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8th July 2024
Over 20,000 students withdrawn from Texas public schools every year
More than 20,000 students are withdrawn from Texas public schools every year to be homeschooled, according to the Texas HomeSchool Coalition. With the passage of the Equal Access Bill in the Texas Legislature, commonly referred to as the Tim Tebow Bill, those students don't have to sacrifice participating in extracurricular activities when they do. This new legislation provides an opportunity for homeschooled students to engage in activities such as sports, music, and clubs, allowing them to have a more well-rounded educational experience.
Report reveals troubling laws allowing public schools to exclude privileged families
A new report by nonprofits Available to All and Bellwether Education reveals troubling laws, loopholes, and trends that undermine the legacy of Brown v. Board in public schools. The report highlights how public schools are able to legally exclude privileged families without consequence. Discrimination is made widespread through the use of school attendance zones, which often mirror racist housing maps from the 1930s. The report argues for better legal protections, such as open enrollment zones, reserve seats for nonresidents, and require lotteries when schools reach capacity. It also provides a legal profile for each state, outlining their stance on laws that govern public school admissions. The report emphasizes the urgent need to reform the weight home addresses have on educational outcomes, especially as many districts consider closures and consolidations. The report calls for addressing the systemic pressure to stack schools with easier-to-educate kids and protecting certain vulnerable student groups from enrollment discrimination. The report aims to bring attention to the issue of educational redlining and prompt action to ensure equal access to quality education for all students.
Schools fight for funding: Superintendents step up political pressure
More superintendents are stepping into the political realm as budgets grow precarious. Districts across the United States are facing major budget shortfalls, declining enrollment, outdated state funding formulas, and rising costs. Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde and Andrea Castañeda, the superintendent of the Salem-Keizer district in Oregon, have publicly called out state lawmakers for not providing more state education aid. Elizalde and Castañeda offer advice to district leaders on advocating for their students, staff, and schools. They emphasize the importance of being vocal without being vicious, finding common ground with opponents, seeking counsel from colleagues, and being mindful of others' challenges. The superintendents stress the need for more funding without blaming individuals. Their pleas have received both positive and negative feedback, but they remain committed to their cause.
Plano ISD faces budget deficit for 2024-25 fiscal year
Plano ISD has passed a deficit budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year due to lower student enrollment, underfunded state mandates, a lower basic allotment from the state, and increased inflation. Johnny Hill, Plano ISD's deputy superintendent for business and employee services, expressed the need for the district to find ways to increase revenue in the next few years or consider cutting programs. The district is facing financial challenges and must address them to maintain its programs and services.
Fort Worth ISD faces deficits and shortfalls
Fort Worth ISD is facing deficits and shortfalls, including a decline in student enrollment and consistent budget shortfalls. There is also a gap between students' performance and their grade level. The lack of trust and confidence in the school board has worsened due to their violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act. The board discussed the recent STAAR test results in a closed session, potentially to spin the results. This incident further erodes trust and transparency. The public's right to see how its business is done should not be obscured. The board's actions hinder accountability and make it difficult for citizens to properly hold their government accountable. The grim news about student achievement in Fort Worth schools is evident. The board members' briefing should have been conducted in public. The community's recourse may have to come at the ballot box in the upcoming elections.
Dramatic changes in Houston schools could reshape education
Houston ISD has undergone a dramatic state takeover, resulting in significant changes to teaching and learning. The state-appointed superintendent and school board have redesigned the district, implementing reforms such as tying teacher pay to student test scores and slashing non-classroom expenses. While these changes have received minimal national media attention, education leaders across the U.S. are closely watching HISD to see if these reforms are worth replicating. The architect of the overhaul, former Dallas ISD Chief Mike Miles, believes his model can close the achievement gap and improve student outcomes. However, critics argue that the approach is unproven and unsustainable. Despite the controversy, HISD has seen improvements in state test scores and progress in serving students with disabilities. The district's financial viability and high teacher turnover rate remain concerns.
Hays CISD approves compensation plan and budget for 2024-25 school year
The Hays CISD Board of Trustees has unanimously approved the district's compensation plan and budget for the 2024-25 school year. The compensation plan includes a 1% pay increase in cost of living for teachers, librarians, nurses, and counselors, as well as salary adjustments for other employees. The board also approved new positions, including a speech language pathologist assistant and a campus support specialist. Trustee Courtney Runkle emphasized the importance of supporting staff and students while making difficult decisions. The board will meet again on July 22.
Lampasas ISD approves vape policy and teacher incentive allotment program
The Lampasas ISD Board of Trustees discussed and approved the district's vape policy during their recent meeting. They also agreed to an arrangement with the Region 12 Service Center for support in implementing a potential Teacher Incentive Allotment program. The board received an attendance report for the 2023-24 school year, which showed a slight increase in student numbers. The details of the meeting were shared by Lampasas ISD Board of Trustees President Ryan Shahan and Board Vice President Rob Borchardt. The board's decisions aim to address important issues and improve the education system in Lampasas ISD.
Laneville ISD approves significant teacher pay raises
The Laneville ISD Board recently authorised major teacher pay rises, which, along with their successful four-day school week, will provide the district with a competitive edge in the state's teacher shortage. In June, board members and LISD Superintendent Terry Young addressed teacher and staff compensation increases. Principal LaTara Waggoner noted that other districts allow teachers to wear jeans daily as an inexpensive way to attract certified staff.
Hallsville High School and Junior Highmake honor roll
The Hallsville High School and Junior High School campuses have been recognized for their academic excellence by making the Educational Results Partnerships "Honor Roll." This achievement places them in the top 12% of eligible schools in Texas. The recognition is based on data from the STAAR from 2019 through 2023. The campuses were selected based on their performance above the trendline on select metrics for at least 80% of the time in the last four years of STAAR testing. The Honor Roll aims to highlight districts that prioritize fundamental skills and prepare students for success after graduation. The initiative is presented by the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence in collaboration with the Texas Business Leadership Council.
Lometa ISD's Board of Trustees discuss student success initiatives
Lometa ISD's Board of Trustees met for a regular meeting to discuss student success initiatives and staff updates. They signed a service agreement with Texas Tech University Health Science Center Permian Basin Campus to provide medical care for students at their parent's request. Superintendent Rob Moore explained the new program and grant.
Back-to-school tips for 2024-25
For families preparing for the 2024-25 school year, school districts in the Corpus Christi area have started sharing school supply lists and information about free back-to-school events. Corpus Christi ISD students will start school on August 12, and Tuloso-Midway ISD students will start on July 17. Various health fairs and events are being held in these districts, offering free health resources, immunizations, and back-to-school physicals. These events are open to students from any school district. Nueces County Commissioner Robert Hernandez and Brent Chesney are hosting back-to-school health fairs, and Driscoll Children's Hospital and LEAD First are organizing a Happy Health fair.
Hays CISD trustee helps thousands of children with clothes closet
Hays CISD trustee Esperanza Orosco started the Clothes Closet in her classroom over a decade ago, and now the organization helps over 1,000 children each year. The program provides clothing, food, and school supplies to students in need. Orosco began the program after seeing her students come to school without proper clothing. The Clothes Closet has grown significantly and now operates out of a former district Wellness Center. Students can sign up online and receive items twice a semester, including five shirts, five bottoms, shoes, and new underwear and socks. The program also supports infant and toddler clothing and has a prom shop for high school students. Donations come from the community and beyond, and the program is currently in need of shorts for younger children.
Operation Liberty Hill's summer snack program provides food for students in need
Operation Liberty Hill's Summer Snack Program, hosted by Liberty Hill ISD, is providing food for students in need. The program, which began at the end of the school year and will continue until August 13th, offers snack bags to students who qualify for the free or reduced price lunch program. Parents can visit the food bank at Operation Liberty Hill to receive one snack bag per child, containing eight to 10 items including protein, juice, snacks, and a dinner item. The program relies on volunteers to pack the snack bags and donations of non-perishable food items. Operation Liberty Hill is in need of protein items, juices, fruit bars, beef jerky, and other non-perishable food items.
Financial aid packages: Private schools offer more generous grants
Nearly 90% of full-time, first-time undergraduates at four-year colleges received financial aid in 2020-21. Private college students not only more frequently receive aid compared to their public counterparts, but also tend to receive more generous packages. On average, private schools offer $25,400 compared to the $6,600 at public institutions. According to the Princeton Review, all top ten colleges for student satisfaction with financial aid packages are private institutions. This information reflects trends that private educational institutions might offer better financial support due to their higher tuition costs and a wealthier support base.

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