January/February 2021

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Also in This Edition: XG Summit III What We’ve Learned about eXceptional Governance Looking Ahead 2021–22 School Year Full of Budget Unknowns A Publication of the Texas Association of School Boards | Volume 39, Number 1 | January/February 2021 Texas Lone Star It’sAnyon e ’s Guess 87th LegislatureFaces ExtraordinarySession

Featured Event

TASA/TASB LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE

TASB Officers 2020-21

Jim Rice, Fort Bend ISD, President

Ted Beard, Longview ISD, President-Elect

Debbie Gillespie, Frisco ISD, First Vice-President

Bob Covey, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Second Vice-President

Armando Rodriguez, Canutillo ISD, Secretary-Treasurer

Lee Lentz-Edwards, Kermit ISD, Immediate Past President

TASB Board of Directors 2020-21

Moises Alfaro, Mathis ISD, Region 2

Kay Alley, Crosbyton CISD, Region 17

Rose Avalos, Aldine ISD, Region 4H

Kamlesh Bhikha, ESC 2, ESC Representative

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 6

Karen Freeman, Northside ISD, Region 20B

Corinne French, Valley View ISD, Region 11D

Demetrio D. Garcia, Kenedy ISD, Region 3

Linda Gooch, Sunnyvale ISD, Region 10B

Mary Jane Hetrick, Dripping Springs ISD, Region 13B

Tony Hopkins, Friendswood ISD, Region 4C

Sandy Hughey, North East ISD, Region 20E

Mark Lukert, Wichita Falls ISD, Region 9

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

Dan Micciche, Dallas ISD, Region 10C

Vernagene Mott, Pflugerville ISD, Region 13C

Nicholas Phillips, Nederland ISD, Region 5

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

Page Rander, Clear Creek ISD, Region 4B

Tony Raymond, Sabine ISD, Region 7

Georgan Reitmeier, Klein ISD, Region 4A

Rolinda Schmidt, Kerrville ISD, Region 20A

Cindy Spanel, Highland Park ISD, Region 16

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

Anne Sung, Houston ISD, Region 4D

Mildred Watkins, La Vega ISD, Region 12

Greg Welch, Clyde CISD, Region 14

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

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 | January/February 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org Calendar
23
VIRTUAL EVENT FEBRUARY
FEBRUARY
in Lighthouse” (Iowa Lighthouse Research Project) Webinar
2 • “Grounded
TASB Risk FundTM “Malware 101: Identification and Defense” Webinar
3 •
TASB “Preparing to Serve: A Webinar for School Board Candidates”
National School Boards Association Equity Symposium (Virtual)
• TASB Student Solutions “Discipline of Students with Disabilities” Virtual Event
State Board for Educator Certification Meeting, Austin
• Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO) Engage Annual Conference, Austin
• Texas School Public Relations Association Annual Conference, Denton
• Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA)/TASB Legislative Conference Virtual Event
• TASB Risk Fund “Simple Ways to Optimize Emergency Operations Plans with Tabletop Exercises” Webinar MARCH 2-4 • TASBO Engage Virtual Annual Conference 3-6 • TASB Governance Camp Virtual Event 4 • TASB Student Solutions “Budgeting for Special Education” Virtual Event 25 • TASB Student Solutions “Special Education Compliance: Resources to Help You” Virtual Event
9 •
10 •
11
12 •
17-18
22-25
23
24

Features

8 It’s Anyone’s Guess

What the 87th Texas Legislature will do with regard to the needs of public education is anyone’s guess, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis.

Departments

2 Calendar 22 Legal News

26 Capitol Watch

28 HR Files

32 News & Events

Columns

5

From the Top

7 Editor’s Footnote

32 Leadership TASB

18

XG Summit III

Texas-specific governance research was featured in TASB’s third eXceptional Governance (XG) Summit, and lessons are already being put into practice.

Texas Lone Star • Volume 39, Number 1

Texas Association of School Boards

P.O. Box 400 • Austin, Texas • 78767-0400 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 (toll-free)

Roger White • Managing Editor

Melissa Locke Roberts • Assistant Editor

Shu-in Powell • Graphic Designer

Patrick Morris, Virginia Hernandez • Photographers

Amy Barendregt • Advertising Coordinator 360 Press Solutions • Printer

Texas Lone Star (ISSN 0749-9310) is published 10 times a year by the Texas Association of School Boards. Copyright© 2021 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 addressed to the Managing Editor, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

Texas Lone Star does not guarantee publication of unsolicited manuscripts.

Trustees,

For more information about tasb.org and our related sites, contact TASB Online Communications at 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 toll-free or visit

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

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2021 | Texas Lone Star 3
us:
Follow
Contents | January/February 2021 Web Watch
it’s time to
TASB’s
compete, have fun, and champion your schools by participating in
Legislative Advocacy Game. Find out more at tasb.org/advocacy-game
. 12 Capitol Communication 14 How Laws Are Made 16 Legislative Conference Info 17 Dates of Interest
tasb.org/help/index.aspx
There’s only one BuyBoard. $10.5 MILLION GIVEN BACK Texas Cooperative members received a record-breaking 2019-20 rebate! Purchase through the BuyBoard. Earn potential rebates. Shop for everything you need from cleaning and safety supplies to distance-learning materials at buyboard.com.

Time for Advocacy, Action

The 87th Texas Legislative Session Is Upon Us

At last 2021 has arrived, and with it the Texas 87th legislative session. The regular biennial session began on January 12 and is scheduled to end May 31, unless the governor calls for a special session.

While state leaders have already said they expect the upcoming session to be one of the toughest in years, you should know that your TASB Governmental Relations (GR) staff will be working especially hard during this session. During the 86th session, TASB GR staff read over 7,000 bills that were introduced and then carefully ferreted out the ones that had an impact on public education—whether positively or negatively.

and the committee will advise TASB staff how to advocate on our behalf.

It is important to note that the TASB Legislative Committee, made up entirely of currently sitting school board members, directs the TASB GR staff on which positions to take on certain legislation, not the other way around.

You may ask, “How do they know what to tell them?” Your TASB Legislative Committee has already received extensive input and advice, beginning with the Association’s Grassroots Meetings held the year preceding the legislative session.

Every two years, TASB GR staff works with the TASB directors of each of the 20 regional education service centers

Capitol Contacts Are Crucial

Even though in-person visits to the Capitol may not be possible, it is important to find ways to advocate when the House and Senate Education Committees are in session. It is not always easy to do this, however, because one never knows when these opportunities to testify will present themselves. Just ask TASB Director Becky St. John of Grapevine-Colleyville ISD and TASB Legislative Advisory Committee member Tracy Fisher of Coppell ISD, both veteran and indefatigable testifiers. These two have spent countless hours preparing for, traveling to, waiting in, and testifying during legislative hearings.

“Our community relies on school board advocacy efforts to ensure our public schools are a top priority in Austin,” Fisher shared.

Leg Committee in High Gear

to schedule Grassroots Meetings, in which they ask attending school board trustees to formulate their advocacy priorities for the coming session. Because this meeting serves as the foundation upon which our Advocacy Agenda is built, it is extremely important for each of us to attend and participate in these meetings.

Another way we can advocate is by attending the TASA/TASB Legislative Conference February 23. At this conference, scheduled as a virtual event, school trustees will learn about important education legislation and happenings at the Texas Capitol from political insiders. This will empower us to reach out and have impactful conversations with our local legislators.

Even though we all cannot visit Austin on behalf of our kids, there are other ways we can advocate. Here are a few:

As school board trustees, we should all be advocating for our kids, our teachers, our families, and for public education in general. In fact, we are required to do so by state statute. Our public schools are the places where most students in our state will be educated—and they need our help.

• Visit with your state representative and state senator ahead of the session. Let them know your concerns; better still, give them a written list.

• Write an op-ed piece for your local newspaper sharing your thoughts and concerns. It pays to have an informed community.

This is also the time the TASB Legislative Committee—nine TASB directors and four members of the TASB Legislative Advisory Council—shifts into high gear. This year, Robert Westbrook of Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD serves as chair and Dan Micciche of Dallas ISD serves as vice-chair. Beginning in January, TASB GR staff, led by Grover Campbell and his team—Dax Gonzalez, Ruben Longoria Jr., Marisha Negovetich, Will Holleman, Whitney Broughton, and Athena Frangeskou—will hold weekly conference calls with Robert, Dan, and the members of their committee on legislative bills scheduled for hearings, (See Advocacy, page 34.)

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2021 | Texas Lone Star 5 From the Top
As school board trustees, we should all be advocating for our kids, our teachers, our families, and for public education in general.

GOV CAMP IS GOING VIRTUAL!

While we’ll all miss the beach views and familiar faces this year, the same Governance Camp experience you have grown to know and love will be delivered online!

YOU CAN EXPECT:

• Deep-dive sessions on governance best practices

• Lively and enlightening Student Voice sessions and panels

• Engaging general session speakers with inspiring messages

• Virtual ways to connect with fellow trustees across the state

• And so much more!

TODAY’S SMALL ACT OF KINDNESS CAN BECOME TOMORROW’S WHIRLWIND OF HUMAN PROGRESS.”

IF WE TREAT EDUCATION AS OUR GREATEST PUBLIC RESPONSIBILITY, MORE STUDENTS CAN BE CAPABLE OF GREAT THINGS AND WE CAN BETTER TACKLE THE SOCIAL PROBLEMS THAT LIE AHEAD, TOGETHER.”

– 6, 2021
POWERED
BY STUDENT VOICE MARCH 3
Visit tasb.org/gov-camp for the most up-to-date information. “ “ — MAWI ASGEDOM — ANINDYA KUNDU

Now for Some Good News

Texas Schools Lead Nation in College Readiness

Who’s up for some good news?

As we head into 2021 and earnestly hope to see the turmoil, divisiveness, and difficulties of 2020 diminish with the new year, I would imagine stories of success, innovation, and determination will be more than welcome for public education leaders and advocates across the state. OK, I’ll start.

Leading the way among Texas school districts in 2020 was Dallas ISD, which had six of the top 10 Texas schools cited in the most recent College Success Award listings. Also in the top 10 were schools from Judson ISD, Mansfield ISD, El Paso ISD, and Richland Collegiate (Dallas College).

Top five Texas schools on the list were:

1. School of Health Professions, Dallas ISD

2. School of Science and Engineering, Dallas ISD

3. Rosie Sorrells School of Education, Dallas ISD

4. Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, Dallas ISD

5. Judson Early College Academy, Judson ISD

For the complete list of the top Texas schools or for more information about GreatSchools.org, visit greatschools.org/ texas/college-success-award/

Early College Initiatives

Similarly, Texas leads the nation in Early College High School initiatives. According to the Friends of Texas Public Schools organization (fotps.org), Texas was recognized as having a nation’s best 182 designated Early College High Schools last year, with plans to add 12 campuses in the current academic school year.

Early College High Schools are open-enrollment high schools that allow students who may be least likely to attend college an opportunity to receive both a high school diploma and either an associate’s degree or at least 60 credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree.

According to the Texas Education Agency’s Early College High Schools (ECHS) blueprint, ECHS campuses are designed to:

• Enroll historically underserved students, targeting at-risk and economically disadvantaged students

(See Good News, page 34.)

Here are a couple of items that should put smiles on the faces of trustees and administrators in every Texas school district:

College Success Awards

According to the nonprofit GreatSchools.org organization, this past year Texas led the nation with 314 public schools earning a College Success Award based on their success in preparing students for college, and ultimately, careers.

The College Success Awards recognize public high schools that stand out in getting students enrolled in—and staying with—college. Texas also led the nation in 2019 with 229 public schools honored with this achievement.

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Editor’s Footnote
Public Ed! Copyright 2021 TASB by White & Severns A tall order! We’ll need 100,000 square feet of glass composed of 50 different types!
you’re taking the concept of ‘school campus transparency’ a tad literally…
Lyle,
…Yeah.
According to the Friends of Texas Public Schools organization, Texas was recognized as having a nation’s best 182 designated Early College High Schools last year.

It’sAnyon e ’s Guess

cS h o o l T r usteesMustStayInformed, Active as LegislatureFacesExtraordinary S e s is no

The 87th Legislature will prove to be like no other, and the difference will be felt before one even walks in the door. Preliminary discussions around visitor access to the building have included precautions such as limiting entry to one of the four main entrances, requiring rapid COVID-19 tests prior to entry, temperature checks, and whether or not masks will be required of all visitors. Committee hearings will feature legislators separated by panes of plexiglass and limited audiences. The way people may testify before committees is also under consideration—should witnesses be able to provide testimony via videoconference or should they have to be on site?

All of these discussions are happening at a time when most legislators and staff would traditionally be focused on filing and reading through bills and preparing for the Legislature to kick into high gear.

Once the Legislature gets past the actual mechanics of how it might operate, its attention will turn to the stagnant state economy and how legislators will deal with an expected $1-billion deficit in the current biennium. COVID has affected more than just the health of thousands of Texans. The initial shutdown and lingering effects of a sluggish economy have turned a once rosy $2.9-billion budget surplus into questions around which state functions will be on the chopping block, how much revenue the state can make up once the economy gets back n track, and how much of the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund) legislators will access to help balance the budget.

But first, back to the beginning…

Election Impact

The presidential race dominated the news cycle, and prognosticators peddled their various theories on how it would affect down-ballot races. In short, it did not.

The makeup of the Texas House and Senate will remain almost identical to its makeup during the 2019 session. In fact, the only change with regard to the total number of Democrats and Republicans will be one more Democrat in the Texas Senate—a seat Democrats lost in a special election just a few years ago. While the total number of Republicans in the Senate—18—would normally be important due to the number of votes required for senators to bring a bill up for consideration before the body (19), Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced shortly after election day that he would seek to revise Senate rules to adjust that threshold down to 18. This will likely occur as it did in 2015, when Patrick dropped the almost-70-year-old threshold from 21 to 19— the number of Republicans in the Senate at the time.

In the Texas House, Democrats and Republicans swapped a seat each to maintain the 83-to-67 Republican majority. The House has been trending a little more cooperatively in recent sessions as Democrats whittled away at the high watermark of 101 Republicans in 2011. It remains to be seen if the trend will continue after Democrats seemed to hit a wall back in November.

Over at the State Board of Education (SBOE), incumbents Keven Ellis (R-Lufkin), Sue Melton-Malone (R-Waco), Georgina Perez (D-El Paso), and Tom Maynard (R-Florence) all won their reelections. Four newcomers join the SBOE this January: Jay Johnson (R-Pampa), Audrey Young (R-Apple Springs), Will Hickman (R-Spring Branch), and Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D-San Marcos). Ellis, Maynard, Johnson, and Young are former school board trustees.

Election night also showed public support for local schools in one significant way: Local voters passed several school bond initiatives across the state. The Texas ISD organization reported that 27 out of 37 school districts passed at least one bond proposal in November. Voters approved $8.34 billion of $9.76 billion of bond proposals, or about 85 percent of total bond dollars up

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2021 | Texas Lone Star 9
Once the Legislature gets past the actual mechanics of how it might operate, its attention will turn to the stagnant state economy and how legislators will deal with an expected $1-billion deficit in the current biennium.
Photo by TASB Media Services

for consideration. The results showed less support for bonds to build or renovate extracurricular facilities, such as stadiums, natatoriums, and fine arts buildings.

Back to the Budget

For those who attended a TASB Grassroots Meeting last winter, you may recall some discussion about how any downturn in the economy could potentially derail the progress the state made under House Bill 3 to erase the $5.4-billion cut to public education funding in 2011. Well, the economic recession caused by the COVID pandemic is threatening to do just that. With the state facing an estimated $1-billion budget shortfall, a significant decline in current state revenue, an unfavorable outlook for future state revenue, and a 2.5-percent property tax revenue cap placed on local school districts, legislators will be hard-pressed to maintain the increased basic allotment and other funding improvements implemented under House Bill 3.

The Legislature had been benefiting from rising property values in the state that translated into more local tax dollars it recaptured and used to shore up its budget. That additional revenue, which had been growing at a 6-to-7-percent clip in recent years, will not be available to legislators beyond the 2.5-percent cap going forward.

Many believe that the state will be able to overcome the $1-billion shortfall after federal aid and the savings from 5percent state agency cuts mandated by state leaders are taken into account. And Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced in January that legislators should have about as much state revenue this biennium as they had last biennium to craft a budget. But state spending on public education generally increases every year as the number of students being served every year increases. The fluctuations in student enrollment and attendance this year

make it difficult to prognosticate as to exactly how much money the state should add to the public education budget for the upcoming biennium. This is especially important when considering that legislators increased per-student funding as part of House Bill 3.

At least one legislator familiar with public education funding believes there could be a way to preserve the gains made in House Bill 3, but it will all depend on how quickly the economy recovers, legislators’ appetite for tapping the Rainy Day Fund, and/or how much and what kind of strings come with any federal stimulus package designed to support public schools.

Privatization of Public Education

As in almost every session in recent history, there will be efforts to allow individuals to use public tax dollars to attend private institutions unaccountable to taxpayers. With the makeup of the House not changing significantly, vouchers do not appear to have the votes needed to clear the Legislature. That being said, it is prudent to keep an eye on potential voucher legislation this session and be vocal when any bills are brought up for consideration.

Most of the efforts to privatize public education will come in the form of expanding virtual schools and increasing funding for charter schools. Charter school proponents are pushing the narrative that charter students receive fewer dollars than district students; however, the truth is that charter students can draw more than $1,000 per student when compared to the students in charters’ neighboring school districts.

Public education advocates, including TASB, will be asking legislators to make sure that charter schools are as transparent and accountable to taxpayers as school districts are—whether that be transparency of business operations; student enrollment,

10 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org
Public education advocates, including TASB, will be asking legislators to make sure that charter schools are as transparent and accountable to taxpayers as school districts are.

recruitment, and expulsion practices; building capacity; waitlists; or fees charged to student families.

Silencing School Districts

There will be a strong push at the Legislature to prevent school districts, as well as cities and counties, from hiring lobbyists or joining associations that lobby, such as TASB. Much of the rhetoric in support of this measure centers around local governments advocating against their constituents and completely ignores all of the beneficial results of local governmental advocacy, such as increased funding for students, a decrease in the state’s reliance on local property taxes, and continued efforts to broaden the accountability system to recognize more student successes.

The efforts are largely pushed by groups that seek to eliminate taxes, such as the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which is hoping to one day eliminate school district maintenance and operations taxes. Silencing those entities that levy taxes is the best strategy for eventually eliminating those taxes. The rhetoric has found a foothold among those who believe local governments are acting against not only the same constituents who elected, or oftentimes reelected, them to office in the first place, but against themselves—as those elected officials live in the very communities affected by their policies.

COVID Relief

COVID relief is going to be another big issue, and not just the continued funding of schools. Other issues that are surfacing include student enrollment and attendance, student access to technology and broadband, students falling behind in their academic progress, teacher staffing, liability for staff members who contract COVID during the school year, and accountability and assessments. While the state has announced that it will not be assigning A-F ratings under the state accountability system this year, it will still mandate the administration of STAAR exams to students.

It is unclear what schools and student enrollment will look

like in the 2021–22 school year after vaccines are projected to be readily available. Some say more students will seek full-time virtual school options, while others say parents and students cannot wait for schools to resume full, in-person instruction. There is also the issue of parents who choose not to vaccinate their children and how that might affect resumption of in-person instruction.

As with most things related to the pandemic, school administrators and staff will need to continue demonstrating the flexibility, nimbleness, and resiliency that they demonstrated and that were so highly praised as the pandemic worsened last year.

The Bottom Line

The state’s economic future set against the COVID-19 pandemic is murky at best. There are some indicators, such as online sales tax revenue, that give state leaders some hope for a quick recovery, but persistent unemployment claims and lagging oil and gas tax revenue are significant hurdles. Texans who have been holed up for much of the pandemic seem poised to get back to normal as soon as a vaccine is readily available, and that could be enough to get the state back on track during the upcoming biennium. Perhaps it is a question for a Magic 8-ball—it is anyone’s guess at this point.

As the session progresses, it is vital that school board members stay informed about the progress of education-related issues and reach out to their local Texas House and Senate members early and often. It is incumbent on all school board members and those who care about providing quality educational opportunities for all students to learn about the issues and take action to support Texas public school students.

Sign up to receive regular legislative updates from TASB’s School Board Advocacy Network (gr.tasb.org/sban) and text “SCHOOLS” to 313131 to learn more about how to advocate on behalf of public schools.H

Dax Gonzalez is division director for TASB Governmental Relations.
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File Photo
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath addresses members of the School Board Advocacy Network following the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature.
TASB

Capitol Communication

COVID Brings Uncertainty to Advocacy Efforts

Communicating with legislators does not take an expert or seasoned lobbyist, but the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on legislative operations and contact with legislators means that school trustees will have to be more nimble and prepared than in previous sessions.

While the Texas Capitol will be open to visitors, there will be several new procedures implemented to help reduce the spread of COVID within the building. Visitors may have to take a rapid test before entering the building; communal spaces like the cafeteria dining room may be closed; and committee hearings will likely be open to fewer audience members.

Lawmakers will still need to hear from their constituents on how potential legislation will impact them back home because they often do not know enough about all topics to operate without that input. Legislators will also continue to have limited time to discuss these important issues with constituents and stakeholders, so be prepared to deliver your message concisely and coherently.

The best way to make a connection with a legislator is a face-to-face meeting, but that may prove difficult during the pandemic. Check to see if your legislator is available for a socially distanced meeting in the district or if they would be open to a virtual meeting using an online videoconferencing platform. Inform your legislator’s staff that you would like to discuss an important issue and tell them a little bit about that issue. In some cases, you may be able to meet with your legislators, if only virtually. If not, discussing the issue with legislative staff can sometimes be just as effective. Do not underestimate your elected official’s staff.

Establishing Relationships

Remember to establish relationships with office staff, particularly the staff member responsible for education issues. These staffers play key roles in working with lawmakers during the session, when legislators may be too busy to meet or read up on every aspect of an issue.

Whether reaching out to staff or legislators, the key this session will be reaching out early—do not wait until April and May, when things are heating up and those individuals will be less available and responsive. Start reaching out now to your local legislators and their staff members to establish yourself as a reliable contact on education issues.

To find information for legislators, visit https://wrm. capitol.texas.gov/home. There you may find which lawmakers represent you and their contact information. Also, if you haven’t already, sign up for the School Board Advocacy Network (SBAN), which provides trustees with information on important education bills and legislative happenings throughout the session. Sign up at tasb.org/legislative/school-board-advocacy-network/sban-handbook/what-is-sban.aspx.

Some Important Tips

In communications to legislators, do the following: Introduce yourself. Tell legislators who you are, which group(s) you are representing, and the issue about which you are concerned.

Tell legislators if you are a constituent. Mention any family, social, business, or political ties you share with them.

Summarize why you have initiated contact. Provide a brief explanation of what bill you are interested in discussing (reference by name and number), how it affects your school district and others in the legislator’s home district, and what you want done about it. If you are requesting an amendment, try to have one prepared for your visit.

Be firm in discussing the issue with legislators, but do not try to force them into changing positions or committing themselves to something if they do not agree with you.

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Members of Aldine ISD’s district leadership team meet with State Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) during the Association’s Legislative Conference last session. TASB File Photo

Be timely. Contact legislators before they take a position or vote on the bill about which you are concerned.

Always be courteous. Do not lose your temper if you begin debating an issue with a legislator. Doing so may alienate the legislator and prevent them from helping you with other issues in the future.

Be as honest and earnest as you can. Even if you are not an expert on an issue, legislators will remember your candor and genuine feeling for an issue. Never lie! Lying to a lawmaker (or being perceived as a liar) is the surest way to put oneself in his or her bad graces, an offense that carries an almost permanent sentence. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so and offer to provide an answer at another time.

Thank your legislator if he or she agrees to support your position and votes accordingly. Write a brief note of appreciation to the legislator’s office and include the names of any staff with whom you worked.

Other Communication Methods

It may be difficult to meet face to face with legislators during the pandemic. If you cannot meet with a legislator personally or virtually, you may send an e-mail or call their office. Different legislators prefer to be contacted via different methods. Ask your local lawmakers which methods they prefer.

When contacting a legislator through these methods, remember to keep your communications concise, personal, and local. These themes resonate well with busy lawmakers.

Sending e-mail. When sending an e-mail, keep the following tips in mind:

• Properly address the legislator.

• Keep the note short. State why you are writing and what you would like done.

• Focus on the local impact of a bill or issue. Personal experiences or the likely impact on your school district is the best supporting evidence.

• Express your point of view and your rationale strongly. Explain why the legislator should support your position. Never threaten or get offensive. Do not mention election day or make negative personal statements.

• Sharing your personal experience is always preferable. If you send a form letter, adapt it to your own circumstances.

Calling. If you choose to call a legislator, include the same information you would write in an e-mail and be just as brief. If the lawmaker is unavailable, speak to staff responsible for the issue about which you are calling.H

Officials and Proper Addresses

Texas Governor

When writing:

The Honorable Greg Abbott Governor of Texas State Capitol

P.O. Box 12428

Austin, Texas 78711

Dear Governor Abbott:

When speaking: “Governor Abbott”

Texas Lieutenant Governor

When writing:

The Honorable Dan Patrick Lieutenant Governor of Texas

P.O. Box 12068

Austin, Texas 78711

Dear Governor Patrick:

When speaking: “Governor Patrick”

State Senator

When writing:

The Honorable (Full Name) State Senate

P.O. Box 12068

Austin, Texas 78711

Dear Senator (Last Name):

When speaking: “Senator (Last Name)”

Speaker of the House

When writing:

The Honorable Dade Phelan

Speaker of the House

Texas House of Representatives

P.O. Box 2910

Austin, Texas 78768

Dear Speaker Phelan:

When speaking: “Mr. Speaker”

State Representative

When writing:

The Honorable (Full Name)

Texas House of Representatives

P.O. Box 2910

Austin, Texas 78768

Dear Representative (Last Name):

When speaking: “Representative (Last Name)”

United States Senator

When writing:

The Honorable (Full Name) US Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (Last Name):

When speaking: “Senator (Last Name)”

United States Representative

When writing:

The Honorable (Full Name)

US House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative (Last Name):

When speaking: “Representative (Last Name)”

The President

When writing: The President

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

When speaking: “Mr. President”

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How Laws Are Made Knowledge of Legislative Process Is Important

The Texas legislative process consists of biennial sessions that last 140 days. With such a brief time to formulate the state budget, new laws, and changes to existing laws, legislators have little time to waste while mapping the future of our state.

The following is a brief primer on the Texas legislative process. Please bear in mind that slight changes in usual operations may occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic and precautions that legislative leaders will implement. The general procedures listed below should still hold.

Division of Power

In Texas, as with the federal government, the government is divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. The governor heads the executive branch. The judicial branch includes the Texas Supreme Court and all state courts. The legislative branch consists of the Texas House and Senate.

What does the governor do? The governor is the chief executive and is elected every four years. He or she may recommend policies that legislators introduce as bills. The governor also appoints the secretary of state, commissioner of education, and many members of boards and commissions that oversee the heads of state agencies and departments. The governor’s constitutional job description includes signing or vetoing bills and appointing qualified Texans to state offices that carry out the laws and direct state policy.

Greg Abbott currently serves as governor of Texas.

Who leads the House? On the first day of each regular session, the 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives choose one of their members as speaker of the House.

Whoever sits in the speaker’s chair will be presiding officer of the House and will keep order, recognize members to speak during debate, and rule on procedural matters. Because he or she is a member of the House, the speaker may vote at any time or withhold action to cast the deciding vote in a tie. The speaker appoints committees, committee chairs, and vice-chairs. Representatives, who serve two-year terms, may work on up to three committees.

State Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) serves as speaker of the House for the 2021 legislative session.

And in the Senate? The lieutenant governor is the presiding officer of the Senate and is chosen by voters, not the 31 senators. The lieutenant governor is the second-highest-ranking officer of the executive branch and, like senators and the governor, is cho-

sen for a four-year term. The lieutenant governor cannot vote on legislation unless there is a tie or when the Senate convenes as a committee of the whole. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick was reelected to this post in November 2018.

The first thing the speaker and the lieutenant governor ask the two houses to do is decide on the rules they will follow during the session. The Texas Constitution provides some legislative procedures, but both chambers can adopt additional rules if they are approved by a majority vote of the members.

Drafting Bills

After rules have been adopted, the Legislature starts to consider bills, which are proposals to change state law by adding a new law or amending a current one. Ideas for bills come to representatives and senators from many sources: constituents, interim committees, and associations such as TASB. The Legislative Council, an agency that provides legislators bill-drafting services and research assistance, often helps draft proposed legislation.

Once a bill has been written, a member of the House or the Senate introduces it. A representative and a senator working together sometimes introduce similar bills in both houses at the same time. Any bill increasing taxes or raising money for use by the state must start in the House of Representatives.

After a bill has been introduced, a short description of the bill, known as the caption, is read aloud while the chamber is in session so that all members are aware of the bill and its subject. This is the first reading. At this point in the process, the presiding officer assigns the bill to a committee, and this assignment is announced on the chamber floor during the first reading of the bill.

Committees

The chair of a committee decides when the committee will meet and which bills it will consider. House committees have three kinds of meetings: public hearings, where testimony is heard and where action may be taken; formal meetings, where members may discuss and take action without hearing public testimony; and work sessions for discussion without action. In the Senate, testimony may be heard and official action may be taken at any committee meeting. Public testimony is usually sought on bills so that citizens have the chance to provide input.

After considering a bill, a committee may take no action or may issue a report on the bill. The report expresses the commit-

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tee’s recommendations regarding action on the bill and usually includes a record of the committee’s vote, the committee’s version of the bill text, an analysis of the bill, and a fiscal note estimating the costs, savings, revenue gain, or revenue loss resulting from implementation of the proposed legislation.

In the House, the committee report goes to the Committee on Calendars for placement on a calendar for consideration by the full House. In the Senate, bills are placed on the agenda in the order in which they were reported from a committee.

Action on the Floor

A bill receives a second reading when it comes up for consideration by the full House or Senate. The bill’s caption is read, and the bill is debated by the full membership of the chamber. Any member may offer an amendment, which must be approved by a majority of the members present. Members then vote on the bill. The full body then considers the bill again on third reading and final passage. Bills may be amended again on the third reading, but amendments require a two-thirds majority for adoption at this stage.

The Texas Constitution requires a bill to be read on three separate days in each house before it can have the force of law, but this rule may be suspended by a four-fifths vote of the house considering the bill. The Senate routinely suspends this constitutional provision to give a bill an immediate third reading after its second reading consideration; however, the House rarely suspends this provision, and third reading of a bill in the House normally occurs on the day after its second reading.

When a bill receives a majority vote on the third reading, the bill is considered passed. When a bill is passed in the house where it originated, the bill is engrossed, and a new copy of the bill that incorporates all corrections and amendments is prepared and sent to the other chamber for consideration. In the other chamber, the bill follows the same process for that body. When the bill is passed in the second house, it is returned to the originating house with any amendments that have been adopted attached to the bill.

If a bill is returned to the originating chamber without amendments, it is signed by the speaker and the lieutenant governor and sent to the governor.

If a bill is returned to the originating chamber with amendments, the originating chamber can agree to the amendments or request a conference committee to work out the differences in the two versions of the bill. If the amendments are agreed to, the bill is signed by the speaker and the lieutenant governor and sent to the governor.

Conference committees are composed of five members from each house appointed by the presiding officers. Once the conference committee reaches agreement, a report is written and must be approved by at least three of the five conferees from each house. Conference committee reports are voted on in each house and must be approved or rejected without amendments. If approved by both houses, the bill is signed by the presiding officers and sent to the governor. At this point, the bill is considered enrolled.

The Governor’s Options

When the governor receives a bill, he may sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without a signature. If the governor vetoes a bill and the Legislature is still in session, the bill goes back to the chamber where it originated with an explanation of the governor’s objections. A two-thirds majority in each house is required to override a governor’s veto.

If the governor neither signs nor vetoes a bill within 10 days, it becomes law. If a bill is sent to the governor within 10 days of final adjournment, the governor has until 20 days after final adjournment to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without a signature.

Constitutional Amendments

Proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution are in the form of joint resolutions. Joint resolutions must be approved by

(See Laws, page 16.)

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TASB File Photo

Legislative Conference Set For February 23

TASB and the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) are hosting the 2021 TASA/TASB Legislative Conference on February 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The conference will be held virtually this year, as access to the Texas Capitol will be hindered in various ways.

School board trustees and administrators will spend the morning and early afternoon hearing from legislators and Capitol insiders about the 87th Legislative Session and how public school districts may be affected by proposed legislation. Attendees will have opportunities to participate in virtual lobbying activities on issues discussed during the conference.

Learn more and register at tasb.org/legislative/events/tasa-tasblegislative-conference.aspx H

Mark Your Calendar

What: TASA/TASB Legislative Conference

When: Tuesday, February 23 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Online

Laws (from page 15)

two-thirds of the entire membership in each house. Joint resolutions are not sent to the governor but are filed with the secretary of state. Voters must approve amendments to the Texas Constitution. Resolutions are statements of opinions and, unlike bills, do not have the force of law.

Concurrent resolutions are usually expressions of the Legislature’s feelings on a subject, instructions to state

agencies, or proposals to set up a special study of some issue during the interim between legislative sessions. Both the House and Senate must adopt concurrent resolutions. Simple resolutions are commonly expressions of the Legislature’s sympathy upon a death or congratulations to an individual or group for an accomplishment. Only the chamber in which simple resolutions originate considers those resolutions.H

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Attendees will have opportunities to participate in virtual lobbying activities on issues discussed during the conference.
File Photo
TASB
Northside ISD-Bexar County trustees (from left) Karen Freeman and M’lissa Chumbley discuss public education advocacy issues during a visit to the State Capitol during the 2019 legislative session.

Legislative Dates of Interest

Tuesday, January 12

87th Legislature convenes at noon

Tuesday, February 23

TASA/TASB Legislative Conference Virtual Meeting

Wednesday-Saturday, March 3–6

TASB Governance Camp Virtual Meeting

Friday, March 12 (60th day of the session)

Deadline for filing bills and joint resolutions other than local bills, emergency appropriations, and bills that have been declared an emergency by the governor

Monday, May 31 (140th day of the session)

Last day of 87th regular session

Tentative: June 2021

National School Boards Association Advocacy Institute

Washington, DC

Saturday, June 19

TASB Post-Legislative Conference

Saturday, June 19

TASB Legislative Advisory Council Meeting

Sunday, June 20 (20th day following final adjournment)

Last day governor can sign or veto bills passed during the regular session

Wednesday, June 23

TASB Post-Legislative Seminar

Monday, August 30 (91st day following final adjournment)

Date that bills without specific effective dates (that were not effective immediately upon passage) become law

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TASB File Photo

XG Summit III

What We’ve Learned about eXceptional Governance

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On November 9-10, 2020, trustees and superintendents from across Texas met virtually with researchers and board development practitioners from Texas and around the country as part of TASB’s third XG Summit—the first one that featured Texas-specific governance research.

the summit

The XG Summit is a component of TASB’s overall eXceptional Governance (XG) Project, which began in June 2016. The XG Project promotes research-based and promising practices for governance that enhances student learning. At the first summit in January 2017, we learned that board functionality, beliefs and actions of school boards, and longevity of board members and administrators impacts student learning. We learned from Texas trustees and superintendents about practices for board self-assessment, community involvement, and board succession planning.

TASB’s XG Board Development emerged out of that first summit, as ideas and practices were put into practice at the local board level. Since that time, XG Board Development has been assisting and transforming governance practices around the state.

Texas-based Findings

This year, we heard from two successful boardsuperintendent teams about how XG Board Development has assisted their governance work. Lockhart ISD shared about the impact on board culture and focus and how that has affected its entire learning community. Kerrville ISD shared about how XG Board Development helped with the board’s belief statements and became foundational for long-range planning and improved student success.

This year’s XG Summit highlighted Texas-based research, supported through an offshoot of the XG Project called GREAT (Governance Research Encouraging Achievement in Texas). Three TASB scholarship recipients—

Dr. Audrey Young from Apple Springs ISD, Dr. Angela Herron from Grand Prairie ISD, and Dr. Samuel Bonsu from Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD—shared highlights of their completed governance research. Bonsu reported his findings that boards participating in TASB’s XG Board Development were improving in their effectiveness and also governing districts that were improving in student achievement. He showed these correlations existed even among boards that had completed only one or two XG Board Development sessions.

Young’s research shines light on the intersection of the public and public education governance. She looked at what school boards consider when boards evaluate a superintendent. Young shared what boards want from a superintendent is leadership, communication, and transparency.

Heron examined board president perceptions and used the Eight Characteristics of Effective School Boards as a framework for evaluating governance practices. Heron’s research supports the importance of financial stewardship, community involvement, and board self-management.

The most effective boards recognize the community as a vital resource and partner in accomplishing the district’s vision. They seek partnerships with community

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TM
The most effective boards recognize the community as a vital resource and partner in accomplishing the district’s vision.

groups and individuals to support improved student success. Perhaps most importantly, the most effective school boards keep themselves in line. They monitor their own performance, and board members have the difficult conversations with each other when one or more members deviate from the course the board has set.

Relationships and Roles

At XG Summit III, we were also honored to have Dr. Mark Puig, superintendent of South San Antonio ISD, report on his research, which focused on the importance of the relationship of the school board with the district as a system.

Puig’s presentation, “The Governance Factor,” highlighted research-based practices that any board-superintendent team can implement. Puig helped delineate the difference between board and superintendent roles and emphasized the importance of the board-superintendent partnership and collaboration as a key for student success.

He stated that this is critical regardless of the socioeconomic status within the district.

Dr. Paul Johnson, former school board member and superintendent from Ohio, shared principles of effective governance practices. Like many XG Summit speakers, Johnson shared work built on findings from the Iowa Lighthouse Research Project. As a professor of educational leadership, Johnson focuses on work that supports the critical component of superintendents having a governance mindset and incorporating that into their work both with the board and the district overall.

Coherence in Governance

Another highlight of this year’s summit was the presentation by Davis Campbell and the interview with him by Dr. Mary Jane Hetrick of Dripping Springs ISD. Campbell, former executive director of the California School Boards Association, is a longtime supporter of the role of the school board in student learning. His book, coauthored with

School boards participating in TASB’s XG Board Development reported improvement in their effectiveness and that they are governing districts that are improving in student achievement.
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This work is not for the faint at heart, but we believe Texas’s publicly elected school boards have what it takes to do this work.

internationally renowned education researcher Michael Fullan, The Governance Core, is a tremendous resource for understanding the critical role of governance in improving student learning in school systems.

Davis emphasized coherence in governance with the rest of the school system. He shared a model of school boards, superintendents, and schools working together— not merely in an aligned way but in a coherent manner. Davis challenged trustees to “mind their manner”—to pay attention to the effect their words and actions have on each other and the school system. He also underscored the importance of a moral imperative—boards getting collective clarity on what they and their school system need to do.

This work connects nicely with and expands upon learning from earlier XG summits about the significance of board beliefs and actions for what is possible coupled with action upon those beliefs. Speakers shared clearly and cohesively the overarching themes that school boards make a difference for student learning and that governance

matters when it comes to improving achievement and closing gaps.

Improving Every District

This third XG Summit has already informed and adjusted the work we are doing with XG Board Development in the state. We want to help every Texas school board understand with urgency their collective moral imperative. We also want to assist each district in the state in improving student learning and closing gaps in learning among student groups.

This work is not for the faint at heart, but we believe Texas’s publicly elected school boards have what it takes to do this work. For more information about XG Board Development, visit tasb.org/members/enhance-district/ xg-project.aspx H

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Phil Gore is division director of TASB Board Development Services.

To Retain or Not to Retain

A Records Management Q&A for School Trustees

School board members often hear about the daunting challenges of storing and managing the district’s information.1 Why can’t records simply be deleted when students graduate, employees leave, or projects end? This article provides basic information for trustees about records retention under the Texas Local Government Records Act (LGRA).

Q: What is the LGRA?

A: The LGRA outlines how local

governments, including school districts, must preserve and retain records and when records may be destroyed.2 The LGRA requires districts to create and maintain adequate records documenting and supporting their policies, decisions, procedures, and transactions. Districts must also protect and preserve records defined as essential or having permanent value. Compliance with the LGRA ensures that districts have information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of both the district itself and

people or entities affected by the district’s activities.3

Q: What is the role of TSLAC?

A: The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) assists school districts and other local governments in complying with the LGRA. Among other duties, TSLAC is required to set minimum retention time periods for local government records.4

Q: Must a school district establish a records management program (RMP)?

A: Yes. A school district must establish an RMP for the efficient and economical management and preservation of all district records.5

Q: Must a district designate an employee to implement the district’s RMP?

A: Yes, the LGRA requires a school district board of trustees to designate an individual or a position at the district to serve as the records management officer (RMO) for the district.6 Boards appoint the specific individual or position to oversee the performance of records management functions by adopting Board Policy

22 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org Legal News

CPC(LOCAL). See TASB Model Policy

CPC(LEGAL) and (LOCAL)

Q: What is a record or a local government record subject to the LGRA?

A: The LGRA defines the terms record and local government record to include any information that is created or received by a local government or any of its officers or employees pursuant to law or in the transaction of public business.7 A record’s physical form, characteristic, or access restrictions are irrelevant under the state’s definition.

Q: What is not considered a local government record subject to the LGRA?

A: Certain types of information are

excluded from the term local government record, such as extra identical copies of documents created only for convenience of reference or research; notes, journals, diaries, and similar documents created for a trustee’s or employee’s personal convenience; and copies of documents furnished to the public under state law.8

For example, notes taken by a trustee during a meeting for personal convenience or duplicate copies of materials

distributed at board meetings are not subject to retention. However, records that are not subject to retention under the LGRA may still be subject to public disclosure under the Texas Public Information Act (PIA).

Q: What is the difference between the LGRA and the PIA?

A: The LGRA focuses on how records are created, preserved, maintained, and

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texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2021 | Texas Lone Star 23 Locating exemplary leaders and visionaries to take your district to the next level.
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executive.search@tasb.org 800.580.8272
A school district must establish an RMP for the efficient and economical management and preservation of all district records.

destroyed. The PIA governs public access to all district information that meets the legal definition of public information. The PIA may require a district to allow a member of the public to access existing district information, even when the LGRA does not require the information to be preserved or retained as a record. Similarly, the LGRA may require records to be retained even when the records are not subject to public disclosure under the PIA.

Under both laws, the nature of the content—not the form or format—of information determines whether the information must be disclosed under the PIA or retained under the LGRA.

Q: What is a records control schedule?

A: A records control schedule lists the records maintained by a local government, the records’ retention time periods, and other information required by the local government’s records management plan.9 A school board or a board’s designee must determine the retention period for each record on the district’s records control schedule.10 A retention period may

not be shorter than a retention period prescribed by law or a retention period established on a records retention schedule issued by TSLAC.11 In other words, a school district may keep records for longer—but not shorter—than the minimum time period set by TSLAC.

Q: What is the penalty for violating the LGRA?

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A: It is a misdemeanor offense for a trustee or district employee to knowingly or intentionally violate the LGRA by destroying or alienating (meaning to sell, donate, loan, transfer, or otherwise pass custody) a local government record in contravention of the law or by intentionally failing to deliver records to a successor. In addition, a trustee or district employee who knowingly or intentionally

24 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org studentsolutions@tasb.org 888.247.4829 Introducing

destroys a district record can be held personally liable if the destruction is not in compliance with the law.12

Q: How can a trustee avoid violating the LGRA?

A: Trustees should avoid using personal technology devices or accounts when conducting school business, so as to avoid creating original local government records. When a trustee, instead of the district, is in possession, custody, or control of an original record (rather than a duplicate or convenience copy of a record), the trustee becomes a temporary custodian of the record. This means the trustee is legally required to protect the record as if he or she is the school district. Using district devices or email accounts to conduct school business, rather than personal devices or accounts, can ensure original records are maintained by the district.13

For examples of common records created by board members subject to retention, see TASB Legal Services’ Board Member Responsibilities as Temporary Custodians at tasb.org/services/legalservices/tasb-school-law-esource.aspx H

1The term “information” in this article means generally all types of school information maintained by the district, including both public information and local government records.

2Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code §§ 201.001-205.010.

3Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 203.021.

4Tex. Gov’t Code § 441.167.

5Tex. Gov’t Code § 441.169; Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 203.021.

6Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 203.025(a).

7Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 201.003(8), (11).

8Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 201.003(8).

9Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 201.003(12).

10Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 203.042(a).

11Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 203.042(b).

12Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code §§ 202.006-.008.

13See Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code § 202.001(a), 13 Tex. Admin. Code § 7.78(a) (prohibiting destruction of a local government record unless authorized by law). See also Tex. Gov’t Code § 552.004(b) (governing the preservation, destruction, or other disposition of records held by a temporary custodian).

Julie Allen is a TASB Legal Services Division senior attorney.

l

l

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2021 | Texas Lone Star 25 Your TASB Member Center is a one-stop shop where you can:
Access Policy On Line® and BoardBook®
Report and review continuing education credit
l
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Read articles related to your role
Learn about upcoming events and deadlines Visit tasb.org/new-member-center to learn more. A website crafted just for you. Now open to trustees, superintendents, and district staff!

Play the Advocacy Game

Visit the TASB Member Center—and Get Involved

Additionally, remember to sign up to receive regular legislative updates from TASB’s School Board Advocacy Network (tasb.org/apps/gr/sbansignup.aspx) and text “SCHOOLS” to 313131 to learn more about how to advocate on behalf of public schools. To stay apprised of the latest from the Capitol and keep updated on TASB’s legislative advocacy efforts, visit gr.tasb.org.

Virtual Governance Camp

As the 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature picks up steam, TASB is encouraging local school board members to get engaged in advocacy activities—and one way the Association is doing it is with the new Legislative Advocacy Game.

The online game, found in the TASB Member Center (tasb.org/members/ home.aspx), contains a variety of tasks that school board members can complete, such as joining the School Board Advocacy Network, attending a legislative hearing, or sending a letter to lawmakers. For

each task completed, trustees earn points that will be posted on a leaderboard to encourage friendly competition among members. Rewards will include individual and leadership team recognition in TASB publications and at events.

Trustee input is welcome; local board members may use the contact form found in the TASB Member Center to share input and feedback. Members may access the game directly on the Member Center dashboard or through the article on the Member Center home page. Members must be logged in to complete game tasks.

The 2021 TASB Governance Camp, set for March 3-6, will be entirely virtual. As with Summer Leadership Institute and the TASA | TASB Convention last year, much of the camp’s content will be available during the event and online for 30 days afterward. However, Student Voice content will be available only during the event.

It was hoped that Governance Camp would be the event that brought face-toface meetings back to TASB members; however, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to unfold, it became clear that Association members’ health and safety must remain top priority.

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For more information, see the Governance Camp FAQ page at tasb.org/ services/board-development-services/ events/governance-camp/governancecamp-faq.aspx.

NSBA Events

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) announced in December that the annual NSBA Conference will also be held online. The NSBA 2021 Online Experience is scheduled for April 8-10. Registration is open, and special district team pricing is offered. For more information, visit nsba.org/Events/NSBA-2021-OnlineExperience.

Additionally, NSBA is hosting its first-ever online Equity Symposium February 10. The complimentary virtual event features, among other speakers and sessions, TASB Board of Directors member Jacinto Ramos of Fort Worth ISD and Mexican American School Boards Association Executive Director Jayme Mathias.

For more information, visit nsba.org/ Events/Equity-Symposium H

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Thank local businesses and organizations for supporting Texas public schools. Submit names using the online form. Receive an individual presentation packet for each honoree . tasb.org/standingup • 800.580.8272 “A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”—Buddha texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2021 | Texas Lone Star 27
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Looking Ahead

2021–22 School Year Full of Budget Unknowns

As districts begin planning for the 2021–22 school year, including making preliminary decisions about staffing, pay increases, and budgets, they’re having to do so with many lingering unknowns.

Districts scrambled to make the 2020–21 school year successful by implementing meaningful virtual instruction, creating safe and healthy in-person learning environments, and supporting students and staff through COVID-19 exposures, quarantines, and illness—and all this work required chipping away at already lean budgets.

Unfortunately, the 2021–22 budget forecast isn’t looking any better for districts. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has said sales tax revenues, which are the largest part of the state budget, fell by 4.8 percent in the second half of the 2020 fiscal year, and he’s projecting the current biennium budget to be about $11.5 billion less than originally expected. This would lead to a $4.6-billion deficit ending the 2020–21 school year.

Add to this concern the additional funding districts have had to expend to keep school going during a pandemic, and the budget picture gets more dire. Many districts have been increasing pay for custodians and adding contract custodians to keep up with cleaning needs for virus mitigation, increasing pay for substitute teachers and adding third-party substitute providers to shore up substitute staffing, and spending more for technology and virtual instructional materials to support remote instruction, which have added unplanned strain on this year’s budget. And, while some of those expenses can be reimbursed with federal funds, many cannot.

ADA Concerns

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has extended a “hold harmless” on average daily attendance (ADA) for districts experiencing a reduction in enrollment this year, which preserves funding at an average trend of the

Districts are doing their best to find missing students and get them reengaged, but this has been especially challenging in a pandemic environment and requires additional human and financial resources that continue to strain current-year budgets.

“ADA is down because parents are afraid, and there is a subset of parents that haven’t reengaged with public education yet,” said TASBO Executive Director Tracy Ginsburg. “The number of our students is down, but districts have a responsibility to go find them. It’s not a dollars-and-cents thing; it’s an education thing. We don’t want them to come back in two years and be two years behind. Those programs and what districts are asking staff to do is expensive from a human standpoint and from a monetary standpoint.

“The comptroller has to start estimating revenue for the coming two years, and he’s starting from a base that is lower by about $4.6 billion,” said Amanda Brownson, associate executive director of Policy and Research at the Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO). “When the economy starts growing again, it’s growing from a lower base, so it’s really three years of funding the Legislature is going to have to solve.”

attendance level for the prior three years even if current ADA has declined.

However, this hold harmless currently only applies to the first three six-week periods—the first 18 weeks of school. Barring an extension of the hold harmless, funding would revert to actual ADA for the remaining six-week periods, which could mean a significant reduction in the current-year budget—in the multi-milliondollar range—for many districts.

“Hopefully, there won’t be a lot of students that are lost,” she added. “But there aren’t a lot of rocks to look under.”

Districts are hoping for an extension of the hold harmless but preparing for budget cuts in the remainder of this school year if it’s not.

“There are some real reasons to worry,” said Brownson. “On the other side, there’s still hope the federal government will come through with another stimulus package and provide some avoidance of the cuts we’re all worried about. But it’s too soon to know.”

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HR Files
“The number of our students is down, but districts have a responsibility to go find them. It’s not a dollars-and-cents thing; it’s an education thing.”

Next Budget Year Worries

As districts begin planning for next year’s budget, many administrators are having flashbacks to 2011, when districts across the state were forced to make deep budget cuts due to legislators reducing state funding for public schools by $5.4 billion.

Back then, districts used all means available to them to reduce costs, even going as far as to cut staff through a reduction in force, or RIF. Many of the other methods districts used for cost cutting, such as increasing class sizes and cutting custodial services, aren’t available in a pandemic, so districts will have to look harder for cost savings opportunities.

“Everything we’ve spent years working on to become efficient doesn’t make sense in a pandemic,” Ginsburg said. “We’ve always worked on set points in the classroom, as far as heating and cooling, but districts are running the air-conditioning longer to keep fresh air moving.

“We’re triple-cleaning things, so our custodial costs have gone up. We’re not filling our buses three to a seat anymore. Parents are reluctant to put their students on a school bus, but we’re keeping those routes going because we want them to be accessible,” Ginsburg added.

In addition to increased operational costs, districts are planning to sustain programs that aren’t as active during a pandemic but that may be critical to student engagement and mental health, such as extracurricular activities. And districts are planning to expand services that may not have been as active before, such as adding counselors and social workers, to support student and family needs during the pandemic.

Keeping in mind that there will be increased expenses in some areas, districts will need to get creative when looking for places to cut.

“Look for small things to do to maintain stability in a dis-

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trict,” Brownson said. “Start implementing the less draconian cuts to weather the storm coming in the next session. Districts should look at the size of their savings and how well-positioned they are to weather the storm.”

And don’t expect huge cost savings, Ginsburg cautioned. “Your gains will be in small bites, not large chunks.”

Cost-saving Possibilities

Most districts are hoping to avoid the major cuts that happened in 2011, so conversations should start now to help identify possible reductions that can achieve cost savings without being painful.

Personnel costs represent between 80 and 85 percent of most districts’ budgets, so people expenses are a logical first place to look. Following are some strategies to consider as part of initial discussions:

Evaluate current staffing levels and practices. Board members should understand current staffing allocations and practices before considering adjustments. Consider the following steps to gain a better understanding:

• Review current staffing practices: Do you have staffing matrices to

guide campus staffing allocations? Evaluate staff workload and equity among district programs and departments.

• Determine current staffing levels: Are your current staffing allocations being used as intended and followed closely?

• Compare staffing levels to external benchmarks: How does the district’s current staffing levels compare to peer districts of similar size and demographics? Districts with similar student demographics will have similar programs. Examining staffing levels at peer districts can provide feedback as to what staffing levels are truly needed to support district programs. Comparison of staffing levels to association standards, where applicable, can also provide guidance.

• Review hiring practices: While it’s usually common practice to post and fill vacancies as they occur, districts should begin looking closely at vacancies to determine if the position can be adjusted, absorbed, or cut entirely. Cutting positions

while vacant is a significantly less painful way to reduce full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.

Research options for reducing staffing needs. If staffing cuts are likely or possible to reduce the district budget, consider how each option might look in your district:

• Combine job duties: Are there positions that can be consolidated if efficiencies in work performance can be applied?

• Increase class sizes: Can class sizes be increased to reduce the number of teacher FTEs needed? Of course, an option like this might be only available for teachers instructing virtual students or if social distancing is no longer necessary.

• Evaluate workload: Can workload for some positions (e.g., speechlanguage pathologists, custodians) be increased to achieve efficiencies and lessen the need for FTEs? This option would require a deep dive into caseloads and workloads to determine what’s feasible without overextending staff or reducing

30 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org
tasb.org/specialeducation
TASB Special Education Solutions

Experience Training for Your HR Needs

Virtual training available; topics include:

• Hiring and employment

• Pay administration

• Wage and hour rules

• Leave and administration

• Records management

services to students.

• Modify instructional arrangements: Can current instructional arrangements or programs be modified to improve efficiency? Changing the master schedule may allow secondary campuses to provide the same courses with fewer teachers. It also may be possible to revise course offerings based on further evaluation of student course requests. Consider restructuring or consolidating courses when possible.

Analyze current budget and projected financial outlook. The CFO and superintendent should be communicating regularly with the board about budget projections for next year and how they are changing over time. Budget numbers will be less stable than ever before, so administrators may be bringing forward numbers and projections that change more frequently than board members are accustomed to experiencing. But remember, mutual trust between the board and administration is necessary to help overcome these funding challenges together.

Having a clear understanding of budget projections for 2021–22 will help guide discussions and planning efforts, because knowing budget constraints will help you determine how deep your cuts may need to be.

Review board policy addressing termination of staff. While there is no need to use this board policy now, being aware of what your policy says and

ensuring the policy language reflects the district’s intent is important.

• Policy CEA (Legal): Defines the conditions that must be met to declare financial exigency.

• Policy DFFA (Local): Provides guidance when a reduction in force due to a financial exigency is needed.

• Policy DFFB (Local): Provides guidance when a reduction in force due to a program change is needed.

• Series DFAA, DFAB, DFAB, and DFBB: Provides guidance on termination of employment.

Discuss methods for reducing staff. Before action is taken to reduce staff, options should be discussed so everyone is aware of what actions might need to be taken heading into the next school year.

• Implement a hiring freeze and absorb positions through attrition.

• Reduce at-will positions.

• Reduce probationary contract and non-chapter 21 contract positions at the end of the school year.

• Offer exit incentives.

Trustee Next Steps

While there are still many unknowns, there are a few things board members can do to support their district through the process of budgeting for reduced funding: Get involved in legislative advocacy. Board members should “stay awake during the legislative session and help support legislative changes,” said Ginsburg.

“In a world that’s becoming increasingly challenging and chaotic, maintaining

stable funding is even more important,” added Brownson. By advocating to protect district funding, trustees can use their voices for positive change.

Support new board members. This is a particularly difficult year to be a new trustee, so experienced trustees can help support new board members as they navigate budget season together.

Support new administrators. There’s been significant turnover at the top administrative levels of districts, as well, which is tough given that people are learning about their new district—and possibly new roles—in the middle of a crisis. Providing support with transition of administrators is critical to maintain stability and stay focused on the same goals.

Be prepared to have some disappointments. When budgets are tight, districts may need to postpone some short-term goals, so trustees should be prepared to give some things up in the next fiscal year and beyond. “We won’t do the facility repair and replacement things we need this year,” Ginsburg said. “Those activities will be pushed down the road.”

Be open to creative ideas. If included in the budget process, innovative ideas for reducing expenses that are very different from the norm may be brought forward by principals and other campus leaders. Be open to considering creative options for budget reductions, even if it’s a far cry from what the district has considered in the past.H

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Supervisory skills hrservices.tasb.org • 800.580.7782
Amy Campbell is division director of TASB HR Services.

An Enlightening Visit

Leadership TASB Class Tours Navarro, Learns from Communications Experts During Second Session

Editor’s note: Leadership TASB is a unique board development program designed to take experienced board members to a new level of service and leadership by exposing them to a variety of issues, people, activities, and locations during a year-long program. Leadership TASB columns, written by class members, track the progress and share the experiences of each year’s class throughout the year.

The Leadership TASB Class of 2021 met November 12-14, 2020, in San Marcos for the class’s second action-packed session. First, the 27-member class, composed of trustees from all over the state, listened to globally renowned speaker Debra Fine discuss her best-selling book, The Fine Art of Small Talk. Communicating with our communities is one of the key responsibilities of school boards, and Fine challenged us to take the risk of starting conversations to establish rapport with staff, parents, and citizens.

Fine reminded us that people appreciate a conversation in which they feel “acknowledged, heard, and significant.” It is important that trustees establish strong relationships with community members, as this could be critical when explaining challenges their districts are facing, advertising new programs to serve students, and gathering support prior to election season.

Navarro ISD Tour

The class visited Navarro ISD, a highgrowth, 2,000-student district in the heart

of the community of Geronimo, 17 miles south of San Marcos. Navarro ISD is 45 percent minority students, with 36 percent of students economically disadvantaged.

Superintendent Wendi Russell provided a guided tour of her schools and showed us several of the district’s safety protocols to combat COVID-19. The Leadership TASB class enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the district’s staff while Russell discussed district expansion plans. Navarro ISD is expected to double its student population within five years.

The Governance Core

The class also discussed the first two

chapters of The Governance Core, a book by Davis Campbell and Michael Fullan that explores the difference between governance and management of a school district and the importance of the role of school boards.

The authors put in simple terms those differences by describing “governance as steering while managing as rowing.” It is important that trustees have an effective governance mindset, based on systems thinking, strategic focus, deep learning, and manner (civic behavior). The book encourages trustees to think strategically, setting short- and long-term goals while allowing the district staff to run the day-to-day operations, and to trust the superintendent’s leadership and ability to get the job done.

The authors state that it is critical that the board and the superintendent have a common moral imperative based on a commitment to the learning of all students. Additionally, although effective governance makes a significant difference in the long-term success of quality education programs, governance needs to include effective oversight. Communities expect results from the tax dollar investment they make on their schools, and school boards are accountable to their communities. Effective governance also requires trustees to be informed, engaged, and focused on student achievement.

32 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org
News & Events
LEADERSHIP TASB Leadership TASB class member David Kaminski of Waller ISD leads a group discussion for onsite attendees and remote participants during the class’s November 2020 session in San Marcos. Photo by TASB Media Services

Closing the Opportunity Gap

Guest speaker Kori Hamilton Biagas, founder of Just Educators and communication program manager of SRI Education at SRI International, addressed the sensitive topics of injustice, inequity, bias, and privilege. The class discussed with Biagas different ways that school boards could assist districts to better serve minority students and students in poverty.

Closing the opportunity gap is key to serving those students, as many programs and services needed are offered, but some students do not have the support at home or ability to take advantage of those programs.

Learning from Classmates

Throughout the session, class members heard presentations from classmates about their respective districts. Fred

Campos of Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, for example, explained his district’s trustee training program, which recruits potential school board members from the community. These community members learn about the strategic plan and operations of the district and attend several board meetings as part of their training. When a seat opens up, the district has well-prepared candidates ready to fill the spot.

If you have not applied to Leadership TASB, I would like to encourage you to do so. It is great to learn from expert speakers and fellow trustees, compare successes and challenges with other districts, and do so in a relaxed environment. I can’t wait for the upcoming session.H

Jorge Rodriguez, a Grapevine-Colleyville ISD trustee, is a member of the Leadership TASB Class of 2021.

Ready for tax season?

As tax time draws near, you will be challenged with the task of collecting and investing state funding and local property tax dollars. The Lone Star Investment Pool’s State and Local Direct Deposit Program allows you to:

• Streamline the tax collection process

• Invest funds immediately

• Eliminate collateral requirements imposed by banks

• Set up easily with your county appraisal district

• Avoid unnecessary faxing through use of online platform

We can give you the support you need. 800.558.8875

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

• Cotulla ISD. Superintendent. Application deadline: February 2.

• Taft ISD. Superintendent. Application deadline: March 3.

• United ISD. Superintendent. Application deadline: March 11.

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

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It is important that trustees establish strong relationships with community members, as this could be critical when explaining challenges their districts are facing.
Distributed by First Public is a subsidiary of
customer.service@firstpublic.com firstpublic.com/lonestar

TASB Executive Director To Retire on August 31

TASB Executive Director James B. Crow announced recently plans to retire as TASB executive director, effective August 31.

Crow, who has served more than 25 years in the position, joined the Association staff in 1981, working in governmental relations and other positions until his appointment to the top post in 1995. Crow shared his retirement announcement in a December 2020 e-mail to TASB members.

The TASB Board of Directors has engaged executive search firm Korn Ferry to conduct a national search, which began in January. A special committee of the TASB Board of Directors was appointed to coordinate the search.H

Good News (from page 7)

• Provide dual credit at no cost to students

• Offer rigorous instruction and accelerated courses

• Provide academic and social support services to help students succeed

• Provide students with highly personalized attention

• Increase college readiness

• Partner with Texas institutions of higher education to reduce barriers to college access

Advocacy (from page 5)

• Visit with your local chamber of commerce, rotary and exchange clubs, and PTO/PTA groups. Fill them in. How can we expect our community to understand the issues if we do not inform them? Remember, we were not always trustees, and until we had the opportunity to serve and learn, we did not always understand the challenges facing public education.

Share Your Stories

Each of us is prepared to advocate on big issues facing us, such as delaying the resumption of STAAR testing, keeping the promises made in the new school finance system, and working for higher teacher pay, just to name a few. Do not let your concerns be your best kept secret. We cannot assume everyone is up to speed on these issues unless we tell our story as often as we can. Although the future remains uncertain as the session gets under way, we have certainly learned this past year that by working together we can overcome any challenge. We can, and must, continue to advocate on behalf of those too young to advocate for themselves.H

Jim Rice, a Fort Bend ISD trustee, is 2020-21 president of TASB.

SAVE THE DATE!

September 24–26, 2021

• Dallas

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

For more information, visit https:// tea.texas.gov/academics/college-careerand-military-prep/early-college-highschool-echs.

How’s that for starters? Let’s see if we can fill these pages with similar stories of achievement and innovation as we move into the new year. Feel free to share your success stories with us by e-mailing roger. white@tasb.org

Here’s to a bright, successful 2021.H

34 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org
The largest convening of Texas public education policymakers
#tasatasb tasb.org
Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star.

BuyBoard® Rebates Over $10 Million to Members

The Local Government Purchasing Cooperative, also known as BuyBoard®, recently announced its largest rebate to date. A total of almost $10.5 million is being dispersed to 1,091 Cooperative members, including public schools, colleges and universities, and local governmental entities across Texas.

“The volume and purchasing power of BuyBoard creates economies of scale that no one public school, municipality, county, and other local government agency could achieve on its own,” said Marta Alvarez, director of purchasing and contract management for the City of Lubbock and chair of the Cooperative's Board of Trustees.

BuyBoard provides members strength in numbers, helping them pool their collective purchasing power on products, equipment, and services they use every day. Members may also be able to save time and resources that might have otherwise been spent preparing and conducting individual, formal RFP processes.

“The purchasing power of the Cooperative drives competitive prices and reduces

administrative costs. It allows us to be efficient and effective in the procurement processes and as a result, provides the best value to the taxpayer,” said Alvarez.

Texas Cooperative membership has reached an all-time high of more than 3,099 governmental entities across the state.

“The continued growth in the Cooperative is a testament to the value and benefit that members receive by using BuyBoard,” said Brian Bolinger, associate executive director of Business Services for TASB, which serves as administrator for the Cooperative. “We’re extremely proud to be giving back to members like this. We’re proud to support and serve local government and public schools.”

The Cooperative has rebated nearly $70 million to eligible members since 2006. Each member’s annual purchasing activity is used to calculate the amount of their rebate.

Visit BuyBoard’s rebate web page (buyboard.com/texas/about-us/rebates. aspx) for more information on the rebate program.H

Dunne-Oldfield Selected As TASB Comm AED

Tiffany Dunne-Oldfield, former chief communications and innovation officer for Spring ISD, has been hired as TASB’s new associate executive director for Communications and Public Relations.

At Spring ISD, Dunne-Oldfield oversaw a staff of more than 50 employees in the areas of public relations, media relations, internal and external communications, and family and community engagement. Prior to her tenure at Spring ISD, she served as chief communications officer for Houston ISD.

A veteran corporate communications executive, Dunne-Oldfield previously served as director of Communications and Corporate Responsibility at BBVA Compass, where she oversaw the bank’s communications and public relations functions for its US operations during five acquisitions and the organization’s rebranding. She also established the BBVA Compass Foundation and the organization’s new corporate responsibility practices.

Additionally, she was responsible for internal communications, executive messaging, crisis management, reputation management, and corporate events and protocol.

Dunne-Oldfield, who has a master’s degree from Texas A&M University in educational human resource development, joined the TASB staff January 25. She succeeds longtime Associate Executive Director Karen Strong, who retired in fall 2020.H

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To order, call 800.580.8272, extension 3613, or visit store.tasb.org. Legal Services The School Official’s Guide to the Texas Open Meetings Act 16th EDITION This informative desk reference includes a comprehensive explanation of the OMA and how it applies to school districts. Updated with changes from the 86th Legislative Session
36 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org Follow us on Instagram @tasbphotos Find us on Facebook Texas Association of School Boards TASB Risk Management Fund TASB HR Services Follow us on Twitter @tasbnews @tasbrmf TASB Risk Management Fund @tasbhrs TASB HR Services @tasblegal TASB Legal Services
“Education is the movement from darkness to light.”
—Allan Bloom

Home Learning Resources

TEA Announces Pre-K Learning Solution To Support Texas Schools

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently announced the next set of instructional materials—a full suite of resources and tools for prekindergarten— that will be made available to school systems through the Texas Home Learning 3.0 (THL 3.0) initiative. Like other THL 3.0 offerings, these instructional materials are optional, customized for Texas, and aligned to Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)—the state standards for what students should know and be able to do.

TEA has partnered with Teaching Strategies, whose research-based curriculum, assessment, professional development, and family engagement resources reach over 5 million children in the nation, to develop and deliver this next set of resources, including TEKS-aligned lessons and unit plans.

Rigorous Review

Before release, all THL 3.0 instructional materials undergo a rigorous review that includes Texas teacher feedback to confirm alignment with TEKS and quality standards. Additional THL 3.0 instructional materials for other subjects and grade levels will be announced over the coming weeks.

“These new tools will help improve our schools’ ability to support our youngest learners, whether they are coming to school in person or attending remotely.”

Additional Resources

Teaching Strategies’ Prekindergarten Learning Solution for Texas program includes several resources to provide support for teachers, students, and parents, including:

• Access to digital curricula aligned to Texas prekindergarten guidelines

• Resources to engage children and families in the classroom or at home with developmentally appropriate digital resources

challenge seriously, and we are proud to play a role in offering support to educators and families across the state,” said John Olsen, CEO of Teaching Strategies. “The state’s innovative initiative gives educators the best tools and professional learning to be able to navigate instruction across a variety of learning environments and ensure that families are supported along the way.”

THL 3.0 is a comprehensive initiative to support school systems, teachers, parents, and students during the public health crisis and beyond with highquality instructional materials, technology solutions, and professional development resources.

“Thanks to Governor Abbott, in the past several years, Texas has made a massive commitment to expanding access to quality prekindergarten and the development of suitable instructional materials for our youngest students,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.

• Materials designed to support teachers and families for all types of learners, including English and dual-language learners, advanced learners, and students with disabilities

“The global pandemic has only elevated the importance of high-quality early learning as both a critical foundation for a child’s lifelong success and a lever for economic mobility. Texas has taken this

TEA previously announced that it will offer all Texas school systems a worldclass Learning Management System from PowerSchool’s Schoology for two years at no cost. Nearly 400 Texas school systems have already signed up, with another 200 currently engaging with the Schoology team.

For more information on Texas Home Learning 3.0, visit https://tea.texas.gov/texas-schools/health-safety-discipline/covid/covid-19-support-texashome-learning H

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“These new tools will help improve our schools’ ability to support our youngest learners, whether they are coming to school in person or attending remotely.”

Bulletin Board

TEA Pauses A-F Ratings for 2020-21

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced in December that A-F ratings would be paused for the 2020-21 school year due to the ongoing disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test will proceed for the 2020-21 school year in order to provide information about individual student learning. For those schools that incorporate STAAR results into teacher evaluations, TEA is providing flexibility to allow them to remove that component this school year.

Ensuring that STAAR is made available has been recognized as vital by education leaders around the state; however, STAAR will not be used for accountability purposes this school year.

“The last nine months have been some of the most disruptive of our lives. The challenges have been especially pronounced for our parents, teachers, and students,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “We continue to prioritize the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff in our schools this year while working to ensure students grow academically.”

Over $100,000 Awarded to NISD

The Northwest ISD Education Foundation (NEF) in December presented more than $60,000 in teaching grants and $45,000 in funds to be split among the district’s campuses.

The foundation surprised teachers with the grants during its annual Five Days of Giving campaign just before the winter break. The foundation aligned with COVID-19 health and safety protocols, stretching the award presentations from one day to five and using times when students were not present on campus, according to a news release from Northwest ISD.

NSBA Names Chief Administrative Officer

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) recently announced the appointment of Eileen Frazier as the organization’s new chief administrative officer (CAO). Frazier will be charged with aligning and developing NSBA’s key organizational functions necessary to execute the association’s transformation and will oversee the organization’s finances, board operations, talent management and engagement, information technology, and facilities.

Frazier’s appointment as CAO completes NSBA’s reconfigured executive team, which includes newly appointed Chief Transformation Officer Verjeana McCotter-Jacobs, Chief Advocacy Officer Chip Slaven, and Chief Legal Officer Francisco Negron.

“Although our grant presentations looked a little different this holiday season, celebrating the success of our educators remains a priority,” said NEF Executive Director Jennifer Burton. “Spreading holiday cheer throughout the district during NEF’s Week of Giving allowed NEF Board members and teaching grant sponsors to personally thank our teachers and staff for all their hard work and dedication during a challenging year.”

Caudill Award Winners Honored

Allen ISD, Georgetown ISD, Northwest ISD, and Richardson ISD were recently selected to receive the Caudill Award, the highest honor in the annual Exhibit of School Architecture competition facilitated by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and TASB for projects that exemplify excellence in planning and design of the learning environment.

The winning districts were honored during the 2021 TASA Midwinter Conference January 25-27.

The winning projects received at least four stars from six areas of distinction, making them eligible for the prestigious Caudill Award. The award is named after Texas architect William Wayne Caudill (1914–1983), whose progressive concepts continue to influence school design.

If you have a short news item you would like to submit to Bulletin Board, e-mail roger.white@tasb.org.

38 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org

Additional

Board

Development

TASB has expanded online resources and training to assist school board members. Check out the possibilities!

Thinking about service on your local school board?

Learn the difference between board and staff responsibilities, how to campaign constructively, and where to find information about being a candidate.

Preparing to Serve: A FREE Webinar for School Board Candidates

Dates and times:

• Tuesday, February 9, 2021, noon – 1 p.m.

• Tuesday, August 10, 2021, noon –1 p.m.

Visit tasb.org/board-candidates for more information, including:

• 2021 Guide for School Board Candidates

and

TASB’s XG Board Development

If your board were governing well, what would that look like?

Learn how to empower your boards to govern successfully and positively affect student success.

tasb.org/board-dev

Learn and earn credit from the comfort of your home
For information on any of these offerings: 800.580.8272, ext. 2453 • board.dev@tasb.org
online training
tasb.org/XG • #XGTASB • #BoardDevTASB resources
for trustees
Candidate Resources and Webinars
• Links to state election resources
tasb.org/xg
NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID AUSTIN TEXAS PERMIT NO 1422 Texas Association of School Boards P.O. Box 400 Austin, Texas 78767-0400 SAVE THE DATE! SAN ANTONIO June 16–19, 2021 FORT WORTH June 23–26, 2021 We hope to be back in person and better than ever this year, so Visit tasb.org/sli for the most up-to-date SLI information. CALL FOR PROGRAMS Do you have a pertinent message, program, or initiative from your home district you would like to share with other trustees and district leaders across Texas? If so, we want to hear about it! Submit your session ideas by emailing kathy.dundee@tasb.org.
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