September/October 2020

Page 1

UPLOADING... September 30–October 2 A Publication of the Texas Association of School Boards | Volume 38, Number 8 | September/October 2020 Texas Lone Star Also in This Edition: Online Opportunity How to Make the Most of txEDCON2020 Learning that Supports a Vision Seguin ISD’s Journey to Exceptional Governance We’re Going Virtual!

Featured Event

TASB Officers 2019-20

Lee Lentz-Edwards, Kermit ISD, President

Jim Rice, Fort Bend ISD, President-Elect

Ted Beard, Longview ISD, First Vice-President

Debbie Gillespie, Frisco ISD, Second Vice-President

Bob Covey, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Secretary-Treasurer

Jim de Garavilla, Silsbee ISD, Immediate Past President

TASB Board of Directors 2019-20

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

Bob Covey, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Region 4F

Yolanda Cuellar, South Texas ISD, Region 1B

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

Bill Lacy, Katy ISD, Region 4E

Mark Lukert, Wichita Falls ISD, Region 9

Jayme Mathias, Austin ISD, Region 13A

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

Dan Micciche, Dallas ISD, Region 10C

Vernagene Mott, Pflugerville ISD, Region 13C

Patricia O’Caña-Olivarez, Mission CISD, Region 1A

Nicholas Phillips, Nederland ISD, Region 5

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

Page Rander, Clear Creek ISD, Region 4B

Georgan Reitmeier, Klein ISD, Region 4A

Armando Rodriguez, Canutillo ISD, Region 19B

Rolinda Schmidt, Kerrville ISD, Region 20A

Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Houston ISD, Region 4D

Cindy Spanel, Highland Park ISD, Region 16

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

Anne Sung, Houston ISD, Region 4

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 or call TASB at 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 toll-free.

2 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 | Calendar
30OCTOBER 2 OCTOBER September 30-October 2 • txEDCON2020 TASA | TASB Convention (virtual event) 1 • Deadline to Participate in TASB HR Services District Personnel Salary Survey 3 • TASB Delegate Assembly 7-8 • TASB HR Services “Get a Grip on the Family and Medical Leave Act” Online Workshop 8 • Deadline to Participate in TASB HR Services Community College Salary Survey 9 • State Board for Educator Certification Meeting, Austin 22 • TASB HR Services HR Academy Virtual Event 22-23 • TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals Virtual Event 29 • TASB HR Services HR Academy Virtual Event NOVEMBER 5 • TASB HR Services HR Academy Virtual Event 5-6 • TASB Fall Legal Seminar Virtual Event 6 • [CANCELED] TASB Fall Legal Seminar, Austin 9-10 • The XG Summit Virtual Event 10 • [CANCELED] TASB Fall Legal Seminar, Abilene 12 • TASB HR Services HR Academy Virtual Event 14 • [CANCELED] TASB Fall Legal Seminar, South Padre Island 16 • [CANCELED] TASB Fall Legal Seminar, Beaumont 17 • [CANCELED] TASB Fall Legal Seminar, Kilgore 17-20 • State Board of Education Meetings, Austin 18 • [CANCELED] TASB Fall Legal Seminar, Commerce


8 Get Ready for txEDCON2020

We’re going virtual! The largest convening of public education policymakers in Texas—txEDCON2020— offers a variety of learning experiences and ample neworking.


2 Calendar

20 Legal News

24 Capital Watch

26 Facilitating

Student Success

28 News & Events


5 From the Top

7 Editor’s Footnote

38 Q & A

14 Online Opportunity

If you’ve never attended a virtual conference, it can be an adjustment from the crowds and the chatter. Here are some strategies to help you get the most of your opportunities.

16 Learning that Supports a Vision

Seguin ISD made a commitment in 2017 to undertake a three-year journey to learn and model exceptional school district governance. Read Part Two of this two-part series.

Texas Lone Star • Volume 38, Number 8

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 Rames • 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© 2020 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.

Web Watch

The TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals takes a virtual approach October 22-23. (This year, the October conference will not repeat in February). Visit to register.

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

Texas Lone Star does not guarantee publication of unsolicited manuscripts.

Postmaster: Send address changes to TASB, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400. | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 3
Contents | September/October 2020

At least one thing got easier this year. The all-new BuyBoard has arrived.

New Design | New Features

Same Compliance Focus

We can’t answer all of this year’s difficult questions, but we’ll make your purchasing easier.

Go to and shop for everything you need for school reopening, from cleaning and safety supplies to distance-learning materials.

When it comes to district procurement… There’s only one BuyBoard.

‘What in the 2020?’

The Year Spawned New Sayings, New Strategies, New Perspectives

The year 2020 has taught us a lot. We have learned about ourselves, our families, and our coworkers. As leaders in our community, we have learned even more about our constituents, our students, and our district staff members. We have learned who is willing to roll up their sleeves, who plays devil’s advocate at every turn of events, and who around us strives to make the best lemonade ever.

New Times, New Terms

So then, what are some of the positive things about 2020?

Families and schools are saving thousands of dollars on travel and meals. Parent appreciation is at an all-time high. Children across the state are anxious to return to class. There is a renewed sense of purpose by our teachers and administrators.

This year has expanded our vocabularies. Two words most of us never used before this year are “synchronous” and “asynchronous.” I had to look these two words up to see what people were talking about. Of course, I knew what “sync” meant—as in, we sync our phones with the Bluetooth in our cars, or we mentally flash back to the 1990s for a memory of the boyband that danced in step, ’N Sync. But who had ever given the term “asynchronous” a moment’s thought? These terms referring to simultaneous group instruction via electronic communication versus individual timing for lesson access through use of computers made us all a little more aware of how this year is not like any other.

Another new usage of a familiar term is the year 2020 itself. This year has a brand-new meaning. The term 2020 has been used to refer to a not-so-awesome

idea or trait, like “absa-2020-lutely,” “that is a lot of 2020,” or “what in the 2020?”

What about the term “fujiwhara”? Had you heard that one before? This refers to the phenomenon that occurs when two nearby cyclones move around each other and close the distance between their circulations. It’s named after Japanese meteorologist Sakuhei Fujiwhara, who initially described the effect. We’ve come to use it to describe two catastrophic events occurring at once, as in weather or that of the Texas economy of late (with the fall of oil prices and the pandemic escalation).

When most people used the word “zoom” prior to COVID-19, it was a term that referred to the sound of an object moving quickly, like a car or a plane. Now it is used generically to mean an online meeting with audio and video. This term alone has spawned new terms like “zoomapalooza” (a big hoopla around all the computer-based meetings), “zoomlandia” (the home office where most of our virtual meetings take place), and “zoom fatigue” (the exhausting effect of consecutive or lengthy meetings).

Another term making its way into conversations this year is “annus horribilis”—literally translated, “horrible year.” In 1992, as she reflected on the 40th year of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II stated that the year was “not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.”

In other words, that was a bad year for the royal family. In some respects, the term could be applied to 2020. Many of us will not look back on the year with “undiluted pleasure.”

Making the Best Lemonade

But let us not dwell on the negative. Think of the growth that has occurred technologically. Staff, students, and parents have all increased their technology skills through new learning platforms. Students and teachers can use Zoom, GoToMeeting, or Google Meet. They can utilize learning management software systems such as Google Classroom, Schoology, Seesaw, or Canvas, just to name a few.

Depending on the software, teachers and parents can track assignments, determine if the child has met the learning standard or objective, and can even get the assignments graded. Additionally, students, parents, and teachers can automatically find out if any assignments are missing. It seems to me this just might be an annus mirabilis—a wonderful year—for the tech-savvy students, teachers, and parents and a year of remarkable growth for those not so tech-savvy!

Obstacles in our lives are constant; however, we can maintain a positive attitude as we encounter new challenges. Reacting with a positive attitude is the only way to minimize negative impacts and maximize joy.

So as we make that best lemonade ever, let us think about student accomplishments, our teachers’ acquisition of new technology tools, and the bright future for us all. When this is behind us, think of all we have gained: new coping skills, the ability to improve relationships, our many technological advancements, and an interestingly augmented vocabulary.H | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 5 From the Top
Lee Lentz-Edwards Lee Lentz-Edwards, a Kermit ISD trustee, is 2019-20 president of TASB.

TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals A Virtual Event

Thursday, October 22–

Friday, October 23

Join us online for a day and a half of specialized training and networking opportunities! Designed especially for administrative support personnel at the district level.

Topics will include:

• Elections

• Legal, policy, and personnel issues

• Cybersecurity

• Special populations

• Personal growth

• And more!

Conference sessions will be available for 30 days after the event. This year, the October conference will not repeat in February.

Learn more and register at

Need a Boost?

Don’t Miss txEDCON2020’s Featured Speakers

As local public education leaders across the state gear up to face the many unprecedented challenges—and opportunities for innovation and creative problemsolving—that the 2020-21 school year will undoubtedly pose, it’s only fitting to point out that two of the featured speakers at this year’s virtual TASA | TASB Convention are renowned masters of invoking the spirit of innovation and creating an inspiring climate of cultural transformation.

General Session presenters for txEDCON2020, scheduled for September 30–October 2, are Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall, CEO of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and psychology researcher and author Shawn Achor.

Dynamic Force for Change

Marshall, the NBA’s first Black female CEO, has overcome myriad challenges throughout her life, from growing up in public housing and being a victim of domestic violence to battling cancer and overcoming tragic loss. Marshall emerged a dynamic force for cultural change, first climbing the corporate ladder at AT&T to instilling positive change in an NBA team’s front office.

When Marshall was hired as CEO of the Mavericks in March 2018, she set her sights on comprehensive cultural transformation. Her vision was for the organization to become the league standard for inclusion and diversity. She brought transparency, trust, and her values-based leadership style to the club, which evolved the culture in her first 100 days.

Marshall notes that there’s a reason for everything that has happened in her

life. She is confident it has all contributed to her purpose, and she urges listeners to ask themselves the same questions she posed to herself. She encourages attendees to take stock in themselves and ponder their purpose during uncertain times.

‘Training’ to Be Optimists

Achor, author of the bestselling books The Happiness Advantage and Big Potential, posits that most business is done under the guideline that if you work harder, you will be more successful— and then you will be happy. This formula, Achor argues, is scientifically backward. Achor’s research shows that training the brain to be positive first actually

leads to greater success at work. In fact, only 25 percent of job success is predicted by intelligence; the rest is determined by optimism, the social support network, and the ability to manage stress, he states.

With confidence, trust, and job satisfaction at historic lows in these tumultuous times, Achor has determined that as individuals, we must create “wins” for our brain and train ourselves to be “rational optimists.” Based on the science of positive psychology and case studies of working with companies in the midst of economic collapse, Achor provides practical applications for raising the belief that individual behavior matters to keep teams motivated and engaged.

Achor is scheduled to speak October 1 at 8:30 a.m.; Marshall will speak October 2 at 11 a.m. If you want to refill your “inspiration tank,” be sure not to miss these motivational masters.H | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 7
Editor’s Footnote
Public Ed! Copyright 2020 TASB by White & Severns
Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star.
I know txEDCON is virtual this year, but...
Now, THAT’s the spirit!!!

We’re Going Virtual!

September 30–October 2


The largest convening of public education policymakers in Texas—txEDCON2020—offers a variety of learning experiences and ample opportunities for attendees to recharge and reconnect. More than 50 Concurrent Sessions are offered during our live event. Each session is 50 minutes in length to allow for Q&A afterward. One hour of credit will be given for each session.

We’re partnering with Thoughtexchange to develop our Crowd-Sourced Sessions on the morning of Friday, October 2. The tool will be open for input beginning the evening of Wednesday, September 30, through the afternoon of Thursday, October 1. Topics will be announced Thursday at 5 p.m. for our sessions on Friday at 9:30 a.m. Participants will receive 45 minutes of credit for each session attended.

There will be several opportunities for participants to share their successes and challenges related to the pandemic, social justice reform, and improved equity during scheduled Networking Sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. These will be opportunities for board members and district leaders to share stories, problem solve, and discuss the issues that are most timely for their communities.

Bonus Content will be available on demand beginning Thursday at 5 p.m. for attendees wanting to enrich their learning experience and extend their conference training. Participants will earn one hour of credit for each session attended.

All content will be available for 30 days after the live event concludes.

Training Credit

Continuing Education Credit (CEC) for School Board Members

CEC offered for training during Convention will qualify for Tier 3. New school board members are required to earn at least 10 hours their first year. Experienced board members must complete a minimum of five hours each year.

“Governance for Improved Student Performance” (Senate Bill 1566 Training) will be offered as Bonus Content and available beginning October 1 at 5 p.m. through November 1. This session will qualify for the Tier 4 requirement.

The Child Advocacy Center (CAC) will present the session “House Bill 403–Board Member Training on Child Abuse” on October 1. This session qualifies for required child abuse training.

Reporting credit is easier than ever!

Board members:

Visit the Member Center at and log in using your myTASB credentials.

Superintendents: Go to and log in using your myTASB credentials.

• Enter credit numbers immediately or up to 24 hours after the event concludes.

• Credits show up immediately.

• View your full credit history at any time.

Continuing Professional Education (CPE) for Superintendents and Administrators

Certificate renewal standards adopted by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) require all certified educators to complete appropriate continuing professional education clock hours. Questions about CPE may be directed to TASA staff in the Info Booth on the Lobby page.

TASB Delegate Assembly

October 3, 2 p.m. (virtual)

Featured speaker: Texas Representative Dan Huberty (R-Houston). Final registration deadline for delegates is October 1 at 2 p.m. Register at | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 9

General Sessions

Opening General Session

October 1, 8:30 a.m.

Shawn Achor Author,

Shawn Achor, bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage and Big Potential, taught 12 years at Harvard, where he won over a dozen distinguished teaching awards and delivered lectures on positive psychology. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and earned a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School in Christian and Buddhist ethics.

Achor, one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success, has worked with Fortune 100 companies, the National Football League, the Pentagon, and the US Treasury. He has traveled to 51 countries, speaking to farmers in Zimbabwe, CEOs in China, doctors in Dubai, and schoolchildren in South Africa. His research on happiness has been featured on the cover of Harvard Business Review, and his TED talk on happiness and success has reached 22 million views.

Closing General Session

October 2, 11 a.m.

Cynt Marshall has been a dynamic force for inclusion and diversity within the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and over a 36-year career at AT&T. When Marshall was hired as CEO of the Mavericks in March 2018, she set her sights on a cultural transformation. Her vision was for the organization to become the NBA standard for inclusion and diversity. She brought transparency, trust, and her values-based leadership style to the club, which evolved the culture in her first 100 days.

Prior to her joining the Mavericks, Marshall founded Marshalling Resources, a consulting firm specializing in leadership, diversity, inclusion, culture transformation, and overall optimization of human resources. Marshall’s notoriety began as a young officer at AT&T and grew exponentially as she served as senior vice-president and human resources and chief diversity officer. Marshall was selected as one of the 2019 Women of Power Legacy Award honorees by Black Enterprise. In 2017, she was honored by The Network Journal as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Business, among many other distinguished honors.

Thanks to TASB's Affiliated Entities

10 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |

Exhibit Hall

What’s this virtual Exhibit Hall all about? Go to the EXPO tab and find out!

Among the many activities this year:

• Exhibit of School Architecture. Check out the school architecture digital resource, showcasing the latest in facility design for optimized student learning.

• Products and Services Showcase. Check out the digital booths and learn about the newest education-related products and services.

• Community Service Lounge. Back by popular demand, the Service Lounge is your opportunity to pitch in virtually by creating hunger and hygiene kits to be donated to Hope Supply Co.

• Gamification. Win prizes not only for Gamification but for just visiting booths in the Exhibit Hall, chatting with vendors, and downloading documents.

• Prize Drawing Central. Drop by this booth during the dedicated times for prize winner announcements.

Exhibit Hall Hours

September 30

• 3–3:45 p.m. Exhibit Hall Grand Opening

• 3–5 p.m. Exhibit Hall Activities

October 1

• 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Exhibit Hall Activities

• 12:30–1:20 p.m. Dedicated Exhibit Hall Hours

• 2:30–2:45 p.m. Dedicated Exhibit Hall Hours

October 2

• 8–11 a.m. Exhibit Hall Activities

• 10:15–11 a.m. Exhibit Hall Closing

Learn more about your state and national associations.

Staff from the National School Boards Association, AASA, TASA, and TASB will be on hand to provide information. Stop by and say hello!

Student Performances

Student performances are one of the highlights every year at Convention—and this year is no exception. Join us October 1 to see outstanding performances with students from Kermit ISD at 8 a.m. and Northside ISD at 11:30 a.m.

Awards Presentations

Texas Teacher of the Year Award

Facilitated by TASA

September 30, 5:15 p.m.

Key Communicator Award

Facilitated by the Texas School Public Relations Association

October 1, 1:20 p.m.

(For more about this year’s Key Communicator Award winner Andy Welch, see page 33.)

Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) Award

Facilitated by TASB

October 1, 3:35 p.m.

(For more about this year’s SOTY Award finalists, see page 34.)

Honor School Board Awards

Facilitated by TASA

October 2, 9 a.m.

Learn some of the things the five finalist boards have done to become exceptional. Look for the TASB Talks 2020 Honor Boards podcast, coming soon. One of the five Honor Boards will be named Outstanding Board of 2020 at Convention. (For more about this year’s Honor School Boards, see page 28.) | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 11

School board members and administrators should coordinate registration through the central office. A discounted rate of $325 per attendee will be offered if the superintendent and all board members register on the same order. This discount applies only to the superintendent and board members. Select the “Full Board and Superintendent” option when registering to take advantage of this offer.

Pre-registration (through September 29)

$425 for TASA | TASB members (including CSA members)

$325 for full board-superintendent team

$525 for nonmembers

Late registration (September 30 through October 2)

$525 for TASA | TASB members (including CSA members)

$425 for full board-superintendent team

$625 for nonmembers

Full registration is required for the following:

• Public official of a school district

• Administrator or employee of a school district

• Member of the Council of School Attorneys

• Administrator or employee of an education service center

Questions about registration? E-mail registrar@tasb. org or call 512.467.3611

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, September 30

3–3:45 p.m. Exhibit Hall Grand Opening

3-5 p.m. Exhibit Hall Activities

3:45–4 p.m. Opening Remarks

4–5 p.m. Superintendent Panel Discussion

5–5:15 p.m. Intermission 5:15 p.m. Texas Teacher of the Year Award

5:30–6:30 p.m. Board Member Panel Session

Thursday, October 1

7–8 a.m. Networking

8–8:30 a.m. Kermit ISD Student Performance

Introduction, TASB 2019-20

President Lee Lentz-Edwards

Get Ready for Next Year: Check Out Dallas!

Future Dates •

12 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |
6:30–7:30 p.m. Networking
8:30–9:15 a.m. Opening General Session Speaker Shawn Achor 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Exhibit Hall Open 9:15–9:30 a.m. Intermission 9:30-10:20 a.m. Concurrent Sessions 10:30-11:20 a.m. Concurrent Sessions 11:30 a.m.-noon Northside ISD Student Performance Introduction, TASA 2020-21 President Brian T. Woods Noon-1:20 p.m. Dedicated Exhibit Hall Activities 1:20 p.m. TSPRA Key Communicator Award 1:30-2:20 p.m. Concurrent Sessions 2:30-2:45 p.m. Dedicated Exhibit Hall Activities 2:45-3:35 p.m. Concurrent Sessions 3:35 p.m. Superintendent of the Year Award 4-4:45 p.m. Education Commissioner Mike Morath (invited) 4:45-5:45 p.m. Networking 5 p.m. Bonus Content and On-demand Live Content Released Friday, October 2 7–8 a.m. Networking 8–8:50 a.m. Concurrent Sessions 8–11 a.m. Exhibit Hall Open 9 a.m. Honor School Board, Outstanding Board Awards 9:15–9:30 a.m. Intermission 9:30–10:15 a.m. Crowd-Sourced Facilitated Sessions 10:15–11 a.m. Exhibit Hall Closing 11 a.m.–noon Closing General Session Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall
is back in Dallas September 24-26, 2021
September 23–25, 2022, San Antonio
September 29–October 1, 2023, Dallas
September 27–29, 2024, San Antonio | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 13 THANK YOU Balfour Beatty • ClassLink • GAF Norton Rose Fulbright • TTU-K12 WRA Architects
Gold Silver Bronze to our sponsors

Online Opportunity

The TASA | TASB Convention has a long history as a can’t-miss opportunity for education leaders. You can network, take in professional development, and expand the horizons of how to best serve your district. And even though this year’s event— txEDCON2020—will be online, going virtual may make this year the most valuable Convention yet.

If you’ve never attended a virtual conference before, it can be an adjustment from the big crowds, constant chatter, and the buzz of the exhibit hall. The following strategies can provide you with a framework to help you make the most of your learning, collaboration, and professional growth at txEDCON2020 or any virtual conference.

Limit Distractions

Perhaps the biggest benefit of attending a virtual conference is also the biggest issue with attending a virtual conference. All we need is our computer and an internet connection.

Whatever your thoughts are on traveling to another city and sitting in a live session—a classroom-like setting—it does have a way of focusing attention for learning. When you’re alone with your computer, the distractions can mount quickly. First it’s just one extra browser tab open, then it’s several more browser tabs, then your e-mail—and maybe your phone, too.

We all think we are better multi-taskers than we really are,

so make a point of trying to limit anything that could tempt your attention. That means treating a virtual conference just like an in-person conference:

• Block the time on your calendar

• Close the door to your office

• Set an “Out of Office” alert on your e-mail—and close your e-mail

• Notify those most likely to call, text, drop in, or otherwise interrupt that you will be unavailable

• Put your phone down

• Close your other browser tabs

In general, try to put away any digital tools you don’t need to participate fully in the conference experience. Just like an in-person event, the virtual Convention experience will have scheduled breaks.

Go as a Group

There are two things that can really help make the insights of Convention sessions stick:

• Taking detailed notes

• Talking with other attendees immediately afterward

Even though you’ll probably be in separate offices—or maybe just on your couch at home—make a point of participating in

14 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |

How to Make the Most of txEDCON2020

Convention with a group of your peers. Consider attending as a governance team.

Just because you’re not physically with your team, this doesn’t mean you can’t all agree to attend some of the same sessions and stay in touch during those sessions. Involving your peers and colleagues from your district in the experience can help in a number of ways:

• Connects you better to the event

• Increases your attention in sessions

• Provides accountability for learning and bringing back ideas

Use Twitter to connect with the broader conversation around Convention. Use the #TASATASB and #TXEdCon hashtags to find out what education leaders across the state think about sessions.

You can also use “back channels” like texting, Twitter direct messaging, or other chat applications to share with each other during sessions. Think of it as virtually leaning over to a colleague to whisper a comment.

During scheduled breaks or at the end of the day, your team can set up quick phone calls or video conversations to check in, just like a quick meet-up in the hall of the convention center. Efforts like this go a long way in reinforcing learning.

Additionally, TASB Legal Services’ article entitled “Virtual

Training and the Open Meetings Act” ( virtual-training-and-the-oma.pdf) answers questions about how the Open Meetings Act applies to regional and local school board training and how to access continuing education through online options.

Review, Reflect, and Replay

When you attend Convention, you can earn up to 10 hours of continuing education credit during the live event. And this year, you’ll also have access to recordings of every session for 30 days after the event. You can continue to earn credit for all completed sessions.

Having access to all of these sessions for an additional 30 days is an unprecedented opportunity for your leadership and governance teams. You can watch and rewatch them all— invaluable from a learning perspective.

There’s a simple key to making that happen: Schedule time for it now. You probably don’t know which sessions you might want to revisit later, but block the time and know you’ll use it.

And don’t just review the recordings. Make time in board meetings to discuss concepts and ideas learned during Convention.

Keep these tips in mind to make virtual txEDCON2020 a valuable, unforgettable training and networking experience.H | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 15

Learning that Supports a Vision

Part Two of Seguin ISD Leadership Team’s Journey to Model Exceptional Governance

Editor’s note: This is Part Two of the two-part series chronicling the Seguin ISD leadership team’s three-year journey to exceptional governance, written by TASB Board Development Consultant Orin Moore. Part One appeared in the August 2020 edition.

As noted in Part One of this series, since fall 2017 I have spent more than 30 hours in workshops, conference calls, and presentations with Seguin ISD Board President Cinde Thomas-Jimenez and her district’s leadership team. After attending a board candidate workshop hosted by the district, I found myself on yet another phone call with Seguin ISD. District leaders had attended the 2019 XG Summit and concluded that the XG Governance Development process fit Seguin ISD’s needs.

Personally, I feel the Seguin ISD leadership team would have realized its goal for whole-team development through any number of processes that complemented their momentum, team cohesiveness, and creativity. They truly are a fast-moving, determined vehicle. Professionally, I feel grateful that Seguin chose TASB’s XG Board Development process. Every opportunity to learn from our members through a longterm engagement is an opportunity to improve service to our members. I believe Seguin ISD needed a process that allowed the team to organically create its own blueprint for success. At the end of the day, the team felt that XG Board Development was the right choice for them.

The XG Process

The XG Board Development process promotes a culture of vulnerability at the leadership level—a sincere look at data and challenges

16 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |

facing the district and the willingness to talk about them openly. Seguin ISD had been building that culture with its new leadership team since 2017, and, in the view of Seguin ISD Chief Operating Officer Bill Lewis, a data-focused board is a great thing.

“I love that our board is composed of student-focused individuals who strive to be a data-informed board,” Lewis said.

The XG Board Development process also requires trust—the assurance that team members will evaluate data and processes constructively without assigning blame or shame. The Seguin ISD leadership led by example in self-improvement efforts, making it easier for the entire system to follow.

Two TASB board consultants worked with Seguin ISD as the district went through the XG Board Development process—and both consultants were blown away by the team’s performance. Seguin ISD’s leadership cabinet participated in five of those six sessions.

At the outset, I asked a question: What kind of board can raise the stakes in a complex system and be met with confidence instead of concern? A board that listens, supports, encourages, and leads by example is on its way to raising the stakes for its district while facing little to no resistance. This is what the Seguin ISD Board did for over 20 hours in meetings dedicated solely to developing its team and to understanding the condition and potential of its system.

In XG Session Two, trustees listened to a talented cast of district-level leaders explain how practices at Seguin ISD aligned to industry practices that have been proven over time. This is what trustees wanted—it was their meeting. They invited and welcomed these district leaders to share their insight and to teach them about the complex organization that trustees govern.

In the third meeting, trustees listened to key members of that talented cast discuss student academic data at length. Something happened that night: The board really showed what kind of culture and example it had set for the district and community. I will likely never forget Trustee Benito Amador’s question to Seguin ISD Chief Academic Officer Mark Cantu concerning academic targets.

Cantu had just delivered one of the clearest yet most thorough presentations I had witnessed on district assessments, then he suggested an academic target based on the data. Amador asked Cantu what standard he would recommend if the discussion at hand involved his own child. Cantu did not hesitate to assure Amador that the answer would be the same in any case. Amador nodded approvingly and gave a thumbs up. The group nodded and continued its business.

For some teams, that question might be a tough one. No one was alarmed or offended that night. Remember, the whole team had committed to high expectations for the entire system. The cabinet had observed the board investing considerable energy into improving itself and to supporting

Members of the Seguin ISD leadership team participate in a TASB XG Governance Development session designed to nurture team cohesiveness and creativity. | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 17
Photo by David Koempel

district employees. Moreover, Cantu appreciated that level of engagement.

“It is a joy to work with the SISD Board of Trustees. They have a genuine interest in doing their best for students,” Cantu said. “They ask student-centered questions, which focus on student outcomes and achievement. When it comes to accountability and data, the board likes to see trends by sub-populations, and they delve into the data with our team. It is wonderful knowing that I am working with a board that supports the work of the superintendent leadership team.”

An Environment of Trust

Seguin has created an environment of trust that perpetually empowers oversight and management. That environment of trust ensures Trustee Denise Crettenden that her questions will be received well and answered transparently.

“I love that we can ask hard questions—and lots of questions—and get real answers, warts and all,” Crettenden said. “No one needs to circle the wagons.”

Board member Linda Duncan expressed a similar sentiment.

“We strive to be open and honest in our interactions with one another,” Duncan said, “and there is so much joy in knowing with this level of transparency, our administration, staff, teachers, students, stakeholders, and constituents can trust that we are making decisions that align with those ideals.”

Culture will be either cultivated or contradicted at the top levels of leadership. People must see leaders doing the things that leaders expect of others. Seguin ISD employees see the example board members are setting.

Trustee Glenda Moreno describes what it’s like to set the example as a board member. “I think we have surprised our staff in that we have become so involved with our district,” Moreno said. “They see us at professional development sessions; they see us at school activities; they see us at data dialogues; they see us at community functions, etc.”

Moreno, a former Seguin ISD employee who has lived in Seguin for 47 years, has seen the district’s ups and downs through the years. She knows how important it is for employees to feel the support of the board and for the board to do its part in supporting connections across the system that promote continuous improvement.

Supporting efforts across the system for continuous improvement can look different for different organizations. However, the outcome felt by employees is consistently empowering. Seguin ISD Chief Communications Officer Sean Hoffman routinely reports district progress. From his vantage point, he can see the bigger picture of how the board supports building connections across Seguin ISD.

“The Seguin ISD community is blessed to be represented by a cadre of trustees who are void of personal agendas and effectively bridge the gap of representing constituents and serving as advocates for students and staff,” Hoffman said. “The Seguin team of eight plays an integral role in setting a solid foundation for student success by supporting key initiatives since 2017, including the two-way dual-language program, LiiNK, AVID, the successful 2019 bond election, and several stakeholder engagement committees.”

A Community Effort

By the end of the XG Board Development process, the
Photo courtesy of Seguin ISD
18 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |
Seguin ISD Board President Cinde Thomas-Jimenez (at right) learns the finer points of robotics with the help of Seguin High School students.

Seguin ISD leadership team had collaboratively developed three district goals and a superintendent evaluation instrument that would challenge the current system. They all agreed that this would be their plumb line.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t allow the board to realize some of the success it was anticipating in the last round of student assessments. Based on progress reports up to that point, Board President Thomas-Jimenez felt confident that the district was on track to meet its goals. The team took on an additional dimension of accountability by quickly shifting gears to evaluate its response to the school closures.

Nonetheless, Seguin’s ability to think big put the district ahead of the curve in many regards. For example, Seguin ISD was a step ahead of the House Bill 3 mandate for a five-year early literacy goal. Seguin’s goal, however, considered not only the annual performance of third-graders but also set five-year goals for the current year’s third-grade cohort. The board would be holding the superintendent, the system, and itself accountable for seeing current third-graders improve their reading performance for the next five years.

How did trust improve the way this team shares data?

There is a second unforgettable moment from our time with Seguin that truly displays the level of trust that the leadership team has built. When discussing the formats for reporting progress on a Professional Learning Community (PLC) goal, Superintendent Matthew Gutierrez suggested that the board see the PLC in action. The group had agreed on some standards for evaluating PLCs, and Gutierrez felt that a report would not do the progress report justice. Gutierrez did not have to extend that offer to the board. He is perfectly in his management domain to deliver a report himself or via a designee. I believe he extended that opportunity because of the person he is and because of the culture of the Seguin ISD Board.

At Seguin, accountability had become a community effort, not the burden of one person anticipating an evaluation. Exploring and understanding data had become a team effort, not just the privilege of those with pedagogical expertise. Building connections throughout the system had become the responsibility of leaders at the highest level of governance, not just the responsibility of those closest to the connections.

Seguin ISD continues to build a blueprint for success as it revitalizes its community and schools. The work has been hard but worth it, according to Board Member Alejandro Guerra.

“My experience on the board has been both challenging and rewarding when resolving solutions for important issues that have an impact on our students and ultimately our community,” Guerra said.

The team’s efforts have led to a growing list of outcomes that the entire community and Seguin ISD staff can see and embrace. Seguin ISD Deputy Chief Operating Officer Kirsten Legore shared how the work is bringing the community closer

to its vision. “I am proud to be a Matador because we have truly embraced the vision of exceptional students to exceptional citizens,” Legore said.

Thomas-Jimenez believes the evidence of the team’s hard work was tested and proven when they passed a bond in 2019.

Return of Matador Pride

The Seguin ISD Board sets and models high expectations for learning. The leadership team works hard to make sure its contributions support connections across the district and community. Since this new team came together in September, they have not failed to engage stakeholders in meaningful ways. I’ve had the fortune of joining them for some 30 hours of their professional learning journey over the last three years, but there are so many more whole-board learning opportunities to their credit that I have not witnessed. This group truly learns together.

The Seguin ISD Board holds each trustee and the superintendent accountable, and the team does it in a way that inspires the whole system. Seguin ISD models exceptional governance.

“Thanks to the team of eight’s effective leadership, Matador Pride has made a triumphant return to Seguin ISD,” said Chief Communications Officer Hoffman.

Board President Thomas-Jimenez noted: “We’ve trained together, worked together, and we continue to grow. All longtime residents, we recognize the diverse nature and socioeconomic attributes of the community and the district—but nothing can halt our momentum.”H

Orin Moore is a TASB Board Development consultant. For more information on Seguin ISD’s exceptional governance journey or for more information about TASB’s XG Board Development process, e-mail Moore at | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 19

A Sense of Civic Duty



Encourage Student Participation in Electoral Process

By participating in the election process, students can express their civic interests, learn more about the democratic process, and begin building the habits of engaged citizens. Texas requires school districts to educate students about voting and the electoral process and to make voter registration applications available for eligible students. Texas also provides opportunities for youth to serve as student election clerks.

A primary objective of the Texas public education system is to “prepare students to be thoughtful, active citizens.”1 When schools help youth participate in democracy, they build a stronger citizenry and a stronger future for our country.

staying informed on public issues, voting, and serving on juries.”3 By high school, US history standards involve understanding Jim Crow laws and other obstacles and suppression of voting rights.4 In addition, students are expected to describe the voter registration process and the criteria for voting.5

Ideally, a student who is taught these TEKS throughout their school career develops an understanding and an engagement in the electoral process and becomes an informed voter.6 However, the turnout rate for young voters remains dramatically lower than the turnout rate for older voters.7 By fulfilling their statutory obligations to educate students about voting rights and responsibilities, school

schools, the social studies or civics teacher serves as the deputy registrar. The HSDR may distribute application forms only to students and employees of the school.

The Texas secretary of state is charged with implementing the HSDR program. The HSDR can make an online request for voter registration applications or mail an application request form.9 The rules, which have not been updated since 1998, require the HSDR to obtain the voter registration applications from the school board administrator or the secretary of state. These forms are specifically coded for use by the HSDR. HSDR should not obtain applications from the county voter registrar because they will not be coded correctly.

Required Education

The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) require students to be taught about voting in every grade level, with increasing complexity. As early as kindergarten, schools are required through state standards to establish the foundations for “responsible citizenship in society,” and students are expected to learn about citizenship by using “voting as a method for group decision making.”2 In middle school, a student is expected to “identify examples of responsible citizenship, including obeying rules and laws,

districts play a key role in encouraging young voters to engage in the electoral process.

Registering Students to Vote

Individuals who vote when they are young are more likely to become lifelong voters. The Texas Election Code requires each high school principal to serve as a high school deputy registrar (HSDR) for the county in which the school is located. Principals can choose to delegate this duty to another administrative member or a teacher at the school.8 In many

Twice a year, during the final month of each semester, the HSDR is required to distribute voter registration applications to high school students who are or will be 18 years of age or older during that semester. The applications may also be distributed, upon request, to any student or employee of the high school. The application must be accompanied by a form that explains how to submit the application, which may include returning the application to the HSDR.

The HSDR must assist students who are unable to complete the application

20 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 | Legal News
By fulfilling their statutory obligations to educate students about voting rights and responsibilities, school districts play a key role in encouraging young voters to engage in the electoral process.

due to physical disability or illiteracy, and, if the application is returned, the HSDR must review the application for completeness and deliver the completed applications to the county voter registrar or elections administrator within the required timeframe. If the HSDR inadvertently fails to deliver the applications, the individual commits a Class C misdemeanor. Intentional failure to deliver applications is a Class A misdemeanor.10

Electioneering, Advertising Restrictions

Districts are prohibited from using public funds to support a particular measure or candidate in an election. In 2018, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opined that, absent an educational purpose, a court would likely find that a district providing transportation of students to and from a polling place serves no public purposes of the school district and violates the Texas Constitution.11 Schools that wish to transport students to the polls should work with the school district’s attorney to determine an educational purpose and satisfy the other requirements to avoid an improper use of public funds.

While districts can promote a culture of voting, districts should also be careful that employees do not infringe on the | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 21 TASB’s Member Center is the best way to access Policy On Line®, BoardBook®, and everything else you need to succeed. l Report and view continuing education credit l Read exclusive articles and how-to’s l View a calendar of upcoming events and actions you need to take TRUSTEES! Your search ends here. TASB Member Center • Coming soon to district staff!

free speech rights of students or pressure or indoctrinate students.12 Students have the right to express their own political opinions, and district employees and officials should not knowingly use public funds, which may include resources and employee time, for political advertising to advocate for or against a candidate or a measure that will appear on the ballot.13

For more information about campaign speech during elections, see TASB Legal

Services’ FAQ about Campaign Speech

During Elections14 at For information about student free speech rights, see TASB Legal Services’ FAQ about Student Protests15 at

Student Election Clerks

High school students who are 16 years of age or older on election day may be eligible to serve as election clerks.16 Student election clerks may assist at the polling

location on election day or in early voting. Student election clerks may assist with a variety of tasks, including checking in and processing voters, explaining the use of the voting equipment, serving as a language interpreter, and assisting with the opening and closing of the polling place.

Students must receive consent to participate from their parent or guardian and the school principal. For more information, including a link to the application for student election clerks, see the Texas Secretary of State’s Student Election Clerk Information webpage at www.sos.state. 17

When a student serves as an election clerk and is absent from school, state law provides that the related absences are excused for a maximum of two days in a school year.18 A school district may adopt a policy to also excuse a student for absences related to service as a student early voting election clerk.19 The student is responsible for providing documentation to the school that the absences are related to election clerk duties.

Because election clerks are paid, the election official should provide the student with documentation of hours

Get Reimbursed for Medicaid Program Administration

Your district works hard to provide students with Medicaid-eligible services through School Health and Related Services (SHARS). Now we can help you get reimbursed through the Medicaid Administrative Claiming (MAC) program for your behind-the-scenes work, including:

• Medicaid outreach

• Program planning and interagency coordination of medical services

• Referral and coordination of Medicaid service

• Monitoring Medicaid service components of the Individualized Education Program

• More!

Learn more

22 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |

worked that may serve as documentation for attendance purposes. At the discretion of the student’s teacher or program facilitator, the time served as an election clerk may also apply toward a school project requirement or a service requirement for an academic or extracurricular program.20

An Engaged Electorate Schools are tasked with the important role of building the foundations for an informed electorate, but perhaps even more importantly, an engaged and active electorate. School officials can help develop an engaged electorate by providing opportunities for students to learn about and participate in the electoral and democratic process.

Whether a student is debating the merits of the electoral college in class, serving as a student election clerk, or

A conversation about education

Here are three ways to amplify the voices of your students at TASB’s fan-favorite annual Governance Camp* conference:

Participate in our student expo featuring a variety of student projects and programs.

Present a student-led session featuring a message or a program you think Texas trustees should hear about.

Apply for our scholarship and continue the conversation by participating in our annual student panel featuring scholarship winners. Applications and more information about all three opportunities can be found at

*Your student(s) would need to be available to travel to Galveston and participate in Governance Camp on Friday, March 5, 2021.

registering to vote for the first time, these are the moments that create civic habits in our students and promote a culture of civic engagement in our country.H

1Tex. Educ. Code § 4.001(b).

219 Tex. Admin. Code § 113.11(a)(1), (b)(9).

319 Tex. Admin. Code § 113.20(b)(19)(C).

419 Tex. Admin. Code § 113.41(c)(9)(B).

519 Tex. Admin. Code § 113.44(c)(13)(C).

6See Tex. Educ. Code § 28.002(h) (“[a] primary purpose of the public school curriculum is to prepare thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage”).

7U.S. Census Bureau, Voting Rates by Age (May 10, 2017), available at; U.S. Census Bureau, Young-Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections, 1964–2012, at Figure 1—Voting Rates Over Time for the Voting-Age Population: 1964–2012 (April 2014), available at library/publications/2014/demo/p20-573.pdf; Alex Ura and Ryan Murphy, Why is Texas voter turnout so low?

Demographics play a big role, Texas Tribune (Feb. 23, 2018), available at

8Tex. Elec. Code § 13.046.

9The HSDR may request high school voter registration applications from the Texas Secretary of State by using the online request form available at surveymonkey. com/r/hsvoterregistrationorderform, or by using the mail-in request form available at

101 Tex. Admin. Code § 81.7.

11Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-0177 (2018).

12Texas Association of School Boards, How to Promote a Culture of Voting, available at

13Tex. Elec. Code §§ 251.001(16), 255.003.

14Texas Association of School Boards, Campaign Speech During Elections, available at legal-services/tasb-school-law-esource/governance/ documents/campaign-speech-during-elections.pdf.

15Texas Association of School Boards, FAQ about Student Protests, available at student_protests.aspx

16Tex. Elec. Code §§ 32.0511, 83.012.

17For more information about student election clerks, including a link to the application, see the Texas Secretary of State’s Student Election Clerk Information webpage at shtml.

18Tex. Educ. Code § 25.087(b)(1), (e).

19Tex. Educ. Code § 25.087(b-1).

20Tex. Educ. Code § 33.092.

Jasmine Wightman is a TASB Legal Services senior attorney. | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 23
School officials can help develop an engaged electorate by providing opportunities for students to learn about and participate in the electoral and democratic process.
Share your voice. Share your story. Share your talent.
1. 2. 3.

Costly Decisions

Five New Charter Applications Approved

Commissioner of Education

Mike Morath approved eight Generation Twenty-Five charter applications in August; however, only five will be authorized to begin operations after review by the State Board of Education.

During its September meeting, the State Board considered the eight applications, hearing from charter applicants and the public, including TASB Legislative Committee Chair Rolinda Schmidt, who asked the State Board to halt any new charters ahead of a legislative session that will feature a severe budget shortfall.

The eight charter applicants represented 18 new charter school campuses and could have cost Texas school districts an estimated $750 million in revenue. The approval of the charters could have also sent up to $61 million Texas tax dollars to California, Florida, and New York corporations over 10 years.

Cost of Charters

TASB joined 19 other education stakeholder organizations in September to write the State Board to ask that no additional charters be approved while the state is grappling with a pandemic and a potentially debilitating budget shortfall that may lead to significant funding cuts for public education. The letter highlighted the additional cost to the state each charter student incurs. In fact, each student who leaves a school district to enroll in a charter school costs the state, on average, $1,150 more because charter schools have a higher funding entitlement than the school districts in which they operate.

The eight new charters could have resulted in an additional $12 million annual cost to the state if they reach capacity. In their first 10 years, the eight applicants could have cost the state an estimated $88 million more than if students enrolled in school districts.

The five charters that will be allowed to move forward are Brillante Academy (McAllen), Doral Academy of Texas (Buda), Learn4Life-Austin (Austin), Prelude Preparatory Charter School (San Antonio), and Royal Public Schools (San Antonio). The three applicants vetoed by the State Board are CLEAR Public Charter School (San Marcos), Heritage Classical Academy (Houston), and Rocketship Public Schools (Fort Worth).

SBAN Connection

With so much going on in and around the Texas Legislature, it’s almost impossible for most board members to

keep up with all of the information being reported in the newspapers, television news, blogs, political magazines, etc.

The TASB School Board Advocacy Network (SBAN) is a free service designed to keep trustees informed and up-to-date on legislative and education news. SBAN delivers the news trustees need to know when they need it.

In addition to a weekly newsletter, SBAN members receive action alerts regarding important education legislation working through the legislative process. These alerts contain the information needed to effect change regarding issues most important to school districts and students.

SBAN has the potential to influence key policymakers by quickly mobilizing hundreds of school leaders to communicate positions and information on critical bills and issues. SBAN alerts include detailed background information, suggested steps for taking action, and resources for contacting legislators and other policymakers.

To join the hundreds of other school board leaders who take advantage of SBAN to advocate on behalf of Texas’s schoolchildren and the public education system, sign up online at For more on SBAN and public education advocacy, visit the TASB Member Center at and click on “Champion Your District.”

For more information, contact Dax Gonzalez at 800.580.4885 or

24 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 | Capital Watch
Dax Gonzalez is division director of TASB Governmental Relations.

Low Energy Prices You Can Count On

Achieve a consistent, low price on your district’s energy by having sellers compete for your business through a PowerBuy ® online reverse auction.

Get started locking in low energy prices at

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

• Burkburnett ISD. Superintendent. Application deadline: September 16.

• D’Hanis ISD. Superintendent. Search postponed until spring 2021.

• Denver City ISD. Superintendent.

Application deadline: September 8.

• Jarrell ISD. Superintendent. Application deadline: September 9.

• Sam Rayburn ISD. Superintendent. Application deadline: September 23.

• Helpful features like “Follow the Leader,” “Public Projector,” and “Hand Raising” simplify in-person and remote meetings.

• Faster document prep and distribution saves you time and money

• Templates for your attendance and minutes and automated posting keep you organized and compliant.

For more information about vacancies or services provided by TASB’s Executive Search Services, call 800.580.8272, e-mail, or visit | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 25
BID: $27.50 BID: $26.75 BID: $26.50 BID: $27.00
Administered by
It’s time for a Premier upgrade. BoardBook® Premier is here! Learn more at

Planning for Mental Health Needs

Emotional Well-Being of Students, Families Is Important Part of School Preparations

Every school year finds busy educators and parents going over their back-to-school checklists filled with things to do, things to prepare, and a million little details to start the year right. Typically, these details take on an epic quality that cause us to scurry from task to task in hopes of making everything perfect. The first-year teacher may obsess over every small detail of his or her new classroom while the 25-year paraprofessional eagerly returns to facilitate learning for beloved children. The principal celebrates a new academic year on campus while being sure to check lists twice.

However, the year 2020 has turned beginning-of-year activities on their head. The world is topsy turvy. Checklists have morphed into novels of things that must be accomplished. Yet, like superheroes, educators step up ready to bring their all for the next 75,600 minutes of schooling between August and June. Many new challenges await: new roles, new responsibilities, and even a new language associated with this world of evolving education—terms such as asynchronous, synchronous, public health orders, instructional continuity, and so on.

Mental Health Supports

Among the new responsibilities, new methodology, and new way of educating our children and youth, it is essential that in addition to covering the TEKS and preparing for instruction we also lay down a foundation that supports the mental health of everyone involved in the school community.

Just last year, there was an intense focus on emotional and mental wellness coming out of a legislative year filled with a plethora of new requirements for school boards and the districts they serve. As we move into the 2020-21 school year, this need cannot take a back burner to the huge pivot we are accomplishing related to hybrid instruction. In fact, the world around us would seem to point to the need for strong social and emotional structures in an even greater way.

Many of our students, educators, families, and communities are grappling with multiple issues: the COVID-19 pandemic, major social, racial, and equity upheaval, and economic crisis. It is essential to understand that just as districts plan for instruction, they also must plan to meet the psychological needs of those they serve.

Resources abound to help with this herculean task, but without a wellthought-out implementation plan mental health needs can easily be overlooked. Alongside of the many instructional resources that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has developed and highlighted since March are those that address mental health ( texas-schools/health-safety-discipline/ covid/covid-19-support-general-support#mentalhealth).

We can also turn to regional education service centers and exemplary school districts that have developed resources to address mental health supports—districts such as Austin ISD, Dallas ISD, Garland ISD, La Joya ISD, and Lubbock ISD, to name a few.

Overabundance of Stress

Pre-COVID-19 statistics told us that one in four children experience trauma, with at least one significant traumatic event happening before the age of 4. That has clearly increased exponentially— some would even say it has reached 100 percent.

Regardless of viewpoint on the impact, it is easy to see that everyone is dealing with an overabundance of stress and strain. With the increased trauma associated with the loss of everyday routines, planning for school has taken on a new aspect. A well-prepared school district will acknowledge this and address it not only for students but for all they serve, be it child, youth, or adult.

TEA’s list of statewide resources to help with anxiety, grief, and loss can be a first step ( default/files/covid/covid-19_mh_resources_4.3.20.pdf). As a former school counselor, I encourage you to include your school counselors in your planning, as they are well-suited for this endeavor. The American School Counselor Association and National Association of School Psychologists have a plethora of turnkey supports that assist with COVID-19 issues.

26 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |
Facilitating Student Success

Along with the need to address COVID-19, it is essential that our schools realize and support racial equity in a meaningful way. In the March/April 2018 edition of the Illinois School Board Journal, writer Pat Savage-Williams shared “Ten Ways School Boards Can Champion Racial Equity” ( publications/journal/2018/march-april/ten-ways-schoolboards-can-champion-racial-equity/).

Additionally, the Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety has created guidelines for districts to address both COVID-19 and race/equity issues (https://

You Make the Difference

As school board members, it is imperative that you know your district’s strategies. School budgets, instructional planning, and procedures for reopening remain vital responsibilities, but this strange new year also brings additional concerns.

It is essential that you allow for time to review how the district is addressing the psychological welfare of students, educators, and their families. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

During this time of unrest and pressure, how local education leaders perform their roles directly ties into how teachers will teach and students will learn. You cannot afford to lose sight of this responsibility. As board members and administrators, you make all the difference as you oversee the road map for this year and those to come.H

Recruiting Education Leaders to Chart the Future of Schools

My experience with TASB Executive Search Services (ESS) was first class from start to finish...I think the number and quality of candidates could not have been surpassed. The online process makes reviewing applications a breeze. I know if or when I need to do another superintendent search my first call will be to ESS.

Visionary Leadership at Every Step

Executive Search Services is committed to helping school districts find the best superintendent candidates. Our process has been refined with the benefit of three decades’ experience, and we will customize the search to meet the needs of your school board and district.

To learn more, visit or call 800.580.8272, ext. 3690. | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 27
Karlyn Keller, EdD, is division director of TASB Special Education Solutions and Student Solutions.

Texas' Top Teams Honor Boards for 2020 Named by TASA

Five school boards from across Texas have been selected as Honor School Boards as part of the 2020 Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) School Board Awards. The school boards of Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, Mesquite ISD, Sheldon ISD, Temple ISD, and Tornillo ISD were named as Honor Boards winners.

The five boards are finalists for the program’s highest honor, Outstanding School Board. Each board will be interviewed and an Outstanding School Board winner named at the TASA | TASB Convention.

High Standards of Excellence

Superintendents of the respective Honor Boards winners nominated their boards for the honor, citing high standards of excellence and focus on academic achievement for their districts.

with business and community leaders to ensure that H-E-B ISD students are well-prepared for the global marketplace,” said Chapman.

The Mesquite ISD Board, nominated by Superintendent David Vroonland, was described as innovative and forwardthinking. Committee members were impressed by the district’s Excellence in Teaching Incentive Program, Early Literacy Initiative, efforts related to local accountability, and participation in the Holdsworth Center’s program for district leadership.

“The unparalleled leadership and keen desire of this board to elevate Mesquite ISD to new levels of excellence continually inspire me,” said Vroonland. “The individuals who serve on this board are bold in their commitment to delivering an educational system that ensures our students graduate with the skills and

role in school governance,” said Davis. “They work diligently to ensure the district continues to follow its vision to ‘provide personalized learning opportunities to ensure all students graduate college and career ready.’”

The Temple ISD Board, nominated by Superintendent Bobby Ott, was recognized for its comprehensive efforts to reach and maintain a “high standard of excellence.” Committee members cited the board’s gender equity plan and Project Diploma program.

The Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD Board, nominated by Superintendent Steven Chapman, was described as purposeful and methodical. The TASA Selection Committee noted that it was particularly impressed by the district’s outstanding student programs, commitment to quality, formalized policymaking process, and the fact that the board is “part of the fabric of the community.”

“These seven individuals are focused on maximizing academic achievement, increasing effective and efficient operations, and building lasting relationships

knowledge that will put them in control of their freedom and a future of their choosing.”

The Sheldon ISD Board, nominated by Superintendent King Davis, was noted for its focus on academic growth in a time of dramatic enrollment increases, supported by a rich variety of course offerings and opportunities for students, assistance for English language learners, and nationally recognized AVID program.

“Our trustees are a dedicated, passionate and hard-working group of individuals who care deeply about their

“There is not another staff, in any district, that feels more supported by their board of trustees than TISD,” wrote Ott in his nomination. “Board members have an ear to the ground and a hand in supporting all school staff in establishing policies that allow for fully provisioned classrooms, first-class facilities, a safe environment, and a caring place for educating our student population.”

The Tornillo ISD Board, nominated by Superintendent Rosa Vega-Barrio, was described as “all-around innovative.” Committee members noted that the board invites students to be part of board decisions and governance, focuses on restorative discipline practices, and thinks “outside the box” regarding the district’s academic calendar.

Regional Winners

Since 1971, the TASA School Board

28 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |
News & Events
Superintendents of the respective Honor Boards winners nominated their boards for the honor, citing high standards of excellence and focus on academic achievement for their districts.

Awards program has recognized outstanding Texas school boards for commitment and service that has made a positive impact on Texas public school students.

Regional winners in the 2020 Honor Boards program, who will be recognized when the Outstanding Board is announced at Convention, are:

• Calhoun County ISD

• Dumas ISD

• McAllen ISD

• Pflugerville ISD

• San Angelo ISD

• San Elizario ISD

• Throckmorton ISD

• Vidor ISD

• Whitehouse ISD

The five Honor Boards were selected by a committee of Texas school superintendents, chaired by Harlingen CISD Superintendent Art Cavazos, whose school board was named the Outstanding School Board for 2019.

The TASA Selection Committee’s decisions were based on criteria that include support for educational performance, support for educational improvement projects, commitment to a code of ethics, and maintenance of harmonious and supportive relationships among board members.

For more information about the awards program, visit awards/school-board-awards/ H | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 29 TASB STUDENT VIDEO CONTEST Texas Students: Overcomers. Learners. Achievers. Texas schools are showing their resilience, strength, and dedication to education this year more than ever. Share your school’s story and show us how you continue to focus on excellence while overcoming barriers. • No entry fee
Win prizes for your classroom Visit for details and to see past winners. Entries will be accepted December 1, 2020–January 20, 2021.

A Looming Shortage?

PDK Poll Reveals Concerns about Recruiting, Retaining Quality Teachers

The 52nd annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, released in late August, reveals that as Americans prepare for this November’s elections, they are sharply divided along party lines on a number of hot-button issues in education.

Overall, however, a large majority of Americans say they want the federal government to take a more active role in supporting efforts to recruit and retain teachers, make college more affordable, and protect students from discrimination—and a majority say they disapprove of President Donald Trump’s performance in the area of education policy.

Eighty-five percent of respondents said they want the federal government to focus on attracting and retaining quality teachers. “Given that education is largely a local and state issue, the desire for federal involvement is noteworthy,” said Joshua P. Starr, CEO of PDK International. “We already know from previous data that the nation may soon face a teacher shortage; hence, we may have a real crisis on our hands if, as is likely, a large number of experienced

education), as well as new and emerging areas of concern (such as students’ growing use of e-cigarettes). Note that this year’s PDK Poll was conducted in March 2020, before the widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. Its results shed light on gradual changes in Americans’ beliefs and attitudes about the public schools, rather than revealing immediate reactions to the pandemic.

More recently, PDK has sought to capture both educators’ and students’ perspectives on remote learning, school closures, and the educational challenges associated with COVID-19 by surveying its educator members and participants in Educators Rising, PDK’s program for young people who intend to go into teaching. Results of those surveys can be found at COVID19-Resources

Key Findings

Notable findings from this year’s poll include:

• There are divided opinions of Trump’s performance on education policy, with 53 percent of adults disapproving and 45 percent of adults approving. That includes a vast partisan divide: Eighty-six percent of Republicans approve, dropping to half as many independents and 11 percent of Democrats.

• Public education is a priority for many. Six in 10 call it extremely or very important in their vote for president this fall, including a quarter who call it extremely important. Importance rises among parents, to seven in 10, with a third calling it extremely important.

teachers opt to not return to the classroom. Perhaps, then, respondents’ desire for the federal government to do something about teacher shortages should serve as a wakeup call for those in Washington who have threatened to reduce financial support on the basis of local decisions about opening up. Americans want them to play a positive role, not a destructive one.”

As in previous years, the 2020 poll addresses topics of perennial interest (such as teacher quality, standardized testing, and the biggest challenges facing K-12

“While school districts face pressure from the Trump Administration to open school this fall, the American public also wants the federal government to focus on issues of teacher quality, college affordability, protecting students from discrimination, and early childhood education,” Starr said. “There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown public education into a tailspin, but we can’t lose sight of what’s important to parents and the public in the long term, and that’s having a quality teacher in a great school for every child.”

• Standardized testing has mixed support, depending on how test results are used. Thirty-eight percent of respondents think there’s too much emphasis, compared to 52 percent when we asked this question in 2007. There is much support (83 percent) for using tests to determine placement in special programs (such as academically selective high schools), although support wanes considerably if such programs have the unintended consequence of increasing racial and/or economic segregation.

30 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |
Eighty-five percent of respondents said they want the federal government to focus on attracting quality teachers.

A Deep Divide

“Our nation is sharply divided over public policy issues, yet Americans tend to agree that we need to support our public schools,” Starr said. “Right now, we’re all struggling to respond to the coronavirus. But even in the midst of the immediate crisis, we can’t afford to lose sight of our long-term goals and commitments. Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy, and to keep it that way, we must keep working to recruit and retain high-quality teachers, ensure that all children have equitable access to rich learning opportunities, and provide schools with the funding they need.”

Since its founding in 1969, the poll has been sponsored by PDK International and funded by the PDK Educational Foundation. Langer Research Associates of New York City has produced the PDK poll since 2016. This year’s survey is based on a random representative sample of 1,030 adults, including 206 parents of children in K-12 public schools.

For more information, visit pdkpoll. org H | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 31
Education Operating Procedures Requirements the Easy Way Join the TASB Student Solutions Membership to gain access to: • Customizable model special education operating procedures • Resources for running efficient and compliant programs • Online and local training opportunities Learn more at 888.247.4829 Measure employee engagement 800.580.7782 • HR Services offers web-based confidential surveys tailored to your needs: • Employee engagement and opinion surveys • Employee exit surveys • Customer satisfaction surveys for HR and other departments

TSPRA Names Welch as 2020 Key Communicator

Former Austin ISD Communication Director and longtime education reporter Andy Welch has been named the recipient of the Key Communicator Award for 2020 by the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA).

Throughout his remarkable career in communications, Welch served as a State Capitol reporter for daily newspapers and radio stations across the state, served on the staff of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, promoted Texas foods, wines, and organic produce, and worked as communication director for State Comptroller John Sharp.

In 1998, Welch began his tenure as communication director for Austin ISD, a position he held until his retirement in 2011. As the 2013 legislative session approached, TSPRA Executive Director Linsae Snider recruited Welch to write the EduLege newsletter to help keep TSPRA members informed of important education-related issues. Now in his eighth year with the newsletter, Welch has produced approximately 850 editions of EduLege.

Since 1981, TSPRA has recognized a Key Communicator for outstanding contributions to public education through effective communications. The recipient may be a legislator, educator, or a professional in another field who has improved school

communications, or a member of TSPRA who has contributed outstanding service to the profession of school communications across the state of Texas. Recipients have included leaders from business, media, PTA, politics, and education.H

Rodriguez Reelected to National Board

In August, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) elected TASB Board of Directors member Armando Rodriguez to a second three-year term on the NALEO Board of Directors, the term to conclude in June 2023. Rodriguez, Canutillo ISD Board secretary, was unanimously elected to serve an initial three-year term on the NALEO Board in 2017.

“To be effective advocates for our community, the leadership of this organization continues to empower the Latino community and create opportunities for kids,” Rodriguez said. “We address the complex issues facing our community and influence legislation that affects student outcomes.”

Rodriguez, a Leadership TASB graduate and Master Trustee, was nominated at the July TASB Board meeting to serve as TASB secretary-treasurer for 2020-21. In addition to his recent TASB officer nomination, he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and was selected by his peers to serve as treasurer of the organization’s National School Boards Action Center.

At NSBA, he also serves as chair of the National Hispanic Council. Previously, Rodriguez has served as president of the Mexican American School Boards Association and the Far West Texas School Boards Association.H | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 33
TSPRA Key Communicator Andy Welch Canutillo ISD Trustee Armando Rodriguez Photo courtesy of TSPRA Photo by TASB Media Services

Cream of the Crop

Finalists Named for 2020 Superintendent of the Year Award

Five public school administrators from across Texas were selected in late August as state finalists for the annual Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) award. Sponsored by TASB, the SOTY program has recognized exemplary superintendents for excellence and achievement in educational leadership since 1984.

The 2020 finalists are:

H Jose Gonzalez

McAllen ISD, Region 1

H Roland Hernandez

Corpus Christi ISD, Region 2

H Michelle Barrow

Newton ISD, Region 5

H Jamie Wilson

Denton ISD, Region 11

H Becky McCutchen

Alpine ISD, Region 18

The state selection committee, which interviewed regional winners August 28-29, targeted such issues as advocacy, diversity and inclusion, the impact of the pandemic on education, and the board-superintendent relationship.

Strong Slate of Finalists

Gonzalez has served as an administrator in McAllen ISD for 22 years and has been superintendent for the last four. The committee cited Gonzalez’s smalltown approach to leading this district of approximately 21,000 students, with a focus on relationships among individuals and organizations. Putting relationships front and center, Gonzalez places a premium on emotional intelligence in district staff, includes the community in board goal setting, and nurtures close ties to other local government entities. Thanks to those partnerships, when the pandemic struck, McAllen ISD was able to lean on established connections with the city and county to keep the district running smoothly through the transition. Gonzalez earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University–Kingsville and his master’s and doctorate

degrees from The University of Texas–Pan American.

Hernandez is entering his seventh year at the helm of Corpus Christi ISD, and he has 22 years of administrative experience. The committee noted the humility with which Hernandez leads, whether guiding this district of 36,000 students through a series of recent crises, turning around 18 schools in just four years, or acknowledging that it takes the whole community to make the district a success. They noted the value he places on input, actively listening to assess the diverse needs of Corpus Christi students and reaching out to parents during the pandemic. Hernandez is an active advocate for public education, serving as the 2020-21 president of the Texas School Alliance. Hernandez received his bachelor’s degree from Texas State University, his master’s degree from the University of Houston–Clear Lake, and his doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin.

Barrow has 17 years of administrative experience. She has been superintendent of Newton ISD for five years and serves approximately 1,000 students. The committee noted her resilience and her loyalty to this East Texas community. A graduate of Newton ISD, Barrow is committed to remaining in this small district and helping it continue to grow stronger. She takes a “grow your own” approach to teacher recruitment and is active in teacher retention efforts. Whether providing diversity training to students and staff, free breakfast and lunch to all students in this 392-square-mile district, or adult classes to the community (planned for spring 2021), Barrow shows her heart for Newton’s students and the community. The selection committee also noted her efforts to build trust, considering it essential to district success. Barrow received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University.

Superintendent of the Year H 2020







Wilson serves a diverse population of approximately 32,000 students. He has been in education administration for 19 years, serving as superintendent of Denton ISD for eight of those. The committee noted that Wilson leads this fast-growth district with a can-do attitude and a data-driven approach. Wilson places a priority on social and emotional learning and considers it an essential ingredient for academic success. The committee noted this focus on the whole student was evident during the pandemic, when the district worked first to meet the basic and emotional needs of students before addressing their learning needs. Wilson is an avid advocate for public education and ties district outcomes to legislative priorities. Wilson earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from the University of North Texas.

McCutchen has led Alpine ISD for five years and has been in education administration for 12 years. She serves approximately 1,000 students in this 1,995-square-mile West Texas district. Of particular note to the committee was her empathy for the district’s students and her involvement in advocating for rural schools. The committee stated that McCutchen shows she values the many differences among students, including special-needs students, a population with whom she has spent much of her education career. She uses her ability to relate to the students to make decisions that take all children into consideration and are guided by the belief that schools exist for the students. McCutchen earned her bachelor’s degree from

34 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |

Texas A&M University and her master’s degree from Sul Ross State University.

Selection Process

Candidates are chosen for their strong leadership skills, dedication to improving educational quality, ability to build effective employee relations, student performance, and commitment to public involvement in education. Superintendents from any of the state’s local school districts are eligible for nomination by their school boards. Local nominees are submitted to a regional selection committee, which chooses one nominee to send to the state selection committee. Regional superintendents of the year nominated by regional selection committees are:

H Marshall Scott III

Bay City ISD, Region 3

H Danny Massey

Brazosport ISD, Region 4

H Andrew Peters

Caldwell ISD, Region 6

H Jerry Gibson

Marshall ISD, Region 7

H Greg Bower

Como-Pickton CISD, Region 8

H Todd Wilson

Chillicothe ISD, Region 9

H Marc Smith

Duncanville ISD, Region 10

H David Edison

Aquilla ISD, Region 12

H Roger Dees

Giddings ISD, Region 13

H Joe Young

Brownwood ISD, Region 15

H Darryl Flusche

Canyon ISD, Region 16

H Juan Cabrera

El Paso ISD, Region 19

H Thomas Price Jr.

Boerne ISD, Region 20

The 2020 Superintendent of the Year will be announced at the 2020 TASA | TASB Convention. The districts of the winning superintendent and state finalists will receive an award from Balfour, program underwriter.H

Leadership TASB Class of 2021 Announced


Twenty-seven school board members from across the state have been named as members of the 2021 Leadership TASB Class. 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 yearlong program.

The program is composed of multiple sessions held among a cohort group of participants. Class members are selected for demonstrated leadership in their local districts and communities and for their representation of the diversity of Texas school districts.

Members of the 2021 Leadership TASB Class are:

• Kimberley Booker, Aldine ISD

• Darlene Breaux, Alief ISD

• Amanda Brown, River Road ISD

• Fred Campos, Hurst-EulessBedford ISD

• Karen Clardy, Richardson ISD

• Tiffany Clark, DeSoto ISD

• Allison Drew, Fort Bend ISD

• Pam Evans, Caldwell ISD

• Leslie Healton, Burkburnett ISD

• Julie Hinaman, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD

• David Kaminski, Waller ISD

• Kim Kriegel, Waxahachie ISD

• Fabian Marroquin, Palacios ISD

• Jenny Proznik, Lewisville ISD

• Vatsa Ramanathan, Allen ISD

• Chance Roberts, Bonham ISD

• Jennifer Rodriguez, Judson ISD

• Jorge Rodriguez, GrapevineColleyville ISD

• Manish Sethi, Coppell ISD

• Heather Sheffield, Eanes ISD

• Tricia Ann Stroud, West Orange-Cove CISD

• Desiree Thomas, Mansfield ISD

• Marilyn Tolbert, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD

• Lori Twomey, Humble ISD

• Jimmy Lee Vela, Point Isabel ISD

• Amy Weir, Round Rock ISD

• Lauren White, Lake Travis ISD

Yearlong Opportunity

The yearlong Leadership TASB program consists of five weekend sessions lasting two to three days each. Traditionally, the program begins at the TASA | TASB Convention and concludes at Summer Leadership Institute. Nationally known speakers and experts in education and business address themes such as teamwork, trusteeship, equity, diversity, and visionary leadership.

Sessions rotate among Texas cities and include visits to successful schools and innovative programs. Participants build relationships with colleagues from around the state while discovering solutions for today’s public education challenges and learning how to address the challenges the future is expected to bring.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the first session of the 2021 Leadership TASB program will be held virtually October 1-3. Depending on status of social-distancing guidelines, the remaining 2021 sessions are scheduled as follows:

• November 12-14—Austin

• February 11-13, 2021—Corpus Christi

• April 15-17, 2021—Longview

• June 24-26, 2021—Fort Worth

For more information about Leadership TASB, visit board-development-services/training/ leadership-tasb.aspx H | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 35

Bulletin Board

State Announces Operation Connectivity

Governor Greg Abbott announced in late August that the Texas Education Agency (TEA), in partnership with local education agencies, has procured more than 1 million personal devices and internet WiFi hotspots as part of the state’s Operation Connectivity initiative.

Financed by a previously announced $200 million allocation of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding that was allocated to TEA and matched by school districts across Texas, the procurement effort will ensure that students attending a Texas public school will have both a device and connection to the internet throughout the 2020-21 school year and beyond.

Administered by the Region 4 Education Service Center, the bulk procurement of devices and hotspots will lead to cost savings for districts of 20 to 40 percent off standard retail prices for devices.

“Securing personal devices and WiFi hotspots will help meet the connectivity needs of students across the state,” Abbott said. “As school districts delay in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year, it is critical that the state of Texas close the digital divide and ensure access to virtual education for students who are learning at home.”

TEA Announces Teacher Incentive Allotment

TEA announced in August the first 26 districts approved for a Local Designation System as part of the agency’s Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA). Made possible by the passage of House Bill 3 during the 86th legislative session, the TIA provides a pathway for the most effective teachers to earn six-figure salaries while enabling districts in rural and high-needs areas to improve educator recruitment and retention.

Beginning this year, interested districts were subject to an intensive multi-step application process that included review of their development of educator evaluation plans, student progress measurements, and robust stakeholder engagement. This first cohort of approved districts will designate approximately 3,650 teachers and generate nearly $40 million in additional funding.

“This is a gamechanger for us as a rural community. While a long process, it has been incredibly rewarding to see our teachers receive this recognition,” said La Pryor ISD Superintendent Matthew McHazlett. “For our teachers to potentially get an additional $30,000 per year that they didn’t expect over the next five years is potentially life-changing.”

For a list of the 26 approved districts or for more information, visit about-tea/news-and-multimedia/ news-releases/news-2020/a-signature-part-of-hb-3-in-its-inauguralyear-the-teacher-incentive-allotment-will-benefit-more-than-3600texas-teachers.

TEA, DSHS Create COVID Tracking System

The Texas Education Agency (TEA), in collaboration with the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), announced in late August a tracking system to monitor and report confirmed COVID-19 cases in public schools across Texas. Starting in September, school systems were required to report COVID-19 cases to DSHS, with DSHS publicly reporting data on cases and outbreaks in schools.

According to a TEA press release, “Data on the number of cases in schools is of paramount interest to parents, students, teachers, staff, public health experts, policymakers, and the larger community. This information will be submitted to DSHS any time there is a positive case in a campus community. . . . It is important to note that this data collection effort will be updated based on the input received from Texas school districts.

“Having this knowledge and being able to publicly share the accumulated case totals from schools in a single place covering the entire state of Texas will help us to further support the health and safety of all Texans.”

Longtime Azle ISD Trustee Passes Away

Sam Merck, a 29-year member of the Azle ISD Board, passed away August 19. He was 64.

Along with his decades of service to Azle ISD, Merck coached many years with the area’s Northwest YMCA. He was a member of the Silver Creek United Methodist Church. Merck worked as a dairyman, home builder, A/C company owner, and project manager for SSW Holding.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Janet; son, Bradley Merck and wife, Misty; grandson, Tucker; son, Blake Merck and wife, Danielle; brothers, Daren Merck and wife, Stephanie, and David Merck; sister, Sally Cate and husband, Steve; father, Eugene Merck and wife, Linda; mother, Mary Fischer and husband, Don; sister-in-law, Dena Hall, and niece and nephew, Maeghan Hall-Gehringer and Hunter Hall.H

36 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 |
If you have a short news item you would like to submit to Bulletin Board,

Learn and earn credit from the comfort of your home

the summit

exceptional governance

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

Save the date!

XG Summit: A virtual event

November 9–10

The eXceptional Governance (XG) Summit is TASB’s main event for research and best practices in school board governance. Visit the Governance Services virtual booth at TASA | TASB Convention to learn more about the upcoming Summit.


Additional online training and resources for trustees

NEW TASB Talks Podcast

Learn what the 2020 Honor Board finalists have done to become excellent.

TASB Online Learning Center (OLC)

Take advantage of the OLC—anytime, anywhere. Check out our current courses:

• NEW Texas Open Meetings Act

• SB 1566: Governance for Improved Student Learning (EISO Training)

• Child Abuse Prevention

Call for Programs!

Interested in presenting at next year’s Governance Camp (March 3-6, 2021)? Email kathy.dundee@ for more information.

Leaders: Help boost student performance

Find out how you can bring XG Board Development to your district.

TASB’s eXceptional Governance (XG) training enables your board to:

• Create a shared vision

• Understand data to assist decisions

• Apply a goal-monitoring system

• Commit to ongoing improvement

• Communicate a focus on student outcomes

For information on any of these offerings: 800.580.8272, ext. 2453 • | September/October 2020 | Texas Lone Star 37

Don’t Miss Out on These Student Video Contest, New TASB Talks Episodes

Q:Isn’t it about time for the Student Video Contest?

A: Yes, as a matter of fact, we are posting information now.

Some time ago, TASB created a Student Video Contest for public school students to use videos to speak up about their schools and have the chance to win prize money for their classrooms. It has been a regularly occurring popular event for about a decade.

If you aren’t familiar with the contest, it works like this: There are three categories: elementary, middle school, and high school. In each category, first- and second-place winners are named. First-place winners get $5,000 for their classroom. Second-place winners receive $2,500 for their classroom.

TASB hosts this competition every other year so that the student-produced videos that describe what makes their public schools special are available to share with legislators and the general public during the legislative session in odd-numbered years. It is great to hear students advocate for their schools and see the schools through their eyes. All videos submitted are posted in an online gallery; they’re great fun to watch.

This year, students are asked to prepare a video, 60 seconds or less in length, about overcoming. In years past, videos were two minutes or less. This year, the length is shortened to better focus the message. Additionally, the theme is new. Students are asked to tell about:

• A challenge your school has faced and how you overcame it

• The life skills taught in your school to help you push past adversity

• How your school works together as a team no matter what

• How and why Texas public schools are strong, resilient, and successful

Deadline for submissions is January 20, 2021. Full contest rules can be found at:

New Offering

As you know, in this column I regularly highlight new services available from TASB and its related entities. This month, I am pleased to let you know that the TASB Benefits Cooperative is now offering a dental pool to TASB member districts.

The coverage is plug-and-play with most third-party administrators and enrollment platforms, so it is easy to add to your other benefits. Give us a call with your questions or check out the information posted at

I Care. I Vote.

TASB Talks with Honor Boards

Each year the Texas Association of School Administrators recognizes the excellent work of school boards through its School Board Awards program. Boards are nominated by superintendents for their dedication to students. The five regional Honor Boards selected this year are from Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, Mesquite ISD, Sheldon ISD, Temple ISD, and Tornillo ISD.

Recently, TASB Talks interviewed a member from each of the five Honor Boards about the board’s service to their schools and community. The five podcasts are definitely worth hearing! Each of the boards provides insights and models that can inform and guide other boards. You can find TASB Talks at

This year’s Outstanding School Board will be announced at the 2020 TASA | TASB Convention.

As you know, election day is approaching, and it is important for voters to take advantage of the opportunity to speak up. It is important for each of us to vote. It is important that we encourage our friends, family, and district personnel to vote. It is important that we teach young adults who are eligible for the first time to vote.

Clearly, we are not advising anyone how to vote. The important message is that voting is an important responsibility for each one of us. This year, the deadline to register to vote is October 5, and early voting is October 13-30. Election Day is November 3, 2020.

October 16 is being promoted as Student Voting Day this year, and October 19 has been designated as Educator Voting Day. Additionally, you may want to check out the information at Texas Educators Vote: H

Karen Strong is TASB associate executive director of Communications and Public

38 Texas Lone Star | September/October 2020 | Q & A
This year, students are asked to prepare a video about overcoming.
He is counting on you. Speak up for our children. Speak up for Texas public schools.
NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID AUSTIN TEXAS PERMIT NO 1422 Texas Association of School Boards P.O. Box 400 Austin, Texas 78767-0400 Join us for an interactive and informative two-day event: Thursday, November 5 Workshop ............................ 2:30–4:30 p.m. Q&A 5–6 p.m. Friday, November 6 Workshop .......................... 9:30–11:30 a.m. Q&A Noon–1 p.m Tough times don’t last, but tough teams do! VIRTUAL LEGAL SEMINAR 2020 DELIVERING TIMELY LEGAL TRAINING TO HELP BUILD BETTER TEAMS
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.