April 2022

Page 1

Texas Lone Star

Rising to the Top

Pasadena ISD’s new teacher induction program helps first-year educators build skills and make connections

Aiding Advocacy

New Legislative Advisory Council members will help TASB form priorities for next session

Taking Care of Business

TASB goes behind the scenes with five district-level administrative professionals

A Publication of the Texas Association of School Boards | Volume 40, Number 3 | April 2022

TASB Officers 2021-22

Ted Beard, Longview ISD, President

Debbie Gillespie, Frisco ISD, President-Elect

Armando Rodriguez, Canutillo ISD, Second Vice-President

Rolinda Schmidt, Kerrville ISD, Secretary-Treasurer

Jim Rice, Fort Bend ISD, Immediate Past President

TASB Board of Directors 2021-22

Moises Alfaro, Mathis ISD, Region 2

Jesus Amaya, Los Fresnos CISD, Region 1A

Rose Avalos, Aldine ISD, Region 4H

Carlos Bentancourt, Slaton ISD, Region 17

Kamlesh Bhikha, ESC 2, ESC Representative

Darlene Breaux, Alief ISD, Region 4B

Steve Brown, Ector County ISD, Region 18

Kevin A. Carbo, Mesquite ISD, Region 10D

Justin Chapa, Arlington ISD, Region 11C

Thomas Darden, Cooper ISD, Region 8

Jason Dohnalik, Cameron ISD, Region 6A

Karen Freeman, Northside ISD, Region 20B

Corinne French, Valley View ISD, Region 11D

Sylvia Sanchez Garza, South Texas ISD, Region 1B

Linda Gooch, Sunnyvale ISD, Region 10B

Mary Jane Hetrick, Dripping Springs ISD, Region 13B

Tony Hopkins, Friendswood ISD, Region 4C

Tricia Ikard, Maypearl ISD, Region 10A

Tami Keeling, Victoria ISD, Region 3

Mark Lukert, Wichita Falls ISD, Region 9

Kathy Major, Liberty Hill ISD, Region 13C

Raymond P. Meza, San Felipe Del Rio CISD, Region 15

Dan Micciche, Dallas ISD, Region 10C

Scott Moore, Conroe ISD, Region 6B

Nicholas Phillips, Nederland ISD, Region 5

Jacinto Ramos Jr., Fort Worth ISD, Region 11B

Tony Raymond, Sabine ISD, Region 7

Georgan Reitmeier, Klein ISD, Region 4A

Cindy Spanel, Highland Park ISD, Region 16

Becky St. John, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Region 11A

Yasmin Wagner, Austin ISD, Region 13A

Mildred Watkins, La Vega ISD, Region 12

Greg Welch, Clyde CISD, Region 14

Robert Westbrook, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD, Region 20D

Terri Williams, North East ISD, Region 20E

For more information about these events or deadlines, visit the TASB website at tasb.org or call TASB at 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 toll-free.

2 Texas Lone Star | April 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org Calendar
APRIL 6 • What do I do when...? A Special Education Legal Update, Part 4, Virtual Event 7 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Nacogdoches 12 • TASB Facility Services Asbestos Designated Person Training, Spring 13 • TASB Facility Services Integrated Pest Management Training, Spring 13 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Houston 13-14 • TASB HR Services Determining Employment Status and Benefits, Virtual Event 14 • TASB Facility Services Best Practices: Maintenance and Operations, Spring 14 • TASB Student Solutions: Transition: Assessments, Graduation Types, Summaries of Performance, Virtual Event 19 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Lubbock 20 • TASB Special Education Solutions SHARS Random Moment Time Study, Virtual Event MAY 3 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — El Paso 4 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Alpine 5 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Iraan-Sheffield 10 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Abilene 10 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Huntsville 11-12 • TASB HR Services — Understanding Wage and Hour Law, Virtual Event 12 • TASB Student Solutions: It’s A Wrap: 21-22 Recap and Plans for Moving Forward, Virtual Event 12 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Uvalde 17 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Commerce 18 • TASB Special Education Solutions: SHARS Billing, Virtual Event 18 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Canyon 20-21 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — South Padre 24 • TASB 2022 Spring Workshop — Waco TASB SPECIAL EDUCATION SOLUTIONS SHARS 2022 VIRTUAL CONFERENCE APRIL 28-29
Featured Event





Texas Lone Star • Volume 40, Number 3

Texas Association of School Boards P.O. Box 400 • Austin, Texas • 78767-0400 512.467.0222 • 800.580.8272

Laura Tolley • Managing Editor

Shu-in Powell • Graphic Designer Virginia Hernandez • Photographer

360 Press Solutions • Printer

Contributors: Sylvia Wood, Dax Gonzalez, Stephanie Butler, Leslie Trahan, Joan Randall, Melissa Locke Roberts, Theresa Gage-Dieringer Karlyn Keller, Jasmine Wightman

Texas Lone Star (ISSN 0749-9310) is published 10 times a year by the Texas Association of School Boards. Copyright© 2022 by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). All rights reserved. Reproduction, adaptation, distribution, and exhibition in whole or in part are prohibited under penalty of law without the written license or permission of TASB. Copies of Texas Lone Star are mailed to trustees of TASB member school boards and their superintendents as part of their membership. Subscriptions are available to nonmembers for $36 (1 year), $69 (2 years), and $99 (3 years). Single copies are $5.

Address changes should be sent to Michael Pennant, TASB, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

Articles in Texas Lone Star are expressions of the author or interviewee and do not represent the views or policies of TASB. Permission to reprint should be emailed to communications@tasb.org or addressed to the Managing Editor, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

Texas Lone Star does not guarantee publication of unsolicited manuscripts.

Postmaster: Send address changes to TASB, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2022 | Texas Lone Star 3 Follow us: Features
the Top
7 Editor's Note
Final Note Columns
38 A
Legal News
Capitol Watch
Facilitating Student Success
News & Events Departments Contents | April 2022 8 Rising to the Top Pasadena ISD’s teacher induction program helps first-year educators build skills and make connections 8 Texas Lone Star April 2022 texaslonestaronline.org SCHOOL 12 Aiding Advocacy New Legislative Advisory Council members will help TASB form priorities for next session 14 What’s for Lunch? USDA's new school meal standards focus on healthy options and flexibility 16 Taking Care of Business TASB goes behind the scenes with five district-level administrative professionals 20 Continuous Improvement Discover the potential of a school district internal audit program
Your healthcare benefits program has options. TASB Benefits Cooperative offers districts a new choice for healthcare: The TASB Benefits Health Plan. • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas Network • Rate Stability • Dedicated Account Team • Equity Renewal Credits • Wellness & Incentive Programs Let us help you decide which healthcare choice is best for your district. TASBBenefits.com 800.558.8875
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My Mother’s Example

Don’t hesitate to help public education

While growing up in Detroit, Mich., I was blessed with parents who made sure my educational experience went beyond the classroom.

For example, I had the opportunity to participate in a science enrichment program that included competing in the Metropolitan Science Fair, held each year in Cobo Hall, an arena built in 1960 that served as home court for the Detroit Pistons.

This science fair attracted participants from across the seven-county Detroit metropolitan region, so it was competitive and well attended. My mother, who was in the healthcare profession, periodically served as a judge in the senior medical division.

I was in the 10th grade when I entered my last Metropolitan Science Fair, which marked the first time I watched my mother in action as a healthcare professional. To this day, I’m humbled by her selfless service and what I think of as heroism. For me, this memory connects to our work as school trustees. We, too, must take decisive, data-based action on behalf of our districts, which are inclusive of all students and district personnel. Let me explain.

A memorable day

One day we were walking together into Cobo Hall for the science fair when, all of a sudden, we saw emergency medical technicians (EMTs) racing through the crowd with a stretcher. My mother was trying to make her way to the judges’ area, and I was on my way to the exhibit hall where the projects and students were located.

nature. Later I learned she and the EMTs had saved the person’s life.

Keeping public education alive

Of course, our work as school board members seldom involves life-saving procedures. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that public education is life-saving and life-changing. At their best, our schools provide students with opportunities and knowledge that will alter the trajectory of their lives. This starts by investing in all of our students at an early age by providing educational opportunities and removing barriers for all students. This is what I would call the “launch pad” for student achievement and success.

We can learn from my mother’s example. We are all seeking to create better opportunities for our students through our devotion to school board service and our commitment to public education.

Fortunately, my entries never fell into this category, so there was no conflict of interest.

Naturally, we rode together to Cobo Hall, now known as Huntington Place. In those days, going to the arena was a special event. It attracted some of the biggest and wildest rock bands of the ’60s and ’70s, not to mention the Detroit Pistons through 1978. Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen all performed at the arena, which also hosted auto shows.

The EMTs were heading in our direction with a patient on a stretcher. Clearly, they were struggling to get through the crowd while caring for the patient. My mother approached the EMTs and let them know she was a nurse. Without hesitation, she performed chest compressions on the patient while the EMTs focused on pushing the stretcher to the waiting ambulance. I watched her calmly provide care all the way to the ambulance. When they arrived, she jumped into the back with the EMTs while continuing to provide resuscitation efforts as the ambulance quickly sped away.

I was left standing and stunned. For the first time in my life, I witnessed my mother’s medical skill and passion. She never hesitated. For her, it was second

We know our public schools are the heart of our communities and require ongoing care and attention to survive and thrive. That is why we must always be prepared to jump in and act on those issues that threaten public education.

My mother never considered not getting involved when she saw that help was urgently needed. I would hope that as school board members we don’t stand idly by. Every day, our public schools are saving lives by giving students opportunities and an education that can produce a better and brighter future.

Let’s all keep working together to keep public education alive and well with a focus on serving all students.H

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From the Top
Ted Beard, a Longview ISD trustee, is 2021-22 president of TASB.
“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”
— George Washington Carver

2 0 2 2

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The Fund will select up to 10 recipients to award and their achievements will be celebrated with a $1,000 honorarium toward continued risk management efforts, a custom glass award to display, and more.

Showcase your excellence in risk management by starting your application today at tasbrmf.org/excellence. Submission deadline is June 3, 2022, at 6 p.m.

Legislative Work

TASB members will help shape 2023 agenda

When I first moved to Austin, way back in the summer of 1995, the 74th Texas Legislature had recently adjourned. The echoing voices of tourists were about all you heard beneath the “Pink Dome.”

As the new Capitol bureau chief for the San Antonio Express-News, I was excited and nervous about the important job ahead. But the Legislature only met in regular session in odd-numbered years, so my editor and I thought that during the “down time” I could pursue stories about life in Austin and the surrounding Texas Hill Country.

Sounded like a great plan to me. I mean, what happens during the interim anyway?

Turns out, a lot.

While lawmakers generally return to their hometowns and full-time jobs after the session, many others involved in the legislative process stay behind in Austin, including statewide elected officials, lawmakers’ staffs, state agency employees, lobbyists, and association personnel. Somebody must figure out how to implement all the new laws. Work on what will transpire in the next session begins — sometimes even before the sine die parties end.

I squeezed in a couple of news features — one about the city’s homeless population (still a major issue) and another about how the open spaces between Austin and San Antonio were filling up a bit. That story seems quaint now.

But the interim session churn soon overtook most of my work life. Lobbyists were meeting with clients, lawmakers’ staff were working on potential bills, associations discussed priorities, interim

committee meetings convened, politicking continued.

TASB Grassroots Meetings

I was thinking about my early days in Austin as I watched the TASB Governmental Relations (GR) team work hard on the first step of establishing the TASB Advocacy Agenda for the 2023 legislative session. During the first quarter of 2022, the GR team traveled to education service center (ESC) regions across the state holding TASB Grassroots Meetings with local school board members to hear what issues are important to them. Some meetings were held virtually because of weather conditions.

one of the highest attendances she could remember — and she was first elected in 2005. She said the meetings offered each district the chance to get involved in creating the Advocacy Agenda.

“Grassroots Meetings are also an opportunity for us to come together and network and develop or nurture relationships with trustees from different districts,” Freeman said. “Sometimes it just helps to know that other trustees have the same challenges, and while we may not solve our problems in one evening, we can plan to continue conversations with each other.”

My thanks to everyone who took the time to attend the Grassroots Meetings, and congratulations to the new LAC members who will help identify and define TASB’s legislative priorities for the 2023 session.

I understand how much time and effort is needed during that period I once naively thought of as the legislative “down time.” There are so many people working hard, behind the scenes, on important issues — such as ensuring that all Texas schoolchildren receive the best public education possible.

We are grateful for your service.H

Hundreds of trustees and administrators attended these meetings, the foundation of TASB’s advocacy efforts. Attendees also elected members to the Legislative Advisory Council (LAC), volunteers who will represent district trustees’ concerns and priorities throughout the development of the TASB Advocacy Agenda.

TASB Director and Northside ISD Trustee Karen Freeman told me that the Grassroots Meeting for Region 20 had

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Editor’s Note
Laura Tolley is managing editor of Texas Lone Star
“Grassroots Meetings are also an opportunity for us to come together and network and develop or nurture relationships.”
Laura Tolley

Rising to the Top

Pasadena ISD’s new teacher induction program helps first-year educators build skills and make connections

8 Texas Lone Star | April 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org

Mayve Rodriguez started her first year of teaching in the fall of 2021, undeterred by all the challenges facing educators during a global pandemic.

Yet she wasn’t exactly prepared for the reality of her thirdgrade classroom and students with monumental learning gaps related to COVID-19 disruptions. “I don’t know what my kids learned in second grade because some of them didn’t go to school last year,” said Rodriguez. “That’s what scares me the most. They all come from so many different places, and they’re not all on the same page.”

Fortunately, Rodriguez has been getting great support at Pasadena ISD, a large suburban district in southeast Harris County, where first-year teacher retention has been getting a lot of attention with a dedicated program — Retaining Instructors through Support and Education, or RISE.

Developed in 2018 to provide new teachers with professional development, classroom support, and mentoring opportunities, the program couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

First-year connections

The 2021 Texas Teacher Workforce Report from the University of Houston and Raise Your Hand Texas showed that in a cohort of first-year teachers followed over a span of 10 years, nearly one in three quit the classroom by year five.

Those who make it to the five-year mark have reached a level of confidence and skill in their profession that makes them less likely to leave, according to Sarah McMahan, director of the Office of Clinical Practices in the teacher education

program at Texas Woman’s University. “After those several years, they’ve made it to the point where they can see the top,” said McMahan. “They can see their passion and their career lasting, and they feel more apt to stay because they can see an overall scope of what the profession is.”

Amid that backdrop, administrators are looking more closely at how to keep their teachers from walking out the door, especially during those first few years in the classroom when educators are most at risk.

“We all know teachers are not paid what they deserve, but I don’t think that’s why they give up,” said Curtis Tucker, a first-year Texas History teacher in Pasadena ISD. “I think it’s because they don’t get the support they need.”

Through its RISE program, Pasadena ISD has been trying to ensure its new teachers get all the help they need through coaching and mentoring. Research shows that connecting first-year teachers with a mentor can help keep them in the classroom. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, 92% of teachers with a mentor returned to the classroom after the first year, compared to 84% of teachers who did not have a mentor. After five years, these rates drop to 86% and 71%, respectively.

“It’s really important that first year that we have someone to push [teachers] through the cycle, to say, ‘This is an ebb and flow, this is a bad day,’” said Rebecca Fredrickson, a professor of teacher education at Texas Woman’s University. “When you’re brand new, you don’t always know tomorrow is going to look better.”

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Photo courtesy of Pasadena ISD Pasadena ISD RISE team, from left: Patricia Sanchez, Diana Gomez, Jessica Frinsco, Eric Brown, Annette Stubbs, and Traci Goodwin.

But Fredrickson notes that not all mentor programs are created equal and that the most successful programs are those that allow mentors to volunteer for the work, rather than being assigned. “It has to be something that they want to participate in as much as the mentee,” she said. “When it is very top-down on new teacher induction and mentorship, you do run into some issues.”

According to Fredrickson, training is also a critical component of a quality mentorship program, but this need is often overlooked by districts. “[Districts] think because [the mentors] are there and they’re good at what they do, they’ve got this, they volunteered, that they don’t need the training, and that’s really important,” said Fredrickson.

A carefully planned program

In Pasadena ISD, the RISE program is more structured than serendipitous, with trained master mentors who lead the work and an application and training process that ensures every aspiring mentor is prepared to support a new teacher. New mentors receive eight hours of training before the new school year. Returning mentors receive four. Mentors

also receive multiple levels of support. Master mentors, lead master mentors, and a mentor coordinator all work together to provide training and information to mentors.

“Our mentor coordinator is in charge of the program. She works with some lead master mentors, who have been part of the program and working in the program for several years. They help train our next level, our master mentors,” explains Annette Stubbs, RISE instructional specialist for elementary schools. “Each high school has a master mentor who works very closely with our mentor coordinator to disperse training and information to mentors on campus. For middle schools and elementaries, there might be a cluster of schools that share a master mentor. They facilitate the trainings for that cluster of schools.”

Tucker said he’s been reaching out nearly every day to his mentor, who is on his campus and teaches the same subject. “My mentor happens to be across the hall from me in my building, so it’s been very easy to both formally and informally get help from him,” said Tucker.

An especially important aspect of the RISE program is its focus on providing resources and support to new teachers — not evaluating their performance.

“We can’t share our data with [principals] because it’s not an ‘I got you.’ We are the support for the new teacher,” said Traci Goodwin, executive director of professional development and events for Pasadena ISD. “When we come in, no matter how bad it’s going, we want them to know we’re there to support them.”

For Rodriguez, knowing that the RISE team is there to support her without appraising her performance in the classroom makes her feel more comfortable asking questions and requesting help. “It’s nice to have somebody who’s not evaluating you,” said Rodriguez. “I don’t feel like if I do something wrong, they’re going to fire me.”

Photos courtesy of Pasadena ISD Pasadena ISD teachers meet with vendors at the district’s New Teacher Welcome in August 2021.
10 Texas Lone Star | April 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org
“An especially important aspect of the RISE program is its focus on providing resources and support to new teachers — not evaluating their performance.”

Comprehensive support

Through RISE, new teachers have access to a comprehensive support system that offers more than just mentorships. The program provides professional development courses on topics like technology, classroom management, assessments, and resiliency. Coaching sessions are also available upon request, and trainings on in-the-moment topics are offered throughout the year.

The program also offers emotional support for new teachers. “Some teachers need a Kleenex and someone to listen, so we put them with our aspiring counselors,” said Goodwin. “If they are having an instructional problem, we put them with our aspiring administrators.”

Stubbs said getting input from new teachers is key to developing a curriculum that supports individual teachers’ needs. “We try to be very responsive to their feedback,” said Stubbs. “It might just be from a conversation after a training.” The team uses surveys to assess what new teachers are struggling with throughout the year and creates in-the-moment training based on the themes that arise.

Although RISE is four years old, the disruption of COVID-19 has made it hard to identify trends in the district’s retention data. Nonetheless, the team feels confident that the program has had a positive impact. “As a district, we are retaining more teachers that are new,” said Goodwin. “Most of the new teachers stay at their campus.”

Goodwin said the adaptability of the program is one of its strongest assets. “Four years ago, we knew nothing about COVID, of course, and what we’ve seen happen over and over is that we have pivoted the program any way we need to. We’re the Red Cross of the district. We render aid wherever it’s needed,” said Goodwin. “We don’t know what education will look like in two years, or in 15 more years. I guarantee you, RISE won’t look the way it looks now.”

One thing that Goodwin is certain about is that RISE will continue to support new teachers, whatever that takes.

“Nobody looks back on their education and remembers the district specialist or even their principal or their superintendent,” Goodwin said. “They remember the teacher. Our whole job is to bolster the teacher so they can benefit the kids.”

Rodriguez is already looking forward to the 2022-23 school year and using what she’s learned through RISE to help her students learn and grow. “It was really nice to have somebody sit me down and say, ‘This is what you need to focus on,’” said Rodriguez. “There are some things that they don’t teach you in teacher school.”H

Pasadena ISD school board members present prizes to first-year teachers at the district’s New Teacher Welcome in August 2021. First-year teachers in Pasadena ISD attend the district’s New Teacher Welcome in August 2021.
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Leslie Trahan is a staff writer for Texas Lone Star

Aiding Advocacy

Legislative Advisory Council will help set TASB Advocacy Agenda for 2023 session

Region 2

John Mullenax, Aransas Pass ISD

Carrie Gregory, Gregory-Portland ISD

Angie Trejo, Mathis ISD

Liz Gutierrez, West Oso ISD

Steve McQuagge, Freer ISD (Alternate)

S. Jaime Arredondo, Corpus Christi ISD (Alternate)

Region 4

Jerry Adkins, Brazosport ISD

Scott Bowen, Clear Creek ISD

Minda Caesar, Spring Branch ISD

Paola Gonzalez Fusilier, Pasadena ISD

Angie Hanan, Fort Bend ISD

Doug James, Klein ISD

David Janda, La Porte ISD

Deborah Jensen, Spring ISD

Erika Martinez, Sheldon ISD

Nakisha Paul, Texas City ISD

Natalie Blasingame, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD (Alternate)

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Philip Henderson Sr., Wharton ISD (Alternate)

Region 5

Paul Bingham, Spurger ISD

Chris Kovatch, Orangefield ISD

Rebecca Rutledge, Bridge City ISD

Ruth Hancock, West Orange-Cove CISD

Andrew Brooks, Hardin-Jefferson ISD (Alternate)

Region 6

Amy Jarvis, Navasota ISD

Kimberly McAdams, College Station ISD

Dan Muirhead, Splendora ISD

David Stasny, Bryan ISD

Theresa Wagaman, Conroe ISD

Beth Prykryl, New Caney ISD (Alternate)

Allen Wells, Splendora ISD (Alternate)

Region 7

Cornelius Hambrick, LaPoynor ISD

Pam Raney, Overton ISD

Will Sudweeks, West Rusk County CISD

Stephanie Luper, Bullard ISD

Jean Williams, Henderson ISD

Lacy Warren, Karnack ISD (Alternate)

Region 8

Phillip Chapman, Hughes Springs ISD

Mike Edwards, Chapel Hill ISD

Jason Choate, Cooper ISD

Rosiland Davis, Liberty-Eylau ISD

Region 9

Les Healton, Burkburnett ISD

Charley Lanier, Forestburg ISD

Kathy Thorp, Throckmorton CISD

Brad Yurcho, Henrietta ISD

Robin Bachert, Burkburnett ISD (Alternate)

Region 10

Harvey Oaxaca, McKinney ISD

Robert Seward, Mesquite ISD

Polly Montgomery, Allen ISD

Tracy Fisher, Coppell ISD

Nancy Humphrey, Plano ISD

Dynette Davis, Frisco ISD

Sharon Long, Crandall ISD

Eric Eager, Richardson ISD

Cassandra Hatfield, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD

Emily Liles, Grand Prairie ISD

Barbara Jo Green, Forney ISD (Alternate)

Penny Story, Red Oak ISD (Alternate)

Region 11

Rick Beall, Springtown ISD

Desiree Thomas, Mansfield ISD

Michael Ryan, Fort Worth ISD

Camille Eckersley, Bluff Dale ISD

Doug Chadwick, Denton ISD

Kristi Hassett, Lewisville ISD

Julie Cole, Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD

Ruthie Keyes, Keller ISD

Raymond Patterson, White Settlement ISD

John Finnell, Cleburne ISD

Georgia Scott, Bluff Dale ISD (Alternate)

Sheryl English, Denton ISD (Alternate)

Region 12

Diana Freeman, Hamilton ISD

Larry “Doc” Hawthorne, Hubbard ISD

Shameria Ann Davis, Copperas Cove ISD

Erin Bass, Belton ISD

Nancy Diaz, Hamilton ISD

Chris Flor, Belton ISD (Alternate)

Region 13

Trish Bode, Leander ISD

Lynn Boswell, Austin ISD

Tiffanie Harrison, Round Rock ISD

Bryan Holubec, Thrall ISD

Edward Navarette, Florence ISD

Marco R. Ortiz, Taylor ISD

Heather Sheffield, Eanes ISD

Jean Mayer, Pflugerville ISD (Alternate)

Anna Smith, Leander ISD (Alternate)

Region 14

Cameron Wiley, Wylie ISD

Emilia Moreno, Hawley ISD

Nancy Galle, Eula ISD

Tandi Riley, Eula ISD

Region 15

Mike Diaz, Grape Creek ISD

T.J. Penn, Rochelle ISD

Ami Mizell-Flint, San Angelo ISD

Gerard Gallegos, San Angelo ISD

Lupita Arroyo, San Angelo ISD (Alternate)

Region 16

Kimberly Anderson, Amarillo ISD

Amanda Brown, River Road ISD

Kayla Mendez, Amarillo ISD

Melinda Powell, River Road ISD

Region 17

Julie McGehee, Idalou ISD

Terry Driscoll, Abernathy ISD

Joyce Johnson, Levelland ISD

Region 18

Iris Galindo, Presidio ISD

Lorina Lujan, Kermit ISD

Christopher Stanley, Ector County ISD

AlexAndrea Zamarripa, Pecos Barstow Toyah ISD

Tammy Hawkins, Ector County ISD (Alternate)

Region 19

Blanca Trout, Canutillo ISD

David Oscar Morales, Socorro ISD

Marlene Bullard, Tornillo ISD

Sotero G. Ramirez III, Ysleta ISD

Al Velarde, El Paso ISD

Cynthia Ann Najera, Socorro ISD (Alternate)

Pablo Barrera, Socorro ISD (Alternate)

Region 20

Ginger Friesenhahn, East Central ISD

Brenda Olivarez, Southside ISD

Corinne Saldaña, Northside ISD

Richard Sena, Boerne ISD

Willie E. White Jr., Fort Sam Houston ISD

Jimmy Cornelius, Randolph Field ISD

Luis Fernandez, Uvalde CISD

Alex Kotara, Karnes City ISD

Margarita Morales, Southside ISD (Alternate)

Florinda Bernal, Southwest ISD (Alternate)

Read more about the LAC on page 26. For more information about the TASB Advocacy Agenda process, visit tasb.org/legislative and click on TASB Advocacy Agenda.

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What’s for Lunch?

USDA’s latest school meal standards focus on healthy options

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As the country anticipates an eventual post-pandemic future for schools, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued transitional nutrition standards that focus on delivering healthier meals in school cafeterias.

This latest update comes as schools nationwide continue to struggle with pandemic-related disruptions, labor shortages, and supply chain issues. The USDA’s new middle-ground rule allows school districts to ease back into pre-pandemic standards — meeting the high school nutrition standards over the next few academic years.

“USDA recognizes that schools may not be prepared to immediately implement the 2012 meal standards for milk, whole grains, and sodium,” the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service agency wrote. “With this rule, USDA intends to provide a transitional approach in these areas while also acknowledging that a return to stronger nutrition standards is imperative.”

The grace period begins in the 2022-23 school year, when schools will be bound to new transitional standards for milk, whole grains, and sodium.

The new standards focus on a few primary changes:

• Schools can continue to offer flavored 1% milk in addition to nonfat milk options.

• At least 80% of the grains in school meals — instead of all of them — must be rich in whole grains.

Next on the list, the weekly sodium limit in school meals will drop — a 10% decrease goes into effect in the 2023-24 school year. The USDA says that all other nutrition standards, including fruit and vegetable requirements, will remain at 2012 standards.

“School nutrition professionals are frantic just trying to get enough food on the tray for our students amid relentless supply chain disruptions and labor shortages,” said School Nutrition Association (SNA) President Beth Wallace in a press release applauding the USDA’s decision.

“This is great move for USDA to take at this time,” said Darin Crawford, president-elect of the Texas Association of School Nutrition and director of food services at CypressFairbanks ISD. “A lot of the supply chain issues as it relates to food revolve around the low sodium or the whole grain items. As operators, it gives us a sense of what to expect the next two years to look like.”

SNA’s 2021 Supply Chain Survey Report found that nearly all respondents — 96% — were experiencing challenges with suppliers, shortages, and product discontinuations that limited their ability to meet nutrition standards, such as whole-grain, low-sodium, and low-fat options.

But supply chain issues aren’t the only complicating factor, according to Crawford.

“I think that the 80% number is great because it allows us to be serving whole grain-rich items but to have a little bit of flexibility if there’s trouble finding an item or trouble with students taking an item,” said Crawford, noting that biscuits and tortillas are some of the most common grain items on

a Texas school menu. “When you’re looking at low sodium, whole grain-rich [biscuits and tortillas], they’re just not as palatable for the students or the adults,” he said.

The USDA’s nutritional standard changes are largely a return to Obama-era nutrition standards that a USDA study found had a positive effect on children’s diets.

These transitional standards are step one of a longerterm strategy to lean into the school meal programs as a crucial part of improving child health. Over the coming months and years, USDA will work closely with its school meal partners to develop the next iteration of nutrition requirements.

“We’ve got to find the right balance between standards that give our kids the best chance at a healthy future based on the latest nutrition science, and ensuring those standards are practical, built to last, and work for everyone,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Crawford said he’d like to see USDA develop and announce its next set of standards sooner than later.

“Now’s the time to get the work done so we can know well in advance of that window closing what it’s going to look like on the other side,” said Crawford. “Given time, I think we can accomplish anything.”

The transitional rule becomes effective July 1, 2022. Public comments were collected through March 24. The USDA expects to establish longer-term nutrition standards for the 2024-25 academic year. The USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs: Transitional Standards for Milk, Whole Grains and Sodium fact sheet contains additional background on school meals and the USDA’s rulemaking process (fns.usda.gov/cn/ fr-020722).

“There were so many unknowns when the pandemic started — so many people were working from home and working remotely, but for child nutrition staff that was never really an option. The way to get meals to kids is to be there getting meals to them,” said Crawford. “And our people just jumped in. It’s humbling and gratifying when you know that you’re a part of something that really does some good.”H

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“We’ve got to find the right balance between standards that give our kids the best chance at a healthy future based on the latest nutrition science, and ensuring those standards are practical, built to last, and work for everyone.”


TASB goes behind the scenes with five district-level administrative professionals

Administrative Professionals Day is April 27, and TASB joins others in honoring the staff who work on the frontlines in our districts — the administrative support team members who serve our boards and our superintendents. There is no denying that school boards and their staff members are under tremendous pressure right now, but no matter what challenges they face, this dedicated group never loses sight of the goal — to help the schoolchildren of Texas learn and grow.

Nearly 80 people from school districts across the state gathered in Austin this February for the 2021–22 TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals (see page 36). TLS talked to several attendees about their unique roles.

Title: Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and Board of Trustees

District: Irving ISD

How long have you been in your current role? Less than a year

How did you get into this profession?

I’ve been in the district for 32 years. I moved from the campus to the admin building in human resources. This position came up when our former executive assistant retired.

What’s your favorite part of your job? I enjoy taking care of my superintendent and making sure her needs are met. There is so much put on the superintendents, and a lot of my job is keeping up with her calendar, keeping up with the board, reminding her to eat, reminding her to spend time taking care of herself so she can take care of our children. I want to make sure she’s the best she can be and help her do the best for our children. My superintendent is all about the kids, and she is Irving ISD.

What’s a typical day like for you? I meet briefly with my superintendent and go over the calendar and make any adjustments necessary. I work on the agenda, filter phone calls, pay bills, and protect my superintendent.

What advice would you share with a new person just starting out in this field? Hang on tight!

A word from the boss:

“Ms. Andrews is one of the most thoughtful and serviceoriented employees in our district. She has set a high standard


Photos TASB Media Services
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of excellence that represents and highlights the very best our organization has to offer. We are very proud of her and her invaluable contribution to our community,” said Irving ISD Superintendent Magda Hernandez.

Dana Devoll

Title: Assistant to the Superintendent

District: Giddings ISD

How long have you been in your current role? Four years

How did you get into this profession? I was a campus secretary in Cypress Fairbanks for a number of years, and I left altogether when my husband and I decided to manage an exotic game ranch. We sold the property after eight years, and we semi-retired for two months but then decided we weren’t ready for that. Since I had been in education previously, I went back into that field. There was a position available, and it worked out well.

What’s your favorite part of your job? The relationships you make with everybody. The board, the teachers, the other administrators, and of course, the superintendent. It’s nice when they say thank you for taking care of this. They know there’s a level of trust there and they know that if they come to you, whatever they’re asking for will get taken care of. Even if I’m not the person to come to, I know who they should get in touch with. A lot of times I say we’re the complaint department. You get the calls from the parents who just want somebody to listen to them. You talk to the teacher, you talk to the principal, and say, “What do you know about this?” I just try to get as much information as I can before I take the issue to the superintendent or the assistant superintendent so they can get something resolved, even if that just means me reaching out to the parent. They just want someone to listen and call them back.

What advice would you share with a new person just starting out in this field? First and foremost, don’t take anything personally. The person yelling on the phone or to your face isn’t upset with you. They believe their child suffered an injustice and they are taking the problem to the desk where the buck stops. Secondly, treat people with kindness, dignity, and respect. Simply listening to someone with a little sympathy and/or empathy calms the situation and gives you that information you will need to pass along to the superintendent. I promise they will thank you for your time and leave the

meeting feeling confident their issue will be resolved without having to go to social media or the 6:00 news. Thirdly, know you’re not alone. Get onto the TASB Message Board. I cannot say enough good things about this platform. Don’t know something? Ask the crew. You’ll get answers from the people who have had the same question, got the answer, and lived to tell the tale. Finally, confidentiality is absolutely everything. Earning your superintendent’s confidence doesn’t have to be difficult; earning it back is nearly impossible. So don’t lose it.

What’s a typical day like for you? 1. Make a list. 2. Laugh at the list, knowing that a minimum of 18 things will spontaneously arise within one hour of making said list. I was once told that the only constant in education is change. I guess you could say that our day “typically” requires us to think quickly when situations arise and be available and capable of handling whatever assignment we’re given. Then, 3. Feel a rush of intense satisfaction when you get to mark through even one item on the list as COMPLETE.

A word from the boss:

“Dana is a pleasure to work with each and every day. I appreciate her ability to communicate with parents and staff when needed. I am a better superintendent with Dana organizing my days and workload. I am able to spend a lot more time on campuses due to Dana’s ability to organize and keep me on track. Our school board would echo the same thoughts about Dana. They comment frequently about how helpful she has been to them through the years,” said Giddings ISD Superintendent Roger Dees.

Carmen Domel

Title: Secretary, Board of Trustees

District: Georgetown ISD

How long have you been in your current role? I’ve been with Georgetown ISD for 22 years, with the superintendent for 18 years, and with the board of trustees for four.

How did you get into this profession? Well, really for me personally, it was a God thing. The company I was working for in Austin was relocating outside of Texas and my daughter was entering high school, which was more than an hour away from my job, so I decided it was time to make a change and get closer to home. A neighbor suggested applying at GISD, and although I had never worked in a school system, I applied for the position of

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superintendent secretary, and when I was hired, I took that as my “God wink” answer, and am grateful to still be here. I will always appreciate Superintendent Dr. Jim Gunn for taking a chance in hiring me back in 1999.

What’s your favorite part of your job? One of my favorite parts of my job is providing customer service and assisting all board members and supporting administrative team members. I proudly support our district and appreciate how our teams collaborate and work together.

What is a typical day like for you? A typical day for me is assisting and preparing monthly board workshop and meeting agendas, scheduling board members with continuing education requirements, conferences, trainings, emails, and fulfilling public information requests. Currently, I am working on an interesting and busy election season.

What advice would you share with a new person just starting out in this field? Do your best to be confident, assertive, professional, and adaptive, which can sometimes be challenging. I would stress the importance of confidentiality, customer service, and teamwork with all district staff, most importantly the auxiliary employees. Finally, I would definitely share all of the great resources, starting with TASB and the Texas Secretary of State.

A word from the boss:

“Carmen has been a great resource to our community and me throughout her years of service. I love her appreciation for the work of our Board, and I greatly benefit from her sense of community. She has great care and concern for the well-being of our leadership and definitely works to keep us informed. Carmen is also a great advocate for our team ... she is definitely protective of the men and women who sacrifice so much for our schools. Carmen loves Georgetown ISD, and I always know she will be there to do the right thing for our district,” said Georgetown ISD Superintendent Fred Brent.

Tara Major Title: Executive Assistant to the Superintendent District: Garland ISD

How long have you been in your current role?

Seven years

How did you get into this profession? I came from corporate America, where I was a project manager for Telecom. After I’d been with the company for 10 years, they were doing a merger, and my job was either going to phase out or be moved to Atlanta. I didn’t want to move to Atlanta because my family is here. I have two kids and a husband. So I decided to try education. I come from a family of educators. Both of my parents were principals and directors in the school district in my hometown. My mother-in-law in Spring ISD had a school named after her in 2009, Helen Major Elementary.

I never thought this would be something that I’d want to do, but I am happy to say this is the BEST job I’ve had. I am good at communicating, and I believe I have great customer service skills. I’m a people person. I am able to use my project management experience and my detail-oriented nature to better support my superintendent with his calendar and day-to-day requirements. I am proficient in several software applications, which also allows me to be able to give support when needed. I’ve never looked back on my decision to come into education, and I can give a lot of this credit to having an amazing and dedicated boss. I do what I do every day because I love the kids and I am an advocate for them and their parents.

What’s your favorite part of your job? The one thing that brings joy for me is being actively involved in a district that I live in and my children are students in. It’s in my community, working with people who are passionate and really care about what they do. I like working in this district and I enjoy working for my superintendent, who is the center part of making a difference. I love working in my community because we not only can focus on the things that make the city a better place but, most importantly, how we can get our children educated to the best of our abilities.

What’s a typical day like for you? I am the doorkeeper for my boss. He depends on me to handle all incoming calls, good and/or bad. He depends on me to make wise decisions, and he expects confidentiality will always be my stand. I make sure that everything that comes through this office is handled appropriately. I am a listening ear for parents, sometimes

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Photos by TASB Media Services

talking them down or even giving them some type of corrective direction so they can understand how we can better assist them. I am that person who will support the superintendent with whatever he needs support in. I’m his right hand, and he has to know he can trust me.

What advice would you share to a new person just starting out in this field? Confidentiality is number one, being trustworthy is number two, and being a good communicator is number three. And I would say the fourth thing, and the most important thing, is owning your desk. And when I say own your desk, I mean in everything you do, you are a representative of the superintendent. He is depending on and trusting in you, so you need to make sure that the decisions you make are ones you can stand by or be corrected if need be. And if you make a wrong decision, it’s OK. You’ll get corrected and then you’ll know how to handle it going forward. If you are able to keep a balanced head, stay away from gossip, don’t take it personally, know your role, know your worth, then I think this would be a perfect position for you. If you have children at the top of your list, and you’re doing this for children, then I don’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy this.

A word from the boss:

“Tara is an invaluable person to our organization. Her systems mindset, coupled with her follow through and high intellect, allows me to proactively address the needs of our district. Her strong moral character and professionalism have earned the respect of our staff. I am grateful to have such a talented person as my right hand,” said Garland ISD Superintendent Ricardo Lopez.

Title: Superintendent Secretary

District: Carrizo Springs CISD

How long have you been in your current role? 17 years

How did you get into this profession? I came to work for the district in 2004. I was hired as a registrar at Carrizo Springs Elementary, and four months later, the business manager sought me out and asked me to come work in the business office. Nine months later, the superintendent’s secretary was leaving to go teach within our district, which opened an opportunity for someone to fill her position. The superintendent asked me if I would come work for her, and although I was hesitant, I

decided to give it a try. By the end of my first week of working with her and the board, I knew this was the position I wanted to be in.

What’s your favorite part of your job? I love being behind the scenes and knowing that my ultimate goal is to be there for our kids, our district, and our community. I know I’m not hands-on with the kids, but I’m invested in this district. My family has all attended this district. My husband, our siblings, our children, and I all graduated from Carrizo Springs CISD. My grandson attends this district. I have so much love and admiration for. It’s about our district, our students, and our community for me.

What’s a typical day like for you? I tell my boss I love coming to work every day. I think the biggest part is knowing that I make a difference, that I’m there to serve people. I start off in the morning by putting on the coffee so that if any of our administrators or board members come in, I’m ready for them. Serving people and being there for my board gives me great satisfaction and a sense of belonging. Our board members, although they are not compensated, put in a lot of time and dedication for our district, and for those reasons, I like to think that I go above and beyond in taking care of them. My board is always so appreciative. They let me know all the time. However, it is I who appreciates them most.

What advice would you share with a new person just starting out in this field? First of all, you have to build that trust with your superintendent and your board. Remember that everything that comes through your desk is confidential. Don’t ever take it personally if your superintendent does not share information with you. Sometimes it is best. Know that he or she is protecting the district and you. I’m very fortunate to be able to work with such a great superintendent, Dr. Jose A. Cervantes, and our Carrizo Springs CISD Board of Trustees.

A word from the boss:

“Mrs. Marroquin is what every superintendent must have as their executive administrative assistant. She is very talented, dedicated to our district, community, and family. I am extremely blessed to have her as my colleague,” said Carrizo Springs CISD Superintendent Jose A. Cervantes.H

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There is no denying that school boards and their staff members are under tremendous pressure right now, but no matter what challenges they face, this dedicated group never loses sight of the goal.

Continuous Improvement

The potential of a school district internal audit program

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“It’s about helping the district get better. It’s not just about compliance and financial matters. It’s about performance across the entire organization, including academic programs, operational areas, and administration areas.”

As management theorist Peter Drucker once said, what gets measured gets managed. An internal audit is one of the most crucial measurement aspects in your district. It’s a sort of safety net for compliance with district policies, functions, procurement practices, processes, financials, overall best practices, and most important: public trust.

The largest misconception of an internal audit is that it only looks into a district’s financial matters or that it’s designed to catch people doing things wrong. There is a difference between internal audit — which focuses on systems, processes, and controls — and an investigation of an individual or incident. In Texas, school boards are not required to have an internal audit function, but if they do it must report directly to the board or a board audit committee.

“It’s about helping the district get better. It’s not just about compliance and financial matters. It’s about performance across the entire organization, including academic programs, operational areas, and administration areas,” said Greg Gibson, president and founder of Gibson Consulting Group, Inc., TASB’s internal audit affinity partner.

Some larger school districts in Texas have their own in-house internal audit departments. Others outsource this function. The scope of work, too, can vary from district to district. Some have broad coverage, while others target financial matters and compliance.

Whether an internal audit is performed using district staff or an outside vendor, the primary purpose is to provide the board and the public with an objective and independent review of the district’s systems and processes and make recommendations to improve effectiveness, efficiency, compliance, and internal control.

“It’s really all about continuous improvement,” said Gibson.

Helping to uncover and solve problems

In addition to being able to communicate audit results in a public meeting, good internal auditors can communicate well with the organizations they audit.

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) recently updated its “Three Lines of Defense” model for internal auditors. In the update, the IIA points out that “the basis for successful coherence is regular and effective coordination, collaboration, and communication.”

Even the most i-dotting and t-crossing district staff will probably sweat a little at the prospect of their area being audited. But clear communication about the internal audit boosts coordination and collaboration.

Gibson said he’s encountered districts where some in the

administration were suspicious at first that the audit would be used against them. Once expectations had been established and trust had been built with staff, things changed. “Some areas were asking to be audited because they knew they needed help,” said Gibson.

“Once they understand that the board is not out to get them, that they’re out to help them, it really helps set a positive tone for the program,” said Gibson. “The audit reports we develop don’t name anybody. We don’t say, ‘This person did this and that person did that.’ That is an investigation. Internal audits are really about the systems and processes — how you need to change them to make them more effective. We’re there to help them solve the problem, not beat someone over the head about it.”

Where to start: A risk assessment

An internal audit program starts with an assessment of the potential risks across different areas of the district’s operations. It involves collecting and analyzing high-level data and conducting interviews with the district’s senior administration.

“It’s not about doing a deep dive in any area at this point. It’s trying to figure out where the hot buttons are and where the risks are for the district,” said Gibson. “We apply nine risk factors and then we score those factors.”

Once the risk assessment is complete, a proposed audit plan for the next several years is drawn up.

“The Human Resources Department is usually in the top five risk areas in a school district. It’s not a big department, but because 80% of school district expenditures are spent on people, it’s a really important function,” said Gibson.

Special education, because of its size, regulatory complexity, and inherent challenges, is also usually high on the list. But when it comes to areas audited, the board ultimately decides. Though the final decision on what to audit and when rests with the board, it doesn’t mean the administration is shut out of the process.

“One of the key success factors is that the superintendent be an active part of the process for internal audit — that he or she participates in the audit committee meetings and is an active stakeholder in this process, not an outsider,” said Gibson. “Our work is independent of the administration, but for it to be as successful as it can, it really requires their buy-in.”

How long does it take?

Gibson said he can’t imagine a narrow, targeted audit taking less than about four weeks. But because of all the moving parts and components involved in most school operations, a comprehensive department audit can take upwards of six to eight months. In the end, the timeframe depends on the size of the district and the complexity of the department or area being audited.

“The biggest challenge on any audit is the data collection. We ask for a lot of data, and that’s the time during the project

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where we need the most effort from the district staff,” said Gibson.

Data collection can involve everything from policies, procedures, and organizational charts to job descriptions, lists of information systems used, and other items. There can also be interviews and focus groups. These efforts are a time commitment, but less burdensome on any individual district staff member.

Auditing ahead of a bond program

Several years ago, Fort Bend ISD had Gibson Consulting evaluate the district’s readiness for a $484 million bond program that voters had recently approved. Bond programs are different from other school operations that might undergo an internal audit in that they have a definite beginning and end to them.

This “preemptive” audit focused more on whether the district had adequate systems and controls to support a successful bond program during its early stages.

“If you don’t start off right, then by the time you find problems, the program may be substantially compromised by then,” said Gibson.

A preemptive audit can reveal how up-to-par a district’s processes are when it comes to everything from the selection of architects to how they do construction site observations, assess progress, and pay contractors.

“These types of audits are really actionable for school systems,” Gibson continued. “We’re trying to help them address system and procedural issues so that they not only fix or address a specific problem at that time, but also have a systemic solution to prevent the same problems from occurring in the future.”

Fort Bend ISD’s audit included a review of department organization, the bidding and award process, execution and administration of contracts, change order procedures, and budget control. Board policies, district procedures, and controls for construction management and reporting were also evaluated, with an eye toward potential efficiency improvements.

What to look for in an audit

Because an internal audit looks at so much of a district in detail, the audit report is an important decision-making resource for the board. It provides a unique view of the processes,

procedures, and district functions that can assist a board in its work of strengthening the district.

Gibson said there isn’t a standard set of questions that board members should be thinking about when it’s time to review the audit findings.

“There shouldn’t be many questions about the process, how a finding was developed or what facts support it, because that all should be laid out in the audit,” said Gibson.

The questions Gibson typically hears from boards are directed toward administration. “They want to understand what the board can do to help implement the audit recommendations,” he clarified.

In-house internal audit department or outside vendor?

For Gibson, the question isn’t whether a school district should have internal audits, but how it should do them. “You don’t want to wait until there’s a problem,” he said. “We want to try to prevent problems, but the size is a factor, and then also what approach to use — in-house or outsource.”

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches to internal auditing. With the in-house approach, a district has resources on call, and the cost per hour is less when they’re done in-house.

But most districts cannot afford a fully staffed department with all the requisite technical, functional, and programmatic expertise to address the scope of work described above. Smaller districts often end up doing targeted audits where an outside group helps them identify the top three-tofive most important areas and do only those.

Larger districts have more options through an in-house or outsourced approach. While contracting with an outside vendor for an internal audit can be more expensive on an hourly basis, districts can get more breadth of coverage through an outside contractor.

Either way, establishing an internal audit program can help trustees get deeper insights into the processes and procedures that matter most to a district’s efficient and effective operation — without overstepping their bounds.

“Internal audit allows boards to provide effective monitoring without crossing the line into micromanaging,” said Gibson. “It’s a way for board members to provide effective oversight in a constructive manner.”H

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Internal audit reviews: Don’t forget

Here are some important issues for school board members to consider as they review their internal audit findings:

• Follow-up audit information: Once your district is in a regular auditing cycle, follow-up audits will provide details about the status of the actions recommended in previous audit reports. It’s important that the recommended changes in the last audit have been made. Follow-up audits should reflect progress on these changes.

• Investigative audit results: If there’s been a report of unusual or suspicious activity regarding the work of a specific department or individual, a separate investigative audit can assess weaknesses in the district’s controls, determine the extent of any loss or non-compliant activity, and make recommendations for any necessary corrective actions.

• Process controls: Whether you’re looking at performance and efficiency information, or legal, regulatory, and policy compliance, there should be process controls in place — the checks and balances that mitigate risks and eliminate incentives to cut corners or take other adverse actions. An internal audit should look at both documentation and actual implementation of the district’s current process controls to evaluate their effectiveness.

Experience Matters

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Students and Elections

State rules require instruction on voting

When schools help students participate in democracy, they build a stronger citizenry. This article discusses laws that govern how school districts in Texas can prepare students to join in our nation’s democratic processes.

Required education

The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) require instruction on voting. As early as kindergarten, schools are required to establish the foundations for “responsible citizenship in society,” and students are expected to learn about citizenship by using “voting as a method for group decision making.” 19 Tex. Admin. Code § 113.11(a)(1), (b)(9)(C). In middle school, a student is expected to “identify examples of responsible citizenship, including obeying rules and laws, staying informed on public issues, voting, and serving on juries.” 19 Tex. Admin. Code § 113.20(b)(19)(C). In high school, the United States history standards involve understanding Jim Crow laws and suppression of voting rights. 19 Tex. Admin. Code § 113.41(c)(9)(B). In addition, students are expected to learn the voter registration process and criteria for voting. 19 Tex. Admin. Code § 113.44(c)(13)(C). These TEKS are designed to ensure that students develop an understanding of the electoral process and become informed voters.

Registering students to vote

The Texas Election Code requires each high school principal to serve as a high school deputy registrar (HSDR) for the county in which the school is located. Principals can choose to delegate this duty to another administrator or a teacher

at the school, such as the social studies teacher. Tex. Elec. Code § 13.046. The Texas Secretary of State annually emails high school principals with important guidance on implementation. The HSDR can make an online request for voter registration applications or mail an application request form.

Twice a year, during the final month of each semester, the HSDR must distribute voter registration applications and instructions to high school students who are or will be at least 18 years old that semester. The applications may also be distributed, upon request, to any student or employee of the high school.

The HSDR must assist students who are unable to complete the application due to physical disability or illiteracy, and, if the application is returned to the HSDR, must review the application for completeness and deliver the completed applications to the county voter registrar

or elections administrator within the required timeframe. An HSDR’s failure to deliver applications may be punishable as a crime. 1 Tex. Admin. Code § 81.7.

Student election clerks

High school students who are at least 16 years old on election day may be eligible to serve as election clerks. Tex. Elec. Code §§ 32.0511, 83.012. Student election clerks assist with a variety of tasks at the polling location, including checking in and processing voters, explaining the voting equipment, serving as a language interpreter, and assisting with opening and closing the polling place. Students must receive consent from their parent or guardian and the school principal. For more information, including a link to the application for student election clerks, see the Texas Secretary of State’s Student Election Clerk Information webpage. When a student serves as an election clerk and is absent from school, the absences are excused for a maximum of two days in a school year. Tex. Educ. Code § 25.087(b)(1), (e). District policy may also excuse a student for absences related to service as a student election clerk during the early voting period. Tex. Educ. Code § 25.087(b-1). The student is responsible for providing documentation to the school. At the discretion of the student’s teacher or program facilitator, the time served as an election clerk may also apply toward a school project requirement or a service requirement for an academic or extracurricular program. Tex. Educ. Code § 33.092.

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Political advertising restrictions

Districts may not use public resources to support a particular measure or candidate in an election. In 2018, the Texas attorney general opined that, absent an educational purpose, a court would likely find that a district transporting students to and from a polling place serves no public purpose of the school district and violates the Texas Constitution. Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-0177 (2018). School officials wishing to transport students to the polls should work with the school district’s attorney to determine an educational purpose and avoid an improper use of public funds.

While districts can promote a culture of voting, districts should also be careful that employees do not infringe on the students’ rights to hold and express their own political opinions. District employees and officials should not knowingly use public funds, which may include resources and employee time, for political advertising to advocate for or against a candidate or a measure that will appear on the ballot. Tex. Elec. Code §§ 251.001(16), 255.003.

Course credit for political activities

In 2021, the Texas Legislature passed a law prohibiting public schools or teachers from requiring, making part of a course, or awarding credit for certain activities, such as political activism, lobbying, attempting to influence lawmakers through direct communication, or a student’s work with a lobbying organization if the student’s duties involve attempting to influence public policy or the outcome of legislation. Tex. Educ. § 28.0022(a)(3). The prohibition has multiple exceptions, including a program that prepares the student for participation in leadership in this country’s democratic processes through simulation of a governmental process. Tex. Educ. § 28.0022(b).

The new law does not prohibit schools from continuing to implement the required TEKS or encouraging civic engagement in a neutral manner. Schools are tasked with building the foundation for an informed and active electorate. Whether a student is debating the merits of the electoral college, serving as a student election clerk, or registering to vote, these moments

create habits in young people to promote a culture of civic engagement in our country.H

This article is continually updated at tasb. org/services/legal-services/tasb-schoollaw-esource/instruction/documents/student-participation-in-elections.pdf. For more information on this and other school law topics, visit TASB School Law eSource at schoollawesource.tasb.org.

This article is provided for educational purposes only and contains information to facilitate a general understanding of the law. References to judicial or other official proceedings are intended to be a fair and impartial account of public records, which may contain allegations that are not true. This publication is not an exhaustive treatment of the law, nor is it intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. Consult your own attorney to apply these legal principles to specific fact situations. Updated January 2022.

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2022 | Texas Lone Star 25
Jasmine Wightman is a TASB Legal Services senior attorney.

Advisory Council Elected

Members will discuss legislative priorities for 2023

TASB’s grassroots process sets the foundation for our advocacy efforts, and the Legislative Advisory Council (LAC) is vital to representing district trustees’ range of concerns and priorities throughout the development of the TASB Advocacy Agenda.

TASB staff spent the first quarter of 2022 traveling to every education service center (ESC) in the state asking local school board members what issues are important to them. These Grassroots Meetings included hundreds of trustees and administrators discussing how new laws are impacting their students and schools, what changes they would like to see, and how the pandemic has affected their operations and student learning.

During these meetings, trustees elected LAC members to travel to Austin to review the local priorities selected in each region and develop one statewide list of priorities (See page 12). At their first meeting on April 9, LAC members will identify the most commonly selected priorities and direct TASB staff on which concepts those priorities should specifically include.

The LAC will meet again on June 16 in San Antonio to approve their final recommendation for the TASB Board and elect four representatives to serve on the Board’s Legislative Committee. These four members will ensure that the voice of the LAC will be included in discussions about the priorities. In July, the Board will adopt its recommendations regarding the priorities and present them to the TASB Delegate Assembly. The Delegate Assembly will discuss the proposed priorities, suggest changes, and formally adopt them in September 2022.

TASB would like to thank all of the school trustees who volunteered to serve on the LAC.

Don’t forget to submit your district’s resolutions

TASB invites all school boards to submit new resolutions to be included in the 2022-24 Advocacy Agenda.

The TASB Advocacy Agenda includes both priorities and resolutions. Advocacy Priorities are the legislative goals arising from TASB’s grassroots process. Advocacy Resolutions are board-submitted positions guiding TASB’s response to other issues that might come before the Texas Legislature, the State Board of Education, or regulatory entities.

Resolution proposals will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on June 15. Each resolution must be adopted by your board and must be submitted using the form provided at gr.tasb.org. Plan now to put any proposed resolutions on your board’s agenda before the deadline for submis-

sions if you have not already done so.

Proposed resolutions are first reviewed by the TASB Resolutions Committee and then by the TASB Board. In September, the 2022 Delegate Assembly will adopt approved resolutions that will form part of the 2022-24 Advocacy Agenda, which will remain in effect until the end of the 2024 TASB Delegate Assembly.

Please note that all current resolutions will expire along with the 2020-22 Advocacy Agenda in September after the Delegate Assembly adjourns. Any resolutions your district wishes to see on the new agenda must be submitted again.

Also, we strongly encourage your board to send a trustee to the TASB Delegate Assembly in San Antonio on September 24 to represent your board’s interests and support your advocacy positions. Learn more at delegate.tasb.org

An electronic version of the resolution submission form, the current Advocacy Agenda, and more information may be found at gr.tasb.org. Please contact Dax González at 800.580.4885 or dax.gonzalez@tasb.org if you have any questions.

More information

TASB Governmental Relations staff is available to answer any questions you may have regarding advocacy, the Texas Legislature, or the TASB Advocacy Agenda. You may also call or email Dax González (dax. gonzalez@tasb.org or 800.580.4885) for more information.H

Dax González is division director of TASB Governmental Relations.

26 Texas Lone Star | April 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org Capitol Watch
Participants at the Grassroots Meeting for Region 20 in San Antonio on Feb. 16. Photo by TASB Media Services

Let TASB Executive Search Services do the heavy lifting!

Many districts across the state are seeking strong, stable, forward-thinking, community-focused district leaders, and we are equipped to help you find the perfect match.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of all we provide in our startto-finish, fully customizable search process:  Planning  Community Involvement  Advertising and Recruitment  Application Process  Interviewing and References

 Background Checks

 Transition

 Timeline Overview

March 22 Wichita Falls

March 30 Kingsville

April 13 ......................... Houston

April 19 ........................ Lubbock

May 2 .................... Nacogdoches

May 3 .............................. El Paso

May 4 ............................... Alpine

May 5 .................. Iraan-Sheffield

May 10 ........................Huntsville

May 10 ........................... Abilene

May 12 ............................ Uvalde

May 17 ...................... Commerce

May 18 ........................... Canyon

May 20-21 South Padre

May 24 Waco

TBD Stephenville TEXAS

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2022 | Texas Lone Star 27 Our training sessions are offered in locations across the state. The 2022 Spring Workshops are coming to you! Visit tasb.org/spring-workshops for more information.
Overwhelmed by the process of finding a new superintendent? executive.search@tasb.org • 800.580.8272

Special Ed Rules

Changes will help students with dyslexia

With such a huge emphasis on learning loss, mental health, educator shortage, and other issues related to the pandemic, it might be easy to miss a rather big change happening in the world of special education, Section 504, and dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a complex condition that requires intervention early and throughout a person’s life. While our state has provided support for students with dyslexia since 1986, it also has been under the spotlight from the U.S. Department of Education for many of its practices since 2017.

Fast forward to 2022, and we are still under the U.S. Department of Education Corrective Action Plan. As late as 2020, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) reported that after further investigation, there was still great confusion about how students with dyslexia are identified and served in Texas. To address these concerns, the State Board of Education prepared an update to the Texas Dyslexia Handbook, which was released in February.

We’ve known since the beginning of the 2021-22 school year that changes were coming, and with this release, it is as important as ever that your staff be aware of and receive training on the new standards and requirements. Failure to do so could result in noncompliance, but more importantly, students not receiving the aid they require to be successful.

Updates your district should be practicing now include:

• Students who are suspected of having dyslexia should be evaluated through the district’s IDEA Child

Find Mandate for a Full Individual Initial Evaluation.

• Students in kindergarten and first grade must be screened according to specific timelines.

• A student may be referred under IDEA Child Find for dyslexia at any time and should not be held due to data review, screenings, accumulation of data, etc.

• Dyslexia may be identified through Section 504 only when parents re-

fuse consent for IDEA, and districts may not persuade or encourage parents to do so.

• Requirements for identification under IDEA for special education or Section 504 remain the same. In other words, the identification of the condition is the first step that qualifies a student for either. If the student meets the need for specially designed instruction, the student would qualify for special education. Otherwise, a student would not, and Section 504 might be more appropriate.

• Evaluation for dyslexia should be by a multidisciplinary team including those with specific knowledge of reading, dyslexia and related disorders, and dyslexia instruction.

• Services for a student identified with dyslexia should occur in the general education or special education environment as determined by the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) or Section 504 committee, whichever is appropriate to the student’s situation.

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Facilitating Student Success

• Dyslexia instructors should be qualified as appropriate to the setting as well as the evidence-based dyslexia curriculum in use by the district. They may or may not be special education certified.

Many things in our new dyslexia model will be quite the paradigm shift for all who serve and support students. It is as important as ever to be sure your staff is aware of and up to date on training for these changes.

As an educational diagnostician, I can say that little training was provided on the identification of students with dyslexia, as this was seen as a nonspecial education issue. With this in mind, I may well be sitting in a dyslexia training near you to brush up on my skills. Fortunately for all of us, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Child Find, Evaluation and ARD Network, and your local education service center (ESC) are providing training for administrators, special education staff, and teachers.

For more information, visit tea.texas. gov and search for Dyslexia Handbook H

Karlyn Keller, Ed.D., is division director of TASB Special Education and Student Solutions.

TASB’s Executive Search Services is currently accepting applications for the positions listed below:


Deadline: April 12

For information about vacancies or services provided by TASB’s Executive Search Services, call 800.580.8272, email executive.search@tasb.org, or visit ess.tasb.org


June 15–18


June 29–July 2

General Session Speakers


Robyn Benincasa uses her experience as a firefighter, endurance racer, adventure racer, and Eco-Challenge winner to talk about the true meaning of successful teams.


Adolph Brown will share what successful leaders and educators do based on his research as both tenured professor and CEO of The Leadership and Learning Institute.


Ravi Hutheesing is an international speaker, singer-songwriter, and author who promotes a global perspective about education that encourages our students to bond across geographic and socioeconomic boundaries with the use of technology.

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2022 | Texas Lone Star 29
Gonzales ISD.
LEADERSHIP INFORMED LEADERSHIP Visit tasb.org/SLI for more information.

Texas Teachers Receive PAEMST Award for Science and Mathematics

On February 8, President Joe Biden named 117 teachers, mentors, and mentoring organizations as recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) and Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM).

The awards honor the dedication, hard work, and important role that America’s teachers and mentors play in supporting learners who will be future STEM professionals, including climate scientists, mathematicians, innovators, space explorers, and engineers.

eration of STEM professionals,” Biden said. “The dedication these individuals and organizations have demonstrated to prepare students for careers in STEM fields, during what has been a difficult time for teachers, students, and families, plays a huge role in American innovation and competitiveness. The work that teachers and mentors do ensures that our nation’s children are able to unlock — for themselves and all of us — a world of possibilities.”

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award kindergarten through 12th grade mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers can receive from the U.S. government. Each year, the award criteria alternates years between kindergarten through sixth grade and seventh through 12th grade teachers. This year, kindergarten through sixth grade teachers received the PAEMST.

Award recipients over the years represent schools and organizations from all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) schools, and the U.S. territories.

Nominees complete a rigorous application process that allows them to demonstrate deep content knowledge and their ability to adapt to a broad range of learners and teaching environments.

Two Texas teachers received the prestigious PAEMST:

• Kristen Butler, Medlin Middle School, Northwest ISD (Mathematics)

• Lori Garrett, Cactus Elementary School, Dumas ISD (Science)

“I am deeply appreciative of the inspiration that America’s teachers and mentors provide every day to support the next gen-

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the state and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving STEM education.

The PAESMEM recognizes the critical roles mentors play outside the traditional

classroom in the academic and professional development of the future STEM workforce. Colleagues, administrators, and students nominate individuals and organizations for exemplary mentoring sustained over a minimum of five years. Since 1995, PAESMEM has honored the hard work and dedication mentors exhibit in broadening participation in STEM pathways.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which manages PAEMST and PAESMEM on behalf of OSTP, provides each recipient $10,000.

For the complete list of recipients nationwide, visit whitehouse.gov and search for PAEMST. For more information about the award programs, visit paemst.org and paesmem.net H

30 Texas Lone Star | April 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org News & Events
The awards honor the dedication, hard work, and important role that America’s teachers and mentors play in supporting learners who will be future STEM professionals.
Kristen Butler Lori Garrett Photo courtesy of Northwest ISD Photo courtesy of PAEMST

Help Your Students in Special Populations Thrive

We can help your district best support special education, Section 504, English learner, and gifted and talented students through:

• Customized program reviews

• Special education workload staffing analysis

• Tailored training

• Special education operating procedures

SOTY Nominations Due to ESCs

Nominations for the 2022 Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) awards program are due to designated regional education service centers (ESCs) by April 22.

The SOTY program honors outstanding administrators for achievement and excellence in public school administration, and finalists are chosen for their strong leadership skills, dedication to improving the quality of education in their districts, and commitment to public support and involvement in education.

Eligibility and nominations

Local school boards that are active members of TASB may nominate their

superintendents. Nominees must have served in their current role since Sept. 1, 2019, and must be a current member of the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). They must also be certified and meet the State Board for Educator Certification continuing professional education requirement and be active as superintendent at the time of the 2022 TASA | TASB Convention.

The district of the winning superintendent receives a $5,000 award, to be presented at the TASA | TASB Convention. The districts of four finalists will each receive $1,000.

Those who receive the top state award cannot be nominated again during the following five-year period.

Schedule for 2022 SOTY Award

• April 22: Nomination submissions due to designated ESC

• July 1: Regional screening completed and nominations submitted to TASB

• August 26-27: All regional winners interviewed and five finalists chosen by the TASB State Selection Committee

• September: Finalists interviewed and winner chosen by TASB State Selection Committee

• September 24: Presentation of the award at the TASA | TASB Convention

at tasb.org/soty H

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2022 | Texas Lone Star 31 Learn more: tasb.org/student-solutions-tls 888.247.4829
Find out

Nominations Sought for School Board and Texas Teacher of the Year Awards

It’s that time of year when nominations are being gathered for two special awards from the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA): the School Board Awards and Texas Teacher of the Year.

School Board Awards

TASA created the School Board Awards Program in 1971 to recognize school boards whose dedication and ethical service have made a positive impact on Texas schoolchildren.

Eligible Texas school superintendents nominate their boards of trustees by submitting information that meets the award criteria and guidelines to their regional education service center (ESC) School Board Awards coordinator. The nomination process begins April 6, and the deadline is June 1.

Each ESC executive director appoints a selection committee made up of five TASA members in the region, including the region’s TASA Executive Committee member or another member designated by the TASA president. (No committee member can be from a district that has nominated its board.) The committee has until June 29 to review all nominations from their region.

TASA’s School Board Awards Committee, appointed by the TASA president, reviews the regional winners’ entries and selects up to five boards to be recognized as Honor Boards. In October, at the TASA | TASB Convention, the School Board Awards Committee interviews each of the Honor Boards to select the Outstanding School Board, which is named during the Convention.

For details, visit tasanet.org/awards/ school-board-awards.

Texas Teacher of the Year

Texas Teacher of the Year, the highest honor the state of Texas can bestow upon a teacher, has been facilitated by TASA since 2011. The program annually recognizes and rewards teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching.

Texas school districts/charter school operators conduct their own local selection processes to choose their District Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year. (Applications were posted by TASA on March 1.) Classroom teachers, school librarians, and counselors who teach students at least four hours per day are eligible.

Each official District Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year is eligible

to advance to the regional/state levels. To do so, they must complete the online application by June 2. The regional selection process is then conducted by the 20 Texas ESCs. Each names a Regional Elementary and Secondary Teacher of the Year.

The 40 Regional Teachers of the Year are considered for Texas Teacher of the Year in a selection process facilitated by TASA. Judges meet in August to select six finalists (three elementary and three secondary), and finalists are interviewed in October by a panel of judges who select the Texas Elementary and Texas Secondary Teachers of the Year.

One of the two award winners is selected by the judges to serve as the official Texas Teacher of the Year — Texas’ nominee for National Teacher of the Year, a program conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers. In January, a selection committee representing the major national education associations selects four finalists for National Teacher of the Year from the nominees submitted by the 50 states. The national title is announced in the spring.

Find out more at tasanet.org/ awards/texas-teacher-of-the-year.H

32 Texas Lone Star | April 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org Get even more value when you upgrade to Tier 2 with BoardBook® Premier. Customize it to fit your needs • Create up to 11 committees and set 10 distinct permission levels • Brand it with your organization’s logo Facilitate better meetings • Automate your electronic voting • Set and track goals • Store documents online Enhance your Experience with Tier 2 Email sales@boardbook.org to upgrade today.

Presenter Applications for txEDCON22 Open April 1

The application process for those who would like to present at the TASA | TASB Convention (txEDCON22) happens during the month of April. The Convention is scheduled for September 23-25 in San Antonio.

Potential presenters must use Session Selector at tasa.tasb.org/program/session-selector to submit applications. Applicants will receive notification of session decisions and next steps by mid-June.

Attendees provide input in May Board members, superintendents, and administrators will be invited in early May to review submitted applications and share their feedback on which topics are of interest this year. Feedback must be offered through Session Selector.

Key dates

April 1-May 1: Session Selector is open for presenter submissions.

May 9-May 20: Voting on session topics is open.

Submission requirements

• Applications are accepted online only.

• Sessions are one hour in length.

• Session formats include open discussion, panel, or presentation.

• Sales presentations will not be accepted.

• No more than three applications per school district or organization will be eligible for consideration.

• All sessions regarding legal topics must include at least one licensed attorney in the presenting group; preference will be given to presenters who are members of the Texas Council of School Attorneys (CSA).

• All presenters must register and pay the appropriate fee to attend the Convention.

Session categories

• Advocacy and Community Engagement

• Accountability Systems; Strategic

Planning and Future-Ready Pathways

• School Finance, Operations Leadership, and Facility Design

• District Culture and Governance Team Development

• Policy and Legal

• Student and Staff Safety and Wellness

• Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Selection process

After attendees vote on sessions, TASA | TASB will evaluate the proposals based on the following criteria:

• How well the title, description, and learning objectives align with each other

• How likely it is that the format and delivery methods selected will

allow participants to achieve the stated learning objectives, including audience engagement appropriate to the objectives

• Presenter knowledge in the topic area

• How likely conference participants will attend or recommend someone attend the session

Submission of an application does not guarantee selection. Notification of acceptance or rejection of applications will be emailed by mid-June.

Learn more about the Convention and using Session Selector at tasa.tasb. org. If you have questions, contact Eric Simpson at TASA (esimpson@tasanet.org or 512.477.6361).H

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2022 | Texas Lone Star 33
Need help evaluating compensation? TASB HR Services provides assistance by: • Evaluating market pay • Recommending pay strategies • Building pay structures • Improving salary schedules 800.580.7782 hrservices@tasb.org @tasbhrs

Student Voice Offers Unique Perspective, Ideas at Governance Camp

Hundreds of school trustees from across Texas gathered in Galveston March 2-5 for Governance (Gov) Camp, an event designed to offer training, networking, and, most importantly, insight into the student experience with K-12 public education in the Lone Star State.

“My takeaway is public education in Texas is alive and well,” Rolinda Schmidt, a Kerrville ISD trustee and secretary-treasurer on the TASB Board of Directors, said to thunderous applause in the Galveston Convention Center ballroom.

Driving the enthusiasm on March 4 was a full day of presentations, demonstrations, and insights from dozens of Texas students who shared their experiences both in and out of the classroom. The “Student Voice” segment of Gov Camp, sponsored by the law firm of Walsh Gallegos, is often cited as the main reason trustees attend the annual event.

“It’s easy for a trustee to get disconnected from the students,” said TASB Director Becky St. John, who has served on the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD board for nearly 13 years. “The ability to hear from students other than your own with this cross-section from across the state is enlightening, and it gives me hope.”

Inspiring, impactful sessions

Optimism wasn’t hard to find among attendees, despite facing one of the more challenging school years in recent history amid a pandemic and an increasingly divisive political environment.

Attendees were able to choose from more than 45 breakout sessions focused on governance and leadership, starting with a pre-conference gathering on March 2 and extending through the final day on March 5. Participants had the option of more than 20 sessions and hands-on demonstrations related to student voice on March 4. By the end of the conference, trustees had the opportunity to earn up to 17.5 hours of continuing education credit, all with the goal of growing and learning in their roles as school board members.

For Julian Flores, a Hearne ISD trustee, the opening keynote speech by Victor Rios offered both inspiration and a sense of purpose for the entire conference. Rios, a former dropout and juvenile delinquent, is now a MacArthur Foun -

34 Texas Lone Star | April 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org

dation chair and professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“Every session I went to tied into Dr. Rios,” Flores said.

Rios urged trustees to find the promise in every student and to find ways to connect and encourage them, not merely make assumptions about their behavior. He recounted how he had been pulled out of class and sent to the principal in fourth grade for refusing to answer a question on the board. That incident was a turning point for him and led him to give up on learning until later in high school.

The reason he could not answer the question, Rios said, was because he couldn’t see the question on the board and his mother didn’t have the money to buy him glasses – not because he was being defiant.

“The speaker was so impactful,” said Carolyn Waldon, a first-year trustee from Calvert ISD. “I could really relate to him. There are no bad kids. I always say that.”

Student input matters

Students who participated in the event encouraged trustees to spend more time listening to them, especially now as more young people report feeling stressed and

depressed because of the pandemic. Hamilton ISD’s Skylar Carr, one of five high school students who took part in the Student Voice Scholarship Panel, reminded attendees that not all students have the confidence and skills to advocate and take charge of their education.

“Students will have a disagreement with the coach, and they don’t have the social skills or the confidence to go and address that,” said Carr. “They don’t want to come across as disrespectful or they just don’t know how to talk to an adult like that.”

The student input at Gov Camp gave attendees a unique opportunity to understand their hopes and concerns. Mark Dube, a trustee from McDade ISD, was already planning next steps after the event as he began drafting a proposed agenda item for an upcoming board meeting in his district to “discuss and consider greater involvement of student input in school district decisions.”

“It’s about how best to get them involved,” he said, “and that’s unique to every district.”

Opposite page, left top: (From right to left) TASB President Ted Beard, TASB Executive Director Dan Troxell, TASB Immediate Past President Jim Rice, and Fort Bend ISD Trustee Dr. Shirley Rose-Gilliam chat at the Wednesday night reception.

Left bottom: The crowd enjoying the Student Scholarship Panel. Right top: Opening night of Gov Camp featured a screening of The Pushouts, a documentary by general session speaker Victor Rios. This page, left top: A student from Somerset ISD demonstrates an electric car. Left bottom: Trustees wrote notes about why they serve and added them to this board during the conference. Right top: Paula Roalson (at right) of Walsh Gallegos moderated the Student Voice Scholarship Panel.

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Photos by TASB Media Services

Admin Professionals Network and Learn at TASB Conference

Nearly 80 people from school districts across the state gathered at TASB headquarters in February to learn, grow, and connect at the 2021-22 TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals.

This year’s conference included training on crisis communications, elections, records management, cybersecurity, and other hot topics that affect school district personnel.

For Tara Major, executive assistant to the superintendent at Garland ISD, a panel that featured TASB Executive Director Dan Troxell and Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) Executive Director Kevin Brown was the highlight of the event. “It was good to get some information that honestly, you’re going to need every day,” said Major.

The conference, held February 10-11, also included presentations by TASB Legal Services, Governmental Relations, and Policy Service team members, as well as representatives from the Texas Secretary of State’s office, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and the Texas Department of Information Resources.

Dana Devoll, assistant to the superintendent at Giddings ISD, was thrilled to see the Elections 101 General Session on the agenda. “The election information is so important,” said Devoll, “and it has changed so much.”

TASB Communications Division Director Joan Randall said the event provides much-needed training and development opportunities for new district support personnel. “We are seeing more employees who are new to the field attend the event,” said Randall. “We hope this event can help them develop their skills and become more confident in their new roles.”

But first-time attendees aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the conference. Rhonda Harrison, Krum ISD’s administrative assistant to the superintendent, attends the event every year. “I always look forward to coming to Austin to attend this conference,” said Harrison. “I love the topics and getting to network and learn new things.”

The conference is presented two times a year — in October and February. Both events offer the same sessions in order to allow attendees to choose the dates that work best for them. The 2022-23 session dates are:

• Oct. 20–21, 2022

• Feb. 2–3, 2023

Check admintraining.tasb.org for more information on the 2022-23 conference, including registration details, in August.H

36 Texas Lone Star | April 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org
Photos by TASB Media Services Attendees participate in sessions at the TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals.

Bulletin Board

Texas School Safety Center Offers Virtual Training Events to Help Curb Violence in Schools

The Texas School Safety Center, in partnership with Sandy Hook Promise, is offering Start with Hello virtual trainings for school district staff. The trainings are part of Sandy Hook Promise’s Know the Signs program, which teaches students to recognize loneliness and social isolation in their peers and empowers them to develop a culture of empathy and inclusion on their campus.

Trainings are open to staff and trustees for Texas public school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, junior colleges, school-based law enforcement, and state agencies that support schools.

Attendees will receive the tools and knowledge to help them:

• Identify loneliness and social isolation in the school community

• Train students in the Start with Hello program

• Lead Start with Hello activities and instructional strategies with students

Trainings are 2½ hours and include activities and curricula appropriate for all ages. Find out more and register at https://txssc.txstate.edu/events/start-with-hello-trainings

Corsicana ISD Wins Magna Award

Corsicana ISD recently received a Silver Award in the 28th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ)

CISD was the only Texas school district among 15 Silver Award winners and three Grand Prize winners. The Grand Prize went to California’s Lowell Joint School District, Kansas’ Topeka Public Schools, and California’s Pomona Unified School District.

This is the fifth year that the Magna Awards recognize school districts and their leaders for efforts to provide support to underserved students. An independent panel selected the winners from district submissions.

TEA Expands Teacher Vacancy Task Force

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced on March 15 an immediate expansion of the Teacher Vacancy Task Force to ensure equal representation of teachers and school system administrators.

Launched on March 10, the Teacher Vacancy Task Force is designed to better understand the significant staffing challenges facing Texas public schools and to make comprehensive recommendations to address these issues.

Following its first meeting, Task Force members recommended expanding membership to more classroom teachers across the state to ensure that the perspective of current classroom teachers was more fully represented and to inform future Task Force discussions and recommendations.

Josue Torres of Forney, a fourth- and fifth-grade math teacher from Dallas ISD, will serve as chair of the Task Force. Additionally, the Task Force is being organized into several workgroups to tackle the different challenges identified thus far.

“It is imperative that we include the insights and recommendations of current classroom teachers as the Task Force works to identify strong recommendations that can address the staffing shortages facing school systems across Texas,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “This expansion strengthens the Task Force and includes more perspectives as we work to find far-reaching solutions to these challenges.”

“I am honored for the opportunity to lead this Task Force focused on ensuring we have great teachers in every classroom,” added Task Force Chair Torres. “The reason I got into education is because I believe that a student’s zip code shouldn’t determine his or her fate, and this Task Force has the ability to recommend the needed changes and innovative solutions necessary to ensure all Texas students have access to the high-quality educators they deserve.”

For details, visit the Task Force webpage (https://tea.texas.gov/texas-schools/ health-safety-discipline/covid/teacher-vacancy-task-force-overview) or email TEATeacherVacancyTaskForce@tea.texas.gov.

Corsicana was recognized for its Penguin Project, a theater production in which all roles are filled by students with developmental disabilities. A dedicated group of peer mentors work alongside the students through rehearsals and performances. The Penguin Project invests in positive, inclusive culture change and community engagement, bolsters confidence, and empowers children with special needs through theater.

This year’s Magna Award recipients are highlighted in the April issue of the ASBJ at nsba.org/asbj. For a complete list of winners, visit nsba.org/News/2022/ magna-award-winners-2022.

Laredo ISD Board Member Jose A. Valdez Dies at Age 81

Laredo ISD District 1 Board Member Jose A. Valdez passed away March 7. He was 81. Valdez had been a board member since 1997, and he served as board president in 2008 and 2009, the Laredo Morning Times reported.

“LISD family, together we grieve and celebrate all that he accomplished for our students and staff during his 25 years of public service,” LISD Superintendent Dr. Sylvia G. Rios said. “Mr. Valdez consistently demonstrated a deep love for the opportunities that education could bestow upon those whom he served, our LISD children.”

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Storytelling with Data

Facts about school choice can counter criticism

Ihope you saw the positive response we got to our TASB social media activity during School Choice Week, which was January 23-29. Rather than simply post messages like “Public Schools are the Best Choice” or “Choose Public Ed,” we took a different approach this year.

We used data to break through the noise and tell a story that’s impossible to refute. Namely, we showed with publicly available data how Texas public education has, over the last decade, expanded choice and opportunity for students and families in our state.

former district communicator, this drove me bonkers and caused more than a few gray hairs to sprout over the years.

I imagine many of you also feel that the great stories in your districts often get overlooked. It’s frustrating, for sure.

That’s why it’s so important for public school advocates to use data to story tell and market their district’s good work. Not only can good data help break through the noise, but it also holds the best potential for reaching across divides and winning over — or at least neutralizing — public school naysayers.

This type of data-driven work, though, requires a changed approach to K-12 communication practices.

The need to counter critics

No longer can districts just communicate with public school students, parents, and families.

No longer can TASB just communicate with trustees and district leaders.

Career and Technical Education courses you offer, or the growing number of students graduating with a certification that allows them to earn a good income right out of high school. You might also talk about the increase in students participating in Advanced Placement courses or the number of UIL sports teams you offer.

No fancy writing was needed. In fact, we purposely kept these posts simple, straightforward, and to the point. We let the data speak for the efforts underway to expand choice and opportunity in Texas public education. Our strategy worked.

Breaking through the noise

Positive stories about public education often get lost in busy news cycles or their messages get diminished and twisted by anti-public education groups. As a

We all need to focus on public school opponents and use data to tell the positive stories of choice and opportunity offered in Texas public schools. Too often, the school choice narrative in Texas is all about charters, private schools, and school vouchers. This has to change.

Working together, let’s get the real story out and challenge anti-public school groups with good data.

In a large district, this might mean telling the story of how many students in your Early College Academy have earned an associate degree, or how many students are fully bilingual because of your dual-language offering.

In a smaller district, you might consider sharing the number of interesting

These are just a few examples of how you might approach telling your district’s story of choice and opportunity. We know that good work abounds across Texas public school districts!

We’ll be watching for your stories and data points, so we can retweet and share. We’ll also be sharing more state-level data points on your behalf.

While the 88th legislative session may seem a long way away, it will be here before we know it.

Let’s get to work on telling our data-driven stories! H

38 Texas Lone Star | April 2022 | texaslonestaronline.org A Final Note
Tiffany Dunne-Oldfield
We all need to counter public school opponents and use data to tell the positive stories of choice and opportunity offered in Texas public schools.
Positive stories about public education often get lost in busy news cycles or their messages get diminished and twisted by anti-public education groups.


For New School Board Members

The New Board Member Launch is an in-person and online program designed to make your transition to the school board smooth.

Also Available:

• New Board Member Handbook

• Getting Started as a New Board Member Visit tasb.org/welcome for more information.

Additional opportunities for convenient training

For Experienced School Board Members

Get training how you want and when you want it. TASB has options for all learning styles, including on-demand training in the Online Learning Center, webinars on hot topics, and in-person events.

Upcoming opportunities:

• Spring Workshops

• Summer Leadership institute

Visit events.tasb.org for a calendar of events.

For Board-Superintendent Teams

Looking for opportunities your leadership team can experience together? We have programs that can be customized to your district’s needs.

In-district options:

• Team building

• XG Board Development Visit tasb.org/board-dev to get started.

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2022 | Texas Lone Star 39
For information on any of these offerings: 800.580.8272, ext. 2453 • board.dev@tasb.org tasb.org/board-dev
has a variety of board development opportunities designed to
Looking for resources to help your board focus on what really matters?
meet your needs.

Texas Association of School Boards

P.O. Box 400

Austin, Texas 78767-0400

Ideas. Insights. Inspiration. Shaping Public Education Together

September 23 –25

San Antonio


Session Selector is open for session proposals to be submitted.

MAY 9 –20

Session Selector is open for attendee voting.


Want to write session titles and descriptions that pack rooms? Ready to submit your session proposal? Visit tasa.tasb.org for details.

Henry B. González Convention Center
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