it means to “solicit a romantic relationship.” With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we wanted to remind our Faithful Readers to study up on this important skill. So, let’s take a look at 19 T.A.C. 249.14(m)(2). Are you surprised to hear that there are official administrative regulations that teach us what we are supposed to do with our S.O.s (significant others)? Well, perhaps that is because the regulations take such a negative view of the matter. They are all about educators who solicit a romantic relationship with students. Our state rightly takes a dim view of that sort of activity. But in the process of defining exactly what teachers should not do with a student, it also tells us what we should do with the Right Person. The regulations tell us that “solicitation of a romantic relationship means deliberate or repeated acts that can be reasonably interpreted as soliciting a relationship characterized by an ardent emotional attachment or pattern of exclusivity.” Now that is helpful. The Dawg has had the same OTL (One True Love) for more than 35 years now, but we can always use a little helpful advice in the romance department. Based on this official Texas administrative regulation, I have reworded my Valentine’s Day card to make sure that I get my message across in a lawful way. Thus, it reads as follows: Sweetheart: This card is deliberately intended to convey the message that I am soliciting a relationship with you that is characterized by an ardent emotional attachment. Furthermore, I seek exclusivity in this relationship. I intend to follow up (the regulation calls for “deliberate or repeated” actions) with a gift of some sort. The attached note will read: I am ardently attached to you, emotionally, and I seek your ardent and exclusive emotional attachment to me. But the definition is just the beginning. The regulations spell out in detail how one can tell that Party A seeks

a romantic relationship with Party B. It includes “statements of love, affection or attraction.” We are instructed to examine the nature, the timing and the extent of the communications. Signs that a romantic relationship is sought would include such things as “inappropriate hugging, kissing or excessive touching.” Thus, as Valentine’s Day approaches, you should be clear with your S.O.: “I would like to hug you inappropriately” or “I think it would be mutually advantageous to engage in some excessive touching.” These expressions of love, attraction and affection are state approved! If both of you are Texans, you are practically required to follow these guidelines. It’s in the Texas Administrative Code! We hope you will study these regulations twice. First, study them in your official capacity as a school administrator. These regulations are a serious effort to address a real problem. If you supervise educators, you should make sure that all of them are aware of this rule and how broadly it defines inappropriate behavior between teachers and students. If a teacher crosses the line, these regulations give you a tool to use in your documentation of the problem. Teachers need to understand that our rules do not just prohibit sex with students, they also prohibit all those small steps that are designed or likely to lead to that outcome. But then you should read the rule again, strictly in your personal capacity. Soliciting a romantic relationship is not always a bad thing. If our mothers and fathers had not solicited romantic relationships with each other, where would we be now? Study these regulations, and go for it. The Dawg wishes all of you an ardent emotional attachment with the Right Person. JIM WALSH is editor in chief of Texas School Business and the managing editor of Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest. Also a school attorney, he co-founded the firm of Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Aldridge & Gallegos, P.C. He can be reached at jwalsh@walshanderson.com or by visiting www.walshanderson.com.



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February 2009 • Texas School Business


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YOUNG’S INBOX by John Young

The Wobegon education model


n Garrison Keillor’s “Lake Wobegon,” all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. We don’t know what the average policy maker thinks of women’s strength in Texas or men’s looks. We do know that each child has been mandated to be at or above average, nothing less. If more, don’t expect the state to help. The “Lake Wobegon” education model, as I’ll call it, is a convenient template and very self-assuring. It’s also ridiculous. Consider that the state, though it gives weighted funding to gifted and talented students, sets a cap of five percent of its students to do so. That means a lot of school districts limit enrollment in G-T programs to only what the state will fund. A lot of gifted children are left to let their minds wander in the land of the average or the slightly above. Name your challenge — bilingual, ESL, special education; the state is very grudging in acknowledging that not all students learn at the same pace. And policy makers in Austin have little curiosity — and hence, little understanding — of the actual costs of meeting each child’s needs. OK, they just don’t want to know. That’s because in the case of funding, all is built around biennial no-new-taxes promises, rather than educating children. To penurious constraints in a state of plenty, add the straightjacket restraints that come under “accountability.” Consider the federal zoot suit that education professionals know as NCLB. It also could have been coined TNPJ — for Trust No Professional’s Judgment. For instance, because No Child Left Behind (NCLB) places onerous restraints on how many children can be classified special education for testing purposes, teachers find themselves pleading cases they never would have had to make before acronyms started raining all over the educational landscape.

A reasonably sculpted vehicle for assessing student skills in Texas was overridden by the big-wheel Humvee of NCLB. It doesn’t matter how many students actually have mental retardation, autism or severe learning disabilities; school districts are allowed only so many per capita under “accountability.” The rest are counted against that district’s definition of “above average.” What that means is that some children with serious learning problems end up under the gun to perform on state tests because the school’s good name rides on it. This is so that someone time zones away can say he mandated that “all third graders will read at grade level” — or else. But is that third grader really reading at a third grade level? Or is he still in first in every way but the physical way? Lest we spend too much attention on the bottom learners — one of the curses of the “accountability” age — let’s contemplate those children whose skills and interests far exceed their grade levels. They are the scientists and innovators to whom our policy makers have pinned our global competitiveness. Do policy makers match that rhetoric with funding or policies that truly encourage the brightest students to push the envelope? No. First, they only grudgingly fund programs for exceptional students. Second, they hold back the fastest learners by gearing instruction to criteria-based assessments that don’t challenge them. Life in the town of Lake Wobegon is self-assuring. And why not? All the children are above average. If not, the townspeople will elect someone to insist on it.

JOHN YOUNG is the opinion editor and a columnist for the Waco Tribune-Herald. He also is the author of “Ghosts of Liberals Past.” He can be reached at jyoung@ wacotrib.com. February 2009 • Texas School Business


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TASA Legislative Conference .BSDI o t )ZBUU 3FHFODZ "VTUJO t "VTUJO 59

How can YOU make a difference during the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature? Get involved and stay informed!! oin us for TASA’s 2009 Legislative Conference where you’ll hear the latest on what’s happening at the State Capitol—from official actions in the House and Senate to the equally intriguing conversations behind the scenes! Everyone knows the hot topics of today may be cold news tomorrow, so we keep this conference agenda fluid…you’ll hear only the latest from a group of informed experts and entertaining pundits on the inside track of legislative activities. This conference will arm you with the information and resources you need to talk to, and work with, your own legislators to help make public education a winner in the 81st Legislative Session.

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Texas School Business • February 2009

TASBO PRESIDENT PROFILE San Angelo ISD’s Pattie Griffin embraces collaborative spirit of peers in education By Amy E. Lemen Pattie Griffin’s path to a career in education started with a passion for helping children. The recently installed president of the Texas Association of School Business Officials graduated from San Angelo State University with a degree in sociology and a goal to “save all the abused children in the world.” “I’d done an internship at the Concho Valley Home for Girls while I was in school,” she says. “I thought if I could do anything to prevent abuse or at least help (children) if they were abused, then that was what I wanted to do.” But then, as she says, “reality hit.” During the internship, she saw too much at a young age about what some parents are capable of doing to their children, and she knew that making a career in that field wasn’t for her. But her drive to help children remained. “I got on a substitute teacher list and thought I’d sub until I found a job,” Griffin recalls. “An elementary school principal in San Angelo called and said she needed a cafeteria aide. I figured I’d do it temporarily, but five years later I was still at the school.” Griffin says the job put her “in the trenches of public education.” It was a challenge she relished every day, because she loved the people she worked with and the children she and her coworkers were there to serve. “I knew my place was in public education,” she says. “It’s a very sharing environment, whether you’re in a large or small district and no matter what position you’re in, and whether you’re sharing challenges or accomplishments.” In education, Griffin had found her calling. After working her way up in various administrative positions at Bowie Elementary in San Angelo ISD, Griffin spent eight years as an executive assistant to the district’s superintendent of business. She says this role paved the way

Pattie Griffin, TASBO president and director of human resources for San Angelo ISD, reviews the district’s compensation plan with Jeff Bright, assistant superintendent of business and support services.

to her understanding of a school district’s inner workings. “I didn’t think I was suited for the job, but they kept calling,” she says. “I learned a lot about school business because our department oversaw everything related to operations — transportation, maintenance, food service, accounting, everything.” Her newfound institutional knowledge earned her a promotion in 1998 as coordinator of benefits for San Angelo ISD. In that capacity, Griffin learned the ins and outs of health insurance, workers’ compensation and more. She was promoted to director of employee benefits in 2000. Today, Griffin is San Angelo ISD’s director of human resources — a position she has held since 2002. “It’s given me more time to focus on the needs of our employees and the services we provide, including hiring and re-

taining staff so that the kids benefit,” she says. “It’s a good mix to learn about the kids and the teachers, what they need in the classroom and how we can help.” Griffin credits her career success to having mentors along the way. She says her mentors’ involvement in TASBO spurred her interest in the organization. “(My mentors) introduced me to the organization, and I’ve been a member now for 13 years,” she says. “I really believe one of the reasons I am where I am today is because of the organization and its members.” Griffin praises TASBO’s training programs and the networking opportunities the organization provides its membership. She says there’s great value in sharing workplace challenges and solutions with peers in your field. See PRESIDENT PROFILE on page 13 February 2009 • Texas School Business


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PRESIDENT PROFILE continued from page 11

“We share what works, what doesn’t,” she says. “That (level of sharing) is not as common in private business. It’s a wonderful feeling to know I’m not alone — that there’s a group that’s willing to share and talk, listen and advise.” She also has the support of her husband, Griff. Married 18 months, Griffin is a newlywed — and a giddy, grateful one at that. “We were both married before, and with him came a beautiful, intelligent, witty, 17-year-old daughter,” she says. “I hadn’t had children, so to get Sarah was a neat package deal. I have just been blessed with this child.” Griffin, Griff and Sarah teach Sunday school classes together, sing in a church choir together and love the outdoors — whether it’s a day at the beach, at the pool or camping. They’re embarking on a Caribbean cruise in June to celebrate Sarah’s high school graduation. Griffin and her husband also enjoy the camaraderie of their mutual friends. She and Griff have a five-year game of partner spades going with another couple, who are their best friends. The foursome have played about 20,000 games together. “Our score sheets are an ongoing journal of our experiences together,” Griffin laughs. “It’s a fun journal of our friendship.” Leading TASBO into 2009 As incoming TASBO president, Griffin wants to continue the organization’s mission to be the “trusted resource for public school operations.” And that includes providing services to members in increasingly challenging times for school districts. “The laws and regulations are challenging financially because they’re not funded by those who mandated them,” she says. “We’re also asked to do more with less every year in every district. I want to know what members needs are and help them meet those challenges, whether it’s through training and education, giving them facts to make decisions or how best to prepare them for what’s ahead.” For Griffin, it all comes back to the kids. It’s the kids who are the primary beneficiaries of what she does as an administrator. “What does it take to give students the best education possible, and how can we

best support teachers?” she asks. “I was raised in a family where my parents taught me that I could be whatever I wanted — no goal too big, no challenge too great.” With those high aspirations instilled in her, Griffin has taken on the very noble cause of trying to make a difference in the lives of Texas schoolchildren. “That is my personality: a servant’s heart,” she says.

‘I really believe one of the reasons I am where I am today is because of the [TASBO] organization and its members.’ Pattie Griffin TASBO President San Angelo ISD

AMY E. LEMEN is a freelance writer in Austin, who also contributes to Austin American-Statesman and Texas Monthly.


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February 2009 • Texas School Business


A balancing act By Raven L. Hill

Administrators talk about staying fiscally fit in an ailing economy


hen Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho urged the U.S. Congress last fall to consider bailing out the nation’s public schools, the sentiment resonated with district leaders across the country. The following week, a suburban Ohio school district requested $100 million from the Treasury Department.

With lawmakers focused on the automotive and financial industries, a federal financial bailout of public schools doesn’t look likely. Now more than ever, our nation’s school districts are relying on state leaders for funding and support as the nation moves further into a recession. Texas is no exception. Initially, Texas was doing better than most states, thanks to oil and gas revenues and a healthy construction market. Some economists predicted the Lone Star State would emerge relatively unscathed from the nation’s financial crisis. However, most experts see it differently. “It’s been 25 years since we’ve had this sort of national economic crisis,” says Harvey Kronberg, editor and publisher of the Quorum Report, an online newsletter about Texas politics. “We’re Harvey Kronberg living in this presumption that Texas will escape the worst of it, and we just won’t know that to be true until we get closer to the end of the [Texas Legislature’s 81st] session.” Mike Griffith, a policy analyst with the Education Commission of the States, a Denver, Colo.-based think tank, is equally cautious when it comes to the funding of Texas’ public schools. “The watch word for Texas is that things aren’t looking great,” Griffith says. “School districts will want to assume there will be a reduction in state aid, and it’s going to be fairly large.” He says the absence of a state income tax has helped shield Texas from the revenue shortfalls that most other states are experiencing. However, Griffith warns that lower oil prices could adversely affect Texas. “Texas has had larger employment growth than anywhere else; the question is whether those growth numbers can hold with decreases in oil prices,” he says. The fact that Texas’ sales tax revenue is down doesn’t help matters, Kronberg adds. “It’s going to kill us,” Kronberg predicts. “The best jobs in Texas, broadly speaking, are oil and gas related. If oil

[Editor’s note: The interviews and reporting for this article were conducted in December, prior to the Texas Legislature’s 81st session.]

recovers in the next year, we might dodge the bullet, but who knows?” With Democrats picking up more seats in the Legislature, Kronberg admits there’s more support for public schools, but the financial constraints remain unchanged. “While the will may be there, the means may not be,” he says. Meanwhile, school administrators statewide are hoping to absorb any losses without bankrupting their reserves. Says Art Martin, president of the Texas Association of School Business Officials: “[Districts’] fund balances across the state have been dropping. School officials are using those dollars to keep their districts afloat.” Art Martin Martin, who serves as the assistant superintendent of services in Lubbock ISD, says he expects to see more tax rollback elections, more dollars drawn from reserves to maintain programs and, eventually, program cuts. “You’ve got to balance the budget somehow,” he says. School leaders across the United States are trying to make cuts where they can. According to a recent study by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), superintendents are taking the following steps:

• 80 percent have slashed the travel budget

• 79 percent have implemented

energy savings plans to control heating and cooling costs • 74 percent have either cut or plan to cut the number of new hires But cost-cutting carries its own burdens. According to the AASA report: “When schools curtail their spending through measures such as reducing payroll, conserving energy use, reducing fuel consumption, deferring maintenance and delaying purchases, the local community feels the effect. For many small communities … cuts to school spending mean cuts to community revenue.” According to a list compiled by TexasISD.com, Texas school districts working on their 2009-2010 budgets are considering putting these items on the chopping block: • Shutting down facilities • Expanding programs, such as

after-school services, that bring in money • Cutting support positions • Changing pay scales • Eliminating raises • Eliminating tenure stipends • Increasing class sizes • Shortening prekindergarten classes • Asking voters to approve higher tax rates A real sticking point when it comes to school finance in Texas, some say, is the state’s target revenue funding formula, which has not changed in almost four years. The calculation uses expenditures and weighted average daily attendance figures from 2005-06. Under this system, any increase in local revenue, such as additional property taxes, means the district receives less state funding. This formula is contributing to “growing inequality” among districts, according to the San Antonio-based Intercultural Development Research Association. However, state lawmakers favor waiting two years until the next legislative session to reform the system. Many school business officers say they cannot overstate the need for more state aid. “If the state does nothing, then a number of school districts could be bankrupt in three to five years,” says Deborah Ottmers, assistant superintendent of business and finance in Fredericksburg ISD. With 2,800 students, the small Central Texas district is the largest school district for miles. It’s considered under the state’s funding system to be property rich. However, Ottmers calls the district “income poor”; Fredericksburg’s median household income is lower than the state average. Consequently, the district is unable to shift certain costs for extracurricular activities or athletics onto students. Furthering the problem is that fuel costs in the district tend to be high; students typically must go outside Fredericksburg for extracurricular activities, Ottmers says. Kronberg predicts there won’t be any court-compelled action to amend the state’s system until 2011. “By then, if what the school districts tell us is accurate, it will be obvious how badly broken things are,” he says. Larry Throm, Dallas ISD’s new chief financial officer, agrees that school See BALANCING on page 16 February 2009 • Texas School Business


BALANCING continued from page 15

districts are “handicapped” by the state funding formula. He says many districts are operating with the same amount of state money with no adjustments for inflation, which makes it difficult for schools to fund new programs and Larry Throm resources. In Austin ISD, where Throm formerly served as chief financial officer, school officials need to find about $4 million to fund the district’s full-day kindergarten program next year. He says Austin ISD also would like to implement a program to boost high school completion rates, but it doesn’t have the money to cover $7 million in start-up costs. According to Throm, even though voters in 116 school districts last fall in tax rollback elections agreed to a tax increase to fund daily school operations, districts

may not be able to count on that support in the future. “It will be very difficult in this economic recessionary period to say, ‘We’re going to raise your taxes,’” Throm says. So, what’s a district to do? For starters, keep dollars in the local marketplace by hiring service providers in your community, says Andrews ISD business manager Joe Merrell. Also, consider using investment income for supplemental funding on the instruction side, he says. “Bake sales and car washes will not fund our schools,” Merrell says. Ottmers suggests keeping an eye on staffing and course offerings, as payroll accounts for the bulk of most district budgets. “If you’re overstaffed, that’s going to take up 85 percent of your budget,” she says. Above all, level with stakeholders — especially school board trustees and

district staff, says Becky Garcia, business manager for Lackland ISD in San Antonio. Good communication with the public can help drive support for rollback elections. In Andrews ISD, school board members were able to explain to voters how increases in fuel, utilities, employee health insurance and overall cost-of-living expenses resulted in a nearly $800,000 shortfall. The tax increase passed by 89 percent in the West Texas district. “When we take time to communicate our fiscal funding challenges and opportunities with our stakeholders, we all can be successful in remaining fiscally fit due to oversight, transparency and shared responsibility,” Garcia says.

RAVEN L. HILL is a writer based in Maryland. She specializes in education reporting and formerly worked at the Austin American-Statesman.

And the survey says… In October 2008, the American Association of School Administrators surveyed superintendents across the country to gauge their thoughts and reactions to the nation’s recessionary economy. Here are some key findings from the “Study of the Impact of the Economic Downturn on Schools.” When superintendents were asked to identify what actions their districts have already implemented as a result of the economic downturn, the top responses were: • Altering thermostats (62 percent) • Eliminating non-essential travel (57 percent) • Reducing staff-level hiring (48 percent) • Reducing consumable supplies (48 percent) • Increasing class size (36 percent) • Deferring maintenance (36 percent) • Reducing instructional material (35 percent) The top actions superintendents have considered, but not yet implemented as a result of the economic downturn are: • Freezing outside professional service contacts (30 percent) • Laying off personnel (30 percent) • Eliminating outside staff development consultants (30 percent) • Eliminating field trips (35 percent) • Cutting non-academic programs, such as after-school and Saturday enrichment programs (26 percent)

When superintendents were asked about the economicrelated problems of the families of students in their districts: • Ninety-five percent said unemployment has worsened somewhat or a great deal. • Ninety-four percent said lack of health insurance has worsened somewhat or a great deal. • Ninety-one percent said student mobility has increased somewhat or a great deal. • Eighty-eight percent said mortgage foreclosures have worsened somewhat or a great deal. • Seventy percent said homelessness has worsened somewhat or a great deal. The study also found that superintendents are proactively engaging the community as they make decisions in response to funding shortfalls. The five most common methods superintendents are using to engage others in the decisionmaking process are: • Discussions with the superintendent’s cabinet (81 percent) • Discussions at open school board meetings (70 percent) • Discussions in school board committees (56 percent) • Established a school-level advisory group (27 percent) • Consulted with legislators or other elected officials (27 percent) Source: American Association of School Administrators’ “Study of the Impact of the Economic Downturn on Schools”




March 5-7 TMSA Annual Conference Galveston Island Convention Center, Galveston For more info, (512) 462-1105. www.tmsanet.org By Jan. 15: TMSA members, $200; nonmembers, $240. After Jan. 15 and on site: TMSA members, $250; nonmembers, $300. Student rate: $25. Optional Action Labs: $35 each.

March 25 Federal and State Compliance Issues ESC Region 11 offices, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org

March 7 Area Workshop: Growing Together with GESSA Lakeview Centennial High School, Garland For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org Cost: $30; STEM class, $35.

WEEK OF MARCH 9 March 10-13 Curriculum Management Audit Training, Level II Systems Airport Marriott South, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org TASA members: $795; nonmembers, $895.

March 25-26 TASA Legislative Conference Hyatt Regency, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org Cost: TASA members, $145; nonmembers, $195. March 27-29 Celebrating Educational Opportunities Hyatt Regency, Austin For more info, Kathy Dundee, (800) 580-8272, ext. 6171. www.tasb.org Cost: $325. March 29-31 TRTA Annual Convention Westin Park Central Hotel, Dallas For more info, (888) 674-3788. www.trta.org Cost: Preregistration, $20; at conference, $25.



March 19-20 Mentoring the Reflective Principal: Collaborative Approaches to Impact Student Achievement Airport Marriott South, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org TASA members: $1,750; teams of two or more, $1,550 per person. Nonmembers: $2,000; teams of two or more, $1,800 per person.

March 30-31 TAGT Leadership Conference Marriott Airport, Austin For more info, (512)499-8248. www.txgifted.org April 1 TACS/UT Tyler Spring Conference The University of Texas at Tyler For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org

April 2 How to Interview and Hire the Right People ESC Region 11 offices, Fort Worth For more info, (800) 580-7782. www.hrservices.tasb.org Cost: $145. April 2-4 ATPE Annual Convention Convention Center, Austin For more info, (800) 777-2873. www.atpe.org Cost: $95; after March 4, $105. April 4 TESA San Jacinto Area Workshop For more info, (512) 477-0724. www.tesatexas.org

WEEK OF APRIL 6 April 6 Budget Boot Camp for Superintendents Location TBA, Richardson For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org April 7 Federal and State Compliance Issues Workshop ESC Region 1 offices, Edinburg For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $180; nonmembers, $220. April 8 TACS/Hardin Simmons Spring Conference Hardin Simmons University, Abilene For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org

See CALENDAR on page 18

February 2009 • Texas School Business




April 9 Federal and State Compliance Issues Workshop ESC Region 7 offices, Kilgore For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $180; nonmembers, $220.

WEEK OF APRIL 13 April 15 TCASE/Legal Digest Conference Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Early registration by March 15, $125 online; $150 purchase order. Regular registration after March 15, $150 online, $175 purchase order. April 16-17 Mentoring the Reflective Principal: Collaborative Approaches to Impact Student Achievement Airport Marriott South, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org TASA members: $1,750; teams of two or

more, $1,550 per person. Nonmembers: $2,000; teams of two or more, $1,800 per person. April 17-18 Texas Association of Suburban and Mid-Urban Schools Conference The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, The Woodlands For more info, (512) 477-6361 or (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org

(800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org April 23 Writing Practical Job Descriptions ESC Region 4 offices, Houston For more info, (800) 580-7782. www.hrservices.tasb.org Cost: $145.

WEEK OF APRIL 27 No events listed.



April 20 TCASE/Legal Digest Conference Convention Center, Arlington For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Early registration by March 20, $125 online; $150 purchase order. Regular registration after March 20, $150 online; $175 purchase order.

May 7-8 Maximizing Student Success Keller ISD Administrative Building, Keller For more info, (800) 717-2723. www.txacsd.org Cost: $349.

April 22-23 First-time Superintendents’ Academy Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 477-6361 or

May 7-8 Mentoring the Reflective Principal Airport Marriott South, Austin For more info, Mark Pyeatt, (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org TASA members, $1,750; teams of two or more, $1,550 per person. Nonmembers, $2,000; teams of two or more, $1,800 per person.

WEEK OF MAY 11 May 12-15 Level I Curriculum Management Audit Training Airport Marriott South, Austin For more info, Mark Pyeatt, (800) 725-8272. www.tasanet.org TASA members, $675; nonmembers, $800.

WEEK OF MAY 18 No events listed.

WEEK OF MAY 25 No events listed. TSB 18

Texas School Business • February 2009

H-E-B’s Charles Butt, state Rep. Rob Eissler named TCTA Friends of Education


harles Butt of San Antonio, chairman and chief executive officer of H-E-B, has been selected as the Texas Classroom Teachers Association 2008-09 Friend of Education in the private citizen category. Additionally, state Rep. Rob Eissler, R–The Woodlands, has been selected as a Friend of Education in the public official category. TCTA presents these awards annually to honor individuals who have shown extraordinary commitment to public education in Texas. Founded in 1927, TCTA is an independent, nonunion association for Texas teaching professionals and serves 50,000 members across the state. Butt was selected for the Friend of Education award based on a nomination submitted by the Northside Classroom Teachers Association, a local affiliate of TCTA. In nominating Charles Butt Butt for the award, the Northside CTA praised his many contributions to education, including his development of the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards Program, which has awarded $3 million to 773 educators and 155 schools and districts since its creation in 2002. He also was commended for his key role in the establishment of Raise Your Hand Texas (www.raiseyourhandtexas.org), which has become one of the top advocates for public education in Texas. “This quiet, thoughtful man reaches out to the education community and uses the resources at hand to support children across the state of Texas,” the nomination form stated. “There is no better way to foster growth than to touch education. From his unassuming visits to the public hearings of the State Accountability Committee to his leadership at the H-E-B Excellence in Teaching Awards ceremonies, his actions are evidence that he understands education and who the key players are.” Butt became president of the family business in 1971 and now serves as chairman and chief executive officer. Since he took the helm in 1971, sales have increased from $250 million to $15 billion in 2008. H-E-B has a strong tradition of supporting the communities it serves by donating 5 percent of its pre-tax earnings to public and charitable programs.

Public official honoree Eissler has served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives since 2003 and was chair of the House Public Education Committee during the 2007 legislative session. He currently co-chairs the Select Committee on Public School Accountability, which recently submitted to the Texas Legislature its final proposed framework for a new public school accountability system. In 2007, Rob Eissler Eissler was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the Education Commission of the States, where he represents Texas as one of seven commissioners. In 2008, Perry also appointed Eissler to serve on the Southern Regional Education Board, comprising 16 states. “I am honored and humbled to have been recognized by the Texas Classroom Teachers Association,” says Eissler. “I enjoy working with TCTA as we share the same goal, which is to provide the best education we can to our children.” Eissler has led Eissler & Associates, an executive recruiting firm in his hometown near Houston, for more than 25 years. He previously served 18 years on the Conroe ISD Board of Trustees, including two terms as president. Eissler also has

mentored public school students on the free enterprise system. The TCTA Friend of Education selection committee recognized Eissler as “TCTA’s most successful bill sponsor,” noting his positive impact on education and TCTA since his first session as a legislator in 2003, as well as his ongoing efforts to file and pass pro-teacher bills. As chair of the House Public Education Committee in 2007, Eissler continued to champion legislation to benefit public school students and teachers, and he worked with educators to revise or prevent passage of harmful proposals. Eissler received TCTA’s Legislative Star designation in 2005 and 2007. TCTA will honor Butt and Eissler on Feb. 6 during the opening session of the association’s annual convention in Austin. Educators from across the state will participate in professional development seminars, elect TCTA leaders for statewide and district positions, review and vote on the association’s 2009 legislative program and adopt policy positions on current education issues. The Friend of Education awards have been presented since 1976. Recipients must be judged to be true friends of education, educators and students as demonstrated by their leadership, actions and support. TSB

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New survey tallies salaries across state


he Texas Association of School Boards and Texas Association of School Administrators have released their 2008-2009 “Salaries and Benefits in Texas Public Schools Teacher Report.” The survey shows that teacher salaries and starting salaries are up, but pay increases for returning teachers are down. The weighted average teacher salary among surveyed districts is $47,305 for 2008-2009, up 2.4 percent from the 20072008 average salary of $46,178. Weighted average salaries by enrollment size range from $39,993 in districts with less than 500 students to $49,898 in districts with more than 50,000 students. ESC Region 20 has the highest weighted average salary for 2008-2009 at $50,028. It was the only region with an average salary above $50,000. ESC Region 14 has the lowest weighted average salary at $39,829, and it was the only region with an average salary below $40,000. Less than 1 percent of teachers in the survey work in Region 14 districts.

Average pay increases dropped for the second straight year. School districts spent an average of 3.1 percent on pay increases for returning teachers this year, down from 3.5 percent last year and 8.6 percent in 2006-2007. Seventeen districts did not provide a raise for teachers for this year. Administrators received the lowest average pay increase at 3 percent. Professional support staff (excludes teachers) saw an average increase of 3.2 percent. Clerical/paraprofessional and auxiliary personnel saw the largest average increases at 3.4 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. Eleven percent of respondents did not increase salaries of at least one employee group for 2008-2009. The survey revealed that the average starting salary for a new teacher is $34,252, a 3.3 percent increase from the 2007-2008 average of $33,151. This year’s average starting salary is 25 percent higher than the state minimum starting salary of $27,320. The average starting salary in districts with more than 10,000

students is $42,247, a 2.8 percent increase from last year. Also, 147 responding districts, or 22 percent, have an entry-level salary of $40,000 or greater, up from 15 percent of districts last year. These districts employ 215,915 teachers, or 72 percent of teachers in the survey. Fifty-two districts (8 percent) pay teachers on the state minimum teacher salary schedule. These 52 districts employ less than one percent of teachers (1,758) in the survey. Of the 1,031 public school districts asked to participate in the survey, 678 districts responded, representing 66 percent of total districts in the state. The survey includes 91 percent of the estimated total population of teachers in Texas public schools. Seventy percent of teachers represented in the survey work in school districts with more than 10,000 students. Ninety of the 95 districts statewide in this enrollment category provided teacher salary data for this survey. TSB

February 2009 • Texas School Business



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Texas School Business • February 2009



Bandera ISD Superintendent Kevin Dyes ‘cowboys up’ for the kids in his district By Elizabeth Millard


evin Dyes’ career track in education is fairly standard, having transitioned from teacher to principal to his current position as superintendent of Bandera ISD. But he may have one of the more unusual stories among his peers when it comes to the origin of his career. It all began when he was working as a cowboy in Queensland, Australia. “I think there are parallels between being a rancher and being an educator,” he says. “It’s all about watching things grow and develop and making a difference in that process.” Growing up in East Texas, Dyes learned how to be a rancher, and while earning his bachelor’s degree in agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, he signed up for an FFA program that allowed him to work abroad for a year as a cowboy. That experience taught him the importance of community. Even though the cowboys in that country didn’t see their neighbors more than a few times a year, people knew each other and looked after each other. “Everyone worked together; they had a close bond,” Dyes recalls. When the young Texan came home to pursue his master’s degree in agriculture, he took that community spirit to the school farm at Stephen F. Austin. As part of a summer program, he interacted with groups of at-risk children brought in from urban areas. “You could see a change in their attitudes, in their work ethic,” Dyes says. “These were kids who were way outside of their environment and knew nothing about a farm. But they worked hard, and we all ended up having so much fun. It was so rewarding. To put it simply, it brought me joy.” Before the summer program, Dyes was intent on a career in ranch management,

When not tending to students of Bandera ISD, Superintendent Kevin Dyes tends cattle on his property near town.

but working with kids awakened his passion for education. After graduating from college, he found a way to combine his two loves by becoming an agricultural teacher — a role he played for 10 years, first at a small school in Apple Springs and then in Nacogdoches so he could go back to Stephen F. Austin for his doctorate. Dyes admits that after a decade of teaching, he was ready to take the next step. “In the school business, moving up means being a principal; you get the feeling that if you’ve been successful as a teacher, maybe as a principal you could

help other teachers, and more importantly, kids,” Dyes says. “All of us working in education have a love of seeing kids be successful, and I knew that as a principal, I could affect kids positively.” Dyes began his administrative track in Cushing ISD as the principal of Cushing School, grades 7 to 12. After two years, he transferred to another high school closer to his home. He says the experience taught him two things: the importance of AP classes in secondary schools and the realization See SPOTLIGHT on page 25 February 2009 • Texas School Business


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Texas School Business • February 2009

SPOTLIGHT continued from page 23

“I think there are parallels between being a rancher and being an educator. It’s all about watching things grow and develop and making a difference in that process.”

to figure out the needs of the community and fulfill those needs.” Dyes often draws on the bedrock of values and lessons gained early in his career: the neighborly ways of the Australian cowboys, the joy of assisting at-risk kids, and the insights gained from serving as a teacher and a principal. “The foundation of our society is that if you work hard and educate yourself, you have the chance to be happy in what you do,” he says. “Our job as educators is to provide a level playing field, to give every kid a shot at that happiness.”

that high school principals have “the hardest job in education.” He jokes a bit about the second insight, but there’s truth in his musings. Dyes says the job entails numerous after-school commitments and the important work of preparing students for higher education — not to mention handling disciplinary issues and preventing dropouts. While serving as a principal, Dyes was still working on his doctorate at Stephen F. Austin. To make things a little easier, he eventually took a job as principal of Bandera ISD, the challenge has been to an elementary school that was closer to keep up a certain level of achievement. campus. He applied for a superintendent “Sometimes, it’s easy to go to a job at one point, but he didn’t get it. Dyes ELIZABETH MILLARD is a school district that has struggled, beadmits he was disappointed about it at Minneapolis, Minn.-based writer cause you can make a quick turnaround,” the time; but in hindsight, he is thankful who frequently contributes to District he says. “But Bandera is a good school for the missed opportunity. His career Administration magazine, which reaches district. So, the question becomes: How had been all about high school until he 75,000 school administrators nationwide. do you continue that success? You have transferred to the elementary school. “After three years at an elementary school, I had a deeper understanding of that level of education,” Dyes says. “It was an eye opener.” A superintendent position was in his future, though. In 2003, he landed the lead position in the tiny ranching town of Cranfills Gap. It was an idyllic setting for the cowboy. While learning the nuances of a top administrator post, Dyes spent his downtime running cattle on 240 acres. He moved his herd of shorthorns to Bandera ISD when he took his current superintendent position there. “I’ve always had some sort of livestock, and I always will,” he says, then laughs. “When I retire, I’ll be one of those old ranchers down at the coffee shop, complaining about politics and taxes and, of course, the latest superintendent.” But until then, Dyes is intent on tending to his faculty and students with as much care as he always Superintendent Kevin Dyes says: “Our job as educators is to provide a level playing field, to give every kid a shot at has given his ranching. At that happiness.” February 2009 • Texas School Business


Who’s News Austin ISD Austin ISD trustees named principals for two new schools scheduled to open next fall at the site of the former Johnston High School, which was closed by the state this year for repeatedly failing to meet state educaConnor Grady tional standards.

Leading the new science- and mathfocused high school will be Connor Grady, who is currently director of the Akins New Tech High Academy. He has been with Austin ISD since 1983, beginning as a science teacher at Crockett High School. The new global studies school will have Moises Ortiz Moises Ortiz at the

helm. He is now principal of the Harris Academy School of Scientific Inquiry in San Antonio. He has been with the school since 1995. Azle ISD Ray Lea, formerly superintendent of Whitesboro ISD, has been named the new superintendent of Azle ISD. In addition to nine years at the top position in Whitesboro, he also has been superintendent of Poteet, Alvord and Whitewright ISDs. Lea’s bachelor’s degree in physical education, master’s degree in public school administration and doctorate in education administration were earned from the University of North Texas. Carroll ISD Carroll High School has a new principal. He is Paul J. Giamanco. With 10 years of experience in education, seven as a classroom teacher and three as an administrator, he was most recently associate principal of Paul J. Giamanco Coppell High School. Giamanco earned his bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Illinois State University; his master of education degree in educational leadership and policy studies was awarded from The University of Texas at Arlington. Additionally, he is trained in nonviolent crisis intervention and is certified in gifted and talented. Clear Creek ISD At its December meeting, the Clear Creek ISD Board of Trustees approved names for two new elementary schools, approved the reconfiguration of an existing ninth grade center to an intermediate school and appointed principals for all three campuses. Leading Clear Creek Intermediate School as its principal will be Jerry Herd, currently associate principal of La Porte High School. Prior to that assignment, he was assistant principal for curriculum at Lomax Junior High, also Jerry Herd in La Porte. Other positions have included career and technology instructor and basketball coach at Ball


Texas School Business • February 2009

Who’s News High School in Galveston, and agricultural mechanics instructor and basketball coach at Deming (N.M.) High School. Herd received his bachelor of science degree in agriculture and master of arts degree in agricultural and extension education from New Mexico State University; his principal certification was awarded from the University of St. Thomas. The principal of the new Ralph Parr Elementary School will be Jane Kelling. A teacher and administrator in Clear Creek ISD since 1995, she is currently principal of Armand Bayou Elementary School; prior to that, she Jane Kelling was assistant principal of Lloyd Ferguson Elementary and taught fourth grade at Landolt Elementary. Before coming to Clear Creek, she was a classroom teacher in East Baton Rouge (La.) Parish Schools and in Dodge City and Kansas City, Kan. Kelling holds a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Kansas State University and a master of science degree in administration from Fort Hays State University. The second new elementary school, Sandra Mossman Elementary, will have Stephanie McBride as its principal. She is currently principal of P.H. Greene Elementary School in Clear Creek ISD; she also has Stephanie McBride served as assistant principal at Ferguson and Hyde elementary schools. Additionally, she has served as an administrator and classroom teacher in Texas City and Galveston ISDs. Prior to coming to Texas, McBride taught in schools in California and Louisiana. Her bachelor of science degree in child development was awarded from Northeast Louisiana University, and her master of arts degree in education administration is from California State University. Additionally, Susan Carpenter will move from her current position as assistant principal of League City Intermediate School to principal of Space Center Intermediate. She has been with Clear Creek ISD since 2002, serving as an elementary resource teacher and intermediate school

social studies and theatre arts teacher before taking on administrative duties. Prior to arriving in Clear Creek, she held teaching and administrative posts in Dickinson, Texas City and Santa Fe (Texas) Susan Carpenter ISDs. Both her bachelor of science degree in interdisciplinary studies and her master of science degree in educational management were awarded from the University of Clear Lake.

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Cypress Woods High School’s head tennis coach, Tim Calhoun, was named president of the Texas Tennis Coaches Association (TTCA) at the organization’s annual convention in New Braunfels in early December. He has been active with TTCA, the largest public-school tennis coaches’ association in the country, since 1995, serving as its regional vice president and second vice president. He See WHO’S NEWS on page 28

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Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 27

will remain in his new role for two years, completing his term with two additional years as past president. Calhoun will then remain a member of TTCA’s board until he is no longer an active coach. Tim Calhoun Calhoun is currently in his seventh year with Cypress-Fairbanks

ISD, having served four years at Cypress Ridge High School before coming to Cypress Woods in 2006. Fort Worth ISD A realignment of responsibilities has resulted in new duties for three Fort Worth ISD administrators. Executive Director Cathleen Richardson will add career and technical education (CTE) to her current duties, allowing her to focus on building the

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district’s CTE program and reinforcing what is seen as a natural alignment between CTE and math. Donna Jeffries, most recently principal of Western Hills High School, is now executive director of science, health and physical education. An active leader in all areas of Fort Worth ISD’s curriculum reforms, she has been with the district since 1994 and holds certification in chemistry, biology and composite science. Moving to the position of principal at Western Hills will be current assistant principal James L. Wellman. A graduate of West Virginia State College, he holds a master’s degree in education administration from Texas Christian University. He has been an educator since 1991, joining Fort Worth ISD in 2000 as a volleyball, basketball and golf coach and special education teacher. Haskell CISD Bill Alcorn, formerly superintendent of Eden CISD, is the district’s new superintendent. Hawley ISD Glen Coles is the district’s new superintendent. He comes to Hawley from Sterling City ISD, where he served as the high school principal. Highland Park ISD Dawson Orr is the new superintendent for Highland Park ISD. Orr was formerly the superintendent in Wichita Falls ISD. “It is with a great sense of personal and professional excitement that I begin my work Dawson Orr in Highland Park,” Orr says. “We are very excited to start our new journey with Dr. Orr as our leader,” says Highland Park ISD School Board President Jeff Barnes. “His track record speaks for itself. He is going to be terrific for Highland Park.” This will be the third superintendent’s post for Orr, who has served as superintendent in Wichita Falls ISD since 2003 and in Pampa from 1990 to 2003. Orr also has served as president of the Texas Association of School Administrators; he is currently a member of the organization’s legislative committee. He was also

Who’s News a member of the Sid Richardson Foundation Advisory Committee on Teacher Effectiveness. In 2005, Orr was named Key Communicator of the Year by the Texas School Public Relations Association. In 2008, Communities in Schools named Orr Superintendent of the Year. Lake Travis ISD After 20 years at Lake Travis ISD, Bob Hart, assistant superintendent for business and financial services, is retiring at the end of June. “Words can never fully express how thankful I am to have had the Bob Hart opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful school district,” Hart says. “The district has grown and accomplished more than I could have ever imagined when I arrived in Lake Travis in 1988.” When Hart began working in the district, there were 1,600 students, and the total budget for the school district was approximately $8 million with no “Robin Hood” payments to be made. Today, the Lake Travis ISD budget is approximately $80 million — of which approximately $32 million is returned to the state via Robin Hood payments. “Since the district’s inception, no single individual has contributed more to the success of LTISD, especially as it relates to the financial strength and integrity of the district,” says Superintendent Rocky Kirk. Motley County ISD Coming to Motley County ISD from Blue Ridge ISD is Andrew Seigrist, Motley County’s new superintendent. He was Blue Ridge ISD’s elementary and middle school principal. An educator for 15 years, the past 10 of Andrew Seigrist which have been spent as an administrator, his first principalship was with Allison ISD. During his nineyear tenure in Blue Ridge, academic ratings rose from acceptable to exemplary. In addition to his work as a school administrator, Seigrist has served on the board of directors of the Texas Rural Education Association.

Paducah ISD Troy Parton has been named the district’s new superintendent. He is formerly of Onalaska ISD. Pflugerville ISD Pflugerville High School Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction Angela Barnes has been honored as the Texas Assistant Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary

School Principals. She will represent Texas in the national assistant principal competition later this year. She has been an educator for 17 years, the past 16 of which have been spent at Pflugerville Angela Barnes High, where she served as See WHO’S NEWS on page 30

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a teacher and grade-level principal before taking on her current role. She also serves on the District Academic Advisory Committee and the Campus Academic Advisory Committee for the school district. San Marcos CISD For the second year in a row, Ronda Stonecipher, the district’s director of instructional technology, has been featured as one of T.H.E. Journal’s Innovators of the Year. The magazine notes that she is the only multiple honoree in the awards’ history. Recognized along with Stonecipher are Miller Junior High Principal Susan Brown, campus technologist Lisa Jones, Math Department head Amanda Voigt, and teachers Natalie Black and Monica Martin.

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Texas School Business • February 2009

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Pictured are (standing, left to right) Doris Miller Junior High School math teacher Natalie Black, San Marcos CISD Director of Instructional Technology Ronda Stonecipher and Miller Junior High Principal Susan Brown; and (seated, left to right) campus technologist Lisa Jones, Math Department head Amanda Voigt and math teacher Monica Martin.

Stonecipher worked with this team beginning in early 2008, videotaping and analyzing eighth grade students in their mathematics studies. Utilizing “iLearn” booths built by the school’s shop teacher and an Apple MacBook with a built-in Web cam and video-editing software, the cubicles provided a secure and private place for formative evaluation of student learning. Since the installation of the iLearn booths, math scores have risen noticeably at Miller, particularly among atrisk eighth graders, whose pass rate went from 35 percent to 71 percent. Whitehouse ISD After serving as Whitehouse ISD’s interim superintendent, Daniel DuPree has taken on the job of superintendent. TSB

TASPA hosts winter conference in Austin

TASPA staffers Marilyn Roskey, Patricia Goodwill, Bonnie Jahn, Carol Melnar and Mary Ann Fitch.

Norm Whitaker, executive director of secondary and professional support personnel, and Nancy Bridges, senior executive director of human resources, both of Grand Prairie ISD.

Christie Trimmier, human resources coordinator and staff specialist, and Ken Carriere, executive director of human resources and fine arts, both of Canyon ISD.

Certification coordinator Cindy Wills and personnel coordinator Julie Rodriguez, both of Lovejoy ISD.

Executive Director of Human Resources Anne MacEwan of Belton ISD and Human Resources Director Robbie Edwards Maness of Waco ISD.

Roma ISD Personnel Director Luis Garza and Zapata County ISD Chief Personnel Officer Jose Luis Morales.

Human Resources Supervisor Ann Brownlee and Human Resources Associate Director Jeff Stone, both of ESC Region 20.

Kelly Educational Staffing representatives Kathy Garcia and Debbie Baldwin.

Comal ISD Assistant to the Superintendent Bob Presley and Clear Creek ISD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources David O’Neill.

Esther McCarthy, Ysleta ISD director of support personnel, and Dot Whitman, Seguin ISD assistant superintendent of human resources. February 2009 • Texas School Business


From our Readers

Submit Who’s News to: news@ texasschoolbusiness.com Texas School Business provides education news to school districts, state organizations and vendors throughout the state. With ten issues a year, TSB can be an effective news source for your organization.

www.texasschoolbusiness.com 1601 Rio Grande Street, #441 Austin, Texas 78701 x£Ó {Çn Ó££ÎÊUÊ >ÝÊx£Ó { x xx

Keep Current L As all GAS S LE EXAOL E T school O S’ DIG SCH R ATO ISTR administrators, IN M AD board members, and school attorneys know, Now in its school law does 25th year of not stand still. publication Published ten times a year, the Legal Digest provides the latest developments in the law to help administrators stay abreast of this rapidly changing field and avoid litigation. . , L.P tions blica lsh e Pu Plac r: Jim Wa s Park ito Childres Siff d r sher: ing Ed Publi Manag r: Jennife ficer: Te Of Edito erating t.com Op iges ld ief ga Ch w.le

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Dear Katie Ford:

Dear Jim Walsh:

On behalf of our entire district and community, thank you for the cover and feature story highlighting our superintendent, Dr. Dan Troxell, in the November/December 2008 issue of Texas School Business.

Just read your column in the January issue of Texas School Business about [Barack] Obama and the White Sox. Great article and a great assessment of our next president. I, too, look forward to January 20.

It has been such an honor to share his selection as the 2008 Superintendent of the Year with the state, his peers in education and our entire community, and the feature in your publication was the most fitting avenue to announce and share this great news.

Every Sister Mary Holywater I had for eight years tried her best to make me a Notre Dame fan, but, thank God, it didn’t work. Go Horns! Beat Ohio State! On to Phoenix...

We especially appreciate the time and professionalism of your reporter, Michelle Moon Reinhardt, as well as the generous presentation of photographs of Dr. Troxell used throughout the publication, from the front cover, table of contents and main article. We value your publication greatly and know it offers an important voice in public education, keeps district administrators informed of the most-pressing issues and offers interesting profiles on the key people in our field who have dedicated their lives to education. Thank you also for the extra copies of the magazine that we requested on Dr. Troxell’s behalf so that he could share with family and use throughout the district. Please let us know if we can ever be of service or assistance to your magazine in the near future. Lisa S. Winters Public and Media Relations Specialist Kerrville ISD Dear Katie Ford: The Law Dawg hit a home run with his column about [Barack] Obama and the White Sox (January issue, “The Law Dawg – unleashed”). I enjoyed it. Let us hear more from the Dawg. Joe Parks Retired Executive Director ESC Region 13

Harley Eckhart Associate Executive Director Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Dear Jim Walsh: As a subscriber of Texas School Business, I read your article (in the January issue) on our president-elect, Barack Obama. It was a great article. And like you, I like him very much. I didn’t vote for him, but I stayed up late and listened to his speech on election night. He won my support. Thanks for the article. Randy Barnes Assistant Superintendent Perryton ISD Dear Jim Walsh: As a “Cubbie” fan myself and certainly an Obama supporter, I loved your January column (“The Law Dawg – unleashed”) in Texas School Business. Having grown up on the North Shore, I still have loyalty for the Cubs and fond memories of joining my brothers with the other “bleacher-buns” in the far outfield stands, sharing beers and cheering on the Cubs. I too love the fact that Obama actually answers questions; hope he doesn’t lose that with the pressure of the job. Anyway, thanks for “a flash to the past.” See you at TCASE. Margie Gunther Executive Director, Special Education Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD TSB


Texas School Business • February 2009


In Memoriam eight grandchildren; grandchildren.

Robert Hill Garrett

Robert (Bob) Hill Garrett, former co-publisher of Texas School Business magazine, died on Nov. 26, 2008. Garrett started out at Texas School Business in 1965 as the business manager and photographer. At the time, his wife, Jody Garrett, was the publisher and editor. Her father, Burt Pittenger, founded Texas School Business magazine in October 1954. In 1978, Garrett stepped up as copublisher, sharing the title with his wife until 1990. He then served as the editor for two more years before leaving the magazine. Garrett was born on Oct. 30, 1924, in Nashville, Ark., to Robert William and Ethel Reynolds Garrett. The family moved to Texas when Garrett was a child. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a bachelor of business administration degree. As a young man, Garrett served his country during World War II, attaining the rank of sergeant. He was a Cub Scout leader and Pack Master for many years, as well as an ordained Baptist deacon and an active participant in the Texas Christian Ashram. Garrett was co-founder of Educators for Christ, an avid golfer and a longtime member of Lost Creek Country Club. He was appreciated for his sourdough bread delivered to friends and family at Christmas and other occasions. He is predeceased by his wife of 50 plus years, Jo Anne (Jody) Pittenger Garrett, and his son, Jeffrey Garrett. He is survived by his children, Dr. Betty Lee Ligon-Borden, and her husband, Gordon T. Borden, and John Pittenger (Pitt) Garrett and his wife, Vickie Garrett;





Willie Kocurek of Austin died Jan. 1 of natural causes at the Westminster Manor retirement community, where he has lived in recent years. He was 98. Kocurek was a devoted advocate for public schools in Austin. He was an Austin ISD School Board trustee from 1946 to 1954, the last four years as president. He also served as the president of the Texas Association of School Boards and was at one time the board chairman of ESC Region 13. In 1986, the Austin ISD School Board named a Southwest Austin elementary school after Kocurek. Kocurek was well known to generations of Austinites as the highprofile owner of a service station and appliance store, the Willie Kocurek Co., which his family ran from 1933 to 1977. His extensive volunteer work, which he continued for most of his life, led him to be one of the most popular speakers and community leaders in the city. Kocurek enrolled at The University of Texas School of Law when he was 67 and became a lawyer at age 70. He had gone to law school in 1943, but his work schedule and service in the Navy during World War II interrupted his studies. His law office on Guadalupe Street specialized in wills and probate. When Kocurek and his son, Neal, who died in 2004, were named Austinites of the Year in 1989, Pike Powers, then president of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, said, “Willie and Neal are positive proof that single individuals can make a supreme difference in the community.” In 1995, Kocurek summed it up this way: “I keep as busy as the proverbial cranberry merchant whose cart overturned on Broadway and he’s got to pick up all the berries. Staying active is the thing that keeps the juices flowing. Being busy and occupied, you don’t have time for those dreadful thoughts. I came with a gallon of adrenalin. At age 84, I’ve only used three quarts.” Kocurek is survived by his wife, Maurine; daughter, Kay Bell of Austin; and grandchildren, Jeffrey Kocurek and Kelly Kocurek of Austin and Suzanne Kocurek Rose of Houston. TSB

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Re-energize your staff! Lift their spirits! Let him make a difference! • More motivational talks to educators than any other current Texas speaker. • Convocations, Conferences, Staff Development Workshops, and Graduation Ceremonies. • 30 years in Texas public education. • Hear him once and you’ll see why thousands have requested him nationally and internationally. • His best-selling book, All the Difference, is now in its sixth printing.

RINEY JORDAN A Motivational Humorist 254-386-4769 www.rineyjordan.com February 2009 • Texas School Business


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The day my sister and I laughed ’til we cried Have you ever done or said something really stupid? Come on, be honest. Remember when you said something really dumb before you even thought through it? Well, I hope you ended up laughing at yourself — and I hope you laughed louder than anyone. We’ve all done it! And at our family gatherings, those are the things that bring such laughter each time we’re together. Making stupid mistakes has become some of the best family memories ever! My sister and I have always enjoyed a good laugh, whether at ourselves — or at the other one. She recently called and was just laughing hysterically when I answered the phone. “Riney, I have just done the dumbest thing ever…,” she began. Remember now, she could barely tell this story for all the laughing that took place between each phrase. She began recounting the story of how the governor of Illinois had been reportedly trying to sell the Senate seat of Barack Obama. “I’ve been hearing about this for days,” she said, “and I just couldn’t believe that he thought he could get away with that!” When a couple of ladies from her neighborhood came over for a morning cup of coffee and a visit, the subject came up. “I told the ladies that I just thought he had to be the dumbest man I had ever heard of to think that he could sell Obama’s seat,” she reported. “Doesn’t he know that it’s against the law to do that?” One of the ladies nodded in agreement while the other said, “He does have his nerve, doesn’t he?” “Why, yes he has his nerve,” sister Shirley responded. “Doesn’t he know that Obama’s seat is owned by the government, and you can’t sell any of the furniture in the nation’s Capitol, even if it is just one chair!” My sister said at that point the ladies both put on a confused look, and then one 34

Texas School Business • February 2009

of them started chuckling. That’s all it took, and the other one burst into laughter. “Shirley,” one of the ladies exclaimed, “it’s not Obama’s chair that the governor is taking bids on; it’s his Senate position he’s trying to sell!” Shirley and I were both in tears with laughter as the story ended. “How could I be that stupid?” she asked. “Well, since you told your story, I’ll tell mine,” I said. I told her that a few days ago I had been watching one of the NFL football games on television, and at the end of the game the announcer began reporting which players had been selected to participate in the Pro Bowl. As I listened, I mentioned to my wife, Karen, “Those poor football players. They make them play golf sometimes with the pros, and now they’re making them participate with other football players in a game of bowling! When is it going to end?” There was a moment of silence and then a knee-slapping laugh followed by, “You’ve got to be kidding! It’s not a bowling match. It’s football in a ‘bowl’ game! Remember? Cotton Bowl. Orange Bowl. Rose ... .” “I get it! I get it!” I yelled. Immediately, I realized how ridiculous my assumption had been. And, the only thing I could do was to laugh at myself. My sister thoroughly enjoyed my story, and we acknowledged that we were “even” on really stupid comments. Two wrongs did make it right! As Elsa Maxwell once said, “Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can.” And that’s good advice! RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book, “All the Difference,” is now in its fifth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@htcomp.net or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

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E V E RY D O L L A R I N V E S T E D I N P R E - K ,




That is a fact published by the Bush School for Government and Public Policy at Texas A&M University; full-day pre-k will save taxpayer money, prepare children for school, reduce the dropout rate and strengthen the Texas economy, both today and for years to come. It can do so much for so little because we are not building new facilities, merely expanding existing half-day pre-k to full-day. Raise Your Hand Texas is a bipartisan group of business and community leaders, parents and taxpayers from every walk of life who recognize the importance of education to the Texas economy. Get all the facts, then raise your hand, too. Call your state representative or senator and ask him or her to vote in favor of HB130 and SB21. Our state and our children are depending on you.