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THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN TEXAS FOR 60 YEARS

March 2014

TSB

1953

2013

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Y E A R S O F P U B L I C AT I O N

Unpacking House Bill 5

In the Spotlight Dallas ISD’s Ben Mackey

TSPRA President Denise Blanchard Amarillo ISD


Continuing a Tradition of Excellence… TASA Proudly Announces Its Acquisition of

Texas School Business

TASA President Darrell Floyd, along with Texas School Business publisher Jim Walsh and editorial director Katie Ford, announces at the 2014 Midwinter Conference that TASA has purchased Texas School Business magazine.

Texas Association of School Administrators • www.tasanet.org


TSB contents news and features

Public schools in crisis? ‘Go Public’ takes on America’s favorite myth by Melissa Ludwig

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photo feature TCASE hosts Great Ideas 2014 Convention in Austin

GoPublic_8x3_Banners_1.14_v01.indd 1

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Unpacking House Bill 5 Legislators and administrators talk about next steps now that this monumental bill has passed by Terry Morawski

TASA Midwinter offers training, innovation, networking TCWSE members gather in Austin

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20, 21 29

departments From Our Readers

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Who’s News

15

Ad Index

30

columns

In the Spotlight Dallas ISD’s youngest principal helps kids find their passion

From the Editor

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The Law Dawg  —  Unleashed

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Tech Toolbox

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by Katie Ford by Jim Walsh

by Leila Kalmbach

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by Terry Morawski

Game On!

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The Back Page

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by Bobby Hawthorne by Riney Jordan

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TSPRA President Profile Amarillo ISD’s Denise Blanchard strives for community engagement by Ford Gunter

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. Cover image © Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com March 2014 • Texas School Business

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Texas School Business • March 2014


From the Editor Spring marks new growth and new beginnings, and that’s exactly what’s happening here at Texas School Business. For those of you who attended the Texas Association of School Administrators’ annual Midwinter Conference in January, you likely heard the official announcement during the second general session: TASA now owns Texas School Business, and this is the inaugural issue under the association’s leadership. I’m truly excited to be working with TASA and feel grateful for the support, resources and collaborative spirit that this organization is bringing to the table. There’s no doubt that this magazine will continue its comprehensive, objective coverage of K-12 public education. We will continue to highlight other professional trade associations through president profiles and event photo features. Our regular columnists — Jim Walsh, Bobby Hawthorne, Riney Jordan and Terry Morawski — will continue to contribute their unique perspectives. From our cover stories to “In the Spotlight” to “Who’s News,” Texas School Business will continue to publish engaging, insightful news and features that highlight the people, best practices, and programs in district offices and school campuses across the state. Speaking of best practices and programs, in April we’ll begin taking nominations for the 2014-2015 Bragging Rights special issue. Visit the Special Editions section of www.texasschoolbusiness.com to fill out a nomination form, which will go live the first week of April!

Katie Ford Editorial Director

(ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620) March 2014 Volume LX, Issue 6 406 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78701 Phone: 512-477-6361 • Fax: 512-482-8658 www.texasschoolbusiness.com Editorial Director Katie Ford Design Phaedra Strecher Columnists Bobby Hawthorne, Riney Jordan, Terry Morawski, Jim Walsh Advertising Sales Manager Lance Lawhon

Castleberry Elementary School Castleberry ISD

Texas Association of School Administrators Executive Director Johnny L. Veselka Assistant Executive Director, Services and Systems Administration Ann M. Halstead Director of Communications and Media Relations Suzanne Marchman ISSN 0563-2978 USPS 541-620 Published monthly, except for July/August and November/ December, and the Bragging Rights issue published in December by Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701. Periodical 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 2014 Texas Association of School Administrators March 2014 • Texas School Business

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THE LAW DAWG – Unleashed by Jim Walsh

High time for a paradigm shift

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ampus administrators have told me that discipline problems increase as the weather warms up in the spring. Along with the bluebonnets, we see an outcropping of bad language, a blossoming of fist fights and a blooming rise in substance abuse. And that’s just in the teachers’ lounge. The kids tend to misbehave too. So I hope you have taken the time to study the recent publications from the U.S. Department of Education concerning student discipline. The letter (“Dear Colleague,” January 8) tells us how the department will address concerns about racial discrimination in student discipline. Having worked closely with you school administrators for a long time, I notice myself getting defensive when someone accuses you of racial discrimination. I have had many confidential conversations with principals and assistant principals in which you spoke about the students you deal with, their parents and the surrounding culture. You have spoken freely to me, sometimes because the conversation was covered by the attorneyclient privilege, occasionally because we had shared a few adult beverages. Most of these conversations were with people who shared my demographic profile — middle-aged white guy speaking to middle-aged white guy. In short, I think I have heard many school administrators tell me what they really think. And not once have I heard anyone say that they imposed disciplinary sanctions on a student because of the student’s race or ethnicity. I have never heard school officials use racial slurs. I have heard repeated and sincere insistence that “I don’t care what color he is; we treat them all the same.” I believe that to be true. Nevertheless, the statistics concerning student discipline show a noticeable distinction

between students based on race. The DOE letter puts it this way: “Although African-American students represent 15% of students in the CDRC [Civil Rights Data Collection], they make up 35% of student suspended once, 44% of those suspended more than once, and 36% of students expelled.” The DOE letter notes that “disparities in student discipline rates in a school or district may be caused by a range of factors.” Well, of course. Behavioral problems among students tend to correlate with many factors, most of which are well beyond the control of

I encourage campus administrators to set aside any resistance and/or defensiveness about this issue and look at this as an opportunity to make significant changes in how we deal with student discipline. the assistant principal. But what you need to understand about the DOE’s view of this matter is that it will not take into account your intentions, your attitudes, or the many outside contributing factors. It’s going to be based on your statistics. The legal term for this is “disparate impact.” You can be guilty of creating a “disparate impact” even if you “evenhandedly implement facially neutral policies and practices that, although not adopted with the intent to discriminate, nonetheless have an unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the

basis of race.” This will be determined, largely, by statistics. I encourage campus administrators to set aside any resistance and/or defensiveness about this issue and look at this as an opportunity to make significant changes in how we deal with student discipline. The old, traditional tools of student discipline are gradually going away. Corporal punishment is on the decline. Ticketing for minor offenses has been outlawed. Now the focus is on “exclusionary discipline” — those practices that remove students from the classroom. If we just take away old tools and replace them with nothing, we accomplish nothing. We need new solutions to the issue of student discipline. Perhaps it is time to rethink the entire mindset. That’s what they are doing at Ed White Middle School in North East ISD. Just last month this magazine’s cover story highlighted the “restorative discipline” pilot project there. It seems to be working. Suspensions are way down. Civility is up. Assistant principals are not spending all day issuing disciplinary sanctions. Relationships are being restored. Kids are learning how to deal with conflict and take responsibility for their behavior. Employers would love to hire young people with those skills. They would value it much more than a high score on the STAAR algebra test. Take a look at it: Restorative discipline. JIM WALSH is an attorney with Walsh Anderson Gallegos Green and Treviño P.C. He can be reached at jwalsh@wabsa. com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @jwalshtxlawdawg.

March 2014 • Texas School Business

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

-- Scott Niven, Superintendent, Red Oak ISD

W

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

-- Thomas P a i n e

COMMON SENSE

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

Class of 2011 Red Oak ISD Ambassadors Academy

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

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

…all of which will lead to even greater performance.

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

It’s time for every educator to stir Visit www.fotps.org to learn more, or email us at lmilder@fotps.org. 8

Texas School Business • March 2014


TECH TOOLBOX by Terry Morawski

The Internet of Things is our future

A

few years ago, technology pioneer (and current Austinite) Kevin Ashton coined the term “The Internet of Things” (IoT), which quickly gained popularity as the way to describe how cloud technology is changing daily life. The original concept focused on radio-frequency identification (RFID) and how that could change the way the world functions. Ashton was interested in the new capacity we could gain through tracking all objects and, yes, eventually people, too. These days, more people are moving their data to the cloud and accessing it from a variety of electronic devices. As an example, my email and calendar are shared among several devices – even my books, my music, you name it. They are everywhere I need them. This cloud-stored data is now joined by a new type of data — which is all your preferences, logins, history tracking and the like. In other words, it’s your digital trail. Forbes writer Roger Kay refers to these personal data points as “information objects,” but goes on (and I like this visual) to refer to all this tracking data as our personal “blob” of information. Much of this data about you is then, like magic, shared with services that help you, such as Google’s host of organizational tools. This cloud data also can be accessed to inform a store about your purchasing history when you walk through the door. Do you find it a little creepy that our personal preferences and data are becoming so transparent? Or is it fantastic? You can decide for yourself, but the truth is that you are participating in The Internet of Things whether you like it or not. Schools have often met outright resistance when attempting to implement technology that takes advantage of these new capabilities. Northside ISD, in the San Antonio area, drew national headlines and had to scrap an RFID microchip

student-tracking system following a lawsuit. There are potential privacy issues to consider when tracking students during the school day or after school while the student is on a school bus. Despite this, high-definition security cameras in school buildings and parking lots are becoming the norm. Perhaps student tracking is too much for the average person to handle right now. But, on the other hand, there could be more acceptable uses of the RFID technology down the line. We are mostly comfortable tracking devices, just not people. Yes, people are carrying those devices around, but let’s not split hairs. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, said in a recent interview that his path to success has been about doing old things in a new way. People liked to shop before, but now they like to shop online. People have always loved reading books, but now many people read them in digital format. The world around us has changed — and benefited — from the tremendous impact of innovations like those from Google, Amazon and Apple. These innovations will continue to change student and parent expectations of public schools. It also will give us opportunities to innovate. So, a question for you: How are you incorporating The Internet of Things into school operations? Or what do you wish the cloud could do for your school district? A challenge this month: If the questions above spurred a thought or if there is an innovative practice from your district you would like to share, I would love to hear about it. Email me at terrymorawski@gmail.com. You never know; your idea might end up in a future column. Good luck out there, my friends. TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. His Twitter handle is @terrymorawski.

The News Magazine for Public Education in Texas for 60 Years Since 1954, Texas School Business has published the good news for and about Texas educators and the vendors who serve the public schools. Today, Texas School Business is considered an institution among school leaders and decision makers. Each issue includes: • In-depth features on Texas public education • Who’s News • The Law Dawg – Unleashed • Photo features of association events • Educator and administrator profiles • Riney Jordan • Bobby Hawthorne • T erry Morawski • And more…

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Texas School Business • March 2014


GAME ON! by Bobby Hawthorne

What is an Aggie, exactly?

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s I write this, national signing day for high school football players is a week away, and A&M has just pilfered one of UT’s more ballyhooed recruits — not that I’m bitter. I suspect Charlie Strong will do fine, even without this turncoat. So, bitter I am not. Irked? Perhaps. Just a little. So, I decided I’d seek my vengeance like a man — by writing about Aggies for two or three hours. Here goes: Aggies may be occasionally misguided but at least they’re Texans. They typically come from small towns like Throckmorton and Eustace, where they were class presidents and Boys State delegates and alldistrict athletes and part-time checkers at the IGA. Their parents gave them all-American names like Buck and Brenda and Billy, and they major in hands-on subjects like petroleum engineering and large-animal husbandry, not feckless wastes of time like ethnomusicology or women’s studies. They’re courteous and friendly to everyone in a surreal way. “Howdy. Welcome to Aggieland, Mr. Mugabe,” they’ll snap, and then they’ll wait for Mr. Mugabe to snap back, “Howdy!” They’re optimistic and patriotic and loyal to a fault. They believe Texas is the greatest state ever — and about that, at least, they’re right. Actually, Aggies are right about a lot of things. They rarely have nose rings or blue hair, and you can live next door to or work three offices down from an Aggie and never suffer the worse for it because Aggies are doers and fixers. They make fine county agents and pest control experts. Sure, they’re zealots. They take tradition to slavish, cultish, often comical extremes. Need proof? Stroll across the A&M campus. Chances are, you’ll violate a patch of grass that has been deemed sacrosanct. Cut the wrong corner and someone might snap at you, “Off the grass, teasip,” which is the ultimate insult. “Liberal” comes close.

“Commie pedophile” is not even in the ballpark. Still, “teasip” is a real word, kind of. About half the Aggie vocabulary consists of noises you or I might make if we sat on a wet toilet seat, yelps like “whoop” and “hoo-wah” that they cluck in response to statements such as “I’m a senior” or “Look! A doughnut!” Best I can determine, “whoop” means “righteous” in Aggie speak. Then, there are the Aggie yell leaders, guys who constantly dart back and forth, whipping their fellow Aggies into a bugeyed frenzy, extolling them to hunch over, lock arms, and swing and sway like drunk snake dancers — not that they need prodding. Aggies rock back and forth more often than women in labor. And, of course, there’s the Corps of Cadets, the majority of whom aren’t real soldiers, nor even reserves. They’re pretend soldiers, posers. They are to soldiering what the cast of “ER” was to medicine. And don’t get me started on the collie and his or her mini-scoreboard. Bottom line: Aggies hate Longhorns. Almost all of their traditions punctuate their hatred of UT. Once you remove the gibberish like “cigaroo” and “hullabaloo,” a sizable portion of the “Aggie War Hymn” refers to UT. They’re more obsessed with Longhorns than conspiracy nuts are with JFK and UFOs combined. We find these rituals quaint and bizarre but generally harmless. They’d love for us to hate them as much as they claim to hate us, but we don’t and never will. Like it or not, Aggies are family — pesky, insufferable younger siblings who refuse to accept their place in the pecking order, and our burden to tolerate and even empathize with their silly, inexplicable insecurities. We just have to hope that one day, they’ll grow up. And, by the way, hook ’em. BOBBY HAWTHORNE is the author of “Longhorn Football” and “Home Field,” both published by The University of Texas Press. In 2005, he retired as director of academics for the University Interscholastic League.

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From Our Readers Jim,

I just read your open letter to Wendy Davis (“The Law Dawg — Unleashed,” January issue) and thought it was an excellent and timely communication. I hope you will also send the same letter to all the candidates — even those who don’t have a chance of winning. It is absolutely essential that the candidates focus on education during the campaign, so voters will know where they all stand on the various educational issues. As the Supreme Court said in “Edgewood v. Kirby,” education is different — it is constitutionally mandated. Every candidate ought to carefully consider what they will propose for legislative action to improve and move our educational system forward. They also need to determine what they will not accept or find inadequate. They need to be willing to veto those measures that don’t appear positive. Thanks for your stand. William N. “Bill” Kirby Former Texas Commissioner of Education (Editor’s note: Bill Kirby was the last commissioner of education appointed by the State Board of Education. He served from 1984 to 1991. After he retired, the law was changed to have the governor appoint the commissioner. When Kirby was selected, the law required that the commissioner be an experienced educator with the highest possible administrative certification, but the law was subsequently changed, allowing political appointments.)

Jim,

I want to thank you for the open letter to Wendy Davis that was included in the January issue. I have been trying for years to garner public school employees to vote as a block in all Texas elections. After I retire, that is going to be a major goal that hopefully I will accomplish. Educators could pretty much vote candidates into office and vote them out if they did not support the needs of public education. Historically, many educators are apathetic toward voting and voicing their opinions

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Texas School Business • March 2014

and beliefs. I am going to reach out to the Davis campaign and express these sentiments. Again, thank you for your continued support and voice for public education. Have a blessed day. Kevin Weldon Superintendent Tarkington ISD

Jim,

Your letter to Wendy Davis was spoton. Well said. Randall J. Hoyer Superintendent Lampasas ISD

Jim,

Your letter to Wendy Davis was spoton. I certainly hopes she sees it. I have taught and been an administrator at elementary, middle and high school levels. I am ready for some substantial change in our state government. Janette Horton  Quest Early College High School Humble ISD

Jim,

I have attended several of your presentations over my years in administration, and I just wanted to say you hit the nail on the head again in your letter to Wendy Davis. Having someone at least related to education as our commissioner would be a novel idea. I appreciate what you had to say; if only more in Austin would pay attention. Thank you for your time and what you do for Texas education. Dustin S. Evans Principal Huddleston Intermediate School Princeton ISD

As a recently retired and so-called “school lawyer,” I am moved by Katie Ford’s recent editor’s letter in the February 2014 issue. I’ve recently been studying literature on children at risk in public education, the juvenile justice system and related subjects. In conjunction with the American Bar Association’s Midwinter meetings, a townhall-type forum is being held in Chicago on the subject of the “school-to-prison pipeline.” I’ve become persuaded that the [women inmates] of the Truth Be Told program discussed by Katie are, at least in part, a product of our historical system of public education. Current results of numerous research studies support the same conclusion. After all, the parents of our current students with serious behavioral and learning issues are products of our historical public education system, which has been defended by “school lawyers.” We can agree that children’s behavior is the responsibility of parents, not school teachers, but the truth and facts remain: Current parents did not learn the skills of sound, successful parenting. Too many of their parents suffered the same malady, and their children are following suit. We can change behavior, and we know the ways to do it. Restorative discipline is one. The pipeline can be plugged or diverted. I can only hope at this stage in my life and professional career that TASBO, TASA, TASB, and the numerous other professional organizations will support the San Antonio middle school and district profiled in the February issue and promote a concerted and concentrated effort to change behavior — rather than merely punishing it — while the students are young enough to be changed. Thank you, Katie.   Jim Deatherage Irving TSB


Public schools in crisis?

‘Go Public’ takes on America’s favorite myth by Melissa Ludwig

I

t’s no secret that America’s system of free public schooling has come under fire in recent years. Public education is in crisis, they say. After years of watching critics gain ground in Washington and in Austin, public schools in one Texas county have decided to fight back. Bexar County’s 15 independent public school districts have teamed up to roll out “Go Public,” a public awareness campaign that aims to show people that public schools are healthy, thriving and producing wellrounded graduates. “If we don’t tell our story, who will?” says North East ISD trustee Sandy Hughey, who sits on the Go Public steering committee. “We cannot afford to be quiet, because it’s our children who will lose. The vision for Go Public is a campaign that includes television and radio ads, a Website and social media presence. The ads will focus on the strengths of traditional public schools, gleaned through a survey of Bexar County residents. Those strengths include employing the best, most-experienced teachers; offering a wide range of extracurricular activities and varied learning experiences;

and cultivating a strong sense of community and diversity. The campaign also aims to combat misinformation when it crops up in the news and in the public sphere. In San Antonio, for instance, community leaders often are quoted as saying the high school dropout rate at public schools is 40 percent when, in reality, Bexar County’s combined high school graduation rate is 89 percent, says Northside ISD trustee Karen Freeman. According to Freeman, to calculate the 40 percent rate, researchers followed a cohort of students over a four-year period and they made no allowances for students who left the district for a variety of reasons, including relocation or even death. “Numbers can be misleading, and statistics that paint the most dire portraits are often the ones that make the news,” Freeman says. Some numbers that don’t often make the headlines: • More than 70 percent of Bexar County’s public school students plan to enroll in some type of postsecondary education — from career and tech programs to four-year universities — and last year

were offered nearly $264 million in scholarships. Many walked across the stage with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree from the Alamo Colleges offered through Early College High School programs. •

Nearly 100 percent of teachers in Bexar County schools are “highly qualified,” according to federal standards, with an average 12 years of experience. Onethird have a master’s degree or above.

At least 80 percent of Bexar County’s public high school students participate in at least one extracurricular activity.

Last year, more than 5,840 students earned a career or technical certification, while others attended magnet schools focused on law, theater, business and other fields.

Collectively, Bexar County public school students earned approximately 30,630 hours of potential college credit through Advanced Placement testing and 33,565 hours through dual collegecredit classes.

See CRISIS on page 18

Members of the Go Public steering committee launch the campaign in Bexar County. March 2014 • Texas School Business

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TCASE hosts Great Ideas 2014 Convention in Austin Members of the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education gathered in the Texas capital city for three days in January. Susan Boles and Kathryn HigginbothamJones of Greater Gulf Coast Co-Op.

Candace McFall and Lindsey Fuentes of Irving ISD. Alfredo Avalos of Brownsville ISD and Cynthia Garcia of Harmony Science Academy, Brownsville ISD.

Lauren Fosbury and Rebecca Riley of Military School District Special Education Cooperative.

Kris McCoy and Valerie Albright of Winfree Academy Charter School, ESC Region 11.

Debra Prater and Geoffrey Hutson of Excel Academy, Harris County. 14

Texas School Business • March 2014


Apple Springs ISD The new superintendent is Cody Moree, who was a principal in the district. Bastrop ISD Cedar Creek High School announced Keith Woolf as the new head football coach and athletics director. He comes to Bastrop from Anson ISD, where he held the same position at Anson High and where he was named 2012 Coach of the Year-Big Country. He also led his team to capture the title of 2012 Army Strong Texas Team of the Year. Prior to that, he was offensive coordinator at Heritage High School in Frisco ISD, from 2009 to 2012. He was with Brownwood High in Brownwood ISD from 2001 to 2009. Woolf has also coached at Stamford High in Stamford ISD, Cooper High in Abilene ISD and Calallen High in Corpus Christi’s Calallen ISD. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University. Bells ISD Bells High School has a new head football coach. He is Scott Ponder, who spent the past four years as the head football coach and athletics director in Iowa Park ISD. Prior to that assignment, he was a coach in Petrolia ISD. Big Spring ISD The district has named a new superintendent. He is Chris Wigington, who had been serving in an interim position. Birdville ISD Haltom High School has named a new head football coach and athletics coordinator. He is Jason Tucker, who comes to the district from Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, where he was an algebra teacher and defensive coordinator at Chisholm Trail High School. He has been a coach for 16 years, including working as head football coach and athletics coordinator for Burleson High School in Burleson ISD, defensive back and offensive line coach at Carroll Senior High in Carroll ISD, and, in Birdville ISD, freshman football coach at Haltom High and seventh and eighth grade coach at Haltom Middle School. His bachelor’s degree is from Midwestern State University.

Who’s News

Carroll ISD Carroll High School head boys’ soccer coach Greg Oglesby has been named Boys’ Soccer Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Coaches Association, making him one of only 21 inGreg Oglesby dividuals nationwide to be so honored. Clifton ISD Chuck Caniford, former New Braunfels High School head football coach and athletics director, has joined Clifton ISD as head football coach and athletics director. He spent nine years with New Braunfels ISD. Comal ISD A new executive director of communications and governmental relations is in place for the district. He is Steve Stanford, who was director of media and community relations at Katy ISD since 2009. Conroe ISD Mark Weatherly has been named principal of Conroe High School. He began his career coaching and teaching language arts in Deer Park ISD, going on to serve as an assistant principal in Bastrop Mark Weatherly ISD. He joined Conroe ISD in 2010 from Magnolia ISD, where he was principal of Magnolia Junior High. Weatherly was principal of Peet Junior High in Conroe ISD and had been serving as interim principal of Conroe High. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Sul Ross State University and his master’s degree from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. His doctorate in education was awarded from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Corrigan-Camden ISD Sherry Hughes is the district’s new superintendent. A graduate of CorriganCamden High School, she began her career as a teacher at that campus, becoming its principal in 2006.

Crane ISD Superintendent Larry Lee has announced his retirement after a career in education that spanned 33 years, 24 of those as an administrator. He began his career at Galena Park ISD, where he taught history and coached for nine years. He then spent a year in Leakey ISD as the athletics director and head football coach and two years as the district’s K-12 principal. He next was with Junction ISD for 11 years, eight as a high school principal and three as the superintendent. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and a master’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin State University. He joined Crane ISD in 2004 as district superintendent. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD Corey Cephus, Langham Creek High School assistant baseball coach, has been named Class 5A Assistant Coach of the Year by the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association. His recognition came in Corey Cephus January at the association’s annual convention in Waco. Cephus has spent his entire 13-year career with the Lobos, specializing in outfielders and base running. Before joining the district, he spent a year as a graduate assistant coach at Lamar University. Stuart Snow, associate superintendent for business, financial and technology services, has been inducted as the 2014 chairman of the board of the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce. He has been a Stuart Snow member of the Chamber since 2007 and a director since 2008, most recently serving as treasurer. Snow joined CFISD in his current position in 2007 after 17 years with Spring ISD, where he was the associate superintendent for financial and support services, assistant superintendent of business and financial services, and executive director of business and fiSee WHO’S NEWS on page 19 March 2014 • Texas School Business

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Unpacking House Bill 5 Legislators and administrators talk about next steps now that this monumental bill has passed by Terry Morawski

T

exas Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, who was an author and champion of House Bill 5, says one of his fondest childhood memories was watching his mother excitedly bound across their family cotton field to tell him he had been accepted to Texas A&M. He was the first in his family to go to college. From doing backbreaking work on the family farm to his college experience, Aycock understands the path to success is not the same for every student. “I have long felt we need to prepare kids for the workforce,” says Aycock. “We’ve been telling kids for years that the only path to their future is through college. Especially with the aging workforce, we need to do something Jimmie Don to help students graduAycock ate with job skills, and many good-paying jobs do not require degrees now.” The seeds of House Bill 5 began to grow long before the 83rd legislative session in January 2013. The primary focus was to reduce high-stakes testing in Texas. Under the former 4 x 4 standards, high school students were facing 15 endof-course exams (EOCs) to graduate high school. The expansive EOC plan was not popular among school administrators, teachers, nor among students and their parents.

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School districts were placed in the difficult spot of supporting a system that not only presented tremendous graduation challenges for students, but also limited the amount of electives the average student could take. Throughout the state, superintendents began developing alternative plans to restructure the high school course requirements and to localize the accountability system. Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 5 into law June 10, 2013. Alief ISD Superintendent H.D. Chambers was one such leader who decided to take action. The plan he took part in drafting became the eventual blueprint of House Bill 5. “In my experience, this is the first time parH.D. Chambers ents, administrators and teachers have supported legislation like this,” says Chambers. “The most powerful

part is the flexibility for students to pursue courses in areas in which they are interested and in areas where there is a workforce demand. “It is now a way for your student to be able to have a say, along with their parents, in their courses and their fields of study, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all field of study,” he continues. “Those fields of study are based on research on the jobs that are needed. In general, courses will be more meaningful. I’m excited that eighth graders are now sitting down with counselors and looking at choices within an endorsement.” New graduation requirements One of the biggest victories of the legislation was the development of a more flexible yet more college- and careerfocused graduation plan for students. This includes a foundation graduation program that includes 22 credits divided up as: English and language arts (4); math (3); science (3); social studies (3); foreign languages, which now include computer programming languages (2); fine arts (1); P.E., which now includes credit for athletic pursuits outside of the school day (1); and electives (5). On top of the foundation plan, students now are encouraged to select one of five endorsements: STEM, business/ industry, public services, arts and humanities or multidisciplinary. After selecting an endorsement, they choose a specific


area of study to select electives. As an example, a student could pick an endorsement of STEM and then choose to focus on engineering. Of note is that many of the endorsements require a fourth math and science credit. A student can still earn a distinguished designation on their diploma, but they will now be required to complete an endorsement program in addition to other requirements. Accountability In addition to graduation requirement changes, House Bill 5 aims to improve the existing accountability system. First, school districts will be given new ratings of A-F in the 2016-2017 school year. This new system replaces the previous ratings of Low Performing to Exemplary. At the campus level, state-issued ratings of exemplary, recognized, acceptable and unacceptable are slated to continue under House Bill 5. Perhaps most importantly, at the urging of superintendents, a new localized accountability system was introduced in the bill. This local system requires districts in 2014-2015 to evaluate themselves as a whole and as individual campuses on a variety of measures. These local ratings are based on the following variables: fine arts, wellness and physical education, community and parent involvement, 21st century workforce development program, second language acquisition program, digital learning environment, dropout prevention strategies, and gifted and talented programs. Ratings also will be based on district and campus compliance with reporting and policy requirements. Mary Ann Whiteker, superintendent of Hudson ISD, where about 2,800 students attend school, has advice for smaller districts on this front. “Please keep it simple,” says Whiteker. Mary Ann “Do not try to re-create Whiteker the state accountability system. And don’t rush; you’re just getting started.” In addition, she encourages superintendents and administrators to look to site-based teams and other campuslevel groups to help build their campus accountability systems. According to Whiteker, parents often want more information than test scores to understand how their children are doing in

school, and she is excited that HB 5 allows districts the framework for a more comprehensive accountability system. Hillsboro ISD Superintendent James “Buck” Gilcrease stresses the importance of building a trustworthy accountability system. “It is important to be honest (in your asJames Gilcrease sessment),” says Gilcrease. “There are some

‘Districts need to go to their communities and see what is important to them.’ — Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen things we are good at, and some things we could improve upon. If you rank your district as exemplary across the board, the public perception (of the system) will not be very good.” Aycock encourages districts to take their time and develop an accountability system that reflects their communities. “Districts need to go to their communities and see what is important to them,” he says. “We need to understand what will and will not work. I would encourage districts to talk to their neighbors.” In a presentation at TASA’s Midwinter Conference in January, Alief ISD’s Chambers addressed a packed room of administrators and summed it up this way: “There’s no question this is a complex bill, and none of us have all the answers. “I would encourage large districts to help smaller districts that have fewer resources. We are all going to have to work together to be successful.” TERRY MORAWSKI is the assistant superintendent of communications and marketing for Mansfield ISD. He is also a proud graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler. You can email him at terrymorawski@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @terrymorawski.

HB 5 Communications Primer Here are five tips for educating your school community on House Bill 5. Special thanks to Veronica Sopher, Leander ISD senior executive director of school/ community relations and vice president of the Texas School Public Relations Association, for providing this list. 1. On your district and school Websites, offer original source links to HB 5 information — for instance, Texas Legislature Web pages. 2. Whenever possible, offer an example of how a decision will impact a student’s academic career — i.e., “If your high school junior takes this course, then she will be eligible for… .” 3. A short, snappy video — versus written content — is often effective in getting the point across. Sometimes parents can’t read through education jargon. 4. Don’t assume that parents of elementary school and middle school students won’t care about the changes; they are planning ahead. 5. Train your cabinet-level administrators and school board members to articulate key points so they can be ambassadors in the community. Provide them with talking points that reinforce your district’s messaging.

March 2014 • Texas School Business

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CRISIS continued from page 13

Recognizing the importance of support from the business community, organizers tapped three respected leaders to co-chair the campaign — Maj. Gen. Joe Robles, CEO of USAA; Kim Bowers, CEO of CST Brands (Corner Store); and leaders from Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas Inc. At a Nov. 8 press conference that garnered local, state and even national media attention, Bowers went to bat for public schools. “Over the years, my children have had some amazing teachers who have helped inspire them, shape them, and open their eyes to a larger world,” said Go Public co-chair Kim Bowers at the conference. Bowers’ three children either currently attend or have graduated from public schools. “I feel very strongly about traditional public schools and am very proud to be part of the Go Public campaign and to help get the message out that our public schools are strong, vibrant and deserve our support.” The campaign is funded by a partnership among businesses in Bexar County and local school districts, with the aim of the majority of funding coming from local businesses that believe in and support traditional public schools. Go Public’s first ad can be viewed at www.Youtube.com/WeGoPublic.

The campaign has handed out 25,000 Go Public bumper magnets, raised more than 30 Go Public flags in front of schools, and hung more than 400 Go Public banners in stadiums and outside administration buildings. In addition to the ads and branded materials, organizers want Go Public to have a presence at community events across San Antonio and to serve as a call to action for folks to get more involved and invested in their public schools. “Our tagline is ‘Love Your Bexar County Public Schools’ and that’s really what we want people to do,” says Bobby Blount, chair of the Northside ISD Board of Trustees and a member of the Go Public steering committee. “Public schools are like big families, and just like our own families at home, they should be approached from a place of love. They belong to all of us.” Lloyd Verstuyft, superintendent of Southwest ISD, is keeping tabs on the campaign’s impact and effectiveness. Early on, organizers commissioned a survey of Bexar County residents to gauge their opinions of public schools, perceived strengths and weaknesses of public schools, and how likely respondents were to send their kids to public schools. In a year or so, organizers will go back and ask those same questions to see if Go Public has moved the needle on

public opinion. “I think another way to measure success is to ask: ‘Have we changed the conversation around public school in this community?’” Verstuyft says. “Do we see more positive news about public schools? Do we hear more measured and informed opinions?” In addition, schools are committed to reaching the goals the San Antonio community set for itself with the SA2020 strategic plan, including improving graduation rates, reading scores and college attendance rates. Bexar County’s superintendents and trustees would like the campaign to serve as a model for other communities to lift up and restore faith in public education. Organizers are working on a toolkit that would allow districts to replicate Go Public and tailor the message to their communities. Those interested can send an email to info@gopublic.com. Visit the Website at www.WeGoPublic.com and keep up with progress through social media at www. facebook.com/WeGoPublic and on Twitter at @WeGoPublic. MELISSA LUDWIG is a public relations professional at The DeBerry Group. A former newspaper reporter covering education in Austin and San Antonio, Ludwig is a proud supporter and product of public schools in Waxahachie.

Successful Principals = Successful Students and Teachers Ensure this equation is a reality on every campus in your district! Encourage your principals to join the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) for easy access to the latest resources, tools and professional development for Texas PreK-8 school leaders: • Free online learning on timely topics such as rigor, accountability, discipline, legal updates and much more! • Discounted rates on professional development featuring state and national education experts. • News and resources to stay current on best practices and train staff.

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Texas School Business • March 2014

www.tepsa.org Scan code or visit http://bit.ly/ tepsabenefits to sample resources including the webinar “Data Informed Instruction and STAAR” presented by Ervin Knezek.


Who’s News WHO’S NEWS continued from page 15

nancial services. Prior to working in Texas public education, he was a senior manager at Deloitte Touche in Houston from 1979 to 1990. Ector County ISD The new superintendent is Thomas Crowe, who served as the district’s interim superintendent since August. An educator for 38 years, he began as a math and physical education teacher and coach. He became Thomas Crowe superintendent of Willis ISD in 1993, remaining there for four years before moving to Katy ISD as deputy superintendent for administrative services. He then was superintendent of McKinney ISD from 2004 until his retirement in 2009, at which time he worked as an educational consultant. El Paso ISD Taryn Bailey, who was the district’s director of elementary personnel and recruiting, has been promoted to area 3 chief school officer. She was a principal in the district for six years and an assistant principal for five Taryn Bailey years. She began her career as a high school teacher in El Paso’s Socorro and Ysleta ISDs and joined El Paso ISD as a fourth grade teacher at Crosby Elementary School. Bailey earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at El Paso and her master’s degree from Sul Ross State University. ESC Region 3 Julius Cano, executive director of ESC Region 3 in Victoria, retired at the end of January. A native of Victoria, his retirement caps a career that began 44 years ago after his graduation from Sam Houston State University. His first jobs were as a teacher and a coach in Bloomington ISD, where he spent five years before joining ESC Region 3 as a migrant specialist. Two years later, he moved to Pa-

lacios ISD as an elementary school principal, working there for two years before returning to ESC 3 to spend eight years as assistant director for federal programs. He was named executive director in 1987. Cano also holds a master’s degree in education from Prairie View University and a doctoral degree from Nova University. Fort Worth ISD Vicki Burris has been named the district’s new capital improvement program administrator. She comes to her new position from Keller ISD, where she was assistant superintendent of business operations Vicki Burris since 2007. After earning her bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from East Texas State University, she began her career in Bonham ISD as a teacher and coach. She then spent 15 years with Dallas ISD, beginning as an administrative intern, teacher and coach at South Oak Cliff High School. She was named assistant principal of Pinkston High School in 1990, going on to serve as principal at Johnston and Walnut Hill elementary schools, dean of instruction at Pinkston, summer principal of Holmes Middle School, and principal of Hooe Elementary, Molina High School and Seagoville Middle School. She joined Fort Worth ISD in 2000 as principal of Meadowbrook Middle School. She then was director of school management and special projects and director of facilities planning and analysis before spending the past seven years with Keller ISD. Burris holds two master’s degrees, one in health and physical education from East Texas State University and one in educational administration from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Fredericksburg ISD Eric Wright, who held the top job in Huntington ISD, is Fredericksburg ISD’s new superintendent. He began his career as a history teacher and coach in Terrell ISD, going on to work in the same capacities in Channelview, Hardin, Lufkin and Marshall ISDs and in West Hardin CCISD before taking his first administrative posi-

tion as an assistant principal in Lufkin ISD. He then joined Huntington ISD, where he was an elementary principal, high school principal and assistant superinEric Wright tendent. He transferred to Woodville ISD to serve as superintendent for two years before returning to Huntington to take the top position in 2006. Wright earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University, where he has been an adjunct professor since 2002. Harper ISD Chris Stevenson is the new superintendent. He has been with the district since 2000, working as a middle school and high school principal. Houston ISD A new police chief has been sworn in for the district. He is Robert Mock, who has been assistant chief for the district’s police department since 2008. He has more than 27 years of experience in law enforcement in the Robert Mock Houston area, including stints as a patrol officer, a senior analyst in the chief’s command, chief of staff of support services in Houston’s North Patrol Command, a lieutenant in the Southwest Division and a lieutenant in the Homicide Division. Mock holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Mountain State University in West Virginia and a master’s degree in criminology from the University of Houston Clear Lake. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Hubbard ISD Hubbard ISD’s new superintendent, Stuart Musick, comes to his new job from Oakwood ISD, where he served as superintendent since 2012. An educator with 23 years of experience, he spent 17 of those as a teacher and coach in Greenville, New Caney, Nacogdoches, Jefferson and Marshall ISD before taking his first See WHO’S NEWS on page 24 March 2014 • Texas School Business

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TASA Midwinter offers training, innovation, networking In January, the Texas Association of School Administrators held its annual Midwinter Conference in Austin. This year’s gathering featured a brand-new Innovation Zone, a digital academy and multiple days of breakout sessions.

Taryn Bailey and Robert Almanzan of El Paso ISD.

Jose Parra and Rose Brenner of Irving ISD.

Vanessa Franklin and Dave Plymale of Trinity ISD.

Gary Leopold of Columbus ISD and Jim Story of Calhoun County ISD.

Diana Silvas and Raul Moreno of Goose Creek ISD.

Rhonda Bell and Rick Kershner of Splendora ISD.

This year’s conference featured a first-ever Innovation Zone, which brought cutting-edge technology tools to educators.

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TASA Executive Director Johnny Veselka welcomes guests, and TASA President Darrell Floyd addresses the audience at the Legacy Luncheon.

Elvis Arterbury of Lamar University, Karen Rue of Northwest ISD, guest Lynda Nelson and TASA honorary life member Guy Nelson.

Sue Akins, Rosemary Trevino and Thomas O’Neal of Anna ISD. Andres Sanchez of Weslaco ISD with Eli Alvarado of PBK.

Demetrio Garcia and Jeanette Winn of Karnes City ISD with Paul Darilek, Stockdale ISD. March 2014 • Texas School Business

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IN THE

Spotlight

Dallas ISD’s youngest principal helps kids find their passion by Leila Kalmbach

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hen Ben Mackey was in his second year of Teach for America in rural Mississippi, a student made an observation that would change the way he approaches education and views the world around him. Mackey, now principal of the School for the Talented and Gifted (TAG) in Dallas ISD, recalls the time he spent at a high school in Rosedale, Miss., one of the most historically impoverished areas of the country. He says he was helping students with college application letters when a girl questioned him about what she was being asked to do. Why, she asked, did she need to highlight everything that was going wrong

in her community? Yes, the streets were in need of repair, it was a poor area, and people were struggling. But why talk about these things when there were so many good things that she loved about her community? The honest answer was, well, that’s how people assume college letters are supposed to sound. “That was when I started becoming a lot more aware of my own privilege,” Mackey says. “Being white, being male, being from a middle-class background — that’s something I had never taken into account prior to that, and these things have a major impact on our world and how people interact and view the world.

It made me look at my own role as a leader and think about making sure that things like institutionalized racism do not perpetuate.” Mackey continues to take this lesson to heart in his first year as principal of TAG, a diverse college preparatory magnet school of 240 students that’s been named the No. 1 public school in the country six out of the past eight years by either Newsweek or U.S. News and World Report. Landing such a job would be an impressive feat for anyone, but it’s phenomenal when you consider that this is Mackey’s first principal job — and he’s only 27 years old, the youngest principal in Dallas ISD.

Dallas ISD’s School for the Talented and Gifted Principal Ben Mackey hangs out with students on campus. Pictured left to right are junior Khyree Henderson, Principal Mackey, senior Angelica Jackman, senior Jorge Valdez and junior Braden Fineberg. 22

Texas School Business • March 2014


Mackey didn’t always know that he wanted to go into education. In fact, growing up in Orlando, Fla., he never even thought about what he’d do for a living. During his senior year of college, however, he went to a career fair. He recalls walking around the room full of booths from various employers when it hit him: He’d been working hard all his life just to get to the next level, just to move on, but now he wasn’t sure he wanted to do any of these jobs. “That was a big moment for me,” he says. “What was the point of going to school, working so hard, for all of my life, but having no idea what I actually wanted to do? And that was one of the big reasons I decided to go into teaching. I think schools should push people to think about their passions and explore their interests, so they have an idea of who they are and what they want to do.” Mackey decided to join Teach for America and he loved it. After the required two years in the program, he stayed on at the school for an additional year, teaching math and choir, “which was interesting, because I don’t really sing,” he admits. He became the chair of the Math Department and founded the first Advanced Placement Calculus A and B class at the school. A student, after taking Mackey’s class, achieved the school’s first-ever passing score on an AP test. It was a great feeling — but it wasn’t enough. “The school itself was still struggling, and there was a lot outside my locus of control, just being the Math Department chair,” he says. “I knew if I wanted to stay in education, I wanted to be in school leadership.” Mackey went back to school and earned his master’s degree in school leadership from Harvard Education School. He graduated last year and landed his current position with TAG. And though he’s young, Mackey says his age hasn’t hurt him. “The teachers, staff and community I work with here have been unbelievable,” he says. “They are top-of-the-line professional, and they are incredibly supportive. Everyone here has been in education longer than I have, but I haven’t felt that my age has been a roadblock in any way.” On the other hand, he says, there are some benefits to being a young principal.

For one, he gets automatic credibility with the students. And because he hasn’t been through many of the processes before, he doesn’t get caught up in what is and isn’t possible in public education. “I don’t see where something can’t be done, so I’m just going to try to do it anyway,” he says. “I don’t have those preconceived notions of what we can and can’t do.” As for his future at TAG, Mackey’s goal is to continue the strengths that have led to TAG’s success over the years — a small student body, an emphasis on creating a cohesive educational experience and low teacher turnover. He also knows, though, that education is always changing, and TAG can’t rest on its laurels. And Mackey will always refer to his core belief that kids come first. “Anytime there’s a decision to be made about where to spend money, it’s always: ‘Which option is going to directly benefit our kids the most?’” he says. “Having that belief to think about makes it easy to make decisions.”

FUN FACTS ABOUT

BEN MACKEY If I couldn’t work in public education, I would be: I never really thought about it. Maybe finance, because that was my major. If I had a spare $1,000, I would: Buy a pitching machine to send back to the high school where I worked in Rosedale, Miss. A bad habit I would love to break is: watching TV instead of reading If I really want to decompress, you’ll find me: at the gym or on a basketball court

LEILA KALMBACH is a freelance writer in Austin.

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WHO’S NEWS continued from page 19

principalship, in Waskom ISD. In addition, he was a baseball coach at Stephen F. Austin State University and East Texas Baptist University. Musick, who received his bachelor’s degree in education from Stephen F. Austin State University, holds a master’s degree from Sam Houston State University. He expects to complete his doctoral degree from Lamar University this year. Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD John Hollis, the new director of PEIMS, has been with the district for eight years and was most recently a programmer and analyst. A new principal h a s John Hollis been named for Hurst Hills Elementary School. Elizabeth Sanders, who is currently assistant principal of the campus, will take Elizabeth Sanders on the top job in August. Katy ISD Christopher J. Smith, formerly the district’s business manager, has been named chief financial officer. He has a bachelor’s degree from Austin College and a master’s degree from Texas A&M University at Commerce. He previously worked as assistant superintendent in Bay City ISD. Longview ISD Longview ISD trustee Ted Beard has been named to an interim position on the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) board of directors. He is representing TASB Region 7. A retired sergeant major from the United States Army, he has served on the Longview ISD board since 1998. He was appointed to the TASB Risk Management Fund Board in 2007 and is currently vice chair. McKinney ISD Andrea Coachman has been selected to serve as McKinney ISD’s coordinator of secondary English/language 24

Texas School Business • March 2014

Who’s News arts. She has been with the district for four years, working as an English teacher, AVID teacher, and as a basketball and softball coach at Boyd and North high schools. She was most recently the English Department chair and an instructional specialist at North High, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2012. Prior to joining McKinney ISD, she spent two years as an English teacher and coach in Lovejoy ISD. A graduate of Austin College in Sherman, Coachman holds a master’s degree in education. Midway ISD Midway

High School Associate Principal Alison Smith has been named 2014’s Associate Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP). Alison Smith She has been with the district since 2002, beginning as a kindergarten assistant at Speegleville Elementary School and going on to work as a high school biology teacher and coach, high school testing coordinator and assistant principal. She was TASSP’s 2013 Assistant Principal of the Year and a recipient of the Midway Education Foundation grant in 2005 and 2006. Smith earned her associate’s degree from McLennan Community College, her bachelor’s degree in biology from Baylor University and her master’s degree in educational administration from Tarleton State University. Mission CISD Mission High School has a new principal. He is Edilberto Flores, who has been with the district for 21 years. After earning his bachelor’s degree in sociology from The University of Texas – Edilberto Flores Pan American, he took his first teaching and coaching jobs at Mission ISD’s Mission Junior High, where he was named Teacher of the Year in 1999 and 2000. He next accepted the position of assistant principal of Alton Memorial Junior High, going on

to serve as principal of Midkiff Elementary and White Junior High. He was named executive director for state and federal programs in 2012, holding that position until accepting his new assignment. Flores also holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Texas – Pan American. Oakwood ISD Former Buffalo ISD Superintendent Jackie Thomason has agreed to come out of retirement to serve as Oakwood ISD’s interim superintendent. Plano ISD Jim Hirsch, associate superintendent for academic and technology services, has retired after almost 40 years as an educator. Following graduation from St. John’s University in Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in Jim Hirsch mathematics, he began his career as a math teacher. He spent 21 years in the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota, teaching math and computer programming and ultimately becoming the district’s executive director of technology. He joined Plano ISD in 1996. Additionally, he is the proprietor of Educational Computing Consulting, which provides strategic and technology planning services to school districts nationwide. Hirsch also holds a master’s degree in math from the University of Minnesota. Quitman ISD Rhonda Turner, who was the district’s assistant superintendent, is now serving as superintendent. Round Rock ISD JoyLynn Occhiuzzi, executive director of community relations and legal services, has been reelected vice president at large of the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA). She has been JoyLynn with Round Rock ISD Occhiuzzi since 2006 and has been


Who’s News a school public relations specialist for 15 years. A member of TSPRA for 12 years, Occhiuzzi has chaired the organization’s scholarship and Star Awards banquet committees and has judged the Celebrate Texas Public Schools video contest. She earned her bachelor’s degree in organizational communications and her master’s degree in organizational leadership from St. Edward’s University in Austin. San Angelo ISD Jeff Bright is the district’s new assistant superintendent of business and support services. With 27 years of experience in education, he has been a teacher and principal. He holds a doctorate in Jeff Bright educational leadership, which he received as a member of the first cohort of the joint Texas Tech/Angelo State University doctoral program. San Marcos CISD Royse Phillips has been hired as the district’s new director of facilities construction. He comes from Amarillo ISD, where he worked since 2009, first as a building trades instructor and then as a Royse Phillips construction manager and maintenance supervisor. After his discharge from the U.S. Army, he worked as a quality engineer for Bell Helicopter before moving into construction. In addition to his time in public school construction, Phillips was in the building and contracting business for 20 years in the private sector. He holds an associate’s degree in construction technology from West Texas State University. Spring ISD Now serving as interim superintendent is Dalane Bouillion, who joined the district in 2006 and had been serving as associate superintendent for academics and administration. Previously, she was a principal in Galena Park ISD. Bouillion holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Sam Houston State University.

Superintendent Ralph Draper has retired from the post he has held since 2005. He began his education career in 1986. He holds an associate’s degree from Southwestern Christian College, a bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb University in Tennessee, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University. Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Robert Duron, former Texas Education Agency deputy commissioner of finance and administration, is now TASB’s associate executive director of district services. He brings more than 30 years of experience in Texas public education, including service as superintendent of San Antonio and Socorro ISDs and as assistant superintendent of Clear Creek ISD. He was also a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal in several Texas districts. Duron holds two degrees from Texas A&M University at Commerce and a doctorate from Baylor University. Texas City ISD The newly created position of director of career and technical education is now filled by Richard Chapa, who will continue to serve as assistant principal of Texas City High School. He has been an

educator for 29 years, 15 of those with Texas City ISD. He began as a welding teacher, going on to serve as a counselor and lead counselor, ESL administraRichard Chapa tor, testing coordinator, assistant principal, and career and technical education coordinator. Chapa, who received his associate’s degree from Bee County College, holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational education from Corpus Christi State University (now Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi) and his master’s degree in counseling from the University of Texas at Brownsville. Todd English has been named director of technology. He comes to the district from Westwood ISD in Palestine, where he spent the past nine years as network manager and director of technology. English holds a bacheTodd English lor’s degree in computer information systems from Tarleton State University. The new assistant superintendent of business and operations is See WHO’S NEWS on page 28

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TSPRA PRESIDENT PROFILE Amarillo ISD’s Denise Blanchard strives for community engagement by Ford Gunter

T

hese days it seems like just about every public servant enters a new post with a slew of fires to put out and many more crises looming. So it’s a refreshing — and somewhat fitting — change to see that the new Texas School Public Relations Association president, Denise Blanchard, isn’t seeing dark clouds on the horizon. Far from it. With the passing of House Bill 5 in the last Texas legislative session, Blanchard is excited about what the future holds.

“We’re thrilled with House Bill 5,” she says. “There’s been too much emphasis on testing, and so I’m excited that some of that pressure is going to be alleviated for our students.” As most educators are familiar, House Bill 5 — among other things — slashed the number of standardized tests students must take and knocked down the mandatory credit requirements for most core subjects. In addition to freeing up students to pursue more electives, the new

legislation also eases the pressure around standardized testing. “Wherever your talents and abilities are, and wherever your passion is, our students need to be encouraged to do that and go as far as they can go,” Blanchard says. “If you don’t do well on a test, I don’t think that’s a measure of what your ability is.” Blanchard also says she hopes the focus now will be on the success of all students, not just the elite.

Denise Blanchard (standing, right), program director of Community Partnerships for Amarillo ISD, speaks to an iLead group as Shelly Baloglou (standing, left), principal of Mesa Verde Elementary School, looks on. The goal of the iLead program is to recruit community leaders and then develop a cadre of informed advocates who are familiar with district operations and the issues confronting public education. 26

Texas School Business • March 2014


“We want students that want to go to college to go to college, but I don’t want to forget those kids who have talents and skills that may not require a college degree,” she says. “I want them to know that their skills are valued as well.” It’s a good thing, then, that she’s in a position to get the message out. “We need to get those future goals and aspirations out in front of the public to show [the students] that they are valued, regardless of the track they go,” Blanchard says. Blanchard suggests two ways to do this. The first is to bring the community into the schools, so local leaders and employers can get to know what the next generation of the labor force looks like, and where they’re coming from. She also suggests bringing the parents into the schools so they can see what their children are doing. This kind of exposure can lead to more supportive home environments. Students who are supported in the classroom and at home are more likely to succeed. It’s a tactic Blanchard has been deploying for the past 13 years as program director of Community Partnerships for Amarillo ISD. The second tactic is to get the students out into the community and to showcase the students’ abilities. To that end, Amarillo ISD recently put on an event highlighting the district’s culinary arts program, in which students prepared meals for 800 guests. Blanchard says she doesn’t know what that campaign might look like on a statewide level, but many districts are already active in placing their non-college-bound students out in the public eye, on local morning shows and community events. “They can hone their skills and show off for the public,” Blanchard says. The idea, in a nutshell, is to demonstrate the value the kids bring to the world to both the students and their communities. As such, one of Blanchard’s top priorities as president of TSPRA is to foster partnerships with local businesses and organizations so students can jobshadow, take paid and unpaid internships and learn about the opportunities out there. Says Blanchard: “There is a quote; I don’t remember who said it, but I believe it: ‘You cannot be what you cannot see.’ “I want our students to get out and be exposed to the possibilities. Expanding partnerships by bringing community members into our schools and taking our

FUN FACTS ABOUT DENISE BLANCHARD Last book I read that I really liked: “Grace: More than We Deserve, Greater than We Imagine” by Max Lucado My ideal vacation would be: I love Maui with my husband. A piece of advice that has served me well: Be yourself. A skill I’d like to learn but haven’t yet: I’m typically not afraid to try anything. If there is a skill I need, I jump in and try to master it!

students out into the community helps all of us see how we might be able to work together to enrich education and engage our students and community members in the process.” Blanchard says her time in Community Partnerships, as well as her 15 years teaching high school and middle school, has prepared her well for her new role with TSPRA. “If I come up with an idea, the best thing about where I work is that I’m encouraged to go for it,” she says. “I want others to know if they have an idea to not be afraid to step out and try something new.” Blanchard officially took office at TSPRA’s annual conference last month.

“There’s good training at our conferences,” she says. “TSPRA ... is a good place for us to go for our in-service to find out how we might be able to do things better in our district.” Because Texas is so big and has so many school districts, Blanchard views these conferences as crucial networking time to see how other districts address universal challenges or, better yet, if they’re finding new ways of doing things. “We don’t have to re-invent the wheel,” Blanchard says. “We can come up with cool things that are new to our district.” FORD GUNTER is a writer and filmmaker in Houston.

June 16 - 18, 2014 in Frisco, Texas

Interactive Professional Learning Register at www.tinyurl.com/TexasASCDIgnite14 Keynote: Ewan McIntosh, NoTosh Ltd. March 2014 • Texas School Business

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

Margaret Lee. She has worked in school finance since 1998, most recently as chief financial officer in Liberty ISD. She also has been an accountant in that Margaret Lee district and in Dayton ISD. Lee, who has an associate’s degree from San Jacinto College, earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting and her master’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston Clear Lake. She is a certified public accountant and earned the designation of registered Texas school business administrator from the Texas Association of School Business Officials. Diane Martin, assistant superintendent for secondary curriculum and instruction, has retired from the district, bringing to a close a 38-year career in Texas public education. She spent 21 years with Clear Creek Diane Martin ISD after beginning as a teacher at Spring High School in Spring ISD. She joined Texas City ISD as director of secondary education in 2005, following two years as principal of Hughes Road Elementary School in Dickinson ISD, four years as principal of Pearland High School in Pearland ISD and a year as principal of Stafford High School in Stafford Municipal School District. Martin, who earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Sam Houston State University, holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Houston Clear Lake. A new assistant superintendent of support services is in place for the district. She is Karin Miller, who comes to her new job from Cleveland ISD, where she worked since 2007, most recently as assistant suKarin Miller perintendent. In addition, she spent six years as the federal programs coordinator and early childhood 28

Texas School Business • March 2014

specialist in Brazosport ISD. She was an elementary school teacher in that district and in Arlington ISD for 14 years. Miller has a bachelor’s degree in educational curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in educational management from the University of Houston Clear Lake. Kayne Smith has joined Texas City ISD as director of transportation, a new position for the district. He was most recently with Goose Creek ISD, where he was transportation operations supervisor. He began Kayne Smith his career in 2007 as a high school social studies teacher and tennis coach in Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD after earning his bachelor’s degree from Lamar University. He holds a master’s degree in education from Le Tourneau University and is at work on his doctorate in education from Texas A&M University at Commerce. Tyler ISD The new executive director of the Tyler ISD Foundation is Maya Bethany. She comes to her new position from Lindale ISD, where she was the communications specialist and executive direcMaya Bethany tor of the Lindale ISD Education Foundation since 2009. Prior to that, she was a news reporter and sports anchor for KLTV in Tyler, from 2004 to 2009. Bethany holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. She was the 2011 recipient of the Rookie of the Year award from the Texas School Public Relations Association. Ysleta ISD Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Jerry Molinoski is the recipient of the Dr. Mary Hopkins Personnel Administrator of the Year award from the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators. An educator for 35 years, 25 of those as a human re-

sources administrator, he has also been a classroom teacher, counselor, program director at ESC Region 4, assistant superintendent and interim superintendent. Jerry Molinoski He has worked in Houston ISD and in Eanes ISD, in Arkansas, and in Department of Defense schools in Germany, Houston, Austin and El Paso. Molinoski holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in counseling. He has completed the majority of the work toward his doctorate in educational administration. CORRECTIONS In the September 2013 issue, we incorrectly reported that Joni Conn was appointed principal of Keith Elementary School. She is principal of Hamilton Elementary. We regret the error. In the February issue, we incorrectly named the superintendent of Seguin ISD, who recently became a board member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. The superintendent of Seguin ISD is Irene Garza. We regret the error. TSB

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TCWSE members gather in Austin The Texas Council of Women School Executives hosted its annual conference in January. This year’s theme was “Leadership and Legacies.”

Sylvia Cantino, SHW Group; Levatta Lewis, DeSoto ISD; Kimberly Daniels, Texas A&M – Commerce; and Monet Reed, DeSoto ISD.

Shari Hendstrom, Bryan ISD and Brenda Krchnak, Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD.

Christina Winters Gears and Erin Downey of Creating and Managing Wealth LLC.

Donna Solley, Betty Grubbs, Kelli Montgomery and Elizabeth Clarke of Birdville ISD.

Jean Bahney, Austin ISD; Karla Moyer, ESC Region 13; Patricia Ramirez, John H. Wood Jr. Charter District; and Lisa Meysembourg, Schulenburg ISD.

Christi Widbick, Fort Bend ISD; Tina Seaman, Katy ISD; Kim Lawson, Katy ISD; and Christine Rivello, Think Through Math.

Creslond Fannin, Lancaster ISD; Jana Garner, Forney ISD; and Sonya Cole-Hamilton, Lancaster ISD. March 2014 • Texas School Business

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THE BACK PAGE by Riney Jordan

Improving Public Schools, Part 1: Discipline

I

recently wrote a piece entitled “Wake up! Our public schools are in trouble!” It probably generated more responses than any one I’ve ever written. In that article, I noted 10 issues that had been identified as problem areas. In my opinion, the order of importance would be virtually impossible to determine, as every school campus, every district, every community is unique. The personalities of the superintendent, school board, principals and teachers can create different climates in the schools. Even one or two very active constituents can affect a school district, either positively or negatively. With that in mind, however, let us ponder one area that is generally on everyone’s list: student discipline. First, let’s look at some facts, taken from a survey by Public Agenda for the Common Good, which polled 725 middle school and high school students and 600 parents of students in secondary schools. • 97 percent of teachers and 78 percent of parents say good discipline and behavior are prerequisites for a successful school. • 85 percent of teachers and 73 percent of parents say students suffer at the expense of a few chronic offenders. Oh, I could go on and on, but you know discipline is a major problem in our schools. And parents know it, too. It’s the same old blame game we’ve all been playing for years. The schools say the parents need to teach their children discipline, and the parents blame the schools. Hey, there’s enough blame to go around. You and I both know the real causes. Now let’s quit fighting each other and do something to fix this problem. It all goes back to common sense. First of all, let’s work together to give kids responsibility! I agree with Winston Churchill, who once said: “The price of greatness is responsibility.” We simply have no choice but to make this a priority for life’s most important lessons. 30

Texas School Business • March 2014

Yes, kids should make their beds, carry out the trash, pick up their plates after dinner, empty the dishwasher on occasion, and on and on. Students should complete their assignments, respect other students and teachers and do their best. Give them a clear and concise list of those things that they are required to do, and trust them to do it. When they don’t, they lose the privileges of smartphones, video games, movies, etc. Of course, this isn’t new. It’s as old as time itself. Remember that “Don’t eat the apple” thing in the Garden of Eden? There are consequences for not following the rules! One of the beliefs I have that I would go to the stake for is this: Kids WANT to be disciplined! Stop fooling yourself. They are elated to have an excuse to not do some of the things that they know are wrong. Give them an opportunity to blame you, as the parent. Remember, they are children. Yes, children. They are going to make mistakes. We go from childhood to adulthood, and you’re not an adult at 15 and 16. So what can schools do to improve discipline? Well, for one thing, never stop working with parents. Rest assured, they are as frustrated as the school is, and both the school and the home need to work together to get “on the same page.” Remember in loco parentis? When their children are in our schools, we are there in place of the parent and have been given the legal responsibility to act in their best interest. They are not our children, but we have pledged to care for them, protect them, train them and love them as if they were our own children. Come on! Face the problem head-on, and let’s make discipline, good discipline, a top priority in each classroom, in each school, in each home and in each public school district in the country. As our 7-year-old grandson recently told his mom when she asked why he wasn’t eating the dinner she had prepared, he thought for a moment and then said: “Well, it’s not perfect.”

No, and our schools and our homes aren’t perfect either, but they can be better. And my friends, we must never stop trying to do just that! RINEY JORDAN, whose best-selling book “All the Difference” is now in its sixth printing, is an international speaker and humorist. He can be reached at riney@yahoo.com or by visiting www.rineyjordan.com.

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VISION What is the future of your Educational Community? How can you create a Strategic Plan to move forward?

The Result‌ Unified Team Engaged Community Identified Priorities Maximized Resources Facilitated Success Recognized as the leading provider of strategic planning for K-12 education.

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March 2014 • Texas School Business

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