TSB—May/June 2017

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The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas MAY/JUNE


Texas School Business

Districts of Innovation explained How some Texas school districts are opting for flexibility and local control

Also in this issue: TACS President Bill Alcorn T

TEPSA President Manuel Gonzales Spotlight on Flo Judd of Duncanville High School

More Than 200 Years of Combined Public Finance Experience


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BRADLEY C.F. ANGST, First Vice President 7 Years of Public Finance Experience

THIIRI KIMATHI, Associate 5 Years of Public Finance Experience

LEON JOHNSON, Senior Vice President 43 Years of Public Finance Experience

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DANIEL MAHONEY, Associate 2 Years of Public Finance Experience

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DAVID WEBB, First Vice President 26 Years of K-12 School Finance Experience

CELINA ARELLANO, Executive Assistant 12 Years of Public Finance Experience

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Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017



TACS President Profile Bill Alcorn champions Texas’ smaller, rural schools



In the Spotlight Duncanville High AP Flo Judd’s inspiring educational legacy

TEPSA President Profile Manuel Gonzales strives to support and inspire principals, teachers and students across the state

Cover Story Districts of Innovation explained by Dacia Rivers

Departments 6 Who’s News 26 Regional View 29 Calendar 32 The Arts 34 Ad Index


5 From the Editor by Dacia Rivers 9 The Law Dawg— Unleashed by Jim Walsh 11 Digital Frontier by Roland Rios 13 Game On! by Bobby Hawthorne

Photo Features

34 The Back Page by Riney Jordan

10 TASBO brings more than 3,000 attendees to March conference 12 TCEA members gather in Austin 17 TSPRA conference hits the coast 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.

Is your school district home to the next Texas—or National!—Teacher of the Year? Facilitated by TASA, the Texas Teacher of the Year Program annually recognizes and rewards teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching.

Allison Ashley Austin ISD 2017 Elementary Teacher of the Year and Texas nominee for National Teacher of the Year

Deborah Campbell San Angelo ISD 2017 Secondary Teacher of the Year

It all begins at the school and district level! Each school district and open-enrollment charter school may nominate two teachers — one elementary and one secondary educator — by completing the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year application form (available at tasanet.org/TexasTOY) and providing all requested information to their regional education service center by June 7, 2017. All district nominees will advance to regional competition, coordinated by each ESC. The 40 regional winners (one elementary teacher and one secondary teacher for each region) will then become semifinalists for Texas Teacher of the Year. Six finalists will be chosen, and following an interview process, the Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year and Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year will be selected. One will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year program.

Who is eligible? While the program traditionally recognizes classroom teachers, school librarians and counselors who teach students at least four hours per day may be nominated for regional, state, and national honors. Educators must be nominated by the accredited public school in which they were employed full time during the school year in which they were nominated.

Why should districts participate? The positive effects of your district’s nominations can be felt community- and statewide. n n n n n

Deserving teachers feel honored and appreciated. Students feel pride when their teachers are recognized. Parents are reassured that their children are learning from well-regarded professionals. Schools, districts, and their communities receive positive attention and media coverage. Texas public education as a whole benefits from shining the spotlight on the state’s best teachers.

Nominate your district’s teachers of the year by June 7!

TASA tasanet.org/TexasTOY

From the editor


f this issue were any more full of good news about Texas public schools, we’d have had to pay more to mail it to you. For our feature story this month, I spoke to several superintendents who have either opted in or out of the TEA’s Districts of Innovation distinction to find out their reasons for seeking, or not seeking, exemptions from parts of the TEC. Their input was enlightening and something I hope will be helpful to other administrators who are curious about the process and the results. If you’re looking for a little inspiration to get you through the final days of the school year, flip to page 22 for this issue’s Spotlight, a profile on Ms. Flo Judd, who has been serving as associate principal of Duncanville since 1986 and still looks forward to coming to work each and every day—no small feat. In this issue’s Regional View, you’ll learn about the cutting-edge Early Scholars Academy in Corpus Christi, where Coastal Bend youngsters get a head start on hands-on learning and discovery. And don’t miss The Arts, in which Jaime Vela of A.C. Jones High School in Beeville talks about the school’s growing musicbased performing arts programs. Enjoy the remaining days of the school year; summer is on its way.

Texas School Business (ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) MAY / JUNE 2017 Volume LXIV, Issue 3 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-477-6361 • Fax: 512-482-8658 www.texasschoolbusiness.com

Dacia Rivers Editorial Director


Dacia Rivers DESIGN

Phaedra Strecher COLUMNISTS

Bobby Hawthorne Riney Jordan Roland Rios Jim Walsh ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER

Ann M. Halstead


Johnny L. Veselka



Amy Francisco

Texas School Business (ISSN 0563-2978) is published bimonthly with a special edition, Bragging Rights, in December, by the Texas Association of School Administrators, at 406 E. 11th St., Austin, TX 78701. Periodicals postage paid at Austin, Texas, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701. © Copyright 2017 Texas Association of School Administrators

Ann M. Halstead

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017


Who’s News

Boerne ISD

Jennifer Wright, counselor, Northside

superintendent of Boerne ISD for the past six years, will retire at the end of June, concluding a 44-year career as an educator, nine of those with BISD. He began as a teacher and coach in Woodlawn, Ill., coming to Texas in 1983 to serve in the same capacities in San Antonio’s Northside ISD. He took his first principalship in Harlandale ISD in 1998, remaining there for 10 years before coming to Boerne. Stelmazewski earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Eastern Illinois University.

Elementary School.

Abilene ISD Kimberly Brumley, formerly with Corpus

Christi ISD, is Abilene ISD’s new executive director of curriculum and instruction. Now serving as assistant athletic director is Chuck Griffin, who comes to the district from Georgetown ISD.

Aledo ISD A principal is in place for the new Walsh Elementary School, which will open in August. Sheri Coll began her career in Tucson. She then transferred to Douglas County Public Schools, near Denver, spending the past six years as a middle school assistant principal. She received her bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Arizona and her master’s degree in education administration from the University of Phoenix.

Angleton ISD Elijah Bouldin, a former

assistant athletic trainer for the Houston Texans, is now Angleton High School’s head athletic trainer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Georgia State University and a master’s degree in athletic training from Florida International University. Former public information officer Hanna Chalmers is now the district’s director of public information. An employee of AISD for 13 years, she earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Stephen F. Austin State University and her master’s degree in education from Lamar University. Michelle LeBleu, director of

special education services, comes to Angleton ISD from Fort Bend ISD, where she was director of special education. An educator for 25 years, she has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from McNeese State University and a master’s degree from the University of HoustonClear Lake. Additional new district hires include: Beverly Beadel, counselor, Southside Elementary School; Kirk Crim, director of maintenance and

custodial services;


Stephanie Williams, counselor, Angleton Junior High School;

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

Austin ISD The district has hired a new director of construction management. Gordon King, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Rice University and a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has consulted and worked with MIT, the University of Hawaii, Suffolk University, the Massachusetts Port Authority and, in Texas, Fort Bend ISD.

Bastrop ISD Bastrop ISD announces the appointment of Jennifer Edenfield as director of student advancement. She began her career in Galena Park ISD, transferring to Clear Creek ISD as the district’s agriculture science manager, then to Brazosport ISD as director of career technical education. She is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a master’s degree in administration and curriculum and instruction from Houston Baptist University.

David Stelmazewski,

Brownsboro ISD A new district resource officer is in place for the district. Chad Wilhelm comes to Brownsboro from Duncanville ISD, where he was director of safety and security. He has 20 years of law enforcement experience, including leading departments in Marshall and Kerens ISDs.

Bullard ISD Bay City ISD Two years after retiring as superintendent of El Campo ISD, Mark Pool has agreed to serve as Bay City ISD’s interim superintendent. A graduate of Texas A&M University with bachelor’s degrees in animal science and agriculture education, he earned his master’s degree and did postgraduate work at Stephen F. Austin State University. Pool has been an educator for 37 years, 22 of those as a superintendent.

Belton ISD Robert Muller, who most recently taught in the department of educational administration and human resource development at Texas A&M University, is now Belton ISD’s deputy superintendent. With more than 25 years of experience as in educational administration, he has served in districts in Oklahoma and Texas as a teacher, coach, principal and administrator. The former superintendent of Killeen ISD holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Oklahoma State University, where he also earned his master’s degree in educational administration. He received his doctorate from the University of Texas.

Bullard ISD has named Roy Logan chief of its new police department. He has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, including work as a school resource officer.

Cedar Hill ISD Jamie Brown, the district’s new executive director of communications, most recently worked in private sector public relations in Fort Worth after beginning her career in television news with ABC and CBS affiliates in Dallas. She is a graduate of Midwestern State University.

Now serving as chief of police is James Hawthorne, who brings to his new job 30 years of experience in law enforcement. He was an assistant chief with the Arlington Police Department and has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Arlington and Southern Methodist University. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Arlington. The new head football coach at Cedar Hill High School, Carlos Lynn, held the same position at Seguin High in Arlington

ISD. Prior to that, he was on the UT Longhorns’ coaching team for 10 years. He previously was with Cedar Hill ISD at Cedar Hill High School as defensive line coach and defensive coordinator. Sherra McGaha, director

of business services, has 20 years of experience in management, accounting, financial analysis and reporting, having worked as a chief financial officer, budget and contract coordinator, senior accountant, and tax compliance specialist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human development and business. Zandra Webb, now principal

of Cedar Hill lSD’s Ninth Grade Center, has been an educator for 15 years, most recently working as an instructional coach and dean of instruction at Martin Junior High in Arlington ISD. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and a master’s degree in education administration from Grand Canyon University. She is at work on a doctorate in educational leadership at Northcentral University. Christina Williamson

Cypress-Fairbanks ISD After 45 years in law enforcement, chief of police Alan Bragg has announced his retirement, effective in June. He came to CFISD in 2012 as the district’s first chief of police after 21 years in the same capacity at Spring ISD. A new campus athletics director and head football coach has been named for Cypress Falls High School. Chris Brister, who had been serving as the team’s defensive coordinator, has 21 years of coaching experience, 15 of those in the district. A native of Cypress, he is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Shawn McAnear, who is wrapping up his

20th year as band director at Cypress Falls High School, will fill the same position at Bridgeland High School, scheduled to open in August. McAnear holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Texas State University and a master’s degree in education administration from Lamar University. Copeland Elementary School’s new principal, Ann Melancon, has spent 20 of her 24 years as an educator with CFISD, joining the district from Lafayette Parish, La. The University of Louisiana graduate took her first administrator position when she was appointed a curriculum coach. Melancon has a master’s degree in educational administration from Lamar University.

is the district’s new communications coordinator. Formerly Krum ISD’s information officer and liaison to that district’s education foundation, she also has worked as a reporter, photographer and copy editor for the Killeen Daily Herald and the Temple Daily Telegram. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University.

When Bridgeland High School opens its doors for the 2017-18 academic year, David Raffield will be campus athletic coordinator and head coach. Most recently employed in the same position at A&M Consolidated High School in College Station ISD, he worked in CFISD in 1992 as an assistant coach. Raffield earned his associate’s degree from Kilgore College, his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and his master’s degree in education administration from Prairie View A&M University.

Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD

A new principal, Dawn Tryon, has been named for Keith Elementary School. The former Robinson Elementary assistant principal has spent her 20-year career in the district. She helped open Robinson in 2007, serving as an instructional specialist for a year before taking her most recent post. Tryon, who is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University), holds a master’s degree in educational administration and management from Prairie View A&M University.

The district’s new superintendent is Leland Moore. With 35 years of experience as an educator, 18 of those as a superintendent, he had served in the top position on an interim basis since July.

Conroe ISD The district’s new director of assessment, evaluation, accountability and school improvement is Tamika Taylor, who most recently was principal of Travis Intermediate School. She has also been an assistant principal at Rice Elementary and a counselor and teacher at Runyan Elementary.

Dallas ISD Dallas ISD has announced the appointment of Billy Snow as chief of transportation and innovation. The former Louisiana educator has 21 years of experience in education, most recently holding the same position in

Caddo Parish Public Schools in Shreveport. He has a bachelor’s degree from East Texas State University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Texas A&M University at Commerce and is at work on his doctorate from Tarleton State University.

Denton Joel Hays is the new

principal of Denton High School after serving in an interim capacity. A graduate of Denton High, he has been an employee of the district since 1993. He began as a chemistry teacher, going on to serve as chair of the science department at Ryan High and associate principal of both Ryan and Denton high schools. Hays earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University and his master’s degree in education administration from the University of North Texas.

Duncanville ISD The district has welcomed Clint Harper as its new athletic director. He comes to Duncanville from Marshall ISD, where he was athletic director and head football coach. Prior to that, he was a head football coach and campus coordinator in Leander ISD. He is a graduate of Hardin-Simmons University.

East Chambers ISD Allen Koch is now serving as principal of his alma mater, East Chambers High School. The Rice University graduate received his master’s degree from Lamar University and previously taught and coached at Tatum High in Tatum ISD before taking his most recent position as the school’s principal. In addition, he is the former athletic director and head coach at Kirbyville ISD’s Kirbyville High and assistant principal of Barbers Hill High in Barbers Hill ISD.

El Paso ISD Darren Cole has been named principal of Terrace Hills Middle School. An employee of the district since 2014, he is a former police officer and detective in the Norfolk (Va.) Police Department. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Old Dominion University and master’s degrees from the University of Phoenix and Sul Ross State University. Cole is at work on his doctorate at Texas A&M University at Commerce. > See Who’s News, page 8 Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017


Who’s News > Continued from page 7

The new principal of Andress High School is Joseph Manago, former principal of Richardson Middle School. He has been an English teacher in El Paso’s Ysleta and Socorro ISDs and a high school assistant principal and assistant fine arts director in Socorro ISD. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees were awarded from the University of Texas at El Paso. Shawn Mena, who was

director of the Arts and Humanities Academy at Akins High School in Austin ISD, is the new principal of Franklin High School. She previously taught in Ysleta ISD and was a lecturer at both the University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College. Her bachelor’s and master’s degrees were earned from the University of Texas at El Paso. She is pursuing her doctorate. Austin High School’s new head football coach, Eric Pichardo, was most recently defensive coordinator at Bowie High.

Friendswood ISD Superintendent Trish Hanks, who has led the district for 15 years, has announced her upcoming retirement. When she steps down in June it will culminate a 39-year career with Friendswood ISD, where she has served as a teacher, speech pathologist, assistant principal, director of special education and special programs, director of personnel, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and deputy superintendent. She was recognized this spring as Distinguished Educator of the Year by Sam Houston State University. Hanks earned her master’s degree from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, where she has been an adjunct professor.

Frisco ISD Superintendent Jeremy Lyon, who has led Frisco ISD for the past four years, will conclude his 31-year career with his retirement at the end of June. He began in Gilmer ISD as a high school science teacher and coach.

Forney ISD

Greenville ISD

Now serving as principal of Warren Middle School is Sondra Floyd, who began her career in 2000 as a teacher in Birdville ISD. She was previously assistant principal of Keller Middle School in Keller ISD and also serves as an evaluator and trainer for Texas Schools to Watch. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas Woman’s University.

The Greenville ISD board of trustees announces the approval of Demetrus Liggins as superintendent. He comes to Greenville from Grand Prairie ISD, where he spent the past two years as an area superintendent. Liggins, who earned his bachelor’s degree from California State University at Fresno, holds a master’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin State University and a doctorate in education leadership from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Frankston ISD John Allen was named

superintendent of Frankston ISD in August. He most recently served five years with KIPP Houston Public Schools as deputy head of schools. Prior to his tenure there, he spent 22 years working in Houston ISD high schools as a teacher, associate principal, principal, and school improvement officer. Allen holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stephen F. Austin State University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Prairie View A&M University.


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

Hallsville ISD The district’s new athletic director and head coach, Joe Drennon, comes to his new job from Mineola ISD, where he held the same position.

Harris County Department of Education Gregory Lookabaugh has been hired as executive director of facilities support services. With more than 35 years of experience, he was formerly HCDE’s senior manager of facilities planning. In

addition, he is a frequent keynote speaker on facilities management topics and assisted the U.S. Department of Energy in preparing the Guide to Operating and Maintaining Energy Smart Schools. He is a graduate of Lamar University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering/industrial technology. Kimberly McLeod, HCDE’s assistant superintendent for education and enrichment, was sworn in as president of the Texas Alliance of Black School Educators (TABSE) during the organization’s annual convention, held in Houston in February. She will serve a three-year term.

Hearne ISD Hearne ISD announces the appointment of Ricky Sargent as athletic director and head football coach. A former head and assistant coach in public and private schools and community social service agencies, Sargent earned his master’s degree in educational administration from Prairie View A&M University.

Houston ISD Rene Barajas, who comes from Garland ISD, where he was deputy superintendent and chief financial officer, is now Houston ISD’s chief financial officer. In addition to his time in Garland, he was an assistant superintendent for business and support services in San Marcos CISD and worked as a business manager and internal auditor in other Texas districts.

Now serving as HISD’s chief of staff is Cynthia Wilson, who most recently served in the same capacity in Dallas ISD. She is a former HISD employee, having worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and area and regional superintendent. She returns to Houston from South Carolina’s Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5, where she was a superintendent.

Ira ISD Superintendent Jay Waller has announced his upcoming retirement, effective June 30. An educator for 33 years, 22 of those as an agriculture science teacher, he has been with Ira ISD since 1999. He became principal in 2006 and in 2009 was named superintendent. He earned an associate’s degree in ranch and feedlot management from Clarendon College and his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Texas Tech University and master’s degree in education from Sul Ross State University. > See Who’s News, page 18


Texas’ non-existent teachers’ unions make a convenient scapegoat by Jim Walsh


verybody knows how evil teachers’ unions are. They use their political and financial muscle to protect bad teachers. You can’t get rid of a bad teacher. The union will protect that teacher. That’s why our schools are so bad. You hear that a lot, and much of it has been repeated for so long and so often that it’s become the conventional wisdom. But it’s simply not true. Now let me quickly qualify that statement. I’m not talking about New York, or California, or Illinois. Those states have real honestto-gosh teachers’ unions. Those teachers’ unions play hardball in negotiations with the school board over salary, leave time, class size, the evaluation system—everything. The teachers in those states go on strike sometimes. The law in those states allows for collective bargaining. Thus we hear horror stories of outrageously bad teachers who are still on the payroll due to the power of the union and the specifics of the collective bargaining agreement. But none of that happens in Texas. Collective bargaining in the public sector is illegal. Teacher strikes are illegal. Most of the teacher organizations avoid the word “union.” There’s one that claims to be a union, but claiming to be a union does not make you a union. If you don’t have the power of a teachers’ union, you are not a teachers’ union. We have no teachers’ unions in Texas. I think we would all agree that United Steelworkers is a union. Their website defines the term: “A union is a group of people working together to improve their work lives through collective bargaining.” (Emphasis added). We don’t have collective bargaining. Therefore, we don’t have teachers’ unions. So

whatever is wrong with public education in Texas cannot be blamed on “teachers’ unions.” This is the main reason why it’s not that hard for a school district to separate itself from a poor teacher. It may be nigh on to impossible to get rid of a bad teacher in school districts that have collective bargaining agreements with strong unions. But that’s not the case in the Lone Star State. Teachers are on probation for up to three years, and can be let go at the end of the year without a hearing or an explanation. After probation, the teacher gets a term contract. The district can choose not to renew that contract for any one of more than 30 reasons, provided that it gives the teacher the opportunity for a hearing before the school board. The district does not have to show “good cause.” It just has to show some evidence to support its case and present that case to a body that is usually in sync with the administration. Termination of a teacher’s contract midterm is more difficult, and is usually reserved for clear cases of teacher misconduct. The point is—it’s not that hard to weed out a weak teacher. Of course the administration has to play fair. The principal has to observe the teacher and produce some evidence to support the case. But that’s just fair play, the kind of system we would expect to be in place in any workplace. It’s frustrating to hear Texas politicians repeating the lie that teachers’ unions are to blame for the problems in public education. It enables them to avoid talking about the real problems. Teachers’ unions make for a very convenient scapegoat. And when politicians repeatedly fail to do their job of supporting our public schools, they need a scapegoat.


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JIM WALSH is an attorney with Walsh Gallegos Treviño Russo & Kyle PC. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @jwalshtxlawdawg. Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017


Photo Feature

TASBO BRINGS MORE THAN 3,000 ATTENDEES TO MARCH CONFERENCE Austin served as the host city for the Texas Association of School Board’s 71st annual conference.

▲ TASBO attendees celebrate Fat Tuesday at the exhibit of Medicaid Finance & Consulting Service, a division of Houston ISD. Their booth won best booth and best themed booth.

▲ TASBO International

Executive Director John Musso chats with 2016-17 TASBO Board President Karen Smith (Asst Superintendent Business & Financial Services for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD).

▲ Keynote speaker Juliet Funt over-

sees discussion in her follow-up Deep Dive session on managing time and contemplation.

► Eanes ISD Chief Operations Officer Jeremy Trimble leads a breakout session.

▲ TASBO’s 2017-18 Board Officers

(left to right) – President-Elect Jonathan Bey, Executive Director of Purchasing, Fort Worth ISD; Immediate Past President Karen Smith, Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD; President Randy McDowell, CFO, Rockwall ISD; and Vice President Julie Novak, CFO, Fort Sam Houston ISD.

▲ Lubbock ISD CFO and TASBO Board Member Jeff Baum gives Jacksonville ISD Associate Superintendent of Finance & Operations Lindy Finley a big hug. Lindy was named TASBO’s 2017 Commitment to Excellence Recipient.

▲ At TASBO’s Presidents Reception

▲ TASBO Executive

- Jenny Schulz, Financial Systems Administrator, Klein ISD; Audrey Ambridge, Director of Accounting, Klein ISD; and Lisa Morstad, Senior Analytics Advisor, Forecast5 Analytics, Inc.

Director Tracy Ginsburg (right) presents Randy McDowell, Rockwall ISD CFO, with a framed story from Texas School Business. Randy just became TASBO’s 2017-18 Board President.

◄ TASBO keynote speaker Tom Flick

discusses the distinction between leadership and management.

▲ Executive Director Tracy Ginsburg (left) and 201617 Board President Karen Smith (right) present Lisa Dawn-Fisher, retired Chief School Finance Officer with the TEA, with an honorary TASBO Life Membership.


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

▲ McNeil High School Women’s

Select Choir sing the National Anthem as the McNeil High School Air Force JROTC present the colors.

▲ 2017 TASBO Commitment to Excellence Recipient Lindy Finley is surrounded by friends and family from Jacksonville ISD.


Planning for technology: Aiming at a moving target By Roland Rios


ong-range planning is an essential part of a successful school district. Check any district’s website and you’ll find a District Educational Improvement Plan, Campus Educational Improvement Plans, budget forecasts and more. The simple truth is that we, as public educators, have an obligation to plan for and provide quality educations to all our students while also being good stewards of public funds. When we establish these long-range plans, we generally analyze a myriad of data and trends to assure we are planning appropriately. Information such as projected population growth, changes in state assessment and increases in expenditures all play an important part in creating a viable longrange plan. But how do we establish long-range plans in technology—the facet of education that seems to change most rapidly? How can we set a yearly budget when new technologies emerge all the time? How can we stay on the cutting edge of technology when that “edge” moves forward every day? The answer is not easy, and it doesn’t always fit the traditional model of educational planning. Most administrators and school boards want proven data and evidence of successful implementation when initiating new programs in their schools. However, if we truly want schools to provide our students with the tools of the future, and if we want to engage millennials in the learning process, we need to “bend the rules” when aiming at the moving target of technology. To provide our teachers and students the tools they need to succeed, we must make our plans more global and less specific, provide a “cushion” in the budget to allow for emerging technologies, and provide an environment that supports risk-taking.

Make plans more global All too often, when schools plan for technology integration, they plan with very specific tools in mind. While we should have a fairly keen idea of what tools (hardware or software) we hope to use, I find it more advantageous to plan for technological ideas. With the ever-changing landscape of technology, there’s not always a need for exact specificity. If we set the hardware or software we wish to purchase in stone, we might lock ourselves into a tool that may not be the best for our students in a year. So, rather than planning for a district-wide subscription to BestMathTool.com*, simply plan for a subscription to a high quality math intervention program. Rather than specifying a particular device to equip students in a 1:1 environment, plan for the implementation of a 1:1 program that will enable students to create and collaborate anytime and anywhere. Creating technology plans that focus on ideas and not things will serve you better in the long run. Provide a little cushion In our age of technological innovation, new tools appear constantly. Every time I come back from a technology conference (or for that matter, every time any of our staff comes back from a technology conference), there will be a request to purchase the “latest and greatest.” While I fully understand that resources are limited, budgeting for a small amount of wiggle room will allow you to take advantage of emerging technologies without having to wait for another fiscal cycle. If campuses, technology staff and business offices work collaboratively at budget development time and throughout the year, they can ensure open communication about student and staff needs. I’m blessed that our board and leadership support this idea, as there have been times we’ve been able to put

new technologies in the hands of our students long before they become outdated. Now, to take advantage of this idea involves some risk-taking, which leads me to my final point. Encourage some risk-taking To stay ahead of technology, you have to be willing to take risks. If we wait until a new technology has a proven track record and can be supported with hard data, I can almost guarantee the tool will be on its way to obsoletion. Technology just moves too quickly. We need to support and encourage risk-taking and provide a culture where occasional failure is not frowned upon. Years ago, our district took a leap of faith and moved from a “traditional” laptop program to a then brand-new device called a “Chromebook.” Few had tried it in a school setting, and we had nothing but a gut instinct that this was going to be the wave of the future. That risk paid off and our district is fairly well known for its forward thinking on the use of Chromebooks. But it’s not all a bed of roses. We’ve also moved forward with some online services we knew were going to change the educational landscape only to move on to something else within the same school year. However, we owe it to our students and our staff to try new things. As John Dewey so eloquently stated, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of their future.” Clearly, successful planning for educational technology requires a degree of sideways thinking. By integrating a level of flexibility into your long-range goals, you allow your district to remain at the forefront of trends and tools, no matter which direction they may go. *Not an actual service.

DR. ROLAND RIOS serves on the Texas Computer Education Association’s Board of Directors and was the 2017 Convention Chair. Dr. Rios is the Director of Technology at Ft. Sam Houston ISD. Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017


Photo Feature

TCEA MEMBERS GATHER IN AUSTIN The Texas Computer Education Association held its annual conference in Austin in February.

▲ Jessica McCrea, Cherry Ortega and Sara Miller of Sterling City ISD.

▲ Tony Black, Scott Starkey and Kip Hardin of Whitehouse ISD.

▲ Cari Sturch, Stephanie Pullen and Misti Gardner, Commerce ISD.

▲ Donna Klimitcheck, Alicia Chachere, Whitney Burr and Cyndie Menard of Dayton ISD.

◄ Melinda McCormick and Michelle Lockhart, Lockhart ISD. 12

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017


A big win for a changing town by Bobby Hawthorne


y 89-year-old mother is a Muenster High grad, class of ’44, and I have cousins and second cousins all over Cooke and Montague counties. I spent a decent chunk of my youth there, working summers on my aunt and uncle’s dairy farm, digging fence posts, clearing fields of half-moon rocks, baling and stacking hay, filling the silo, and trying to avoid running face-first into those giant garden spiders.

knows how they’ll respond to the pressure?

I remember Muenster before Germanfest, before Fisher’s Market became Fischer’s Market, before the huge windmills and the cue ball water tower, before the old clapboard houses like my grandmother’s on Walnut Street were bulldozed and replaced with modest brick homes, before there was a Baptist or any other church in plain sight other than Sacred Heart Catholic.

“I guess I did a little bit,” he says. “I think I said to myself, ‘There’s no way we can mess this up.’” So, he emptied his bench to make sure every boy could claim he contributed to the victory.

How things have changed. In late March, I drive my mom from Longview to Muenster to poke around and perhaps visit the cemetery, where my grandparents and so many other relatives are buried. It’s the Tuesday after spring break, the kids are back in school, but they’re still giddy. Ten days earlier, the boys basketball team won the 2A state title—the first team sports title in the school’s 120-something year history, so I stop by the field house to chat with head coach Lynn Cook. Has it sunk in? “It really is beyond my wildest expectation,” says Cook, who’s in his 23rd year of coaching. “I never thought that I would be in a position to play in three state tournaments, much less in three state finals, much less to win one. As a coach, that’s always your goal, but how realistic is that?” Of course, he returned five starters from a state finalist, including his son Logan, a 6-foot, 6-inch post who’ll play at St. Edward’s in Austin next year. Cook says he knew they had a chance to be special. He just didn’t know how special. Semi-finalist? Finalist? Champion? Who

Well, they whipped Clarendon in the finals, 73-45. Logan finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds. I ask, “Was there a moment late in the game when you allowed yourself the luxury of thinking, ‘We’re going to win this darn thing?’” He laughs.

Did you cry afterwards? “I thought I would,” Cook says. “But when it was over, I was just so happy for those kids. All their hard work, just knowing what they put into it, what it meant to them—that overrode any chance of me tearing up.” The Monday back from spring break, the players wore their gold medals and team shirts to school. They greeted the elementary school kids being dropped off that morning, and strutted the halls, high-fiving classmates all day long. But now, it’s back to business. Athletes are bopping in and out, banging around, laughing. I ask Cook one last question: Is this the apex, the pinnacle? “As a coach, you can’t think that way,” he says. “We’re losing several good players, but next year’s team has just as good a chance to go win one, too, because of the type of kids we have.” I thank him for his time, and he thanks me. “I’m very happy for the opportunity to talk about these young men,” he says, and I think, “OK, now he’s going to choke up,” but he doesn’t. I then head back out to the farm, to tell my mom, the 1944 MHS grad, all about it. Ironically enough, I get a little misty-eyed on my way there.

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

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017


Districts of Innovation explained

How some Texas school districts are opting for flexibility and local control By Dacia Rivers


n 2015, the 84th Texas Legislature passed a bill that created the ability for school districts with acceptable or better ratings to become Districts of Innovation, a move that exempts those districts from some of the TEC’s statutes. Since then, more than 200 school districts across the state have adopted


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

innovation plans, while still more are in the process of creating their own. The District of Innovation designation was created to give traditional public schools some of the flexibilities charter schools enjoy and provide school districts more local control and autonomy in certain areas.

What it means Districts of Innovation are able to exempt themselves from several parts of the TEC including those related to: • school year start and end dates • length of school day • 90 percent attendance rule • class-size ratios • teacher certification • teacher contracts • certain disciplinary rules • teacher appraisals • planning or conference periods • school uniforms Some rules are not open to flexibility for Districts of Innovation, including: • state assessments • state accountability • school finance • district governance • curriculum • federal requirements • all state laws outside of the TEC To start the process, an eligible district must either create a board resolution or produce a petition signed by the majority of the district advisory committee stating the move to become a District of Innovation. Next, the board must hold a public school board hearing, and a vote must be taken within 30 days to decide if the district will seek the District of Innovation distinction.

If the school board votes to continue the process, members must then create an innovation committee, which will be responsible for creating the district’s innovation plan. As part of this plan, the committee must specify from which areas of the TEC the district is excusing itself. Once the plan is finalized, it must be approved by the majority of the district advisory committee and a two-thirds majority of the school board. The district then posts the plan publicly and becomes an official District of Innovation for the next five years, after which the distinction expires. The final plan does not need to be approved by the TEA, though districts must notify the education commissioner once an innovation plan is complete.

The process in practice El Paso ISD was one of the first districts to adopt an innovation plan. They were on board so early, in fact, that they worked closely with the TEA, serving as a guidepost for other districts and a guinea pig for the program. The 21 members of the district’s innovation committee decided to take exemptions from school start dates, teacher certification, the 90 percent attendance rule, the designation of a campus behavior coordinator, and teacher and administrator appraisals. The committee worked on the plan over the course of 90 days, and it was approved unanimously by the school board.

“I think what’s ironic is that the process of getting the community together, getting our teachers’ associations together and all participating in the process to seek the District of Innovation status was probably as beneficial for us as the actual changes have been,” El Paso ISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera says. “The process was something that really brought our community together.” In Era ISD, near the Oklahoma border, superintendent Jeremy Thompson also chose to become a District of Innovation early. “It gives us some freedom to have local control over things that affect us,” Thompson says. Era stuck a toe into the distinction at first, taking exemptions for only calendar changes, but Thompson says administrators are considering adding more exemptions to their plan in future years.

Calendar changes The one change that nearly all Districts of Innovation have enacted is the ability to change school start dates. In Hemphill ISD, near the Louisiana border, superintendent Reese Briggs says the scheduling flexibility will be especially beneficial to students and the local community. “Starting earlier in August allows us to have a balanced calendar with approximately equal days in each semester,” Briggs says. “Additionally, our community prefers our schools to let out by the end of May, and the exceptions allow us to accomplish this.” > See Innovation, page 16

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017


“Rules are not onesize-fits-all, and the flexibility gives us the opportunity to make decisions that are in our best interest, locally.” — Jeremy Thompson, Era ISD In Hemphill, where the innovation plan takes effect in August, the flexibilities will also allow for built-in student support days in each grading period that won’t count against the district’s average daily attendance and will provide extra one-on-one assistance to students who need it. In addition, the district is adding a one-week break after the fourth and fifth grading periods to boost attendance by allowing that downtime to reduce transfer of flu and cold viruses.

Teacher certification Relaxing certification rules has allowed schools in El Paso to fill teacher positions that were vacant due to a shortage of certified teachers in some speciality areas. Schools in the district were immediately able to use this exemption to hire folks such as business community members to take empty positions. “I’ve quickly been able to fill everything that we’ve had empty,” Cabrera says. “Otherwise it wouldn’t have been filled, which is phenomenal.” Teacher certification flexibility is on the table for future additions to the innovation plan in Era, according to Thompson, especially when it comes to vocational classes, which can be hard to staff with certified teachers in a rural area. “We have a few kids who would like to take a computer science programming class, but we don’t have staff to do that, nor do we have enough students interested to justify a full-time teacher,” Thompson says. “Freedom and flexibility in hiring would allow us to hire a local person that has some computer programming skills and can teach just one to two classes a day.”

Class size When San Antonio ISD became a District of Innovation, the innovation committee only opted for flexibilities related to school time and class-size ratio. Dana Ray, director of charter, magnet and summer schools in the district, explains that the thinking behind this change isn’t to crowd classrooms,


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

but to benefit one particular campus that struggled with an overflowing fifth-grade bilingual class. By adding a few more students to some lower-grade classes, the school hopes to be able to break that large class into two groups. “That was the only campus that really thought about that particular waiver, and even though they wrote a plan as part of our process, they ended up not needing to use it this year,” Ray says. “We applaud them just for being able to think of how they might use it.”

Concerns Some teachers’ associations have expressed concern over District of Innovation exemptions, especially those regarding teacher contracts and certification. To combat this in El Paso, the committee immediately excluded the possibility of including contracts in its list of exemptions, which alleviated the concerns of district teachers, according to Cabrera. Thompson says they’ve done the same in Era, incorporating teachers’ input into the district’s innovation plans to assuage fears, which he understands. “Teachers were involved early in the District of Innovation discussions, and we opened those up for them to give us suggestions about anything,” Thompson says. “We want to make our school districts enticing to good teachers. If anything, we’re trying to use the flexibility to help them.” In San Antonio, Ray says that strategically deciding which exemptions to take, rather than taking them all just because it’s possible, helped mediate fears as well. “We were very cautious in the way we approached this, and I think that helped principals, too, in their planning,” Ray says. “When you just say, ‘We’re gonna take away three statutes instead of 20,’ you can focus and figure out where your energy is best served.”

Keeping the status quo In some districts, such as Miles ISD, outside of San Angelo, administrators have chosen to take a “wait and see” approach to becoming a District of Innovation. Superintendent Robert Gibson says schools in Miles are doing just fine the way things are now, and he sees no reason to fix something that isn’t broken. Some teachers in Miles were skeptical of the TEA’s intentions behind the Districts of Innovation program, a factor that aided the district’s decision to opt out for now. “They want to let other people work the bugs out of it and see if there are any pitfalls

to it and consider becoming a District of Innovation later,” Gibson says. The school board in Miles voted six to one against becoming a District of Innovation, largely due to concerns over changing teacher certification and contract rules. Even though some administrators in the district liked the idea of having a flexible school start date, in the end it wasn’t a move the school board felt comfortable making. “We didn’t feel it was worth damaging teacher morale in any shape form or fashion just to get an earlier start date on the calendar,” Gibson says.

Feedback Feedback in San Antonio has been positive, according to Ray, who says creating an innovation plan has administrators thinking about what they can do differently under the District of Innovation designation to better serve their campuses and community. “Historically, we tended to be pretty standardized in our practice across the district,” Ray says. “We’re moving away from that and looking for opportunities like the Districts of Innovation to put more autonomy at the principal level and the campus level to do things differently.” As El Paso ISD wraps up its first full year as a District of Innovation, Cabrera is also pleased with the process and the results. Initially, administrators in El Paso were drawn to claim the distinction in an attempt to make their schools more competitive with others, including private and charter schools. “We felt being a District of Innovation would offer us a different way to look at the law and limitations placed on public school districts to see what we could do to create more choice within the district,” Cabrera says. Despite the fact that El Paso ISD serves nearly 59,000 more students than Era ISD, the smaller district has also felt the benefits of being a District of Innovation, according to Thompson. “There are so many unique things that happen in a small school environment that being a District of Innovation is really vital to us,” he says. “Rules are not onesize-fits-all, and the flexibility gives us the opportunity to make decisions that are in our best interest, locally.” For more information on the Districts of Innovation, visit the TEA website. DACIA RIVERS is Editorial Director of Texas School Business.

Photo Feature

TSPRA CONFERENCE HITS THE COAST The Texas School Public Relations Association held its yearly conference in Galveston in February.

▲ TSPRA Past Presidents Julie Thannum, Carroll ISD, Craig Eichhorn, Alief ISD, and Ian Halperin, Wylie ISD. ◄ TSPRA Past President Ian Halperin, and incoming President Melissa Tortorici, Texas City ISD.

▲ Awards committee representative Lyndall Gathright and O’Connell Robertson’s Amy Jones present Kim Cathey of Floresville ISD with the 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

▲ Pictured are (l to r): Jamie Mount, Lori Maugans, Yvonne Harris, TSPRA President Melissa Tortorici, Jonathan Frey, Jerri Monbaron, Robin McAdams, Kiana Rios and Christy Tarkington.

▲ Amy Roudbari, Sheila Olson, Ana Pasarella, Shirley Brothers and Rachel Moore of Alvin ISD.

▲ Blackboard’s Lindsey Fishback and Lawrence Coleman present the TSPRA 2017 Media Award to Chris Saldaña of KEYE-TV CBS Austin.

► Dyann Polzin of Galveston ISD poses with Erin Toberman of the Galveston Kindness Project.

◄ Celia Longoria, San Benito ISD, Mark May, McAllen ISD and Arminda Munoz, Weslaco ISD. Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017


Who’s News > Continued from page 8

Johnson City ISD Superintendent David Shanley will retire in August. He held the position since 2004 after serving as a principal in the district since 2000.

Katy ISD Todd McVey is now head

football coach and athletic coordinator at Thompkins High School, taking the position after serving as the district’s assistant athletic director. Previously, he worked in similar capacities in McKinney, Killeen and Texas City ISDs.

Leander ISD Veteran educator Laurelyn Arterbury has been selected as

an area superintendent. Serving as executive director of college and career pathways since last summer, she was previously principal of Westwood High School and assistant principal of Stony Point High School and 9th Grade Center in Round Rock ISD. A graduate of the University of Texas with a degree in history, she earned her master’s degree in educational administration from Texas State University and her doctorate in education from Texas A&M University.

Marshall ISD Principals have been appointed for three new K-5 campuses. Nakeisha Adams-Pegues,

who was principal of Moore Elementary, will lead the school now under construction on the site of Young Middle School.

Killeen ISD Cynthia Hodges has been named director of

the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy.

Loyed Jones, who formerly led Carver Elementary, will be at the helm of the campus being completed on the site of Travis Elementary.

The new principal of Hay Branch Elementary School is Cassandra Spearman. She returns to Killeen, where she served as principal of Cross Elementary from 2009 to 2012, from Hopkinsville, Ky., where she led Martin Luther King, Jr., Elementary.

Kassie Watson, previously principal of Waskom High School, will be principal of the school being built on the site of Crockett Elementary.

Kirbyville CISD Former Bryan ISD superintendent Tommy Wallis has been approved to lead Kirbyville CISD as superintendent.

Lamar CISD Lamar CISD’s director of technology integration, Chris Nilsson, has been named 2017’s Technology Administrator of the Year by the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA). He was recognized at TCEA’s annual convention in Austin in December. Now serving as principal of Lindsey Elementary School is Heather Williams, who joins the district from Katy ISD, where she was principal of Stanley Elementary. She previously worked in Lamar CISD as an instructional technology specialist at Briscoe Junior High, as a teacher at Frost Elementary, and as a gifted and talented coordinator at Austin Elementary. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, she holds a master’s degree from the University of Houston at Victoria.


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

Mineola ISD Mineola ISD has announced the hiring of Luke Blackwell to serve as athletic director and head football coach for the Yellowjackets. Formerly the team’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, he is a graduate of Mineola High with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from the University of Texas at Tyler. He began his career in Coldspring-Oakhurst ISD, returning to his home district in 2008.

North Zulch ISD Douglas Devine has announced his upcoming

retirement from his position as district superintendent.

Orange Grove ISD Superintendent Lynn Burton is retiring after serving eight years in the district’s lead position. The Baylor University graduate has spent 23 years of his 40-year career as a superintendent and assistant superintendent in Harrold, Ector County, Mt. Vernon, Cooper and Sherman ISDs. He received a master’s

degree in public school administration from the University of North Texas, where he also earned his doctorate.

Pflugerville ISD The new principal of Windermere Primary School, Angela Hodges, has been promoted to her new position from assistant principal. An employee of the district since 2007, she has worked as a teacher, administrative intern, instructional coach and summer school principal. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Louisiana State University and her master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Texas at Arlington. Ameka Hunt has been approved to lead

Pflugerville High School as principal after serving as the school’s assistant principal, curriculum principal and, most recently, associate principal. Prior to joining the district, she taught Spanish at Bowie High in Austin ISD. Hunt earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Spanish from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Pflugerville ISD’s new police chief, Patrick Petherbridge, a member of the Pflugerville Police Department since 1998, has over 3,800 hours of law enforcement training. He attended the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas.

Camille Ramirez-Longoria, former principal of Wieland Elementary School, now leads Spring Hill Elementary. She began her career in Austin ISD and joined Pflugerville ISD in 2010. She has a bachelor’s degree in applied learning and development from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in educational administration from Tarleton State University.

Now serving as principal of Delco Primary School is Lizbeth Ruiz, the former assistant principal of Highland Park Elementary. She took her most recent position in 2015 after working in the district since 2010 as a teacher, instructional coach, bilingual interventionist and summer school principal and as a bilingual teacher in McAllen ISD. Her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies was awarded from the University of Texas-Pan American and her master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Texas at Tyler.

When the new Weiss High School opens its doors for the 2017-18 school year, it will have Julie Schier as women’s athletic coordinator and head volleyball coach. Most recently varsity assistant coach at Round Rock ISD’s Round Rock High, she previously worked in Leander ISD. Schier received a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in sports administration from Concordia University. Riojas Elementary will have Christi Siegel as principal when the new academic year begins. She has been an educator in Pflugerville ISD since 1994, working as a teacher, supervisor of instructional technology, and assistant principal of Windermere Elementary, where she served as principal since 2006. She holds a bachelor’s degree in applied learning and development from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in education from Texas State University. Moving up from his position as assistant principal of Wieland Elementary to principal is Jared Stevenson. Initially a teacher at Copperfield Elementary, he was an administrator in Del Valle ISD for four years before returning to Pflugerville in 2014. He earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Millersville University in Pennsylvania and his master’s degree in education administration from Concordia University.

Port Aransas ISD After serving as principal of Port Aransas High School since 2015, Scott McNeely has retired.

Refugio ISD Superintendent Jack Gaskins retired at the end of the 2016-17 school year. A 30-year educator, he had been with the district for eight years.

Richardson ISD Former assistant superintendent of secondary instruction and operations Tabitha Branum is now the district’s deputy superintendent. She came to Richardson in 2014 from Coppell ISD, where she was executive director of leading and learning. She received both her bachelor’s degree in history and master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas and is nearing completion of her doctorate from Dallas Baptist University.

Kristin Byno has been appointed assistant superintendent of secondary instruction and operations. She has been an executive director over secondary schools since 2014. An educator for 17 years, she earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and microbiology from the University of Georgia, a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Lamar University.

Rockwall ISD In March, chief financial officer Randy McDowell was sworn in as president of the Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO) during the organization’s annual conference in Austin. He had been vice-president since 2015. The former Canyon ISD assistant superintendent has been in his current position since 2015 and has 25 years of experience in school finance and operations.

Stanton ISD The district’s new superintendent, Merl Brandon, comes to Stanton from Belton ISD, where he served as assistant superintendent. Prior to that assignment, he was an administrator in the San Angelo area, including serving as principal of Miles High School in Miles ISD, during which time he was named Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP). Brandon is a graduate of Angelo State University, and his doctorate was awarded from Texas Tech University.

Tatum ISD The district’s newly appointed superintendent, J.P. Richardson, served in the same capacity in Gladewater ISD since 2008. He returns to Tatum, where he previously served as a director and principal. A graduate of Texas State University, he earned his master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and his doctorate from Lamar University.

Texarkana ISD Gerry Stanford is the district’s new executive director of athletics and head football coach, coming to TISD from Marcus High School in Flower Mound ISD, where he was athletic coordinator and head football coach. A graduate of the University of North Texas, he brings 18 years of coaching experience to his new position.

Tomball ISD Superintendent Huey Kinchen retired in March, bringing to a close a 38-year career as an educator. He was with TISD for 17 years, working as principal of Tomball High, assistant superintendent of administrative services and deputy superintendent. He served as superintendent since 2013. Tomball ISD’s new superintendent, Martha Salazar-Zamora, is an educator with 30 years of experience, beginning her career in Alice ISD as a teacher, educational diagnostician and speech pathologist. She went on to work for Bishop CISD and Kingsville, Houston and Round Rock ISDs in leadership roles, and was Tomball ISD’s chief academic officer for the past three years. A graduate of Texas A&I University with master’s degrees in educational administration and special education from Texas A&M University at Kingsville, her doctorate in education was awarded from Texas A&M University.

Tom Bean ISD The district has welcomed a new superintendent. Kelly Lusk is the former superintendent of Farwell ISD. He began his education career as a junior college baseball coach, going on to work in both elementary and secondary levels as a teacher, coach, principal and department director.

Waco ISD A new principal is in place for University High School. Ricky Edison, a 20-year educator, is the former superintendent of Abbott ISD. His new job marks a return to the district where he began his career, teaching government and coaching, before going on to serve as > See Who’s News, page 31 Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017



Texas Association of Community Schools

Bill Alcorn champions Texas’ smaller, rural schools

▲ Bill Alcorn of Haskell ISD poses with his family.


ike so many folks working in education, Bill Alcorn was inspired to pursue a career in the field by the educators who shaped him in his youth, specifically a high school coach and a high school principal for whom he had tremendous respect. “They were people of service and I wanted to be just like them and do what they did,” Alcorn says. Alcorn, the incoming president of the Texas Association of Community Schools, went to Tarleton University to get his undergraduate and graduate degrees and has been working in education ever since. He’s served as superintendent for the last 20 years, with 11 years in Eden ISD, outside of San Angelo, and the last nine in Haskell ISD, north of Abilene. Alcorn flirted with retirement


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

between the two posts, but missed the work so much, he quickly returned to a superintendent role when one came his way. With more than 30 years spent working in Texas education, Alcorn has seen a lot of changes in the system, but one he finds extremely important is dwindling state funding for public schools, especially while property taxes continue to rise. “I believe the Legislature needs to step up to the plate and take care of public education,” Alcorn says. “They keep trying to fix things by giving dollars to charter schools, and charter schools have their place, but funding them just takes money away from public schools.” Alcorn is a strong believer in Texas public schools, where he feels he’s seen performance rise impressively over the decades.

“I believe the bar has been raised and over the last few years, I think we’ve done very well, test-score-wise,” Alcorn says. “We are turning out a great product.”

He also feels that school districts and universities can do more to attract, retain and create excellent teachers, which in turn benefits schools and students.

Having always been in 1A and 2A districts, Alcorn holds small, rural schools close to his heart, which is what lead him to join TACS.

“If each one of us works with our districts to make them as good as they can, then we’ll draw highly qualified teachers,” Alcorn says. “But if you look at colleges, those class sizes have gone backwards in number.”

“TACS really caters to the smaller school,” Alcorn says. “They know our issues.” Alcorn has always been appreciative of the way TACS worked during legislative sessions to promote legislation that helps smaller, more rural schools, and he cites that as the reason he was drawn to run for president of the organization. During his term as president, Alcorn hopes to focus on helping small schools be more efficient with the funds they receive and also work toward better teacher recruitment and retention. To this end, Alcorn looks at two areas: teacher pay and education. “The pay scale for Texas teachers is not where it should be,” Alcorn says. “We need to continue to look at curriculum versus testing, but not get caught up in that.”

“We’ve got to be transparent. We live in a fishbowl, and all eyes are upon us.”

As TACS president, Alcorn wants to work with colleges and get them to reach out to high school seniors who might be looking for service-oriented career paths. “Some of these children want to go into education if they’re a person that fits the teacher role,” Alcorn says. “I think we need to find those key people and push them into education.” In the end, Alcorn believes leading by example is always the way to go, especially when it comes to public school leaders. “We’ve got to be transparent,” he says. “We live in a fishbowl and all eyes are upon us. We’ve got to make decisions that are what’s best for all, and be positive about it at the same time.” ◄

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Thought leaders and innovators in education

Duncanville High AP Flo Judd’s inspiring educational legacy by Dacia Rivers


f 1986 feels like a long time ago, that’s because it was. In 1986, “Crocodile Dundee” was in movie theaters and Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time” was on the Billboard charts. It also happens to be the year Ms. Flo Judd stepped into the associate principal’s position at Duncanville High School. And while the kids are no longer quoting Paul Hogan or singing along with Eddie in the school’s hallways, Judd is still sitting at the AP desk every day, working with and for Duncanville High’s students through the late 80s, the 90s and now well into the 21st century. Judd graduated from Baylor University in 1961, with plans to be an English teacher. She taught in Waco, Richardson and Dallas for a combined six years before taking a decade off after marrying. But when her marriage ended, Judd found herself in need of a job, so she moved to Duncanville with her two small children and began teaching at the high school in 1977, which means this year marks her 40th anniversary at the school.

Flo Judd has served as associate principal at Duncanville High School since 1986.


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

Growing up in a tiny farm town outside of Waco, Judd attended a small country school where there were just 23 people in her graduating class. A woman named Florence Hill taught Judd English 1, English 2, English 3, English 4, Speech and more. Judd credits Hill with inspiring her to become a teacher herself. “She’s the best teacher I ever had, from the beginning all the way through college and graduate school,” Judd says. “How it happened there were so many wonderful teachers in my little country school, I don’t know, but I was blessed to have been there and they made a tremendous difference in my life.” The Duncanville ISD administration asked Judd to take the associate principal role at the high school in 1986, after she had returned to college to get her mid-management certification, and she’s been happily serving in that position ever since. “I love what I do,” Judd says. “I am passionate about education.” Judd’s energy and easy laugh are infectious. A 2 p.m. phone call on a Friday afternoon after a week of STAAR testing finds her upbeat, happy. “The kids energize me,” Judd says. “I never dread coming to work.” After a 46-year career in education, it’s no surprise that Judd is completely dedicated to bettering the lives of her students. Her goal is for each Duncanville High student to graduate prepared to have a happy and successful life, ready for college or the workplace. The work is rewarding for Judd, who was inspired by her own teachers and now has former students coming back to visit and to thank her for the difference she has made in their lives. Judd knows the impact she has on her students’ futures, and it’s a job perk that makes getting through even long days of testing worthwhile. “We can’t save every child, but we have to strive to save every child,” Judd says. “We have to do everything we can for them.” The biggest change Judd has seen in her school over the past 40 years is the advance of technology. It’s something she sees mostly as a positive, allowing for quick communication and a wealth of readily available information, but she also acknowledges the potential downsides, such

as students getting wrapped up in social media to the detriment of their education. Still, she believes technology has provided wonderful advantages when it comes to education. “Kids are so attuned to technology that it’s probably the best way to reach them, interest them and engage them in what we’re trying to teach,” she says.

“I love what I do. I am passionate about education.”

Judd believes that the greatest need at Duncanville High is helping students achieve academic success. She says that getting children to focus on how important their education is to the rest of their lives can be challenging, as high school students tend to be involved in the drama of teen life to the exclusion of other areas of importance. Her method for handling this disconnect is to offer classroom instruction and activities that engage students so that they feel a pride and ownership of their school and want to walk in the doors each day. Judd talks to her students one at a time, face to face, discussing what their lives might hold for them and opening their eyes to thinking about their futures. Being a single mother herself, Judd is sure to point out to her female students that the number of single parent families in the U.S. is growing, and most of those are headed by women. “They need to realize they may be in that position one day, and this is the time to prepare for it,” Judd says. In the past, when someone asked Judd when she planned to retire, she’d answer with, “One more year.” Years later, she’s no longer answering that way.

Flo Judd in 1977, beginning her career in Duncanville ISD.

“As long as I am healthy and I can do the job and can be of real benefit to kids, then I hope I will be allowed to be here,” Judd says. Blessed with good health, a sharp wit, and a passion that drives her, Judd is an integral and deeply rooted figure at Duncanville High, a school that has benefitted from her spirit and her dedication. “When the day comes to leave, I’ll know that before anybody else does,” Judd says. “And I will be out the door. The last bell will have rung.” DACIA RIVERS is Editorial Director of Texas School Business.

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017



Texas Elementary Principals and Schools Association

Manuel Gonzales strives to support and inspire principals, teachers and students across the state


o repurpose a quote usually reserved for being Texan by birth, Manuel Gonzales didn’t start his schooling in the education field, but he got there as fast as he could. Now the incoming president of the Texas Elementary Principals and Schools Association (TEPSA), Gonzales has worked in education for 17 years and currently serves as federal programs coordinator for Frisco ISD. Gonzales earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Midwestern State University, while also receiving his alternative teaching certification. He began teaching in Dallas ISD in 2000 and moved to become a teacher in Frisco in 2003. After receiving his graduate degree from Texas Woman’s University, Gonzales held assistant principal and principal positions in the district. In July 2016, he moved into his current role, where he coordinates and oversees Title I, II and III programs along with state compensatory education funds and programs. Though Gonzales studied criminal justice in college, he says he always wanted to work with children.


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

“Originally I had wanted to work in juvenile probation, but decided that I would better serve at teaching and working with youth before they get into the criminal justice system,” Gonzales says. “I was really interested in teaching at the elementary level and working with kids at a young age to try to provide them protective assistance in society.” Gonzales says that his education in criminal justice gives him a slightly different perspective when working with kids. “There’s things that can happen, unfortunately, to get kids on a wrong path,” Gonzales says. “I keep that in the back of my mind and then try to remind kids that they could be or do whatever they want if they work hard enough.” One of the largest issues Gonzales sees affecting Texas public education today is a need to work with students’ social-emotional development. This relates to how students are able to manage their own emotions and build healthy relationships with their peers. “We do a good job with teaching curriculum, but we’re seeing more and more students coming to school with anxieties and depression

and some are lacking skills socially and emotionally,” Gonzales says. “We’re trying to balance teaching curriculum but also working on the socio-emotional side of students.” Another challenge Gonzales pays close attention to is the growing number of students and changing demographics in schools across Texas. “We have a large number of students coming in every year, and the number of Englishlanguage learners is also growing,” Gonzales says. “They all have a variety of different needs, so the challenge is getting to know them by name and working to meet their needs.” Gonzales began working in education because he wanted to make a difference in children’s lives, to help them become better citizens and understand the importance of getting an education. He doesn’t just do this through his work in Frisco schools, but also via volunteerism, serving as a role model while helping schools in need. This January, Gonzales traveled to the Dominican Republic on a Lifetouch Memory Mission trip. Through a partnership with the National Association of Elementary Principals, Gonzales was selected to spend

I’m a big believer in public schools, I’m excited about the work that principals and teachers are doing and I’m glad to be a part of it.

eight days working on a school in progress in the town of Constanza. “It was an amazing, life-changing experience,” Gonzales says. “We were trying to build hope and access to education, and I would love to be able to do more of that again.” When Gonzales first became an assistant principal, his mentor principal recommended he join TEPSA, and he’s been a member ever since. When he first joined the organization, Gonzales attended two TEPSA conferences was amazed at the amount of learning opportunities available to members. He signed up to serve on the organization’s board and as president as a way to give back to a group he feels has contributed so much to his growth as a professional, a principal and a leader. To Gonzales, whose term as TEPSA president begins in June, the organization’s most important role is supporting principals and assistant principals so they can best support teachers, creating a network that allows teachers to do the best job they can, ultimately benefitting students across the state. As his time as TEPSA president is about to begin, Gonzales is excited and looking

forward to serving the group’s members and supporting principals across the state so they can continue to do the fantastic work he sees them doing now. “Many people are saying public schools are failing, and I just don’t believe that,” Gonzales says. “I believe public schools are doing great things for kids, and I see it every day in our district and across the state. I’m a big believer in public schools, I’m excited about the work that principals and teachers are doing and I’m glad to be a part of it.”◄

2017 UT/TASA

Summer Conference on Education Grassroots Advocacy: Engaging Your Community for Public Education


Hear from legislators, education proponents, and TEA staff on changes to our schools resulting from the 85th legislative session.


Learn strategies for powerful grassroots advocacy on behalf of public education.


Exchange ideas and solutions in EdCamp sessions (collaborative, participant-driven breakout sessions) on the issues that matter most to you.

Learn more and register today at tasanet.org/Summer

June 25–27, 2017 Renaissance Austin Hotel Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017



Education service center programs & practices

Region 2 ESC’s Early Scholars Academy brings hands-on learning to Coastal Bend kids

Children explore in a mini-submarine in the ESA's Ocean Room.

by Melissa Morin


orpus Christi is a Texas city on the Gulf Coast of Mexico, tucked into a bay surrounded by the beautiful Padre and Mustang Island beaches. The Coastal Bend boasts adventure, arts, culture, nature, history and more. Along with the many unique experiences Corpus Christi has to offer, the community offers


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

one particularly unique experience— an experience that makes imaginative exploration and interactive learning accessible to all students, from all walks of life—the Early Scholars Academy. Located in Nueces County, adjacent to London Independent School District on F.M. 43, the Early Scholars Academy (ESA)

is a 16,000 square foot, unique learning facility intended to stimulate imaginations, encourage learning through hands-on activity and play, and develop academic, social and cognitive abilities for young children. Students visiting the ESA engage in self-directed educational activities that

are driven by curiosity, exploration, manipulation and social interaction. The ESA educational program consists of a research-based curriculum aligned to the Texas prekindergarten guidelines, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and national Head Start outcomes. The ESA addresses the academic demands of core education subjects such as English and language arts, math, science and social studies—all while integrating a technology component into learning activities. The purpose of the ESA is to increase literacy and numeracy skills of children to prepare them for the rigors of academics in elementary school. Additionally, the ESA educational program includes activities and materials to support the social, emotional and physical well-being of children. Research shows that focusing efforts to educate the whole child will positively impact the academic readiness of children and will ultimately lead to success in school and beyond. The Coastal Bend region is challenged to educate and recruit individuals who can meet the demands of the industries in our communities. The topics of the discovery housed within the ESA centers combined with the literacy, numeracy and technology skills acquired during visits to the ESA are purposefully intended to plant the seeds of interest in our youth for careers that will increase the economic growth and sustainability of the communities in and around the Coastal Bend. “The Early Scholars Academy offers students exposure to real-world career paths,” says Dr. Rick Alvarado, executive director of the Region 2 Education Service Center. “The Early Scholars Academy is paving the way for bright futures and educational excellence. We hope to prepare students to be the next generation of leaders in our communities.” The purposeful design of the ESA features three thematic “pods” consisting of nine discovery areas concentrated on specific topics. The All Things Living pod contains the Animal, the Greenhouse and Wonderful Amazing Me discovery areas. The Destination Exploration pod houses Community, Earth (and its elements) and Space discovery areas. In All Around the World, there are the Tropics, Polar and Ocean discovery areas. With child-directed, hands-on activities and interactive materials and props, children have the opportunity to explore a wide range of concepts, develop multiple literacy and cognitive skills, and foster valuable socio-emotional growth in

▲ The ESA's hands-on greenhouse introduces children to plant life.

each of the discovery areas of the ESA, thereby increasing the development of the whole child. The learning activities are child-directed and are facilitated by early childhood education staff, all of whom hold a true passion for educational excellence through innovation. Rooted within each pod are introductions to career pathways that relate to the topics of the discovery areas. Industries such as health care, agriculture and farming, civil and industrial engineering, meteorology, oceanography, service, research, and oil and gas are just a few of the careers that children are introduced to during their visits to the ESA. Information on related careers in various industries is provided to children and educators to promote college and career readiness. A fourth pod, planned for completion pending funding, will be the STEAM Fab Lab and will integrate entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (ESTEAM) content into hands-on, real-world learning activities using state-of-the-art equipment and materials. This area will increase the level of skills learned to include concepts appropriate for not only early childhood and elementary students, but also for middle and high school students, thereby extending the ESA’s reach and impact. The STEAM Fab Lab will be modeled after the “maker space” framework, a cutting-

edge educational movement that focuses on strengthening entrepreneurial thinking, design thinking, and creativity. Through collaborative hands-on instruction by ESC2 staff, teachers and industry leaders, the STEAM Fab Lab will provide innovative project-based learning and CTE-related experiences that introduce students to a full range of options including industry certifications, apprenticeships, formal job training, military service and college opportunities. The cost of the ESA is approximately $5.44 million, including building construction and discovery area materials and equipment costs. The ESA facility currently has three of the four originally proposed learning pods and the Introductory Theater complete and operational. The loss of state funding coupled with the downturn of the economy in the Coastal Bend region in recent years has led to a shortfall in funds necessary to complete the fourth pod. Approximately $353,314 is required for completion of this area, in addition to approximately $200,000 for outfitting the space with equipment and materials for a total of $553,314 in funding. While the ESA is currently operational with three of the four pods open, the completion of the fourth pod will enhance the learning experience for those who visit the facility. As a 501(c)(3) organization, ESC-2 operates the ESA on a not-for-profit > See REGIONAL VIEW page 28 Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017


> Continued from page 28

basis and receives limited financial support from state and federal government to support the operations of the ESA. There are currently donation and financial support opportunities available through ESC-2 and the ESA to help facilitate the completion of the fourth pod. The investment of these funds is an investment in the future of the Coastal Bend workforce and economic sustainability. The ESA is operated under the auspices of ESC-2. Headquartered in downtown Corpus Christi, ESC-2 provides a wide array of programs and services impacting 105,000 pre-K through grade 12 students at 42 school districts and five charter schools in an 11-county area of the Coastal Bend. ESC-2’s mission is empowering learning communities through innovation. ESC-2 promotes educational excellence for all, improving the lives of students, educators, administrators, parents and other stakeholders in the broader community. The organization provides critical assistance


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

to school districts in improving student academic achievement and increasing their operational efficiency by offering programs for virtually all aspects of school operations, including professional development, technical assistance and operational support. ESC-2 impacts student achievement in all subpopulations based on the premise that all students can succeed given adequate resources and support. So what can you expect upon visiting the Early Scholars Academy? Between the whirring school bus engines, students excitedly firing off questions in any of the three thematic pods, or parents and their children having a read-aloud at one of the many family days the ESA has to offer, expect a unique, hands-on learning experience for all students, driven by curiosity and exploration. While Corpus Christi continues to offer popular attractions, culture, miles of beaches and many things to see and do—be sure to stop by the Early Scholars Academy, because by all standards, the ESA continues to provide

educational excellence through innovation. For information on supporting the facility by volunteering, please contact ESA staff at (361) 561-8541 or kathleen.ford@esc2. us. For information on offering financial support for the ESA, please contact Ryan Johnston at (361) 561-8411 or ryan. johnston@esc2.us. For more information about the educational program at the Early Scholars Academy or the programs and services provided by the Education Service Center, Region 2, please visit http://esa.esc2. net/ or http://www.esc2.net/. MELISSA MORIN currently serves as the Human Resources Administrator for the Education Service Center, Region 2.

▼ Coastal Bend kiddos enjoy storytime in the ESA's auditorium.

Calendar Professional development & events

S TA N D O U T F R O M T H E C R OW D ! Get premium placement and get noticed! For a nominal fee, you can showcase your conference, workshop or seminar on the opening page as a Featured Event. Contact Ann Halstead at ahalstead@tasanet.org for more details. JUNE June 1 TRTA District 20 Spring Conference Event Center, Floresville For more info, (512) 476-1622 or (800) 880-1650. www.trta.org June 6 TASB Workshop: Managing State and Federal Leave TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org Cost: $200. Using Manipulatives to Teach TEKS, Grades K-2 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-2127. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $125. June 7 Building Conceptual Understanding in Math, Grades 1-2 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $250.

What’s New in YA Literature 2017 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-9223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $85. June 8 TSPRA Central Regional Meeting Offices of New Braunfels ISD, New Braunfels For more info, (512) 474-9107. www.tspra.org June 9 TAHPERD Areas 6 and 7 Workshop Maverick Activity Center, Arlington For more info, (512) 459-1299. www.tahperd.org June 9-10 TGCA Sports Clinic Location TBA, Lubbock For more info, (512) 708-1333. www.austintgca.com June 12-14 Texas ASCD Ignite 17 Convention Center, Irving For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org

Capturing Kids’ Hearts Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $525.

June 13 TASSP/Legal Digest Education Law for Principals Conference Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com Cost: $230.

TASB Workshop: Get a Grip on the FMLA TASB offices, Austin For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org Cost: $200.

June 14 TASB Post-Legislative Conference Marriott Rivercenter, San Antonio For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-9272. www.tasb.org

June 14-15 TGCA Sports Clinic Location TBA, Houston For more info, (512) 708-1333. www.austintgca.org Learning Forward Texas Annual Conference Conference Center, Hurst For more info, (512) 266-3086. www.learningforwardtexas.org Cost: By March 1, $349; after March 1, $399. June 14-16 TASSP Summer Workshop: Be the Vision Convention Center, Austin For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org Cost: Early Bird registration (by May 21): Members, $245; nonmembers, $445. After May 21: Members, $295; nonmembers, $495. TEPSA Summer Conference Renaissance Hotel, Dallas For more info, (512) 478-5268 or (800) 252-3621. www. tepsa.org Cost: Members: By May 17, $349; after May 17, $399. Nonmembers: By May 17, $588; after May 17, $638. June 15-16 Texas ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy XIX Birdville ISD, Haltom City For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org June 15-17 TASB Summer Leadership Institute Marriott Rivercenter, San Antonio For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org Cost: Option 1 (includes PostLegislative Conference and programs offered Wednesday evening through Saturday morning): $545. Option 2 (includes programs offered Thursday morning through Saturday morning): $385. Option 3 (includes programs offered Friday morning through Saturday morning): $325.

June 19 Grade 8 Science STAAR: Closer Look at Matter and Energy Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $60. June 20 Test Prep Workshop for TExES Bilingual Supplemental Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-8223. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $525. June 21 TASB Post-Legislative Conference Omni Hotel, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org TASBO Workshop: CSRM Administrators School Risks Moody Gardens Hotel, Galveston For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org June 22-24 TASB Summer Leadership Institute Omni Hotel, Fort Worth For more info, (512) 467-0222 or (800) 580-8272. www.tasb.org Cost: Option 1 (includes PostLegislative Conference and programs offered Wednesday evening through Saturday morning): $545. Option 2 (includes programs offered Thursday morning through Saturday morning): $385. Option 3 (includes programs offered Friday morning through Saturday morning): $325. Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented Gifted Plus Conference Eilan Hotel, San Antonio For more info, (512) 499-8248. www.txgifted.org

> See Calendar, page 30 Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017


> Continued from page 29 June 25-27 UT/TASA Summer Conference on Education Renaissance Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 477-6361. www.tasanet.org /summer

JULY July 10-13 TGCA Summer Clinic Location TBA, Austin For more info, (512) 708-1333. www.austintgca.com July 11-13 TCASE Interactive 2017 Marriott Hotel, Austin For more info, (512) 474-4492 or (800) 443-4392. www.tcase.org July 12 TASPA Summer Law Conference Westin Hotel at the Domain, Austin For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org July 12-14 TASPA Summer Conference Westin Hotel at the Domain, Austin For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org July 13 TASBO Workshop: New Business Manager’s Boot Camp Hyatt Place, Garland For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $215; nonmembers, $265. July 13-16 TASSP New Principal Academy: Tools for the Principalship Trinity University, San Antonio For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org Cost: On or before June 16: $835. After June 16: $935. July 16-18 TAHPERD Annual Summer Conference Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center, San Marcos For more info, (512) 459-1299. www.tahperd.org Cost: Early Bird registration (on or before May 15): Professional and associate members, $85; student and retired members, $35. Pre-registration (on or


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

before June 15): Professional and associate members, $95; student and retired members, $35. Late registration (after June 15): Professional and associate members, $105; student and retired members $45. July 17 Science Teachers in Industry: Learning about Chemicals and Environment Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $30. July 19 TASBO Workshop: Workers’ Compensation Specialist Update for CSRM TASBO offices, Austin For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org July 23-26 THSCA Convention and Coaching School Brown Convention Center, Houston No phone number provided www.thsca.com July 24 TASBO Project Management Workshop ESC Region 10, Richardson For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $255; nonmembers, $305. TASBO PEIMS Boot Camp Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $215; nonmembers, $265. July 25-26 TASBO PEIMS Academy Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $295; nonmembers, $345.

July 26 Developing Proportional Thinking for Making Connections, Grades 6-8 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston

For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $150. July 27 Model Drawing, Grades 6-8 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $150. July 28-30 TETA SummerFest Theatre Conference Angelo State University, San Angelo For more info, (832) 303-8382. www.tetatx.com Cost: Early Bird registration, $90; regular registration, $120.

AUG UST August 1 Workstation Make and Take for Counting with Objects/ Pictures (pre-K-K or grades 1-2) Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $175. August 2-3 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session 1 of 4 Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info. www.tasanet.org Cost: $695 members, $795 nonmembers August 7 TASPA Documentation Workshop Bastrop ISD Performing Arts Center, Bastrop For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org August 8 Fractions, Decimals, Percentages, Operations in Grades 5-6 or 6-8 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $150. August 9 Integers, Equations, Algebraic Reasoning in Grades 6-8 Harris County Dept. of Education, Houston

For more info, (713) 696-1306. www.hcde-texas.org Cost: $150. TASPA Documentation Workshop Lumberton ISD Performing Arts Center, Lumberton For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org August 31 TASBO Project Management Workshop San Angelo ISD, San Angelo For more info, (512) 462-1711. www.tasbo.org Cost: Members, $255; nonmembers, $305.

SEPTEMBER September 10-12 TACS Annual Conference Hilton Palacio del Rio, San Antonio For more info, (512) 440-8227. www.tacsnet.org Cost: Members, $200; nonmembers, $300. September 11 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop ESC Region 20, San Antonio For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com September 12 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop ESC Region 13, Austin For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com September 14 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop ESC Region 2, Corpus Christi For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com September 14-15 Texas ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy XX Abilene ISD, Abilene For more info, (512) 477-8200 or (800) 717-2723. www.txascd.org September 18-19 TASSP Fall Leadership Academy Hilton Palacio del Rio, San Antonio For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org

Cost: Early Bird registration (on or before September 9): $225. After September 9: $275. September 20 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop ESC Region 7, Kilgore For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com September 20-21 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session 2 of 4 Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info. www.tasanet.org Cost: $695 members, $795 nonmembers August 2-3 TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session 1 of 4 Austin Marriott North, Round Rock For more info. www.tasanet.org Cost: $695 members, $795 nonmembers September 21 Legal Digest Back to School

Workshop Harris Co. Dept. of Education, Houston For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com

Texas School Business THE News Magazine for Public Education in Texas!

September 24-25 TASPA Fall Support Staff Conference Westin Hotel at the Domain, Austin For more info, (512) 494-9353. www.taspa.org

Since 1954, Texas School Business has published positive school news about and for Texas educators and the districts they serve. Considered an institution among public school administrators for its insightful writing and positive message, the magazine is a mustread for K-12 leadership teams in Texas.

September 25-26 TASSP Fall Leadership Academy Lebanon Trail High School, Frisco For more info, (512) 443-2100. www.tassp.org Cost: Early Bird registration (on or before September 9): $225. After September 9: $275. September 26 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop ESC Region 18, Midland For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com

Annual subscription rate: $24/year Subscription includes 6 bimonthly issues, plus our annual Bragging Rights special issue

Subscribe online today at www.texasschoolbusiness.com Reminder: Active, Associate and Student members of the Texas Association of School Administrators receive a copy of Texas School Business magazine as a membership benefit. Subscribe now for board members and other members of your leadership team.

September 28 Legal Digest Back to School Workshop ESC Region 17, Lubbock For more info, (512) 478-2113. www.legaldigest.com ◄

Who’s News > Continued from page 19

assistant principal of Bell’s Hill Elementary and principal of South Waco Elementary. Edison has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science education and a doctorate in educational leadership. Rodney Smith has made the switch from head coach of University High School’s basketball team to head football coach. A graduate of University High, he played both sports for the Baylor Bears during his college years. He became University’s head basketball coach in 2011, leading his teams to five district titles in the last six years.

Ysleta ISD (El Paso) Bobbi Russell-Garcia has been

appointed the district’s chief human resources officer after serving in that position on an interim basis. She began her career 17 years ago, coming to YISD in 2002. She is a graduate of Park College with a bachelor’s degree in social psychology and earned her master’s degree in counseling from Webster University. ◄

Texas School Business

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 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Now in its 64th year of publication!

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017



News in fine arts education

Patience, pride and innovation by Jaime Vela

Members of the A.C. Jones High School marching band pose with one of many trophies the group has earned.


very new school year I find myself having to make a new speech to my incoming freshmen. At times I feel not many of my sayings stick or fulfill the need for inspiration as much as I would like. This year, I used a sports analogy and surprisingly it stuck. “It’s the last 30 seconds of the football game. Our team is down 20 points. We know that we’re defying impossible odds.” I have always found it inspiring that what the coach is saying and what the team is believing is, “We can do it!” I believe football players and their coaches have the most unbelievable audacity when the odds are against them. Then I pose a question to my band students: “Are those feelings and beliefs set aside only for sports? Why can’t we, as a band, have the audacity to believe and work hard when the odds are against them? Are we predisposing ourselves to fail?” Giving ourselves reasons for the bad breaks creates a challenge to finding solutions for success.


Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

Ten years ago it would be hard to recognize A.C. Jones High School. Students struggled with test scores and game scores. The band and choir were no better off. However, that’s no longer the case. Many of the programs here have started to realize that our district has remarkable students, teachers and staff. The size of the town or school is pointless when you have staff and teachers who have invested themselves to students’ needs and growth, and when students realize they are not irrelevant among the schools in Texas. We have athletes, welders, academic leaders and musicians. A common belief among the teachers and staff is that our students need to realize their potential and self-worth. The performing arts department has seen improvement, especially the band and choir. In the last four years, the band program has grown 140 percent. The marching and concert programs have received many awards, successful ratings and placement in UIL Music Region 14, the Association of Texas Small School

“It has been my sincere pleasure to witness the steady improvement in the Beeville band program during the past years with Mr. Jaime Vela at the helm. As his mentor and former teacher, I am proud of the consistent sweepstakes band program he has developed!” —Roland Molina, band consultant/clinician, active state music judge and retired band director of more than 45 years

Bands’ (ATSSB) division. Two years ago, the program earned its first sweepstakes in more than 20 years. The varsity band has competed in the ATSSB’s Outstanding Performance Series, where it has reached the area competition. Two years ago, the non-varsity band started competing in UIL again. This year the band plans on taking a sub non-varsity group to the UIL Concert & Sight-Reading Competition, a first in the school’s history. Unlike many of the 4A schools in the Coastal Bend area, the band also has three auxiliary groups: mariachi and classical guitar during school, and jazz band after school. The band program institutes technology as a norm in the classroom by empowering and guiding students to use technology on their phones to better understand music, allowing for encouragement from peers and parents, and communicating with students and parents with social tools that are readily available. The program also acknowledges the reason students join band—to perform and travel. The band has performed the national anthem for the San Antonio Spurs for the last six years and for the Corpus Christi Hooks for the last five. Band members also spend a day at Six Flags Fiesta Texas as a celebration trip. We still institue hard work and the importance of working for the sake of others. The eighthgrade band class has two events in which they participate with the high school to relieve anxiety and to create a sense of importance to the band as a whole. Eighth Grade Night is the last home football game of the season, where the eighth graders perform with the high school band during the game and at halftime. The Big Band Bash is when the eighth grade and high school bands play together during the school day, playing standard tunes and graduation music. Afterwards, all of the students each lunch together. At the beginning of last year, the choir program looked like it would be dropped from the courses at A.C. Jones. Low enrollment and little to no achievement was becoming a norm. A few piano classes and even an acoustic guitar class were added to broaden the fine arts program underneath the choir’s umbrella. Luckily, the school tried one more time and put Cesar Galaviz in charge of the choir program. Under his direction, the choir attained its first UIL

first division score on stage in more than 10 years. This year the choir is taking three groups, a treble, tenor bass, and mixed choir to Concert & Sight Reading. Nineteen students are participating in the Texas State Solo-Ensemble Contest in May. The choir is projected to hit its 100-plus enrollment mark next year with three different choir classes. The choir has joined the band for a few performances and has sponsored and participated in other events such as Toys for Tots and Christmas caroling. Many of the fine arts students are in a mixture of band, choir and even theater. The directors of the programs encourage the students in their groups to go out and support all their fellow fine arts students, not just the performing art students. To have the groups work together, share members, and show support for one another has become a much appreciated norm. All students involved in fine arts feel that they are a group of musicians with a common appreciation and respect, as athletes are to their various sports. I firmly believe that all of our students, not just the musicians, have the audacity to believe in their various talents and encourage all activities at A.C. Jones. We hope that through our programs, they become the innovative thinkers and leaders of tomorrow and well-rounded, cultivated, active citizens in our society. JAIME VELA has been teaching in public schools for 19 years. He attained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music Education from Texas A&M University-Kingsville in 1998 and 2001. He has been the Fine Arts Chair for A.C. Jones High School for the past two years. Vela currently has 31 mariachi arrangements under the Mariachi Educational Series for the RBC Company and J.W. Pepper. During his years of teaching, he has been a member of the Texas Bandmasters Association and Texas Music Educators Association and is currently applying for membership with the Texas Adjudicators Association. Vela also has been an adjunct professor for the last three years with Coastal Bend College. A.C. Jones High School is large 4A school in the Beeville Independent School District. The school educates

“As a music educator and a product of south Texas music education, I am very excited to see the incredible growth the Beeville Choral Program has achieved within the past two years under Mr. Galaviz. He turned a near non-existent program into a selfmotivating, self-driven, highly acute and in-tune ensemble of young musicians. He immediately tapped into his students’ wealth of talent, who were starving for harvesting, and teaches them to recognize and reach beyond their potential.” —Michelle Christner, Sinton ISD, Director of Choirs and a 13-year educator in South Texas

1,020 students and is located between San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Seventy-seven percent of the school population is of low socioeconomic status, and the largest employers in Beeville are the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Garza West and McConnell units. The Joe Barnhart Foundation is a local program that has consistently helped 66 percent of senior enrollees earn scholarships. On March 8, Beeville ISD was designated as a District of Innovation, created under the 84th Texas Legislature local control option on House Bill 1842 in June 2015.

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017



And then he thought, “I’ll just end it all.” by Riney Jordan


h, my gosh. Can this statistic possibly be right?

“Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people in grades 7-12 to commit suicide.” The Centers for Disease Control conducted this recent survey, aptly entitled “The Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System Survey.” Among the scores of disturbing results, they also stated suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people in the 10-24 age group. And listen to this: The current rate of teen suicides is equal to 113 suicides each day and one every 13 minutes! Read that again. By the time you finish reading this column, there’s a possibility that somewhere in our country another teen has done the unthinkable, and done whatever it took to end his or her life. I don’t know about you, but I find that appalling, shocking and tragic…all at the same time. Several years ago now, a young middle school student and his mother were having an after-school conference in the principal’s office. They were concerned about his grades and his behavior. Midway through the conference, the young man asked to leave the meeting and go down the hallway to use the restroom. Of course, the principal and mother complied, and a few minutes later, two gunshots rang out from the restroom. This 15-year-old had taken his life, and added one more figure to the growing number of teen suicides that year. Let me give you another example. His name was Joseph. Joseph was bright-eyed, alert, funny, smart and well-adjusted. He came from a broken home, but from all indications, he had adjusted remarkably well to the changes. Joseph’s brother was a star football player on the varsity team. Everyone knew him. He was smart. Good-looking. Extroverted. He was the all-American boy. It would have been difficult for many of us to match up to him.

I remember Joseph saying one time, “Everyone has their ‘thing,’ except me. My brother has sports. My sister has modeling. I don’t have anything!” Shortly after that remark, he discovered drama and theatre his sophomore year, and he flourished. Perfectly adjusted, right? No need to worry about this one. He’s found his thing. He’s happy. He’s going to be just fine. And then, after Mom has gone to work, the call comes. Joseph was found unresponsive in his bed with an empty bottle of pain bills beside him. Doctors would later determine that he took approximately 100 tablets.

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Later, from his hospital bed, he would simply say: “It just got to be too much pressure from everyone to make better grades, to do more, to be more. I couldn’t do it, and I didn’t want to disappoint all those who were helping me.” So, what can we as educators do to save a child from self-destructing? 1. Everyone gets a bit depressed from time to time, but if it persists, confront the child. 2. Take time to LISTEN. 3. Do not assume that a child’s threat of suicide is simply him being melodramatic. 4. Encourage the child to avoid isolating himself as much as possible. 5. Take special note of those students who suddenly have violent actions, rebellious behavior, and who have a tendency to run away from school or home. In Joseph’s case, he appears to be the kid we knew before the suicide attempt. He recently told his family, “I don’t know why I did that. I didn’t think it through. I would have really hurt a lot of people who care about me.” Yes, Joseph, you would have. And we are so grateful that we are able to continue to watch you grow and flourish into the extraordinary man that you are going to become.

convocation, graduation or awards banquet, visit www.rineyjordan.com.

Texas School Business MAY / JUNE 2017

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Unlike the first story, this one has a happier ending. Thanks to quick actions and a 911 call from his older brother, paramedics were able to get him to the hospital and save his life.

RINEY JORDAN is the author of two books and a frequent public speaker. To invite him to speak at your


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