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THE INDEPENDENT VOICE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN TEXAS FOR 59 YEARS

March 2013

What’s at stake? Public education in the 83rd Legislature

TSPRA President Patti Pawlik-Perales Alamo Heights ISD

In the Spotlight Kevin Weldon Tarkington ISD


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TSB contents news and features

Four tips to sharpen your effectiveness in school public relations campaigns

15

by Tim Carroll

photo features TCASE gathers in Austin

19

TASA Midwinter convenes

24

TCWSE hosts annual conference 26

16

What’s at stake? A look at how the 83rd legislative session could affect public schools by Julie Freeman Haney

departments From Our Readers

7

Who’s News

20

Ad Index

30

columns

In the Spotlight Superintendent Weldon reflects on his banner year at Kountze ISD and the road ahead at Tarkington

From the Editor

5

The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed

9

by Katie Ford

20

by Jim Walsh

Tech Toolbox

11

Game On!

13

The Back Page

30

by Terry Morawski

by Bobby Hawthorne

by Bobby Hawthorne by Riney Jordan

22

TSPRA President Profile Alamo Heights ISD’s Patti Pawlik-Perales appreciates good storytelling by Elizabeth Millard

Cover image © Shutterstock.com 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. March 2013 • Texas School Business

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Texas School Business • March 2013


From the Editor The 83rd legislative session is under way and much is at stake with public education. Governmental relations and public affairs consultant Julie Freeman Haney, who also writes for the Texas Association of Community Schools, gives a summary of the key issues being addressed and the filed bills that could affect them. Later this summer, we’ll take another look at the landscape of Texas public education. Here’s hoping it will look healthy and green. Also for this issue, writer Bobby Hawthorne checked in with former Kountze ISD Superintendent Kevin Weldon, who now is at the helm of Tarkington ISD. It’s an engaging story about the trials and rewards of working in public education — the type of story that someone like Patti Pawlik-Perales of Alamo Heights ISD can appreciate. Perales is the district’s communication specialist and the new president of the Texas School Public Relations Association. In our interview, Perales spoke of the joy she receives in helping to tell the stories of those who serve Texas children. From the teachers to cafeteria staff, Perales says everyone working in public schools has an interesting story to share. One final item: I want to acknowledge that our advertising director, Jim Johnson, has retired after seven years with Texas School Business. Jim, we wish you the very best! If you have an idea for a story, send me an email at katie@texasschoolbusiness. com.

Katie Ford Editorial Director

FIFTH EDITION The new fifth edition of this highly valued handbook is now available. Whether your goal is performance improvement or a negative employment decision of both professional and auxiliary personnel, this userfriendly handbook guides the way. • All chapters and appendices updated • New chapter on teacher professional communication • Expanded sample directives to change teacher behavior • Revised focused observation instruments for classroom walk-throughs • CD with forms ready for computer downloading and use included Put the new fifth edition of the Texas Documentation Handbook to work for you. Order your copy today!

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(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) March 2013 Volume LIX, Issue 5 1601 Rio Grande Street, #455 Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-478-2113 • Fax: 512-495-9955 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Publisher Ted Siff Editor in Chief Jim Walsh Editorial Director Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Riney Jordan, Terry Morawski, Jim Walsh Advertising Sales Manager Lance Lawhon Director of Marketing and Customer Relations Stephen Markel Office Services Ambrose Austin ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620 Published monthly, except for July/August and November/ December, and for the Best in Class issue published in August and the Bragging Rights issue published in December (12 times a year) by Texas School Business Magazine, LLC, 1601 Rio Grande Street, #455, Austin, TX 78701. Periodical Postage Paid at Austin, Texas and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas School Business,1601 Rio Grande Street, #455, Austin, TX 78701. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: $28 per year; $52 for two yrs; $72 for three yrs. Group rate: 10 or more, $18; single issues, $4.50.

© Copyright 2013 Texas School Business Magazine LLC March 2013 • Texas School Business

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Texas School Business • March 2013


From Our Readers Ms. Ford: You are doing a great job maintaining and expanding the original mission of Texas School Business. Pitt Garrett Former Texas School Business publisher and son of Jody Garrett, original publisher Ms. Ford: We were so thrilled to read the article regarding Theresa Kunz at Salado Junior High in your January 2013 issue (“In the Spotlight: Salado ISD educator sees potential long after others have given up”). Our organization, Center for Learning & Development, is the originator/developer of the Grand Central Station Response to Intervention structure that operates out of a state-of-the-art learning lab. We have trained teachers in the implementation of GCS labs in more than 240 schools across Texas. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that focuses on the plight of

struggling learners. We develop software, curricula and programs and train professionals in schools — as well as in the juvenile justice arenas. We also support them as they serve the diversified needs of their students.

Jim: I just read your column (“The Law Dawg — Unleashed: To the people of Kountze,” January 2013). This was extremely well-written. You have a way of making complex legal issues plain. Well done.

Thank you for recognizing the impact that a teacher like Theresa can have in the life of a struggling student. If you would like to learn more about Center for Learning & Development, Grand Central Station, or any of the other projects that we lead to support schools, students and teachers, please visit www.cldtx.org and watch our Grand Central Station video at www.cldtx.org/services/gcs.

Brad Lancaster Superintendent of Schools Lake Travis ISD

If you ever wanted to do a story about other GCS labs that are making a difference — or any of our other programs — I’d love to talk with you. Have a wonderful weekend!

Riney: At the close of most work days I try to catch up on the many publications our vocation offers. I just read your January column in Texas School Business (“The Back Page: A resurgence of oldfashioned”). Amen, sir! James Taliaferro Superintendent Texas Tech University ISD

Sharon Blanchard Executive Director Center for Learning and Development

TSB

26th Annual Conference on

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Austin Convention Center 500 East Cesar Chavez Street Austin, TX 78701

This Conference on Education Law for Principals features presentations on legal issues of particular concern to school principals and other campus-level personnel as well as superintendents, school board members, and school attorneys. View all the details and register at www.legaldigestevents.com.

www.legaldigestevents.com March 2013 • Texas School Business

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The 27th Annual

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Same Conference – Two Convenient Locations

A One-Day Conference on Current Legal Issues Concerning the Education of Students with Disabilities Topics and Speakers include: The Year in Review: Top Special Education Decisions of 2012-2013 Jim WALSh, Walsh, Anderson, Gallegos, Green & Treviño, Austin Bullying at School: Legal Issues and Practical Strategies DAvE RiChARDS, Richards, Lindsay, & Martín, Austin RTI & Child Find: A District’s Legal Responsibilities PAuLA mADDox RoALSon & ERiC RoDRiguEz, Walsh, Anderson, Gallegos, Green & Treviño, Arlington & San Antonio A Legal Update on the Discipline of Students with Disabilities JAnET hoRTon, Thompson & Horton, Houston What To Do When a Child Needs Private Nursing Services at School gigi mAEz, Walsh, Anderson, Gallegos, Green & Treviño, Irving What’s the Latest on Services for the Student with Dyslexia? hoLLy WARDELL, Eichelbaum Wardell, Austin

Professional development credits available to Special Education Directors, Special Education Personnel, Curriculum Directors, Superintendents, Principals, School Board Members, and School Attorneys

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Texas School Business • March 2013


THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed by Jim Walsh

The scoop on CSCOPE

T

exas moved to a results-based process many years ago. The philosophy was that local school districts should be held accountable for student achievement, graduation rates and fiscal responsibility, but that they should be freed up to achieve these results without undue management from the state. So why is Sen. Dan Patrick’s education committee so interested in asserting the heavy hand of state control over a useful tool like CSCOPE? Why are small government advocates seeking to impose another layer of bureaucracy and cost on a system that is working exceedingly well? CSCOPE, which is operated by a consortium of our 20 education service centers (ESCs), is a success story. It is a great example of how local school districts and ESCs can work together to help teachers improve instruction. Superintendents, curriculum directors and teachers testified to Patrick’s committee about how CSCOPE has eased the load of the teachers and improved the content of instruction. Superintendents of small districts, in particular, testified to the cost-effectiveness of CSCOPE. I heard many of them say “there is no way we could have done this on our own,” or words to that effect. But this seems to fall on deaf ears. You would think that the committee would be impressed by the fact that 875 independent school districts, charter schools and private schools have purchased this product. You would think that the committee would be a bit impressed with the fact that school boards and superintendents in all of those communities have decided this is a worthy investment. You would think that the ESC directors would get some credit for being entrepreneurial, as they have been told they must be, and for creating such a successful product. But no. The committee seems to be more concerned with the opinions of some parents who make the preposterous claim that our conservative, mainstream Christian educational establishment is pushing Islam on our kids.

Another claim was that CSCOPE was teaching that the Boston Tea Party was a terrorist act. It seems that someone uncovered an optional lesson on a prior version of CSCOPE that encouraged high school students in a world history class to write something about the Boston Tea Party from a nonAmerican perspective. Might the King of England, for example, view this destruction of personal property as an act of terrorism? That sounds like a pretty good assignment to me. I would like to see our high schools encourage critical thinking on controversial issues. A well-educated person ought to understand that what looks like patriotism to one person may look very different to someone else. How will our kids cope with a multicultural world if they are not introduced to this basic and undeniable truth — that one’s viewpoint affects how one characterizes events? There are thousands of lessons available to teachers through CSCOPE. It is disheartening to see our legislative leaders cherry-picking a few they do not like and then declaring the entire system “a mess” (Sen. Patrick’s words). The recent agreement between Patrick’s committee and CSCOPE leadership fixes some problems with transparency and governance issues. Good. But this could have been accomplished with much less fanfare. That’s what happens when people operate with a basic level of trust. That’s what would have happened if CSCOPE had been created by the private sector. But Patrick saw an opportunity to play to the crowd, and he took it. By doing so, Patrick encourages those who see an evil conspiracy in public education. That is not leadership. Meanwhile, the agreement adds another layer of bureaucracy and cost to our educational system. I thought the Republicans were opposed to that kind of thing. JIM WALSH, an attorney with Walsh Anderson Gallegos Green and Treviño P.C., serves as editor in chief of Texas School Business. He can be reached at jwalsh@ wabsa.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JWalshtxlawdawg.

Shwieki here

The Four QuadranTs:

Sorting Out Student Need ADRANTS FOUROUTQU THE SORT STUDENT NEED ING By Jim Walsh

DOES NOT HAVE

A DISABILITY

TWO QUADRANT Section 504

ONE QUADRANT

DOES NOT NEED SPECIALLY DESIGNED INSTRUCTION (SDI)

LITY HAS A DISABI

General Education

s... These student that term is a disability as • Do not have used in the law. esses,” ions,” “weakn ty. • May have “condit but not a disabili or “impairments,” in some to work harder • May need in others. subjects than of any special type • Do not need a general rule. instruction as

s... These student is ty as that term • Have a disabili 504. ent defined in Section l or mental impairm a major • Have a physica limits them in that substantially life activity. of the provision to • Do not require d instruction” “specially designe disability. address their FOUR QUADRANT

NEEDS SPECIALLY DESIGNED INSTRUCTION (SDI)

THREE QUADRANT At Risk

s... These student that term is a disability as • Do not have used in the law. ly ion that is special s. • Require instruct other concern designed to address of the definition • Typically meet are “at risk.” students who

IDEA-Eligible

s... These student is ty as that term • Have a disabili Individuals with defined in the on Act. Disabilities Educati ion ly designed instruct • Need special disability. because of their on special educati for eligible • Are IDEA. services under

result of the services as a in fedspecial education way education is defined analysis is a useful n,” disability. Special The Four Quadrant y designed instructio and why studiagram how eral law as “speciall to explain in a special profor some of the or SDI. than dents qualify Quadrant will occupy more offer. The Four imSome students grams schools with a speech that are quadrant. A student on the two criteria one turns analysis may be in Quadrant education , for example, qualify for special in the stu- pairment necessary to concerns, but to IDEA. To qualify, due to the speech Four pursuant services and (2) need have a disability dent must (1)

Suite 455 1601 Rio Grande, 78701 Austin, Texas • Fax: (512) 495-9955 (512) 478-2113 cepubs.com www.parkpla

L.P., Place Publications, Gallegos, P.C. © 2009 Park & Brown, Aldridge may be and Walsh, Anderson,No part of this publication of All Rights Reserved. the express consent reproduced withoutPublications, L.P. Park Place

in all other respects. Quadrant One the quadrants lines between Note that the scientific in the law with on are not described s to be made are judgment precision. There could fit basis. Some students g on an individual quadrants, dependin into two different the students’ school interprets how the local and the law. services, needs, the district’s

be used is intended to to This publication only and is not for general information legal advice. If specific be considered consult advice is sought, specific legal an attorney.

by Jim Walsh The Four Quadrant Chart is a useful way to explain and diagram how and why students qualify for specially designed instruction.

• QUADRANT ONE: General Education • QUADRANT TWO: Section 504 • QUADRANT THREE: At Risk • QUADRANT FOUR: IDEA-Eligible Jim Walsh has used this analysis for decades to train educators on the proper implementation of federal law. Now, in an easy reference chart, this analysis can be readily available to any educator. Perfect for all school administrators. This reference chart measures 17” x 22” and is laminated. Price: $12.95

place your order online: www.legaldigest.com March 2013 • Texas School Business

9


The sense of brotherhood and culture of ambassadorship in our “district has never been stronger. Ambassador training has helped unite our team around our schools and our profession.”

-- Scott Niven, Superintendent, Red Oak ISD

W

hen my country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.”

-- Thomas P a i n e

COMMON SENSE

Thomas Paine’s political declaration in Common Sense helped direct the energies of the rebels and point the way to American independence from England. The Ambassador Training Academy staff development program is inspired by Thomas Paine’s work. There are many parallels between educators today, condemned by blinded reformists, and early Americans, condemned by a blinded Crown. Just as Paine “enunciates... the specific right of the people to challenge unjust laws and an unjust government”, we are mobilizing an army of educators to challenge unjust criticism and false accusations of widespread failure.

Class of 2011 Red Oak ISD Ambassadors Academy

Friends of Texas Public Schools is educating Texans about Texas public schools and their many strengths and achievements through Ambassador Training and other initiatives in order to: 4 4 4 4 4 4

Underscore the significance of them; Unite Texans around them; Restore pride in them; Strengthen confidence in them; Lift spirits among them; and Inject resources into them…

…all of which will lead to even greater performance.

Stir your team into champions for your students, district, and profession by enrolling your school district in our Ambassador Training Academy.

It’s time for every educator to stir Visit www.fotps.org to learn more, or email us at lmilder@fotps.org. 10

Texas School Business • March 2013


Tech Toolbox by Terry Morawski

How to make better choices

E

veryone who knows me knows that a new book by brothers Chip and Dan Heath is cause for celebration. Their previous offerings, “Switch” and “Made to Stick,” changed my approach to business. I make everyone who works for me read the former. In February, I got my hands on an advance copy of the brothers’ latest book, “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.” The book came out this month. We’ve all been there, stuck in our decision-making process. Or worse, we are unable to reach good decisions because of a flawed process. The Heath brothers say they attacked this topic because they felt there were not enough books that offered solutions to decision-making problems. They felt most books only pointed to problems without any useful advice. After a first read, I believe they offered plenty of food for thought for decision makers. This is not the brothers’ first foray into a discussion of our flawed decisions. They wrote an insightful piece for Fast Company in 2007 on what they call “decision paralysis.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it relates to the brain freeze we all experience when offered too many choices. This thought led me to reduce the number of choices in many of our school processes, including attendance zone maps, survey questions and new school logo options. You can read the full article here: www.fastcompany.com/60934/ analysis-paralysis. In their book, “Decisive,” the Heaths write that we all face four “villains” of decision-making. They are: 1. “You encounter a choice. But narrow framing makes you miss options.” 2. “You analyze your options. But the confirmation bias leads you to gather selfserving information.” 3. “You make a choice. But short-term emotion will often tempt you to make the wrong one.” 4. “Then you live with it. But you’ll often be overconfident about how the future will unfold.” What are the brothers really saying about decision-making? They are saying we are trapped in a process of our own making. Our

egos often are working behind the scenes to undermine good decisions. I admit, I often think of the personal implications of a bad decision. In other words, “what will everyone think of me if I blow this important decision?” Research data can be just as damaging to a process as ego. We are now in a dataobsessed world. There’s a colorful infographic about pretty much every topic you can imagine. Per their second premise, it is not the data that is the devil here, but our inclination to only seek data that supports our opinions. For instance, I’m so pleased when I read a study about how great coffee is for your health. I choose to ignore the articles about coffee being unhealthy. Am I alone on this one? One of the best ways to avoid being another victim of bad decision-making is what the Heath brothers call “multitracking.” Multitracking is when you consider several different solutions to a problem. Think of how school business often can lead to “single tracking” a decision — meaning your group or department considers the pros and cons of only one solution? For instance, many might assume the only factor to consider regarding a one-to-one initiative is whether the district should buy laptops, tablets or e-readers. A multitracked consideration might take into account how the money earmarked for the initiative could be used more effectively in other capacities. The process also would take into account the perspectives of stakeholders at various levels. Unfortunately, sometimes students (and many times their parents) are not asked to weigh in until they are already living with a solution. Every day, school district leaders are asked to make decisions about educating Texas children. The Heath brothers have given us some solid advice when faced with those decisions. Good luck out there! And, because I’ve shared, let me know what you’ve been reading lately. TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. Please send all future column ideas, reading suggestions, questions and comments to terrymorawski@ gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter too: @terrymorawski.

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Now in its 58th year of publication. March 2013 • Texas School Business

11


Texas Parent PAC has best election cycle ever! The pro-public education political action committee—Texas Parent PAC— helped to elect 19 new members of the Texas Legislature in the 2012 primary and general elections. All 8 incumbent legislators endorsed in the general election won, too. With these victories, there are now 34 state representatives and 2 state senators who were elected with the endorsement and financial support of Texas Parent PAC. The political action committee was formed in 2005 and is recognized as one of the most powerful and effective PACs in the state. In 2012, Texas Parent PAC supported candidates in many ways, including campaign coaching, volunteer recruitment, endorsement news releases, promotion via email and Facebook, and donating more than $350,000 to pay for mailings, TV and radio advertising, phone call services, signs, and campaign staff. Election victories make a big difference for Texas schoolchildren and their families, as the PAC contributes to candidates who are strong supporters of public education. A list of winners is at www.txparentpac.com.

Texas Parent PAC is bipartisan and supports about an equal number of candidates from both major political parties in each election cycle.

Make a Contribution for More Legislative Winners in 2014 Please donate funds now so Texas Parent PAC can help to support strong Republican and Democratic legislative candidates in 2014 primary and general elections. Contribute online: www.txparentpac.com Contribute by mail: Texas Parent PAC, P.O. Box 303010, Austin, TX 78703-0051 Planning for 2014 elections is under way. If you know potential legislative candidates, contact Texas Parent PAC at info@txparentpac.com. Political Advertising www.txparentpac.com 12

Texas School Business • March 2013


GAME ON! by Bobby Hawthorne

Timmons takes on the UIL

U

IL Assistant Athletic Director Tony Timmons has a tan that would terrify a dermatologist. At 43, he’s rawboned and balding and he occasionally wears a black-felt cowboy hat, low and straight, like a real cowboy — which, by the way, he is. Timmons and his wife, Kerith, own the historic H.E. Sproul Ranch just outside Fort Davis. It’s been in his wife’s family since 1886 and was named the state’s top hunting ranch in 2009. Timmons has personally taken full advantage of its natural bounty. He says over the years he has bagged at least 360 mountain lions and more free-range elk than anyone in the state. So here’s the question: Given how much he loves it out there, what’s he doing in Austin, working for the UIL? Timmons once wondered this too. He joined the league three years ago, was given a title, an office, a standard-issue desk, a copy of the “UIL Constitution and Contest Rules” and a task: create a system to register and monitor prep sports officials. He had little or no idea what he was getting into. At the time, the UIL was the nation’s only interscholastic activities association not to oversee sports officials. The officials liked it that way so much that, shortly after Timmons was hired, the Texas Association of Sports Officials sued UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt personally, accusing him and the league of conspiring to regulate them out of existence. The case has bounced around and, as of the first week of February, still dangles from some branch of the state’s judicial system. Meanwhile, Breithaupt dispatched Timmons to sell the league’s plan, which meant he faced auditoriums packed with confused and suspicious officials and he had to convince them that everything would be OK, that change was necessary and inevitable. “School people knew what they had to do: follow the UIL rules,” Timmons says. “But there really was no policy in place in terms of what officials had to do other than pay $50, grab a whistle and hit the floor. So, my main job has been to bring a level of accountability to the officials, just like the

coaches have had for years.” Though the online registration system he and his staff have created is state-of-the-art, Timmons admits it has been a trial-by-fire experience. He’s also had to learn the instincts of an organization that is, shall we say, cautious to a fault. The league has been in the legislative crosshairs plenty over the years, so it keeps as low a profile as is possible for a state agency that governs schoolboy sports, particularly football. For a while, Timmons was stalked by a guy with a video camera and he became something of a YouTube celebrity — or villain, depending on your point of view. So, he has learned to watch what he says and how he says it; although, during certain animated moments, he can still default into Big Bend candor. During our 30-minute interview, he gave me a juicy quote that I’d love to use, but some folks might take it wrong and try to use it against him, and there’s no reason for that. (Note to Timmons: Never juxtapose “officials” and “hunting dogs” in the same sentence.) So, here we are. The TASO lawsuit remains unresolved. The spat could end up in the Legislature. State Rep. Randy Weber, RPearland, once said he opposes the idea of a state agency steamrolling a private organization like TASO. Timmons says he isn’t dwelling on it one way or the other. He has coached and officiated and chased mountain lions out of trees, so he’s used to sharp claws. And he no longer wonders why he’s sitting behind a desk in Austin instead of tracking mule deer across 300 acres of ponderosa pine and alligator juniper. “People say the UIL is a school organization,” he says. “It’s not. It’s a kid organization, and we’re here to help anybody who is attached to kids. If it’s a school, we’re here for you. If it’s a coach or a fan or a parent, we’re here for you. And if it’s an official, we’re here for you too.” BOBBY HAWTHORNE is the author of “Longhorn Football” and “Home Field,” both published by The University of Texas Press. In 2005, he retired as director of academics for the University Interscholastic League.

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Four tips to sharpen your effectiveness in school public relations campaigns by Tim Carroll

I

t was my first day of work in school public relations, and I walked into the superintendent’s office expecting some direction from my new boss. Instead, he asked me where I planned to start. He was nearing retirement and my suit didn’t even have creases yet. “I think we need a newsletter,” I said. His response of “sounds good” was all I needed to get started. It was apparent that the small Indiana school district needed a lot more than a newsletter, but I didn’t have much to go on with one hour of experience in the profession. Thirty-two years later I finally have some public relations advice for my first superintendent. Unfortunately, he’s been retired for many years now. So, I’m offering these four tips for others who are looking for a place to start. 1. Facts are negotiable. One reason that public relations is hard to define is because it’s a science built on perceptions instead of hard data. The late Pat Jackson, a public relations consultant and professor, once said: “Facts are negotiable; perceptions are not.” For example, school officials can disagree with parents on the facts surrounding school security, but changing the parents’ perceptions about school safety is a different challenge. Nowhere does Jackson’s quote apply better than to the state Legislature, where the same facts can be perceived in so many different ways. A campus with poorly maintained grounds, for example, might be perceived as a poorly run campus, but the facts may contradict that. In other words, perceptions often get in the way of facts. Administrators facing public relations challenges need to first gather the facts, but they also should try to understand how different parties may perceive the situation.

2. Don’t be a fair-weather friend to the media. A positive television story or newspaper article certainly helps shortterm public relations efforts, but building good working relationships with the media can have a long-term positive effect. Honesty and accessibility are the keys to building that relationship. For example, a school administrator’s credibility is lost when they grant an interview to discuss the new career center but then refuse to comment on declining test scores. The need for accessibility is even greater when schools or districts are in the midst of a crisis. There are legal and logical limits to giving media access to school business, but the simple act of promptly returning phone calls and respecting deadlines can pay dividends when things go wrong. Get to know the reporters who cover your schools, provide them with support materials at meetings when appropriate and encourage follow-up calls for clarification on complicated issues, such as school budgets. Also, it is common for school districts to require a reporter to first contact the public relations professional or superintendent’s office before speaking to school staff. While that may appear to be blocking media access, providing them with a single contact often can yield faster and more accurate results. 3. Rethink the newsletter. Despite reservations about engaging “the public” through social media, more school districts are relying on social media to communicate their messages. Traditional school newsletters are vanishing as associated printing costs and their lack of timeliness make them less attractive. These days a school can communicate almost instantly with thousands of parents through online notification systems, email, Facebook and Twitter, for example. E-newsletters are almost free and easy to produce, but they should be used only

when there is useful information to convey. Is the principal’s or superintendent’s column used as filler or does it address topics that readers care about? The ability to produce an e-newsletter and send it out in minutes should not overshadow the purpose of that communication. It may seem harsh to ask yourself “who cares?” before sending something out, but it’s an effective evaluation tool. Administrators also might consider trimming their e-newsletters to a series of short paragraphs with hyperlinks to additional information. The headlines and short stories will attract higher readership. Make supporting charts and articles easily accessible via hyperlinks for those seeking more information. 4. Shift from technician to counselor. Many school public relations practitioners begin their careers as communications technicians. They use desktop publishing, photography, video and web design to package school district communications for their districts. While those skills are a useful part of the trade, public relations staff members can play a much more important role as a counselor and consultant to management. An experienced public relations person should be able to anticipate the public relations implications of major school decisions. They should know how to gauge public opinion and be able to create communications for the school board and administration that help the organization convey its message. The best way a public relations staff member can move from technician to counselor is to become part of the top management team. There is a required level of maturity and trust to be part of the cabinet, but excluding the public relations person from the table while decisions are being made can lead to bigger problems. TIM CARROLL is a past president of the Texas School Public Relations Association (www.tspra.org) and the director of public information for Allen ISD. March 2013 • Texas School Business

15


What’s at stake?

A look at how the 83rd legislative session could affect public schools by Julie Freeman Haney

J

an. 8 marked the first day of the 83rd legislative session. With 39 new members in the Texas House of Representatives and several changes to the Texas Senate, one safely can assume there are plenty of new ideas in Austin. What’s at stake for Texas public schools? Here’s a look at the overall landscape, as well as some of the bills, organizations and people who play important roles in this session. The budget forecast Despite the comptroller’s revenue estimate reporting a surplus in state revenue, there seems to be a continued lack of will to restore the $5.4 billion cut made to public education this past session. Filed bills related to capping the growth in appropriations, coupled with the existing statutory spending limit and Rainy Day Fund cap, set the tone early on for another session focused on limiting state expenditures. In fact, the appropriations bills as filed — House Bill 1 (HB 1) and Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) — resulted in lower dedicated general revenue (GR) than this past session’s budget. Legislative Budget Board (LBB) provided testimony in the first Senate Finance Committee hearing of the session and estimated an ending GR balance in fiscal year 2013 of $8.8 billion — including $6.8 billion built into the base for supplemental expenditures — leaving an estimated $2 billion ending balance. For FY 2014-2015, GR appropriations are estimated at $88.9 billion, with total GR of $94.6 billion, leaving the state $5.7 billion below the “pay as you go” limit and $3.9 billion below the statutory spending limit. Keep in mind, the Rainy Day Fund has an 16

Texas School Business • March 2013

estimated ending balance of $11.8 billion for the 2014-2015 biennium. While the budget forecast is positive, public education advocates cannot expect full restoration of cuts, due in large part to statutory spending limits, outstanding bills owed (Medicaid payments), a shift in priorities to water development, tweaks to the franchise tax, and more. SB 1, as filed, funds the Foundation School Program at $38 billion. (Thirty billion of that is GR.) LBB pointed out this amount funds enrollment growth, the statutory entitlement program and the payment deferral required under current law. However, the introduced budget bills do not restore cuts to per-pupil spending or TEA-administered grant programs. Though legislators might not be talking about restoring public education funding, they are talking about testing — and all signs point to a major overhaul in Texas’ current testing system. Grassroots advocates against testing A grassroots, parent-led advocacy group has emerged with the purpose of eliminating the state’s focus on endof-course exams. Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment (TAMSA) began a grassroots campaign aimed at finding a solution to the testdriven accountability system in Texas. The Legislature has heard the group’s concerns, and numerous bills have been filed that aim to modify the current accountability and testing systems. Bill specifics range from placing a moratorium on assessments to limiting the number of end-of-course exams and overhauling the current accountability system. (Special note: All bill specifics listed are

according to the bills as filed and do not include changes that may occur through substitutes or amendments. This is not a complete list, but merely a sampling of relevant legislation.) • HB 44, by Rep. Dan Flynn, gives superintendents the ability to temporarily suspend the administration of assessment instruments for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years, if approved by the school board and consistent with TEA’s plan; any savings as a result of not testing could be spent on the retention of teachers or classroom supplies. • HB 85, by Rep. Bill Callegari, makes the 15 percent rule optional and removes the Algebra II testing requirement. • SB 240, by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (HB 640 by Rep. Diane Patrick is identical), eliminates the 15 percent rule and the cumulative score calculation, suspends 2012-2013 accountability ratings, reduces the number of end-of-course exams from 15 to three, introduces ACT and SAT as testing alternatives, and prohibits the use of end-of-course exam scores in figuring class rank or determining college admissions. • HB 94, by Rep. James White, requires TEA to examine the validity and reliability of testing instruments before administering for the first time and periodically thereafter. • HB 224, by Rep. Dan Huberty, eliminates the rule requiring that 15 percent of a student’s grade on an endof-course exam count toward his or her final grade in the course.


• HB 290, by Rep. Phil King, allows a school board to determine the agencyapproved criterion or norm-based test the district will administer to students. • HB 398, by Rep. Jim Pitts, eliminates the 15 percent rule. • HB 659, by Rep. Mark Strama, changes the 15 percent rule to apply to the student’s second semester grade, rather than the final course grade, and requires TEA to notify districts of results no more than 21 days after the assessment is administered. • HB 596, by Rep. Mike Villarreal, limits the number of days spent on testing, eliminates the 15 percent rule, decreases the number of end-of-course exams from 15 to four, and removes the requirement to use test scores when determining a district’s Recognized or Exemplary accountability rating. • HB 670, by Rep. Bennett Ratliff, eliminates the 15 percent rule and allows for alternatives to the end-ofcourse requirements. • SB 225, by Sen. Kel Seliger, reduces the number of end-of-course exams that count toward graduation purposes from 15 to five, replaces the cumulative score requirement with a scale score requirement, removes the minimum score requirement on endof-course exams, modifies graduation requirements, and allows students to earn endorsement credits in four areas: 1) science, technology, engineering and mathematics; 2) business and industry; 3) human services; 4) humanities; and 5) general studies consisting of a combination of credits from the four endorsement categories. Let’s talk choice In mid-December, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick held a press conference at a Catholic school in downtown Austin to unveil their education reform plan. Though legislation still was not filed as of the end of January, the concepts behind their reform plan include easier access to inter- and intra-district transfers, removing the cap for charter schools, addressing assessment and accountability concerns, expanding online learning opportunities and creating franchise tax credits to award scholarships for students to attend private schools.

The Coalition for Public Schools — an anti-voucher coalition, established in 1995, consisting of education, child advocacy and faith-based organizations — held a follow-up press conference in opposition to the proposed franchise tax credit program. The group explained how any program that takes public tax dollars or funds that would otherwise be dedicated to general revenue and pays for a private education is a voucher. In 2006, the franchise tax was established as the answer to the loss in revenue for public education as a result of the property tax relief package passed during the third special session of the 79th Legislature. Fast-forward to 2011: The franchise tax continues to underperform (as predicted by then-Comptroller Carole Strayhorn), and the 82nd Legislature cuts public education by $5.4 billion. Now, key policymakers are considering a further reduction of the underperforming tax as a way to fund private-school education for a small number of students — arguably at the expense of the 5 million children attending Texas public schools. Many public education advocates consider franchise tax credit programs as simply a political diversion, taking critical funding away from public schools. School Finance On Oct. 11, 2012, the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition filed suit against the state, claiming the current school finance system is not adequately or equitably funded. “The Legislature cut over $5.4 billion from Texas public schools while at the same time increasing standards and requirements to the highest level ever — college- and career-ready high school graduates,” said Rick Gray, lead attorney for the Fairness Coalition. Three additional ISD plaintiff groups filed suit (Calhoun County, Edgewood and Fort Bend), and their litigation was rolled into the original case. Additionally, a group of charter schools (Texas Charter Schools Association) filed a suit, joining the litigation. A final group of citizens, Texans for Real Efficiency and Equity in Education, filed as plaintiff interveners. On Feb. 4, 2013, each plaintiff group and the state’s attorneys gave closing remarks in the school finance trial. Judge John Dietz ruled the current school finance system unconstitutional, stating the system is inequitable, inadequate and unsuitable, and that it has created a

Get tuned in Visit the following links to listen to archived broadcasts from the Capitol: www.house.state.tx.us www.senate.state.tx.us

statewide property tax. Dietz determined the issues brought forth by TREE and by the charter schools were policy issues for the Legislature to determine. Next steps will depend on whether or not the case is appealed directly to the Supreme Court and, if so, to await its decision. That is not expected until next year, possibly the spring of 2014. The general feeling at the Capitol seems to be that legislators will wait to take action toward fixing the school finance system until the Supreme Court has heard and made a ruling on the case. In the meantime, a handful of related legislation has been filed: • HB 95, by Rep. White, exempts school districts from certain educational mandates if the Legislature does not appropriate money estimated to be sufficient to cover the cost of the mandate. • HB 264 and HB 265, by Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, requires the commissioner of education to adopt rules for determining the distribution of state revenue for school districts’ maintenance and operations and for instructional facilities and debt. • HB 671, by Rep. Ratliff, allows school boards to set a tax rate up to the voterapproved cap and allows the board to reduce taxes to a rate below the maximum amount without holding an additional election. School safety In light of safety concerns stemming from recent national news on increased violence targeting schools, Texas lawmakers held a hearing to discuss policy ideas See AT STAKE on page 18 March 2013 • Texas School Business

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AT STAKE continued from page 17

aimed at providing communities with opportunities to increase school safety. Ideas range from arming and training an undercover, armed marshal in the classroom to allowing schools to have tax elections to raise revenue to increase campus security. However, questions remain surrounding the specifics of said policies and the potential unintended consequences of additional guns on campus, failed tax elections and liability concerns. As of the end of January, no specific

legislation had been filed; however, many anticipate a clarification in statute relating to whether or not persons carrying guns on campus must also be certified police officers. A handful of districts either currently arm educators to serve as “guardians” within their campuses or have adopted policies that would allow for it, but this practice is not widespread. Many districts employ their own police force or private security officers, while others rely on other physical security measures, such

as surveillance cameras, automatically locking doors and local police presence as needed. What does this mean for Texas public schools? Obviously, the Texas Legislature is facing another round of budgeting challenges and conflicting priorities. Advocates are fighting for full restoration of public education funds, focusing not only on restoring eliminated grant funding for pre-k and the Student Success Initiative, but also restoring the $500-perstudent reduction and securing funding for enrollment growth in the coming biennium. Public education stakeholders can expect claims of funding enrollment growth this past session “just at a lower level per student” to continue, as well as probable claims of putting an additional $5 billion into public education this session if the Legislature spends: • $2 billion on the payment deferral (already owed to schools and required in statute) • $1 billion for TEA’s deficit this year and • $2 billion for enrollment growth.

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However, most business managers and superintendents will agree that doesn’t equal “new money.” Any way you slice it, there is state funding available for public education, and all eyes will be on Austin as the 83rd Legislature moves forward. JULIE FREEMAN HANEY is a government relations/public affairs consultant in Austin. She also writes for the Texas Association of Community Schools.


TCASE ‘Great Ideas’ convention attracts great minds to capital city In January, the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education convened in Austin for its 2013 annual conference.

Margaret Leifeste of ESC Region 15, Tamara McGaughey of ESC Region 14, Jam Page of ESC Region 14 and Lindy Lyles ESC of Region 15.

Retired TCASE member Kathy Hoes with independent consultant Mary Jane White.

Norma Whitis of Breckenridge ISD, Patti Tessen of ESC Region 14 and Sheryl Pappa of Wood County Special Education SSA.

Lora King of Luling ISD with Jackie Rodgers and Derek Eberly of Bastrop ISD.

Beth Powell of North East ISD and Vickie Mitchell of Mitchell-Panter Consulting LLC. Shanie Bowers of Comal ISD, Michelle Goebel of Victoria ISD with Mary Sellers and Michelle Simcik of Hutto ISD. Kim Williams and Kathryn Switzer of College Station ISD.

Victoria Santos and Sandy Baecker of New Caney ISD.

Marissa Ximenez of Poth ISD and Della Taylor of Harlandale ISD. March 2013 • Texas School Business

19


In the

Spotlight

Superintendent Weldon reflects on his banner year at Kountze ISD and the road ahead at Tarkington by Bobby Hawthorne

T

arkington ISD Superintendent Kevin Weldon would like you to know the following: He wasn’t run out of Kountze. He’s not sorry he did what he did and how he did it. He’d do it all again exactly the same way. In a heartbeat. Weldon was in the second year of his first job as a superintendent when the great “Bible verses on football banners” brouhaha attracted national media and

20

Texas School Business • March 2013

a statewide political circus to the tiny Hardin County town. Before the brouhaha, Kountze was known mostly for its proximity to the Big Thicket, its boys basketball teams and that it elected a Muslim mayor in 1991 — the first American city to do so, or so it claims. But then, Weldon received a letter, written on behalf of an unidentified Kountze resident, from a Wisconsin-based

group of atheists and agnostics — and all hell broke loose. The letter charged that the banners displaying Bible verses were unconstitutional. Recalls Weldon: “As soon as I received it, I called [Texas Association of School Boards] Legal. I kind of knew what they were going to tell me. You have a gut feeling about those things.” His gut was right. A Beaumont lawyer on retainer by the district told him the same thing: Put an end to it immediately. Weldon banned the district’s cheerleaders from putting Bible verses on the banners out of concern that the signs were unlawful because it equated to school-sanctioned religious expression. “I was sitting in my truck and as soon as I got off the phone I shot a text to all my administrators,” Weldon says. “Then, when I got back to the office, I sent an email to them, saying we had to cease and desist. And that’s what led to everything.” Weldon says he’s not scarred by the ordeal. “First, I’m a Christian,” he explains. “I made that clear at the very beginning. As for the kids, they were doing what they felt like they needed to do, and I applaud them for that. But I was hired to uphold the laws of the state and the country, and I had two attorneys telling me what to do, so I think any superintendent would have done the same thing I did.” Weldon says he received countless calls and messages of support from fellow school administrators. The Kountze school board supported him throughout the ordeal as well, he adds. “I have no ill will toward anyone there. They’re good people. The whole community is,” he says. “And I made a lot of good, personal friends there — a lot of professional friends as well.” In particular, he misses having lunch with his school administrators at the Honey Island General Store, one of those


East Texas 2-fers that sells everything from fertilizer and hammers to killer hamburgers. “Any time you’re somewhere for almost two whole years, you’re going to create some strong friendships, personally and professionally.” As for the politicians and media types who seized on the controversy, he says he holds no grudges. “At times, some of the people used it for purposes that weren’t specific to what was going on,” he says. “But I’m not going to get into a war of words about any of that. What I did, I did after I received legal advice, and I would do it again.” As for the decision to move to Tarkington, the timing of it all may look suspicious, but it’s not. Weldon spent 28 years in Splendora. He and his wife, Val, own a home in New Caney. He was staying in Kountze four nights a week to serve as the district’s superintendent, and he missed his wife and kids — all of whom are teachers and coaches.

In addition, it was a move to a bigger school, which meant a slight bump in pay. “Was I run off?” he says. “Absolutely not.” And what of his 15 minutes of fame? During the TASA Midwinter Conference in Austin in January, he bumped into several lawyers who wanted to meet him and shake his hand. “I thought it was pretty funny,” he says. “You just gotta look at everything in your life as a learning experience. And it certainly was that.

Weldon played for the 1977 Port Neches-Groves team that lost to Plano, 13-10, in front of 49,953 fans at Texas Stadium — still the largest crowd to see a prep game in state history. Plano was led by future Arkansas and San Diego Charger star Billy Ray Smith.

BOBBY HAWTHORNE is the author of “Longhorn Football” and “Home Field,” both published by The University of Texas Press. In 2005, he retired as director of academics for the University Interscholastic League.

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FUN FACTS ABOUT KEVIN WELDON Weldon coached and taught in the Splendora ISD for 28 years. In 1990, he became head football coach and athletic director, a position he held for 13 years. He served as Splendora ISD assistant superintendent for five years.

“Again, I think any superintendent would have done what I did,” he continues. “I really do. Sometimes, when you’re a leader — whether you’re a superintendent or a head football coach or a band director or whatever — you’re going to have to make tough decisions. That’s what you get paid for.”

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TSPRA PRESIDENT profile Incoming President Pawlik-Perales appreciates good storytelling by Elizabeth Millard

W

hen Patti Pawlik-Perales talks about her passion for storytelling, there’s a natural urge to lean in and listen. Part motivational speaker, part education advocate, she conveys an enthusiasm for her field that is as refreshing as it is infectious. “There are so many good things happening in education, so many wonderful stories,” she says. “We should be celebrating those and sharing those. And whatever I can do to make that happen, I’ll do.” Pawlik-Perales jokingly says she chose to work in public education through “osmosis.” Both her parents were highly respected educators who eventually moved into administrative

positions. Regularly witnessing the influence of their work on others helped Pawlik-Perales to appreciate the importance of excellence in education. She made communications and broadcasting her specialization, receiving a bachelor’s degree in speech communications at Texas Tech University in 1998. She says she always has been drawn to the way people talk about their experiences. The idea of sharing those stories through a medium like television or print materials excited her. Pawlik-Perales’ interests in education and communications served her well in her first career opportunity in Brownsville ISD. She recalls being thrilled to have found “her place” with that job.

Alamo Heights ISD Communications Specialist Patti Pawlik-Perales interviews Dick Smith, the district’s director of human resources and communications. Pawlik-Perales says she enjoys sharing the stories of the people who work at Alamo Heights ISD. “These people are the heart of the district. They have good stories, they love their jobs, and most of all — they love the kids.” Photo by Norm Collins. 22

Texas School Business • March 2013

“It was the best of both worlds, and I knew then that this is what I was supposed to be doing,” she says. “I loved the fact that I could use communications skills within education. That’s the journey I’ve been meant to take since the beginning.” Pawlik-Perales worked as a manager for Brownsville ISD’s television station, where she developed programming about students and staff. During her nine years there, she also honed her skills in public relations and print media. After Brownsville ISD, Pawlik-Perales acted as community relations television liaison at San Benito CISD, managing the district’s educational access channel and creating marketing materials for events. In 2008, she moved to her current position as communications specialist for Alamo Heights ISD, where she promotes the news and events of the district through a Web TV channel, website, social media and print media. Pawlik-Perales embraces every opportunity to inform and educate through effective storytelling. She is equally happy announcing district-wide news as she is chatting with teachers, cafeteria workers or bus drivers about their latest challenges and successes. When producing motivational videos for events, she often will include these perspectives to give viewers a sense of the people who make a difference for students every day. “These people are the heart of the district. They have good stories, they love their jobs, and most of all — they love the kids,” she says. “I’m so blessed to be able to know them and to help them share their stories.” In February, Pawlik-Perales stepped up as the president of the Texas School Public Relations Association. She says she values the organization’s work in


FUN FACTS ABOUT PATTI PAWLIK-PERALES A skill I’d like to learn: I’d love to be able to master all the functions on my cell phone. A bad habit I’d like to break: Trying to organize everything without an electronic calendar. Last book I read that I really liked: “Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks Rolling Stones or Beatles? Definitely Rolling Stones.

conveying the stories of public educators, administrators, students and parents, and she looks forward to increasing that effort. “I think that sometimes we can get pulled into focusing on the negatives, but for every wrong thing that’s happening, there are a hundred thousand more things that are right,” she says. “It’s important for people to know that.” Her mission during her presidency is to transform TSPRA’s annual campaign celebrating public schools into an ongoing daily campaign. The group’s new tagline is “Education: It’s Bigger Here,” which is promoted through a TSPRA companion website. Pawlik-Perales also will assist in creating a Facebook page for the campaign, launching a video contest and developing other content that gets public schools and the public involved in celebrating education in Texas. As much as she has done throughout her career, Pawlik-Perales is intent on relaying the seemingly small stories that make up the greater whole of public education in Texas. She would like to shift the focus of discussion in a positive direction, while still addressing substantive issues. In other words, it’s not helpful to talk about what needs fixing without also exploring what’s working. “This is my mission,” she says. “It’s definitely not one I can accomplish by myself, so I’m looking forward to working with other organizations, as well as districts, to show that there’s so much that’s great about education in Texas.”

Call Today : 512.454.6864 or visit us online at www.WalshAnderson.com

ELIZABETH MILLARD also writes for District Administration. March 2013 • Texas School Business

23


TASA Midwinter attracts administrators to Austin In January, superintendents and administrators from across Texas gathered in Austin for networking, training and thought leadership sessions.

David Faltys of Carroll ISD, Darrell Floyd of Stephenville ISD and Derek Citty of Carrol ISD. Steve Johnson and Sonny Cruse of Huntsville ISD with Jason Bullock, Anita Herbert and Todd Stephens of Magnolia ISD.

Harold Ramm of Groesbeck ISD and Billy Bowman, retired superintendent. Keith Brown and Rodney Fausett of Bay City ISD.

Billy Wiggins and James Story of Calhoun County ISD with Larry Nichols of Galveston ISD.

Annette Brigham and Martha Carrasco of Canutillo ISD.

Kevin and Sherri Spiller of Seagraves ISD. 24

Texas School Business • March 2013

Connie Wallace of Teaching Trust, James Colbert of West Orange-Cove CISD and Yolanda Knight of Dallas ISD.

Jim Stewart, retired superintendent, with Curtis Rhodes and Beth Briscoe of Needville ISD and Steve Murray of Bastrop ISD.


Who’s News Birdville ISD Suzy Compton is the district’s new assistant director of human resources, moving up from her most recent position as program coordinator in that department, where she has served since 2000. Prior to that, she Suzy Compton was an assistant principal at Smithfield Elementary from 1998 to 2000 and an assistant principal of Richland High School from 1991 to 1998. In addition, she taught physical education and health at several Birdville ISD campuses. Compton, who earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Arlington, holds a master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University. Paige Curry has been named director of human resources. She has been serving as a coordinator in that department since 2005. She was a teacher in Lake Charles County Schools in La Plata, Md., and in Bossier Paige Curry City Schools in Benton, La., and was a counselor for Rutherford County School in Murfreesboro, Tenn. She came to Texas in 1998, joining Birdville ISD as a counselor at Richland High School. She then was lead counselor and assistant principal at Hardeman Elementary before taking her most recent position. Curry holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University and her master’s degree is from Louisiana Tech University. Brady ISD Johnny Clawson has been named superintendent. Conroe ISD A new principal has been hired for Houser Elementary School. She is Angela Griffin, who most recently was assistant principal of Wilkinson Elementary. She began her career as a first grade teacher in FriendAngela Griffin

swood ISD and has been with Conroe ISD for six years, five of those as an administrator and one as a fourth grade teacher at Ford Elementary. Griffin earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and her master’s degree from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Dallas ISD Dallas ISD’s new chief financial officer is Rene Barajas, who comes to his new position from Garland ISD, where he was assistant superintendent of business operations and chief financial officer for the past five Rene Barajas years. Prior to that, he spent seven years with San Marcos CISD. Barajas received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at San Antonio. His doctoral degree in administration was earned at The University of Texas. Alan King has been appointed to serve as interim chief internal auditor. Initially hired in 2011 to serve as the district’s chief financial officer, he was named to the position of interim superintendent six months Alan King later and served in that capacity for the 2011-2012 school year. He is a CPA with 34 years’ experience in school business management. Prior to coming to Dallas ISD, King was deputy superintendent in Lewisville ISD for 12 years and held similar positions in Goose Creek and Harlingen ISDs. Jerome Oberlton, most recently chief technology officer of the Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland, is now chief of staff. He returns to Dallas, where he was president of Global Technology Services and chief information officer at Mannatech Inc., in Coppell, before he moved to Maryland. Oberlton earned his bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University and his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago. In addition, he completed public education leadership and executive leadership development programs at Harvard University.

Denton ISD Jeff Smith, who had been assistant principal of Harpool Middle School since it opened in 2008, has been promoted to principal. He was previously an assistant principal at Strickland Middle School. He was a seventh grade science teacher at McMath Middle School for four years, also serving as the school’s head basketball coach and summer basketball program coordinator. Smith, who is a graduate of Denton High School, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Texas. El Paso ISD Manuel Castruita has been named the district’s director of guidance services. He comes to his new position from Ysleta ISD, also in El Paso, where he spent 22 years as a teacher, high school guidance counselor, a Drop Out Recovery program director, GEAR UP program director and counselor coordinator. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in guidance counseling. The district has hired Linda Samples as its in-house legal counsel. Since 2005, she has been general counsel with the law firm Baskind & Hosford, which represents many districts within ESC Region 19. She served on the board of trustees for Canutillo ISD from 2000 to 2002. Hamilton ISD A new superintendent is in place for the district. He is Clay Tarpley, who was superintendent of Throckmorton ISD since 2009. Prior to that assignment, he spent two years as a high school principal in Vernon ISD. Clay Tarpley Hempstead ISD Superintendent Gene Glover retired at the end of January. He took his first education job as an agribusiness teacher at the Young Vocational Center in Salem, N.J., in 1976. He next spent three years as director of the career education department at Downington Industrial and Agricultural School in Downington, Pa. See WHO’S NEWS on page 27 March 2013 • Texas School Business

25


TCWSE hosts annual conference Members of the Texas Council of Women School Executives convened in Austin in January for the organization’s annual conference, whose theme was “Leadership is not a destination; it’s a journey.”

Laura Fowler of The Fowler Law Firm PC with Desiree Prevo, Sasha Owens, Christina Winters Gears and Erin Downey of Creating & Managing Wealth LLC.

Rosa Hernandez and Danette Maldonado of Houston ISD.

Sharon Ross of Jefferson ISD, Pat Ramirez of John H. Wood Jr. Charter District, LaTonya Goffney of Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD, Denise Daniels of Katy ISD, Stacy McGraw of Little Elm ISD and Jean Bahney of Austin ISD. Alma “Lorena” Zertuche, Susie Garza and Susan Sanchez of Katy ISD. Nancy Ham, Patricia Thomas and Robye Snyder of Spring Branch ISD.

Lisa Meysembourg of Schulenburg ISD and Cheryl Burns of Smithville ISD. 26

Texas School Business • March 2013

Genie Linn of The University of Texas at Tyler, Debi Crawford of Hawkins ISD and Clayton Renfroe of Imagine Learning.

Scott Milder of Friends of Texas Public Schools and LuAnna Stephens of Lamar University.


Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 25

His first job in Texas was as a biology teacher and coach in Calvert ISD. A year later, he transferred to Crockett ISD, where he served first as a vocational Gene Glover agriculture teacher and then as an elementary school assistant principal. He next moved to Kennard ISD to take his first principalship, ultimately becoming the district’s superintendent. He spent three years with ESC Region 6 in Huntsville and then was a principal in Rice CISD, returning to Kennard to serve as superintendent. He was superintendent of Hempstead ISD since 2008. Glover earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural education from Prairie View A&M University. Stepping into the role of interim superintendent is Sharon Young, who had been serving as the district’s deputy superintendent. She began her career as a math and science teacher in Centerville ISD. She then worked in similar capacities in Groveton and Lufkin ISDs before taking her first administrative position in Kennard ISD as the district’s elementary principal. She came to Hempstead in 2008 as principal of Hempstead High School. In addition, she has been an instructor and consultant for Angelina College, ESC Region 6 and Stephen F. Austin State University. Young’s bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s and doctoral degrees in educational leadership were earned from Stephen F. Austin State University. Lockhart ISD Laura Gilcrease is now principal of Lockhart Junior High School. She was most recently an assistant principal of Lockhart High School. Prior to that, she served as an assistant principal in Laura Gilcrease Gonzales ISD and as a teacher and coach in Navarro ISD. Gilcrease received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University).

The new principal of Carver Kindergarten is Karen Nixon, who had been leading the school in an interim position. Prior to that, she spent two years as the school’s assistant principal. She has been with Lockhart Karen Nixon ISD for five years, also working as a teacher, coach and assistant principal at Lockhart Junior High.

Lubbock ISD Six Lubbock ISD campuses are being consolidated into three new or newly remodeled elementary schools, all slated to be open for the 2013-2014 academic year. Kevin Booe, currently principal of Williams Elementary, will be the principal of a new school, Miller Elementary, which will begin construction this summer. The principal of the new Ervin ElemenKevin Booe tary School, now under construction, will be Margaret Randle. She is the principal of Wheatley Elementary and will continue in that position until the new school opens. Margaret Randle Parkway Elementary Principal Kevin Word will transition to serve as principal of Alderson Elementary School when the remodeling of the building that was Alderson Middle School is completed. Kevin Word Word came to Lubbock ISD in the fall of 2012 from Amarillo ISD. Lufkin ISD Superintendent Roy Knight has announced his upcoming retirement after seven years in the position. An educator for 39 years, he began his career in Cameron ISD as a teacher and coach. He was an assistant coach and math teacher at Lufkin High School from 1977 to 1983,

going on to serve as a principal in DeKalb, Huntsville and Lufkin ISDs. Manor ISD Kevin Brackmeyer, who had been serving as the district’s interim superintendent since June, has been named superintendent. He began his career as a teacher in 1989 at Harlingen ISD’s Harlingen Kevin Brackmeyer High School South, taking his first administrative position five years later as assistant principal of Coakley Middle School in Harlingen ISD. He next served as principal of that school. In 2008, he moved to Austin to work for Austin ISD as an executive principal for the office of middle schools. He became principal of Manor High School in Manor ISD a year later. Brackmeyer earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and his master’s degree in educational administration from The University of Texas at Brownsville. Northside ISD Bonnie Ellison, former director of school-businesscommunity partnerships, retired at the end of December. She joined Northside ISD in 1972 as the district’s first public information director. During her Bonnie Ellison tenure, she was president of the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) and the national School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). While serving on the NSPRA board, she helped develop the National Flag of Learning and Liberty, which was raised over the national Capitol and all 50 state capitols. In addition, she coordinated the national education campaign for the First Teacher in Space program. She helped to establish Northside ISD’s partnerships office and was instrumental in developing the Northside Education See WHO’S NEWS on page 28 March 2013 • Texas School Business

27


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

Foundation and the Northside Museum Association. Ellison served as director of the partnerships office until her retirement. Stepping into Ellison’s shoes as director of schoolbusiness-community partnerships is Cassandra Miranda, who comes to her new position from NASA, where she spent the past five years as supervisor Cassandra for communications Miranda and Internet services. Prior to her time at NASA, she was a senior director for Cause Marketing Initiatives with the Texas affiliate of the American Heart Association. She also served as the communications and community relations supervisor for the Central Texas district of UPS. Miranda earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio and her master’s degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. Pilot Point ISD Superintendent Glenn Barber has announced his upcoming retirement, effective at the end of the school year. He began his career in 1975 as a teacher and coach in a private Fort Worth school, going on to spend 17 years as superintendent of two Texas districts in addition to Pilot Point, where he has served since 2007. His bachelor’s degree in music education and master’s and doctoral degrees in educational administration were awarded from the University of North Texas. Reagan County ISD Steve Long, former superintendent of Glasscock ISD, is the district’s new superintendent. Round Rock ISD Robbin Gesch has been appointed assistant superintendent of instructional support. She came to the district in 2004. Most recently she served as the director of student support services and college/career readiness. Since joining the district, Gesch also has been lead elementary language arts curriculum specialist 28

Texas School Business • March 2013

and director of curriculum. In addition, she is an associate curriculum auditor for Curriculum Management Systems, where she has participated in curriculum audits for numerous Robbin Gesch districts. Previously, in San Angelo ISD, she was executive director for curriculum, assessment and federal programs. Also in that district, she was a teacher, primary and secondary counselor, guidance specialist, and director of guidance and counseling. Gesch earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Texas Tech University and her master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Angelo State University. Round Top-Carmine ISD A new superintendent is in place. Adren Pilger, who was an agriculture science teacher in the district, began his career as a teacher in Iola ISD. He subsequently served as a principal in Bryan ISD. Socorro ISD Sylvia Esparza is now principal of Montwood Middle School. She has spent her 21-year career in Socorro ISD, beginning as a science teacher at Socorro Middle School. She transferred to SoSylvia Esparza corro High School in 1992 and has seven years experience as an assistant principal. She has been Teacher of the Year at both Socorro Middle School and Socorro High School and was TASSP’s ESC Region 19 Assistant Principal of the Year for 20072008. Esparza’s degrees were awarded from The University of Texas at El Paso. Norma Myers has been named principal of O’Shea Keleher Elementary School. An educator for 20 years, she began her career in El Paso’s Ysleta ISD. With Socorro ISD, she taught Norma Myers at Hueco Elementary

and was a counselor at KEYS Academy and Montwood Middle School. She then was named assistant director of the Radford School, a private school in El Paso. Returning to Socorro ISD, she spent five years as an assistant principal at Chavez Elementary. Myers serves on the Assistant Principal Leadership Team and was ESC Region 19’s Assistant Principal of the Year for 2011-2012. A new school, which will be a combination elementary and middle school, will open for the 2013-2014 school year. Two principals have been named. Rosa Chavez-Avedician will lead Butler Elementary School. She has been an educator for 21 years, beginning her career in Ysleta ISD, where she was an elementary teacher and a Title I coordinator. She Rosa ChavezAvedician was an assistant principal of Tierra Del Sol Elementary before joining Socorro ISD. She has been principal of her most recent school, O’Shea Keleher Elementary, since 2007. At the helm of Puentes Middle School will be Libby Tidwell, an educator who has spent 32 of her 34 years as an educator with Socorro ISD. She was a teacher for 19 years, working with grades one through Libby Tidwell eight, then was an assistant principal for five years at Montwood and Socorro middle schools and at Hueco Elementary. She has been Montwood Middle School’s principal for the past 10 years. Tomball ISD After 46 years as an educator, Superintendent John Neubauer will retire in June. He began his career in Tomball ISD in 1967, teaching sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students and serving as a coach. He went John Neubauer on to work as assistant


Who’s News principal and principal of Tomball High School, a position he held for 15 years, and as assistant superintendent for administration. He has been superintendent for 16 years. A new administration building, which opened in 2012 on the site of the school where he initially taught, was named in Neubauer’s honor. Tyler ISD Gary Mooring has been named superintendent after serving in the interim position since August. He began his career as a gifted and talented teacher, going on to serve as an assistant principal, principal, and Gary Mooring superintendent of two districts, Bishop CISD and Hutto ISD. He came to Tyler ISD in 2006 as deputy superintendent and also was interim director of special programs, interim transporta-

tion director, and a consultant during the process of developing the district’s operations manual. In 2010, he joined Tyler Junior College as director of dual credit. Mooring earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from West Texas A&M University and his master’s degree in education administration from The University of Texas at Tyler. Wink-Loving ISD Superintendent John Benham retired at the end of January after 19 years of service to the district. New Superintendent DeWitt Smith comes to the district from Tom Bean ISD, where he was a principal. He began his career as a teacher in Arlington ISD and later moved to Everman ISD as an assistant principal. TSB

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THE BACK PAGE by Riney Jordan

Advertiser Index

Life: It’s all about choices

A

s I listened to a group of educators at the end of a long school day, it suddenly occurred to me that everything they were saying was negative. One was complaining of an entire class of students. Another was attacking another co-worker. And yet another was complaining of policy. Goodness gracious! Wasn’t there anything for which to be grateful? It’s really easy to get into that rut, isn’t it? Lou Holtz once said, “Never tell your problems to anyone. Twenty percent don’t care and the other 80 percent are glad you have them.” I suspect that there may be some truth to that. All of this complaining reminds me of the story of the teacher who brought his lunch to school every day. On Monday, he took out his bologna sandwich and ate it without any comment. The next day, over another bologna sandwich, he muttered, “I can’t believe I’ve got bologna again.” Well, when it turned out to be bologna on the third day, he ranted, “This is ridiculous! Day after day, all I get is bologna!” “Perhaps you should tell your wife not to make you a bologna sandwich for a few days,” his co-worker responded. “Hey, don’t bring my wife into this! I make my own lunch every morning!” Author and speaker Jim Rohn once said, “If you want things to change, then you have to change. If you want things to get better, you have to get better.” I couldn’t agree more. Our schools are often breeding places for negativity. Of all the institutions that do not need negative comments, it is our schools. What can we do to turn some of this around? 1. Avoid those people who drag you down with them. One of my favorite teachers used to remind us that “one bad apple spoils the barrel.” When we are being bombarded constantly with negative comments and thoughts by those around us, we begin to make negative remarks as well. We join right in, thinking that we’re helping the situation. In nearly all cases, nothing could be further from the truth. 30

Texas School Business • March 2013

2. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Who among us did not repeatedly hear that from our parents? It’s absolutely the truth! Not only does it tear someone else down, it’s tearing us down as well. Let’s strive to be the person who is remembered as someone who always found something good to say about everybody. 3. Your attitude is everything! One of the most beautiful examples I’ve ever read told of a young, blind boy sitting along a busy street. His sign read, “I am blind. Please help.” As a gentleman walked by each day, he noticed that the boy would collect only a few coins. After dropping some money into the boy’s small collection, the man picked up the sign, turned it over and wrote a few words for others to see as they passed by. Late that afternoon, the gentleman again walked past the young boy and noticed that the young boy’s plate was nearly running over. “I see you’re doing much, much better today,” the man said. “Yes,” the boy responded. “Are you the man who rewrote my sign this morning? What did you write that has caused so many people to give money to help me?” “I only wrote the truth, but I said it in a different way,” the man answered. The sign that had read, “I am blind. Please help” now read “Today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it.” Both signs informed the people that the boy was blind, but the new sign made them realize how blessed they were to have their sight. Today, remember that in everything you have a choice. You can be happy or angry. You can choose to be someone who tears people down or builds them up. You can choose to be thankful or ungrateful. The list is endless. Life really is a choice, isn’t it? RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book “All the Difference” is now in its sixth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@yahoo.com or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

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