June 2021

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A STRONG SHOWING OF SUPPORT Voters Largely ‘Thumbs Up’ on School Bond Elections, But Information Campaigns, Transparency Still Vital New Elementary School Texas Lone Star A Publication of the Texas Association of School Boards | Volume 39, Number 5 | June 2021 Also in This Edition: Foundations of Involvement Civil Rights Activist Inspired Son’s School Board Service Breaking Down Barriers Two Texas Districts Honored Nationally for Equity Efforts

Featured Event

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

Jesus Amaya, Los Fresnos CISD, Region 1A

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

Dawn Champagne, Katy ISD, Region 4E

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

Sylvia Sanchez Garza, South Texas ISD, Region 1B

Linda Gooch, Sunnyvale ISD, Region 10B

Mary Jane Hetrick, Dripping Springs ISD, Region 13B

Tony Hopkins, Friendswood ISD, Region 4C

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

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

Yasmin Wagner, Austin ISD, Region 13A

Mildred Watkins, La Vega ISD, Region 12

Greg Welch, Clyde CISD, Region 14

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

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 | June 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org Calendar
20D
TASB SUMMER LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE SAN ANTONIO JUNE 16-19 FORT WORTH JUNE 23-26 JUNE 1 • TASB Facility Services Asbestos Designated Person Training, Amarillo 2 • TASB Facility Services Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Training, Amarillo 3 • TASB Facility Services Compliance Conundrums Training, Amarillo 8 • TASB “Quick Tips for New School Board Members” Webinar 9 • TASB Risk Fund “Simple Ways to Optimize Emergency Operations Plans with Tabletop Exercises” Webinar 9-10 • TASB HR Services “Understanding Compensation in Schools” Virtual Event 10 • TASB “Getting Started as a Board Officer” Webinar 15 • TASB Advocacy Agenda Resolutions Deadline • Outstanding School Board Award Nominations Deadline 16-17 • TASB HR Services “Administering Pay Plans” Virtual Event 16-19 • TASB Summer Leadership Institute, San Antonio 19 • TASB Post-Legislative Conference, San Antonio 22-25 • State Board of Education Meetings, Austin 23-26 • TASB Summer Leadership Institute, Fort Worth 24-25 • TASB Virtual Summer Leadership Institute 26 • TASB Post-Legislative Conference, Fort Worth JULY 1 • Leadership TASB Program Application Deadline 9 • 2021 Council of School Attorneys Post-Legislative Virtual Seminar 13 • TASB Facility Services Asbestos Designated Person Training, Salado 14 • TASB Facility Services Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Training, Salado 15 • TASB Facility Services Compliance Conundrums Training, Salado 21 • TASB “What Board Members Need to Know about Sexual Abuse, Sex Trafficking, and Other Maltreatment of Children” Webinar 22-23 • State Board for Educator Certification Work Session, Austin 30 • 2021 TASB/TACCA Post-Legislative Seminar for Community Colleges, Austin

Features

Despite challenges posed by the pandemic and possible voter confusion resulting from a 2019 Texas law, voter support for school bond elections remains strong.

Cover Design by Kristie Robles

12 Foundations of Involvement

TASB 2020-21 President-Elect Ted Beard and his father reflect on how the elder Beard’s passionate involvement in the civil rights movement inspired his son’s advocacy.

16 Breaking Down Barriers

Two Texas districts—Ysleta ISD and Longview ISD—were recognized recently for their commitment to equity as winners in the 27th annual Magna Awards program.

Departments

2 Calendar

20 Legal News

24 Capitol Watch

26 HR Files

Columns

5

From the Top

7 Editor’s Footnote

38 A Final Note

Web Watch

Summer Leadership Institute and the TASB Post-Legislative Conference will be in person AND virtual this year. Visit tasb.org/sli21 to find out how you can attend.

For more information about tasb.org and our related sites, contact TASB Online Communications at 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 or visit tasb.org/help/index.aspx.

Texas Lone Star • Volume 39, Number 5

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

Roger White • Managing Editor

Melissa Locke Roberts • Assistant Editor Shu-in Powell • Graphic Designer Patrick Morris, Virginia Hernandez • Photographers Jackie Johnson • 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 emailed to communications@tasb.org or addressed to the Managing Editor, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

Texas Lone Star does not guarantee publication of unsolicited manuscripts.

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

texaslonestaronline.org | June 2021 | Texas Lone Star 3
us:
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30 News & Events Contents | June 2021
8 A Strong Showing of Support

TASB SMART Solutions™

The new student documentation software by Special Education Solutions will offer more userfriendly features with the same compliant approach.

Learn more at tasb.org/smart-demo.

SLI Returns!

TASB Training Favorite Is In-Person Once Again

June is here and with it at long last an opportunity for us to attend the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) in either San Antonio or Fort Worth—in person! It seems ages ago that we attended SLI in its host cities, and when you think about it, our most recent opportunity was actually in June 2019. So it will be two years since most of us attended in person.

SLI is one of my favorite events for taking classes, catching up with old friends, meeting new friends, and getting ready for the start of summer. For those of you who joined your school board in 2020 or were just elected, I think you, too, will find this a great opportunity to meet new friends and compare notes with trustees from other school districts.

Deep-Dive Learning

This year, SLI returns to its traditional host cities with the same high-quality, deep-dive learning so greatly appreciated by attendees. San Antonio will host SLI June 16-19 at the Marriott Rivercenter, while Fort Worth will host SLI June 23-26 at the Fort Worth Omni Hotel.

In-person attendance is limited due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, so be sure to visit tasb.org/services/board-development-services/events/summer-leadership-(sli).aspx to find out more.

For those who cannot attend in person, a virtual version of SLI will be held June 24-25, which will include access to live streaming general sessions with keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and online networking.

Also, because it is a legislative year, TASB Post-Legislative Conferences will be held in addition to each of the SLI events held in San Antonio and Fort Worth.

During these highly informative conferences, TASB staff will review the important bills passed during this year’s legislative session, including special emphasis on what is required of school districts. Attendees will learn about major legislation affecting public education, including:

• School finance, taxation, and fiscal accountability

• School choice and charters

• Elections

• District governance and operations

• Salary and benefits changes and implementation

• Student services and special education

• And much more

ties, in Austin, and in Washington, DC.

Attending SLI with your entire board and superintendent is often hard to do because of everyone’s different schedules, but it is a real treat if you get the opportunity to do so. It is a great way to get together and learn—and enjoy entertainment and networking opportunities— before personal summer vacations get under way in July.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 safety precautions, in-person attendance at SLI this year has been determined by lottery. District names were drawn from the lottery in May to determine which members could attend in person. Remember, however, that if you and your district

For more information about TASB Post-Legislative Conferences, visit tasb. org/legislative/events/post-legislative-conference.aspx.

A Unique Fraternity

One thing you will find when attending SLI is that you are part of a unique fraternity of men and women who have dedicated themselves to a common goal of becoming better trustees through continuing education and putting their education to work in the boardroom and in advocating for our students in our own communi-

were not selected in the random lottery, you can still attend virtual SLI.

I hope each of you newly elected trustees can attend SLI in either San Antonio or Fort Worth—or, as mentioned, if you can’t attend in person, check out the virtual SLI offered June 24-25. Regardless, both cities have a lot to offer and remind us as we travel to them just how big the great state of Texas really is.

Have a great summer, everyone!H

texaslonestaronline.org | June 2021 | Texas Lone Star 5 From the Top
Jim
a Fort Bend ISD trustee, is 2020-21 president of TASB.
You are part of a unique fraternity of men and women who have dedicated themselves to a common goal of becoming better trustees through continuing education and putting their education to work in the boardroom and in advocating for our students.

Hope is now on the horizon

It’s been a remarkable year complete with virtual classrooms and a statewide winter freeze. Texas schools can trust the TASB Risk Management Fund to help manage risks whether times are tough or terrific.

That’s the value of membership.
tasbrmf.org 800.482.7276
TASB RISK FUND

A New Day Dawning

Focus on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Offers Opportunities for a Fairer Future

Diversity. Equity. Inclusion.

You may have heard these words recently with regard to moving forward in a postpandemic corporate world, with regard to challenging the status quo in providing opportunities for all our citizens—and with regard to ensuring equal access to academic achievement in education.

But what do these words really mean? In strictly pedagogical terms:

• Diversity: the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, cultures, etc.

• Equity: the quality of being fair and impartial. An important difference between equity and equality is that equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity

recognizes that each person has different circumstances and allocates resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.

• Inclusion: providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.

Taking Action

In practice, achieving the true goals that these terms spell out means taking a hard look at institutional customs and policy and at antiquated cultural norms— and then taking action to level the playing field for all.

And action is being taken. Throughout this edition of Texas Lone Star, you’ll read examples of meaningful steps being taken in the pursuit of these ideals:

• Two Texas school districts— Longview ISD and Ysleta ISD— were recently recognized as national Magna Award winners for their innovative efforts to advance equity and reduce barriers for underserved students. See page 16.

• On page 12, see how TASB 2020-21 President-Elect Ted Beard’s career of involvement and advocacy was inspired by his father’s passion for civil rights and equality for all.

• Our HR Files department article, on page 26, discusses how the level of diversity among school staff is considered one of the most important factors in the achievement and success of all students.

• On page 30, read how the recent five-state DEI Virtual Conference featured a wide range of thoughtful sessions about embracing differences and promoting inclusivity in the workplace and the community. A featured speaker at the conference was Cecilia Chavez, TASB’s division director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

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Editor’s Footnote
Public Ed! Copyright 2021 TASB by White & Severns Remember to VOTE on the Rames ISD School Bond! Rames, Texas! Welc e to ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ ★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ Look, Miss Moneypenny, it’s a bond... Don’t say it! RAMES BOND. Ha!
think, we just passed mile marker 007...
New Day
page 25.)
To
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In practice, achieving the true goals that these terms spell out means taking a hard look at institutional customs and policy and at antiquated cultural norms—and then taking action to level the playing field for all.

A STRONG SHOWING OF SUPPORT

Voters Largely ‘Thumbs Up’ on School Bond Elections, But Information Campaigns, Transparency Still Vital

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New Elementary School

Despite economic and logistics challenges posed by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and possible voter confusion resulting from a 2019 Texas law requiring districts to separate bond proposals into different ballot items, voter support for school bond elections remains strong—if results from the most recent May election and last November’s election are any indication.

Of the proposed $7+ billion in total school bond funds up for passage in the May election this year, more than $6.4 billion was passed by Texas voters—a proposition approval rate of 82.1 percent (a 92.1 percentage rate of dollars passed). Of the 64 districts seeking bond passage in May, 58 were successful, according to TASB figures.

Although the majority of districts received voter approval for all bond proposals on the ballot, some district voters were split in their support of bonds, while a small percentage rejected bond proposals outright.

Under the 2019 law, voters now have to decide whether to authorize financing for campus construction projects, technology initiatives, and/or extracurricular facilities as separate ballot items. Advocates for the 2019 law argued that giving voters choices on which particular items to support would increase transparency and provide more voter prudency regarding district spending.

Results from the November 2020 election reflected May 2021 results.

“Thirty-seven school districts held school bond elections [on the November 2020 ballot]. Twenty-seven of the districts, or almost three quarters, were successful in passing at least one of their bond measures,” said Dax Gonzalez, TASB division director of Governmental Relations. “Voters approved about $8.34 billion of $9.76 billion of bond proposals, or about 85 percent of total bond dollars up for consideration. The results show less support for bonds to address extracurricular facilities, such as stadiums, natatoriums, and fine arts buildings.”

Gonzalez noted that, due to the parsing of school district initiatives into separate bond proposals, a trend may have developed: that of supporting campus and technology projects and rejecting extracurricular proposals, such as new football stadiums and increased extracurricular funds.

Houston Chronicle reporter Jacob Carpenter agreed.

“Taken together, [the November 2020] ballot counts reveal that voters were more likely to approve financing for campuses and technology than athletics and fine arts—a potential harbinger for future election cycles,” Carpenter wrote in a November 2020 Houston Chronicle article.

“Several districts, including Dallas ISD and Lamar CISD, saw bond proposals totaling nearly $5 billion for campus construction and technology pass, while about $300 million for extracurricular activities failed. Other districts earned majority support for all of their bonds, but each reported lower support for sports and performing arts facilities.”

Drexell Owusu, co-chair of a Dallas citizens bond steering committee, told Carpenter, “I think people were looking for belts and suspenders, not necessarily bells and whistles. I think that’s really an issue the electorate writ large is wrestling with. We recognize schools are important, but we don’t know that we need everything else around that.”

In other words, in today’s tight economy, voters generally approve of campus and technology upgrades but not necessarily new stadiums and extracurricular projects.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a record number of Texans voted in the November 2020 general election. The number of registered voters increased from 15.1 million in 2016 to 16.9 million voters in 2020. Approximately 57 percent of registered Texas voters, which accounted for approximately 9,717,604 people, voted early in the 2020 general election—surpassing previous early voting records. This may have been largely due to the interest spurred by the contentious presidential election and the push for easier voter access due to the pandemic.

Community Engagement a Must

Even though results from the two most recent school bond elections show continued voter support, districts must engage their communities now more than ever, especially given the 2019 Texas law that makes delivering a clear and concise information package to citizens a distinct challenge.

“The new Texas law that requires various bond projects to be broken into multiple ballot propositions can create difficulty in delivering a concise narrative about the bond,” said David J. Hicks, chief information officer for Allen ISD. “With this in mind, it is more vital than ever to actively engage our community members during each step of the long-range planning process. This strategy helps ensure our community members recognize district needs from day one while also developing district supporters during the crucial campaign season.

“During a bond election, a school district must encourage community engagement while also communicating a clear and simple message,” Hicks added. “Our parents are busier than ever and are constantly bombarded with messages on social media and other channels. Cutting through

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that noise with a clear message isn’t always easy, but it is necessary in today’s world.”

In November 2020, Allen ISD was successful in two of its four ballot propositions, totaling $214 million—more than 96 percent of the total amount requested. More than 48,000 voters turned out, approximately 38,000 more than ever voted before in a district election.

Hicks noted that district outreach—and transparency— were key.

“We hosted more than 40 virtual meetings between August and November. We also sent out several mailers through the traditional post office, in addition to countless e-mails and e-newsletters,” Hicks explained. “We printed four-by-four-foot signs and placed several at each campus location to inform residents about the election. We also created pop-up banners and placed them at our football stadium and volleyball gyms. It was an all-out effort to ensure our community was informed about this important vote.”

Hicks noted that all signs and information were informational only, with no language urging citizens to vote one way or another—as required by law.

Community outreach paved the way for success for many districts in the May 2021 election, as well, as evidenced in Liberty Hill ISD.

“The Liberty Hill community came together in a huge way to pass the biggest bond this district has ever seen,” said Liberty Hill ISD Board President Megan Parsons. “We are growing fast and working hard to stay on top of the growth so our students can have the space they need to succeed. There was a lot of collaboration between our superintendent, Steve Snell, our administration, and a long-range planning committee of over 100 staff and community members. Our administrative team did a great job in communicating the district’s needs throughout the community. The best thing about it passing is that our students will be able to reap the reward.”

Voters passed all four of Liberty Hill ISD’s bond propositions on the May ballot, requests that called for approximately $500 million to build four new schools, renovate five existing campuses, improve technology infrastructure, expand transportation facilities, build a new stadium, renovate an existing stadium, and more.

Every Vote Counts

Many districts came away from recent bond elections with a split decision—voters approving some proposals while rejecting others—while a handful of districts, such as Victoria ISD and Waxahachie ISD, saw voters narrowly reject their bond proposals outright.

TASB’s Gonzalez emphasized, especially in these belt-tightening economic times, that district supporters who may be on the fence about getting out and voting for bond proposals need to understand the importance of every single vote.

Discussing the November 2020 bond election results, Gonzalez pointed out how extremely close many outcomes were: “For those who wonder if their votes really matter, the $569-million Midland ISD bond failed by just 26 votes.”

To that end, take note that the last day for local boards of trustees to call a bond for the November 2021 ballot is August 16. The Texas School Public Relations Association is offering an online bond preparation course, set for August 18. For more information, visit tspra.org

For more resources on school bond elections, visit tasb. org/services/legal-services/tasb-school-law-esource.aspx and search for the following PDF files:

• Overview of a School District Bond Issuance

• School District Bond Election Process

• Players in a School District Bond Issuance

The adage is true: Every vote counts.H

Portions of this story excerpted with permission from the Houston Chronicle and Chronicle reporter Jacob Carpenter. Copyright 2020 Houston Chronicle, all rights reserved. Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star.

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New Elementary School

Bonds 101: Questions and Answers

Q: What are bonds? How long does it take to pay them off?

A: Bonds for school projects are very similar to a mortgage on a home. To finance construction projects, the district sells bonds to investors who will be paid principal and interest. Payout is limited by law to 40 years.

Q: How do bonds work?

A: The sale of bonds begins with an election to authorize a specific amount—the maximum the district is allowed to sell without another election. The school district sells them as municipal bonds when funds are needed for capital projects, usually once or twice a year. The interest rate paid is based on the district’s bond rating: the higher the bond rating, the lower the interest rate to sell the bonds. Principal and interest on the bonds are repaid over an extended period of time with funds from the Debt Service tax rate.

Q: How can bond money be used?

A: Proceeds from a bond issue can be used for the construction and renovation of facilities, the acquisition of land, and the purchase of equipment, school buses, or vehicles for security purposes.

Q: Why are bonds used to finance nonfacility items?

A: It is a financial advantage to the district to pay for some capital expenditures such as technology, buses, land, and portable buildings with bond money rather than from the General Fund. First, the cost of the purchases can be spread over the life of the asset rather than coming from a single year’s General Fund. In addition, taxes that are levied for bonded debt are not subject to the same recapture formulas that reduce state funding based on General Fund tax revenues.

The district sells bonds that mature at different times, so bond expenditures for items with a shorter lifespan are paid off before the purchase becomes obsolete.

Q: What is a bond election?

A: A school bond election gives individuals an opportunity to vote on paying for the construction and renovation of school facilities. It is a request to give the elected board of trustees the authority to sell bonds when facilities are needed.

Q: What is the difference between a bond authorization and bond sales?

A: A bond authorization specifies the amount of bonds the district is authorized by the voters to sell. Bond sales may occur over a period of time with the date and amount of each sale determined by the board on an as-needed basis.

Q: If the bond election is successful, does the school district immediately incur the debt?

A: The bonds do not cost the district anything until they are sold. Even though the voters approve the bond issue, there are no costs incurred until the bonds are sold.

Q: If the bonds are approved, is the district obligated to spend the money?

A: No. Voter approval is an authorization for the district to issue bonds. They will be sold in the future only when funds are needed.

Q: Will my district be able to sell its bonds at a favorable rate?

A: Your district’s bonds should receive a high rating due primarily to the guarantee by the Texas Permanent School Fund. Whether the market will be favorable for your district’s bonds depends on both your district’s bond rating and the current interest rates.

Q: What is the difference between the M&O and the Debt Service tax rates?

A: M&O taxes are used for day-to-day operations; to pay for salaries, supplies, utilities, insurance, fuel, etc. Revenue from the Debt Service tax rate can be used only to retire bonds sold for specific purposes: construction, renovations, buses, portable buildings, land, technology, and the cost of issuing bonds.

Q: How will this bond election affect homeowners who are over 65?

A: School district taxes on resident homesteads may be frozen in the year the taxpayer turns 65 years of age and will not increase as a result of a school bond election.

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Reprinted with permission from Katy ISD

OF

FOUNDATIONS INVOLVEMENT

CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST INSPIRED SON’S SCHOOL BOARD SERVICE

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Ted Beard Jr. (at left), father of TASB 2020-21 President-Elect Ted Beard III, has been a lifelong role model of involvement and activism for his son. Photo courtesy of the Beard family

“There’s a time for everything. We have to work hard and stay focused. Things will materialize,” Ted Beard Jr., civil rights activist and father of Longview ISD Trustee Ted Beard III told TASB staff at a recent virtual lunch and learn meeting.

The senior Ted Beard Jr., 92, seems to have a gift for recognizing the right time for things. In 1965, he was compelled to leave his Detroit, Michigan, home with his uncle to go to Selma, Alabama, to participate in one of the three Selma-to-Montgomery marches for voting rights for Black Americans. The marches would begin with the symbolic crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma en route to the state capitol building in Montgomery.

The first attempt, on Sunday, March 7, was brutally halted by local and state police and vigilantes. Beard had seen the televised reports—as had the entire country—of the deadly violence inflicted on 600 protesters attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That day became known as Bloody Sunday.

A second attempted march took place two days later—Tuesday, March 9. Troopers, police, and marchers confronted each other at one end of the bridge. Although eventually the troopers allowed the marchers to pass, protest leader Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. led the marchers back to the local church, obeying a federal injunction while seeking protection from federal court for the march. That night, a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister who had come from Boston, Massachusetts, to march with the second group. Many other clergy and sympathizers from across the country also gathered for the second march.

A third march was then planned for March 21, but this time with protection from President Lyndon Johnson, who federalized the Alabama National Guard to keep the marchers from harm. Beard was compelled to be there for the third march, even though he knew there was a risk of more violence despite the promised protections.

On March 21, 1965, millions watched the third march on television. The march swelled to 2,000 people, with religious leaders and social activists who were repulsed by the violence of the initial march joining in. This time, protestors peacefully crossed the bridge under the protection of the National Guard.

By the time the marchers reached the Alabama State Capitol on March 25, the protest group had grown to more than 25,000 people.

In the interim, President Johnson had addressed the nation, announcing his support for a voting rights bill. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law on August 6.

Keep the Goal in Sight

Voting rights are a cause near and dear to the senior Beard’s heart. He hasn’t missed an election since he was first allowed to vote. “I would advise everyone to participate in voting and vote in each and every election. Your vote does count,” Beard Jr. said.

Beard’s days as an activist didn’t begin with Selma. He earlier participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place August 28, 1963. The march, which culminated with Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, featured such civil rights speakers as Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Of his father’s activism, Ted Beard III said, “He’s quiet about it but also vocal about what’s right and equitable and not looking down on people. I’ve watched his generosity with people in Detroit, including homeless people. He believes you reap what you sow, and if you show genuine kindness to mankind it will come back to you.”

On the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests following the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, rather than being frustrated by the pace of change, Beard Jr. said that real change takes time.

“With the BLM protests, that was the time for that to happen,” Beard Jr. said. “We put forth these efforts, and we just have to be patient and focused and not lose sight of the goal. Don’t give up because there’s a time for everything.”

And after years of being an activist for voting rights and a supporter of education, the younger Beard now holds an elected position as a school board member. That’s full-circle evidence of progress on the causes the elder Beard championed.

“I would never have envisioned that it could happen. But it’s quite an accomplishment,” the elder Beard said. “Some things happen beyond your wildest dreams, and this is one of them. I never thought my son would run for office.”

Looking for Opportunity

Beard Jr., a soft-spoken man with a passion for education, now resides in Texas with his school-board-member son. The elder Beard shared some of the challenges of his life as a young Black man.

Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Beard Jr. decided after high school that he wanted to attend college to become a pharmacist. However, a quota system prevented him from enrolling in the required courses. He attended Tuskegee University for a year—then the school shut down the degree program in which he was enrolled.

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FOUNDATIONS INVOLVEMENT

He decided it was time to move north to Detroit, where some of his relatives had already settled. He attended Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, for a year. He also met his wife, Nathalie (Walker) Beard, and soon they had a son.

Beard Jr. went to Ohio to train as a chiropractor then returned to Detroit and opened a chiropractic office. He had a practice and did well for a few years.

Then he was drafted and served in the Army medical corps during the Korean War. He experienced Texas for the first time when he was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio in 1951. After living in Detroit, he wasn’t thrilled about the treatment he received in the segregated South, including not being served in local restaurants.

When he finished his service and returned from Korea in 1953, he decided to look for a job. Finding work was difficult, but he ended up getting a position at the US Post Office. He also attended the Detroit Institute of Technology (now part of Wayne State University) and earned a degree in business administration. When he graduated, he began to look for work again—this time in a professional capacity in keeping with his degree—and was disappointed to find that doors were still not opening for him.

Beard Jr. became so frustrated by the lack of opportunity that he started to look abroad. He was considering a move to Monrovia, Liberia, because he had a trusted contact there offering him a professional position and the people there spoke English. He was serious enough about relocating to travel to Liberia twice, once with his family, to see what the move would be like.

A Black man traveling around the world at that time did not go unnoticed. He believes all his phone lines were tapped, though he never found out who did the tapping or why. He conjectures that he might have been perceived as a troublemaker. After his first trip to Africa, he went on to Amsterdam before returning to the United States. He says he was followed by someone for the entire trip.

Persistence Pays Off

His persistence in pursuing better work was finally rewarded after his second trip to Liberia. He became a claims representative for Aetna Life Insurance in Detroit and stayed with the company for several years. Getting that position was more significant than he knew at the time. The person who attempted to recruit him to move to Africa ended up fleeing Liberia with nothing but the clothes on his

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Following in his father’s footsteps, Ted Beard III’s involvement and advocacy have been lifelong pursuits. A longtime Longview ISD trustee, Beard currently serves as TASB president-elect. Photo by TASB Media Services
His father’s experiences made Ted Beard a champion for educational equity in Longview, a city with a history of violence associated with integration of schools.

back after a military coup overthrew the government in 1980.

After working for Aetna, Beard Jr. was hired by Detroit Edison as a claims adjuster in the company’s legal department and worked there for years. He also worked for the Wayne County Youth Department (now Wayne County Juvenile Justice) as a counselor and remained there until he retired.

Detroit remained his home, even after 56 years of marriage and his wife’s death. At age 91, he still cooked for himself, drove, shopped, and handled the steps in his home with no problem. In 2019, that came to an end when he fell and injured himself getting out of the shower. He also suffered a stroke and can no longer walk without assistance, so he moved to Texas in 2019 to live with his only child, Ted Beard III.

Choosing an Authentic Path

The elder Beard always had a vision for the future and the way he wanted to live his life. He is a staunch believer in education, as his determined pursuit of his college degree showed.

“My grandparents instilled in my parents the importance of education,” Beard III said. “Both of my parents got college degrees.”

The elder Beard also doesn’t mind taking the road less traveled. He is a longtime vegetarian, which posed a special challenge when he traveled to Selma. Even if an establishment was willing to serve him (frequently telling him to go around to the back of the building), finding food he could eat was a challenge. Often, he just didn’t.

He started a Hatha Yoga practice in 1952, after attending some classes offered locally. Curiosity drove him to give yoga a try, and his interest grew from there.

“Yoga is a means of achieving physical, mental, and spiritual discipline,” he said in a 1962 feature on his practice in the Detroit Institute of Technology newspaper. He credited the deep-breathing exercises he learned in yoga for his rapid recovery following a major operation.

He was an early adopter of electric cars, having purchased one in 2013. That car made the move with him to his son’s home in Longview.

Living his Parents’ Values

Ted Beard III is a true reflection of the values his father passed on. He’s a retired sergeant major in the US Army and a combat veteran who earned

a bronze star for heroic service. He has served on the Longview ISD Board since 1998 and has served in all the executive positions on the board over the years. He’s been a member of the TASB Board of Directors since 2007, currently serving as president-elect of the TASB Board and president of the Risk Management Fund Board. He will take over as president of the TASB Board in September.

His father’s experiences made him a champion for educational equity in Longview, a city with a history of violence associated with integration of schools. Now Longview ISD is one of a handful of Texas school districts that have adopted an equity policy.

“The foundation both my parents laid…is why I continue to advocate for quality, equitable public education,” Beard III said.

“I didn’t realize he would become interested in politics,” the elder Beard said.

“Not politics…advocacy,” the younger Beard corrected.H

Laura Bloemker is a TASB Communications consultant.

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Ever curious and adventurous, the elder Beard began studying yoga in the 1950s and started his own Hatha Yoga practice in 1952. Photo courtesy of Ted Beard family

DOWN BARRIERS

Two Texas Districts Honored Nationally for Equity Efforts

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Dual-language high school students in Ysleta ISD prepare to board a bus to attend a Student Leadership Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Ysleta ISD and Longview ISD were recognized recently for their commitment to equity as first-place winners in the 27th annual Magna Awards program. They are two of 15 winners—three grand-prize and 12 first-place winners—across the nation that received the prestigious honor.

Sponsored by the American School Board Journal, the flagship magazine of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), the Magna Awards honor districts nationwide for programs that advance equity and reduce barriers for underserved students. Winners were selected by an independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators.

A High Bar in Ysleta

In Ysleta ISD, one in every four students is identified as an English Learner (EL). In this far West Texas district, many students cross the border to attend school Monday through Friday and then return to Mexico to reunite with family on the weekends.

Ysleta ISD won the Magna Award in the Over 20,000 Enrollment Category for its powerful Academic Languages Program, which goes far and above the state bilingual instruction requirements for these students. The program has resulted in gains in English proficiency, cultural awareness,

and the development of true bilingualism and biliteracy.

“In the Ysleta Independent School District, more than a quarter of our students come to our schools without knowing how to speak English, but we refuse to be defined by our demographics,” said Superintendent Xavier De La Torre. “It gives me great pride to see our hardworking staff, teachers, and students receive this much-deserved recognition—in spite of the extraordinary challenges we’ve confronted during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the elementary grades, the district runs a 90/10 model with English and Spanish. Beginning in third grade, students use their English language arts to support growth and language proficiency, use Spanish language arts to support Spanish academic language growth, and use social studies standards to support multicultural awareness.

In middle school, students either continue on the English as a Second Language (ESL) path or choose a biliteracy acknowledgment path. In the biliteracy acknowledgment path, the focus is on college readiness. Students can take Advanced Placement (AP) and dual-credit courses. Some of these courses are taught in Spanish, aligned to the Career and Technical program, and even part of the Early College High School programs. Both pathways continue in high school through graduation.

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Photo courtesy of Ysleta ISD
“In the Ysleta Independent School District, more than a quarter of our students come to our schools without knowing how to speak English, but we refuse to be defined by our demographics.”

Students have achieved high levels of success on several data sources that show growth in both academic and language acquisition that exceeds state averages. Their performance on state assessment programs for content area knowledge and skills (STAAR) and social and academic language acquisition (TELPAS) support this claim. Recent results show that Ysleta ELs had higher passing rates (70 percent) in all tested content areas in all grade levels than all Texas ELs (63 percent).

“We were excited to receive this recognition. We have had to adjust our dual-language program to meet the specific needs of our students, as well as state and federal accountability, and still be innovative to provide a college, career-ready future on a global scale,” said Louisa Aguirre-Baeza, the district’s director of Academic Language Programs Department. “Finding the right balance is always a challenge. Our teachers work tirelessly to support

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“Montessori at Longview ISD is different from the typical Montessori school because we are within a public school setting. We serve a diverse population, both racially and economically disadvantaged, free of charge.”
Longview ISD Teacher Leslie Dickerson shows students how to use a nature observation kit in the school science lab. Photo courtesy of Longview ISD

language proficiency, and our students are determined to push through and succeed. We are just so proud that someone is recognizing the efforts of the entire Ysleta community. It is well deserved!”

Ensuring Equity in Longview

After the lifting of a 1970 federal desegregation order in 2018, Longview ISD developed a plan to ensure equitable access to educational opportunities. During an August 2018 meeting, the board of trustees unanimously voted to adopt a Voluntary Desegregation Plan for magnet school programs. In response to a strong community desire, the board focused magnet school expansion on four areas: STEAM, International Baccalaureate, Early College High School, and expansion of Montessori Education.

Longview ISD, winner of the Magna Award in the 5,000-to-20,000 Enrollment Category, has used the Montessori style for early childhood students for more than 15 years. In 2019, the board voted to move the one remaining traditional campus to Montessori, taking the program districtwide.

“Montessori at Longview ISD is different from the typical Montessori school because we are within a public school setting,” said Jacqueline Burnett, director of East Texas Montessori Prep Academy. “We serve a diverse population, both racially and economically disadvantaged, free of charge.”

In the Montessori Method, students learn via a natural process designed to develop spontaneously. It educates with experiences every child has in reaction to the surrounding environment. Teachers arrange for cultural activity and interaction in a learning atmosphere tailored for each child.

Creating a public Montessori campus allows all students to receive a premier and sought-after education that traditionally has been available only to those who can afford to pay tuition fees.

Longview ISD Superintendent James Wilcox explained that, while Longview ISD is no longer under direct federal oversight, the district “will continue to ensure all of

Longview’s students have fair and equitable access to our best educational opportunities.”

Wilcox said the voluntary desegregation plan is designed to support the district’s efforts to provide instruction and experiences that integrate students of different backgrounds; remedy the separation of minority students in one or more schools within the district; prevent, reduce, and eliminate social, racial, ethnic, or economic isolation; ensure equal educational opportunity and access for all students; and cultivate student integration and diversity.

In 2019, Longview received 40 state distinctions, proving that district teachers and the Montessori education platform are making a difference in those who are moving into the testing grades.

More Magna Awards Info

Massachusetts’s Mashpee Public Schools, Maine’s Portland Public Schools, and Michigan’s Detroit Public Schools were selected as Grand Prize winners of this year’s Magna Awards program, the fourth year that the program has recognized school districts and their leaders for their efforts to bring educational equity to their students.

The Magna Awards honor districts across the country for programs that break down barriers for underserved students. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators met in December 2020 and selected the winners from district submissions.

“[This] was a year like no other,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Anna Maria Chávez. “The 2021 Magna Award-winning districts represent the enormous efforts of school leaders during the pandemic to continue removing barriers to achievement for their underserved and vulnerable students.” H

Portions of this story excerpted with permission from the American School Board Journal. Copyright 2021, NSBA. All rights reserved.

texaslonestaronline.org | June 2021 | Texas Lone Star 19

Time to Look at Your DOI?

A Q&A on Renewing a District of Innovation Plan

Since 2015, more than half of the school districts in Texas have become districts of innovation (DOI), exempting themselves from requirements in state law such as teacher certification and the instructional calendar to operate more like an open-enrollment charter school. If your district adopted an innovation plan when the law first went into effect, now is the time to renew. This article will review the laws and procedures for renewing a DOI plan.

Q: How long does a plan stay in effect?

A: By law, a DOI plan may have a term of up to five years, and it may be amended, rescinded, or renewed. Delaying implementation of certain exemptions or adding exemptions to an approved plan does not toll the five-year term of the exemption. Texas Education Agency (TEA) rules limit a district to one plan at a time.1

Q: What must our plan include?

A: State law requires a DOI plan to:

• Provide for a comprehensive educational program, which may include innovations in curriculum, instructional methods, community and parent involvement, campus governance, modifications to the school day or year, budgeting and sustainable funding, local accountability, and other innovations prescribed by the board; and

• Identify the specific provisions from which the DOI should be exempted, in accordance with Texas Education Code Chapter 12A and TEA’s rules. In general, a district may exempt itself from provisions in the Texas Education Code that do not apply to an open-enrollment charter school.

Q: How do we renew a plan?

A: A district can renew its DOI plan if the action to renew is approved by: (1) a majority vote of the district advisory committee (DAC) and (2) a two-thirds majority vote of the board. The district may use a comparable committee if it has exempted itself from the law requiring a DAC, as some DOIs have. The district must notify

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TEA of an action taken to renew along with the exemptions and local approval dates. 19 Tex. Admin. Code § 102.1313(a), (b).

During renewal, all sections of the plan and exemptions shall be reviewed and the district must follow all steps in 19 Texas Administrative Code Section 102.1307 and 19 Texas Administrative Code Section 102.1313 discussed below. Whether or not a district changes its exemptions, the board cannot vote to approve a plan until the plan has been posted online for 30 calendar days, the commissioner has been notified, the DAC or comparable committee has held a public meeting to consider the plan, and that committee has approved the plan by a majority vote.

Website posting. As a DOI, the district must post and maintain a copy of the district’s current plan in a prominent location on the district’s website for the term of the designation as a DOI. 19 Tex. Admin. Code § 102.1307(f). The plan proposed for renewal must be posted for 30 days before board approval.

Notifying the commissioner. The deadline for notifying TEA of an innovation plan proposed for renewal is before the board votes to approve the final plan. As a best practice, we recommend notifying TEA of a proposed plan at the same time as the plan is posted on the district’s website. Although the statute indicates that a board of trustees will notify TEA of the proposed plan, the board may delegate to the superintendent the administrative functions of posting the proposed plan and transmitting the plan to TEA. Committee approval. The public hearing and vote of the DAC, or comparable committee, may occur at the same meeting. To be considered a public hearing, the public must be notified in advance of the date, time, and place of the hearing, and the committee must receive

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texaslonestaronline.org | June 2021 | Texas Lone Star 21 It’s probably in the TASB Member Center. Find out about:
Continuing education credit
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Topics that are relevant to your role
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And lots more tasb.org/members What did you say you needed? Open to trustees, superintendents, and district staff!
As a best practice, we recommend notifying TEA of a proposed plan at the same time as the plan is posted on the district’s website.

public comment, if any, on the plan proposed for renewal.

The Texas Open Meetings Act (OMA) does not necessarily apply to committee meetings, but many districts have posted notice in accordance with the OMA to ensure adequate notice. After the public opportunity to comment on the plan, the committee may approve a plan proposed for renewal by a majority vote. Although the law does not specify, we recommend the plan be approved by a majority of the total committee members, not just a majority of those present and voting. Board adoption. The board of trustees may then vote to adopt the plan. The vote must pass by a two-thirds affirmative vote of the membership of the board. On adoption of the final plan, the district must notify the commissioner and provide a list of the exemptions claimed. The district may then function in accordance with the plan and continue to be exempt from the specified provisions.

Submission of plan to TEA. Not later than the 15th day after the date on which the board adopts a plan, the district needs to provide a copy of the current local innovation plan to TEA. TEA must promptly post the plan on its website. An e-mail

attaching the final plan or providing a link to the plan available on a district’s website should be sent to the commissioner’s inbox at commissioner@tea.texas.gov and copied to accred@tea.texas.gov

Districts should proceed with caution throughout the adoption process to adhere to Chapter 12A, TEA rules, and state laws regarding open meetings and open records. School districts should consult their school attorneys regularly and keep the process as transparent as possible to avoid legal challenges.

Q: What if the district includes additional exemptions not in the original DOI plan?

A: As described above, the process to renew a DOI plan mirrors the process for initial adoption of the local innovation

Overdue special education operating procedures?

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plan. Tex. Educ. Code §§ 12A.005, .007. If you are renewing a plan and adding new amendments, then the process will be the same. However, the district should ensure board actions reflect that there are new exemptions in the proposed plan.

If a district renews a DOI plan in spring 2021 and then discovers newly passed laws from which it wants to be exempt, the district must follow the process to amend its plan as described in TASB Legal Services’ Districts of Innovation Frequently Asked Questions (searchable at tasb.org/services/legal-services/).

In keeping with TEA’s encouragement to foster transparency and communication in the process, we recommend that a board not add any substantive content (such as a new exemption) if the content has not been posted for the full 30 days. Districts should work with local counsel when renewing and amending a DOI plan and remember to contact TASB Policy Service if exemptions impact policy choices.H

1See TEA’s Districts of Innovation Amendments & Renewal (tea.texas.gov).

Leslie Story is a lead attorney for TASB Legal Services.

22 Texas Lone Star | June 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org Learn more tasb.org/student-solutions/membership 888.247.4829
On adoption of the final plan, the district must notify the commissioner and provide a list of the exemptions claimed.
texaslonestaronline.org | June 2021 | Texas Lone Star 23

Capitol Concerns

Governor Abbott Prohibits Mask Mandates; Legislative Advisory Council Meets June 30

Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on May 18 prohibiting governmental entities—including cities, counties, and school districts—from requiring any person to wear a face covering, with some conditions.

The order states that public schools may continue to follow policies regarding the wearing of face coverings to the extent reflected in current guidance by the Texas Education Agency until June 4. The agency must revise its guidance such that, effective 11:59 p.m. on June 4, 2021, no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor may be required to wear a face covering.

Read the order at https://gov.texas. gov/news/post/governor-abbott-issues-executive-order-36-prohibiting-government-entities-from-mandating-masks

LAC Meets June 30

The TASB Legislative Advisory Council (LAC) is scheduled to meet June 30 to review recent legislation passed by the Texas Legislature during the 87th session and propose changes to the TASB Advocacy Agenda Priorities based on new state laws. In the past, the LAC has amended, deleted, and added to priorities to better represent the current state of the Texas Education Code after a legislative session.

Trustees elect LAC members during Regional Grassroots Meetings during the first quarter of even-numbered years. Those members serve two-year terms on the LAC, and four members are elected to the Legislative Committee of the TASB Board to represent the LAC as the com-

mittee considers its business throughout the biennium.

Learn more at tasb.org/legislative/ tasb-advocacy-agenda/tasb-legislative-advisory-council.aspx.

Resolutions Deadline: June 15

The TASB call for resolutions for the update to the Association’s 2020-22 Advocacy Agenda closes June 15. School boards have already submitted a few dozen resolutions that will be considered by the

TASB Board during its July board meeting. The Board will then make recommendations to the TASB Delegate Assembly for action at its meeting in September.

The proposed resolutions will be added to the current Advocacy Agenda Resolutions, which will remain in effect until the 2022 Delegate Assembly. Resolutions are an opportunity for school boards to ensure that their legislative issues of concern are included in the TASB Advocacy Agenda, as they can address issues specific to a district, region, type of district, etc.

Resolution proposals submitted after the bylaws deadline can be considered only on an emergency basis. Each proposed resolution submitted after the deadline must be accompanied by a statement describing the nature of the emergency.

For more information, contact TASB Governmental Relations Division Director Dax Gonzalez at dax.gonzalez@tasb. org or at 800.580.4885.

Learn more at tasb.org/legislative/ tasb-advocacy-agenda/call-for-resolutions.aspx H

24 Texas Lone Star | June 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org Capitol Watch
Dax Gonzalez is TASB Governmental Relations division director.

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

El Paso ISD. Superintendent. Deadlines to be determined.

Matagorda ISD. Superintendent. Application deadline: June 8.

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

New Day (from page 7)

Additionally, a working model of DEI was presented to show attendees a deeper understanding of what DEI looks like in action.

• And in our Bulletin Board section, on page 36, items include Aldine ISD Trustee Viola M. Garcia taking the gavel recently as president of the National School Boards Association—the first Latina to do so—and Beaumont ISD (BISD) Trustee Zenobia Bush, the first African American woman to serve on the BISD Board, retiring after 18 years of service to her district.

These concrete steps show that a new day is dawning to help ensure that all children, from all walks of life, are given the opportunity for success.H

• BoardBook® Premier—User-friendly board agenda preparation software for compiling meeting documents, agendas, and minutes.

• BoardBook® Manuals—Quick and easy document management hosting software for policies, regulations, and codes.

For more information, including product demonstrations, visit boardbook.org.

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In-person, virtual, or hybrid board meetings— we do it all!
Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star

Cultivating a Welcoming Culture

Districts Can Take Positive, Thoughtful Steps to Create a Diverse, Inclusive Workforce in Schools

Within the first few minutes of entering a school building, a visitor can identify the culture of the school. From the cordiality of school personnel to the aura of the physical environment, a visitor can sense the warmth and vitality that emanates from its inner walls. The level of diversity among staff may not be immediately evident, yet it’s considered one of the most important factors in the achievement and success of all students.

becomes more tolerant and accepting in the wake of challenging stereotypes in the educational world.

The “Condition of Education 2020” report from the National Center for Education Statistics showed the demographic correlation between students and the teachers who serve them. Findings showed that for most communities the teacher demographics did not match student demographics. In fact, in 2017–18, 79 percent of teachers in the classroom

• Increased academic achievement for all students

• More diverse role models in positions of authority and who exemplify success

• High expectations for all students, especially students of color and different backgrounds

• Differentiated approaches in building relationships and interacting with students, especially in disciplinary situations

• Improved dropout and graduation rates among high school students

• Opportunities to challenge stereotypes in the classroom, which creates a more tolerant and accepting atmosphere for all

Barriers to Hiring Diverse Teachers

Diverse Teachers Matter

A vast amount of research shows students benefit greatly from opportunities to interact and connect with classmates and teachers from different backgrounds, cultures, and viewpoints. Academic achievement improves and disciplinary issues diminish as students engage with authority figures who are more reflective of themselves and who have higher expectations for them within the classroom. Students lean toward higher academic and behavioral success, and more often than not the learning environment

were white when more than 50 percent of students identify as a race other than white. This disparity affected the success of students and how likely they were to graduate and pursue advanced education beyond high school.

With ongoing research into closing the achievement gap for students, educational entities continue to find the relationship between students and those teaching in the classroom of utmost relevance. When the composition of a school’s staff is more reflective of its students, benefits include:

A recent article written by Glenn Cook for the National School Boards Association highlighted experiences from 2019 National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson, as he spent time speaking to students and educators across the nation. Through his engagements, Robinson confirmed the importance of minority recruitment and retention in education, but he also acknowledged the challenges facing schools in hiring for diversity.

“So many things work against teachers of color,” Robinson said. “It doesn’t matter

26 Texas Lone Star | June 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org
HR Files
A vast amount of research shows students benefit greatly from opportunities to interact and connect with classmates and teachers from different backgrounds, cultures, and viewpoints.

if you recruit more, if you’re still losing teachers of color, you’re pouring water in a bucket that has a hole in it.”

Robinson isolated several factors that deter minority teachers from entering the teaching profession, including past experiences in school, the high cost of college, and testing biases to enter higher education.

“Going into teaching is not a smart financial move for many of these kids, and we’ve got to find a way to incentivize them,” Robinson said, noting that he believes districts should look more closely at the experiences of minority students in their schools, offer more scholarship money for those who go into education, and make a commitment to review every school policy with an unbiased eye. (Cook, 2021)

Recruiting for Diversity

When organizations recruit for diversity, they must first understand that diversity encompasses both inherent and acquired traits. Inherently, we think of diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, age, and gender. Acquired traits are those related to education, knowledge, and values. While all traits are important, we must remember that diversity can be both visible and invisible when recruiting quality candidates. So how do organizations or schools find

School Law Update, TASB Legal Services’ monthly e-newsletter, provides easy access to timely information about legal issues impacting Texas public schools

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n Superintendents

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Includes summaries of recent decisions by:

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texaslonestaronline.org | June 2021 | Texas Lone Star 27
The more you know about school law, the better prepared you’ll be.

balance between hiring for diversity and hiring for skill set? The answer is found in an honest assessment of the skills needed to perform the job in relation to intangible qualities desired in an ideal candidate.

Schools searching for the best teachers and staff desire high-quality candidates, but they must also keep in mind that creating a diverse workforce is pivotal to student success. A good first step for schools to determine if they are truly meeting the needs of students and the learning community is to assess the current level of diversity in the environment.

Questions to ask include:

• Is our current staff reflective of the community we serve?

• Does the skill set of our current staff meet the needs of our community of learners?

• What points of view could better benefit our staff and our teams?

• Do we have biases preventing our teams from performing at an optimal level?

• Does our learning environment promote inclusivity of students, staff, parents, and community members?

By acknowledging the value of diversity and a diverse workforce, schools commit to supporting their students and current staff in their work toward achievement and success, as well as the importance of creating a sustainable and

equitable educational environment over time.

Hiring Strategies

When hiring for diversity, many schools believe the focus should be on hiring more minorities or more women. However, best practice is to be strategic in how candidates hired are uniquely tailored to the needs of the school.

The metrics for hiring should emphasize how the candidate will contribute to the overall diversity of the school and how the candidate will contribute to growth and overcoming challenges in the organization. By using the vision and mission of the school as a guiding philosophy, the hiring manager can develop a criteria for candidates that provides a fair and

28 Texas Lone Star | June 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org
Locating exemplary leaders and visionaries to take your district to the next level. The TASB Executive Search Services Difference: Hands-on, relationship-focused service Broad local and state knowledge Personalized and thorough search process Education industry specialist Satisfaction guaranteed tasb.org/ess executive.search@tasb.org 800.580.8272

equal evaluation of candidates who bring different but equal experiences. Strategies to help diminish bias and create a better hiring process for all candidates include:

• Setting realistic goals related to creating a diverse workforce on each campus. Schools need candidates who can provide results and bring enthusiasm to the job, but it may be a large undertaking to revamp current processes and it may take time to effect change.

• Evaluating and rewriting job descriptions to ensure criteria do not include any biases that may discourage highly qualified and/ or diverse candidates. Exclusionary language and rigorous requirements can eliminate potential candidates early on in the hiring process.

well as respected for their voice and ideas. When employees are allowed to flourish within the organization, employee satisfaction improves, and retention rates rise.

School leadership is instrumental to creating and maintaining an inclusive culture for staff. School leaders essentially make or break district initiatives, so leveraging their influence is crucial to making inclusive behavior a core competency for all staff. Once leadership is on board, the district can begin to implement practical strategies to foster inclusive culture in schools.

Some examples of these strategies include:

• Harnessing teacher leaders and staff committed to diversity and inclusion to evaluate current levels of inclusivity across campuses and lead efforts to bring needed changes

concepts of diversity and inclusion that, in turn, will communicate more positive messaging to the community served.

By creating conditions that are based on the premise that every individual is valued and important in the organization, schools can retain the best talent, and they can champion their talent to influence change and growth where needed— either among their teams or in their classrooms.

Moving Forward

While creating a diverse and inclusive culture cannot be forced, school districts can take the first step by recognizing the need for change. To be a truly diverse and inclusive organization, districts must provide employees with voice, the freedom to be themselves, and the opportunity to tend to personal responsibilities without retribution. With a strategic plan and buy-in from top leadership, schools can become a more inclusive and responsive organization for their employees and learning community.H

• Removing subconscious and implicit bias from the hiring process by ensuring objectivity as an integral part of recruiting and interviewing candidates. Training hiring managers and interviewers in recognizing and mitigating bias is key, as well as using data and facts to evaluate candidates during the process.

• Examining and redefining diversity through the scope of the job and the needs of the school. We often attribute diversity to gender, race, and ethnicity, but diversity has a much broader scope in a school system.

Fostering an Inclusive Work Environment

Within the diversity and inclusion conversation, school leaders often focus on diversity without recognizing that inclusion (or an inclusive work environment) is often the greater challenge. Investing in employees goes beyond training and development. Every employee must be valued for the unique abilities and talents they bring to the organization, as

to current district practices.

• Celebrating employee differences by creating events that honor the diverse backgrounds, traditions, and cultures that exist within the organization.

• Connecting with employees by giving them voice. Districts can use surveys or forums that allow for input and impact on district decision making.

• Shaping the daily work experience by valuing the time and effort of staff by eliminating unnecessary meetings and activities, improving processes, and creating more efficient systems.

• Maximizing positivity and eliminating fear. While fear can be a motivator, it often encourages employees to narrow their perspective and parse their feedback.

• Assessing and revamping the district brand. Brand and culture are intimately connected, as are the values and biases of the organization. Branding should reflect the commitment of the district to the

Let us help you reach more than 12,000 education leaders and decision makers across Texas. tasb.org/TexasLoneStar

texaslonestaronline.org | June 2021 | Texas Lone Star 29
in Texas Lone Star!
Jennifer Barton is an HR and Compensation Consultant for TASB HR Services.
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Lessons in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Five-state DEI Conference Promotes Lasting, Positive Change

Staff members from five participating state school boards associations—Texas, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, and Ohio—took part in the informative and enlightening 2021 DEI Virtual Conference May 21, engaging in sessions about embracing differences and promoting inclusivity in the workplace and the community.

A wide variety of topics and discussions featured speakers ranging from corporate consultants for worldwide organi-

zations such as Coca-Cola and AT&T to education professionals who have served on school boards or as district administrators, and more.

Keynote speakers included internationally recognized teacher and lecturer Jane Elliott, recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, and Anna Maria Chávez, executive director and chief executive officer of the National School Boards Association.

As a schoolteacher, Elliott became

known for her “Blue Eyes-Brown Eyes” exercise, which she first conducted with her third-grade class the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Her study exposes the irrational and arbitrary nature of prejudice and bigotry.

In Chávez’s 25 years of public service and nonprofit leadership, she has served as executive vice-president and chief growth officer for the National Council on Aging and CEO of the Girl Scouts of America. She is one of the world’s top experts on women’s leadership, youth development, and aging issues.

Among the 18 session offerings, “Educate, Engage, Evolve, Every Day” was led by Cecilia Chavez, TASB’s division director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. A working model of DEI in action was presented to show attendees a deeper understanding of what DEI means and provide a common language of diversity for conference participants.

Chavez shared this quote: “If you can see the invisible, you can do the impossible.” She added, “There are people who are made to feel invisible every day because of ‘otherness.’ If we recognize the inequities, if we truly see these people, we can shift from blindly benefiting from privilege to eyes-wide-open inclusion.”H

5-State DEI Conference

30 Texas Lone Star | June 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org News & Events

NSBA, AASA Support Extension Of USDA School Meal Waivers

Anna Maria Chávez, executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA (The School Superintendents Association), issued the following statements recently in response to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Service’s decision to extend a set of nationwide waivers that will help school meal programs feed students through June 30, 2022.

“NSBA appreciates the US Department of Agriculture’s actions to extend flexibilities for child nutrition services during this pandemic,” Chávez said. “As our school boards continue COVID-19 recovery efforts within their respective communities, these actions will allow their school food authorities the supports needed to help address food insecurity among children and provide nutritious meals throughout this coming school year.”

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) extension of flexibilities for sodium, grain, and milk targets will help reduce plate waste that many school districts have reported. Additionally, the extension of waivers will allow children and families the supports they need for COVID-19 recovery.

“These actions help provide certainty for many children whose families have been impacted by COVID-19, and they increase flexibility and relief for school districts to successfully administer school meal programs,” Chávez added.

“As schools and students face uncertainty in the wake of the pandemic, one area that continues to shine brightly is the critical work school systems are doing—in large part due to flexibilities granted through the US Department of Agriculture—to help keep students fed even while schools were closed,” Domenech noted. “Throughout the last year, we have seen record levels of food insecurity across the nation. While our schools have made tremendous strides toward reopening with in-person learning and returning to some semblance

of normalcy, it is clear that our students and school food-service operations are continuing to recover from the pandemic. As we enter this new transition period, USDA’s decision to allow schools to operate the Seamless Summer Option and offer all meals free to students as well as provide continue targeted meal pattern flexibility and technical support to local education agencies will give superintendents the tools to tackle this issue and customize meal service designed to fit local needs. The extension of these flexibilities through the 2021-22 school year will ensure food security as we continue to return to normalcy.”

AASA and NSBA advocated for these flexibilities early in the

texaslonestaronline.org | June 2021 | Texas Lone Star 31 Make your HR operations more effective and efficient with an HR Operations Review. HR Services experienced consultants will provide: • Benchmarking information • Objective insights • Practical suggestions hrservices.tasb.org 800.580.7782 Improve your HR practices. pandemic because of their importance in helping food service operators plan for the fall and reach every child who relies on free and reduced-price school meals, regardless of what the school day may look like.H

Focus on the Future

SHARS Conference Looks at Billing, Best Practices, and Upcoming Events

More than 200 education professionals attended the virtual SHARS 2021 Conference April 29-30, hosted by TASB Special Education Solutions. The event, focused on the future of School Health and Related Services (SHARS)/Medicaid billing, also provided opportunities to:

• Discuss billing updates and best practices

• Learn from experts, including Angela Foote of the Texas Education Agency’s Financial Compliance Division

• Participate in networking events with peers and experts

• Connect with professionals during small-group sessions

• Earn continuing education credit

Attendees listened to success stories from school districts and learned about new policies from SHARS/Medicaid professionals. Other topics included SHARS program updates, Health and Human Services Commission new policy and guidance, cost reporting, SHARS billing and documentation, and more.

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Opposite page at bottom left, TASB Special Education Division Director Karlyn Keller shares a session virtually with SHARS Conference participants; opposite page, top right, a screenful of attendees shows the highly interactive nature of the event; opposite page, bottom right, TASB SHARS and Education Support Account Executive Ehrikka Hodge enjoys attendee input; above, at top, Angela Foote of the Texas Education Agency’s Financial Compliance Division leads a session on student/service records; above, at bottom, TASB SHARS Senior Account Executive Laurie Woodel monitors a session from TASB headquarters. Photos by TASB Media Services

Ragan Communications Honors Former TASB AED Strong

Karen Strong, former TASB associate executive director of Communications and Public Relations, was named to the Communications Hall of Fame recently in Ragan Communications’ Top Women in Communications Awards program.

“The role of the communicator keeps ascending to the top of the business world—but only because of the tireless work of generations of talented professionals,” said Ted Kitterman, editor of Ragan’s PR Daily publication. Four top women communications professionals from across the country were named to this year’s Hall of Fame class. “Their leadership and service has benefited countless colleagues and consumers, helped build brands, and drive innovation,” Kitterman said.

In honoring Strong, Ragan Communications noted that “Karen Strong has been a pioneer for women in the communications profession, starting with her work for the City of Austin and leading to her long service for the Texas Association of School Boards, beginning in the 1980s.

“Strong helped define the TASB, serving as a writer of countless op-eds, speeches and magazine articles. She refined the customer journey experience

long before the term was coined. She helped lead transformation with new ideas such as a training conference for district administrative professionals and a student video contest. She also shepherded a long succession of public campaigns like Proud Products of Texas Public Schools and Stand up for Texas Public Schools, in addition to social media advocacy outreach through Texans for Strong Public Schools.”

After more than 32 years at the helm of TASB Communications and Public

Relations, Strong retired in 2020 and now works as a consultant.

“Karen did so much more for TASB than the typical communications executive,” said TASB Executive Director James B. Crow. “She took on many tasks and responsibilities that weren’t really in her job description, and she did them all extremely well. Under Karen’s leadership, TASB has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions for our publications, media, and other communication efforts.”H

34 Texas Lone Star | June 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org
“Education is the movement from darkness to light.”
—Allan Bloom
Former TASB AED Karen Strong TASB File Photo

New Board Member

Retreat Trainings

Board Officers’ Academy

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program that helps experienced trustees be better leaders. Applications due July 1. Is your board ready to empower leadership and education in your district? For information on any of these offerings: 800.580.8272, ext. 2453 • board.dev@tasb.org tasb.org/board-dev • onlinelearning.tasb.org Start with these board development opportunities, designed to help you improve student success. Upcoming in-person and virtual events. Comprehensive training will be available at Summer Leadership Institute in June. Visit tasb.org/boarddev-621 to sign-up for these opportunities.
Leadership TASB Yearlong
to help develop new and experienced board officers.
Tools
Resources and training to help new trustees adjust to their roles. NEW
Launch
BOARD MEMBER LAUNCH
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Workshops

Bulletin Board

Garcia Takes Gavel as NSBA President

Thousands of school leaders, exhibitors, and speakers from around the country gathered in April for the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) 2021 Online Experience. Attendees heard from inspiring and informative speakers, learned about new and different ways to address educational issues, and discovered how national education trends will shape their districts, communities, and students.

The virtual event had a distinctive Texas flair, as Aldine ISD Trustee Viola M. Garcia, a former TASB president and former president of the Mexican American School Boards Association, took the reins as 2021-22 NSBA president. Garcia is the first Latina and third Texas school board member to serve as NSBA president. Additionally, the Lone Star State had the most attendees at the event, with approximately 253 Texans participating.

Douglas to Head Leadership TASB

TASB Board Development Services

Senior Consultant Kay Douglas was recently named as program manager for the Association’s highly popular Leadership TASB program.

Many TASB members are familiar with Douglas, as she has worked at TASB since 2004, providing training and consulting for trustees. Douglas, a 1998 graduate of the Leadership TASB program, served 16 years on the Huntsville ISD Board. Before joining TASB, she worked in the general counsel’s office of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and as a prosecutor in Walker County.

Douglas takes the helm of Leadership TASB from longtime manager Bill Rutherford, who recently retired.

Longtime Beaumont ISD Trustee Retires

After 18 years of service to her school district, Beaumont ISD Board Member

Zenobia Bush is retiring from a career a fellow trustee noted was “a journey of perseverance.”

Bush said that she always valued education; her parents were both teachers. In 1985, Bush became the first African American woman to serve on the Beaumont ISD Board. She said her father inspired her to serve. “He was big in the civil rights movement and things of that nature and got me involved in doing those types of things,” Bush said. “So I had the support I needed to be able to stand firm with decisions that I felt were best for our community.”

Applications are being accepted through July 1 for the next Leadership TASB class, which will kick off in September during the TASA | TASB Convention in Dallas. For more information, visit tasb.org/services/board-development-services/training/leadership-tasb/ application-process.aspx

House Honors Banquete ISD Superintendent

Banquete ISD Superintendent Max Thompson, who is retiring this year after 33 years of service to public education, was honored by the Texas House of Representatives during the House’s 87th Legislative Session.

House Resolution 1100, authored by Representative Abel Herrero (D-Robstown), cites Thompson’s remarkable career, noting that during his more than two decades as superintendent, Thompson “developed a reputation for his wise and thoughtful guidance as well as his willingness to do whatever is necessary to ensure the smooth operation of the district, from driving a bus to working concession stands; moreover, he has volunteered as the speech and debate coach for students in seventh and 12th grade…” and received numerous career honors, including being named 2016 Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Rural Education Association.

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

36 Texas Lone Star | June 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org
texaslonestaronline.org | June 2021 | Texas Lone Star 37 September 24–26, 2021 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas tasa.tasb.org #tasatasb Registration and housing open Thursday, July 22 Join us in Dallas for the largest convening of public education policymakers in Texas!

Leaning In

Lessons Learned During the Pandemic Will Move us Forward into 2021-22

It’s hard to believe that more than a year has passed since the workaround graduations of 2020 took place. School board members—better than just about anyone—know the extraordinary steps that were taken to provide some semblance of pomp and circumstance last year.

Lots of districts spent countless hours creating virtual ceremonies, so students and families could celebrate graduation from the safety of their homes. Other districts ventured outdoors, purchasing hand-held fans and pallets of bottled water to help attendees manage the heat. And some districts—like the one I worked at—conducted both virtual and outdoor graduation events, making sure that students and families had both options available to them.

Of course, despite all the hard work, 2020 graduations were in many ways a no-win situation.

While some parents were happy with virtual ceremonies, others were not. Even when in-person ceremonies were held, response was often mixed as tickets were often severely limited, and graduation traditions like hand shaking and group photos were prohibited.

Fortunately, some beloved graduation traditions have been brought back this year. And the widespread return to in-person graduations represents a positive step forward to a new normal. As we enjoy the wonderful return of many graduation traditions this year, it seems fitting to reflect on what was learned from last year’s graduations. Here are three lessons that came to my mind:

Student resilience and optimism runneth over. Watching the Class of 2020 cross the finish line last year was

simply amazing. Seeing this year’s seniors persevere through possibly the craziest school year on record has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Who knows what lies ahead? For sure, the 2021-22 school year won’t be easy. District staff—who are already fatigued and tired—will now be called to lead remediation efforts and address student learning loss where needed. The graduating classes of 2020 and 2021, though, proved that student resilience and optimism abound.

Let’s lean into this truth, as frontline teaching staff are given the supports they need for the work ahead and the recognition they deserve for their work during the pandemic.

Tiffany Dunne-Oldfield

finally reopening, and I want to shout— from the rooftops—that schools have been open for the past 15 months, serving meals and teaching students. Of course, I get what they mean. Like everyone else, I’m happy to now be able to venture out to a restaurant and to go shopping for clothes. What a blessing the simple act of eating out is after a year of eating at home. Let’s not let folks forget, though, that K-12 education helped lead the recovery and reopening. Basically, dinner out wouldn’t be possible without the thoughtful district COVID-19 operational plans that were developed across the state. Not only did district staff and school board members ensure schools could reopen, but they also took care that it was done

Traditions connect us across generations. It’s hard to forget the pain that parents and grandparents felt when their students couldn’t attend prom or walk the graduation stage in 2020. Traditions connect us across generations, and those connections are important. They not only provide a bridge between parents and children, but they also create bridges across communities as families of diverse backgrounds celebrate the important milestone of high school graduation.

Let us lean into this truth as graduation traditions return. The work of K-12 education is important. Graduation traditions remind us of that fact and should be cherished.

Schools were core to the recovery. I keep hearing people talk about the world

safely. Everyone who played a role in those efforts should be proud.

Let us lean into that truth and remind folks when necessary that dinner out wouldn’t be possible without amazing K-12 educators and thoughtful school boards.

I hope you like these few lessons learned. Now, let’s enjoy celebrating the accomplishments of a recent high school graduate or simply having dinner out!

If your district has an important lesson learned during the pandemic that you would like to share, we would love to hear it. Contact us as communications@ tasb.org H

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A Final Note
The graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 proved that student resilience and optimism abound.

Level up your governance

Your board’s governance practices are solid. Now it’s time to take it to the next level.

8 things that happen when you level up governance practices:

1. District leaders are strong and empowered.

2. Everyone works together.

3. District culture is about improving student achievement.

4. Staff feels supported.

5. Studying, teaching, and learning become a focus for all staff.

6. Balance is created between districtwide direction and school-level autonomy.

7. Strong community connection is developed.

8 . Student achievement improves.

Level up with TASB’s eXceptional Governance (XG) Board Development. Start with the XG Self-Assessment at tasb.org/xg-self-assess.

Empowering Education Through eXceptional Governance

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YOU’VE HEARD THE ADAGE: If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain. Delegate Assembly is your opportunity to fully participate in helping to guide TASB by voting on policies and electing officers. If your district isn’t participating, you are missing the opportunity to have the Association reflect your district’s wants and needs.

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