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8th February 2024
More schools urge mildly sick kids to attend
Some advocates and school systems are now encouraging kids to come to class even when they have the sniffles or other "nuisance illnesses" like lice or pinkeye. The state of California for example, where 25% of students last year missed 10% of the school year, took a new approach to sick-day guidance last fall. Instead of only saying when a child should stay home, the guidance describes circumstances when a child might be slightly unwell but can come to school. California also doesn’t insist on waiting 24 hours after a fever or vomiting before returning to school. Going fever-free or without vomiting overnight is enough. Boston Public Schools took a similar stance in its online recommendations for parents. “Respiratory infections are common. If the child does not have fever, does not appear to have decreased activity or other symptoms, it is not necessary for the child to stay home,” the district guidance reads. "Families need to hear they no longer must keep kids home at any sign of illness," agrees Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works. The national nonprofit has even issued its own guidance, urging parents to send kids to school if they can participate in daily activities. “We have to now re-engage kids and families, and change their thinking about that,” Chang adds. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends staying home when there’s fever, vomiting or diarrhea, or when students “are not well enough to participate in class.”
Argyle ISD bond proposal approved
The Argyle ISD Board of Trustees has approved a $511.5m bond proposal for school expansion. The proposal will be presented to voters in three propositions in the May 4 General Election. The bond package addresses instructional space needs for enrollment growth at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels, as well as district technology and a baseball/softball complex. The bond election, if approved, will maintain the current tax rate. The proposed middle school would serve grades 6th-8th with a capacity of 1,200, while the elementary school would serve PreKindergarten-5th grade with an 850-student capacity. The bond recommendation was modified to align with the 10-Year Strategic Growth Plan. Argyle ISD's last bond election was in 2022 for $267.9m.
Eanes ISD approves cost adjustments to bond projects
The Eanes ISD board of trustees has approved cost adjustments to the 2019 bond projects. The adjustments will ensure that the projects stay within budget and are completed on time. The decision was made after careful consideration of the financial implications and the impact on the community. As one board member stated: "We want to ensure that we are responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars while still providing the best educational facilities for our students." The approved adjustments will allow for necessary changes and improvements to be made without exceeding the allocated funds. This decision reflects the board's commitment to delivering high-quality education and maintaining transparency in their financial management.
School finance leaders' concerns for the year ahead
Elleka Yost, director of advocacy and research for the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO International), and James Rowan, the association’s new executive director, outline school finance leaders' top concerns for the year ahead. With formal audits of education spending ramping up, Rowan advises districts to be prepared to demonstrate "with concrete evidence" that they engaged community members in the planning process for spending the funds. "They need to be rigorous in showing that they spent at least 20% of funds from the last round of COVID aid on efforts to address learning loss," he adds. Meanwhile, mental health remains a top area of investment. Some 69% of districts surveyed said students’ mental health and behavioral needs were a top driver of spending decisions for ESSER funds. ASBO International plans to work on partnering with universities and K-12 schools to help strengthen the pipeline for education roles experiencing workforce shortages, and is watching "with interest" proposals in several states to dramatically increase teacher pay. “Are these unfunded mandates that shift the burden onto local districts to have to fund?” Yost says.
Angleton ISD's new start and dismissal times ruffle parents' feathers
Angleton ISD parents are criticizing the district's new start and dismissal times for the upcoming school year. The criticism stems from a lack of consultation with parents and transparency. One parent states: "[It is] as much about the lack of consultation with parents and transparency as it is with the times themselves."
Dripping Springs ISD holds groundbreaking ceremony for middle school expansion
Dripping Springs ISD will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the Sycamore Springs Middle School expansion project. The project, included in the May 2023 bond, will increase the campus student capacity from 850 to 1,200 students and include an expansion of the school's cafeteria. Construction will begin in February and last approximately one year.
Marlayna Zachary named region 13 assistant principal of the year
Marlayna Zachary, assistant principal of Jacob’s Well Elementary School in Wimberley ISD, has been named the 2024 Region 13 Assistant Principal of the Year by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA). The award recognizes assistant principals from across the state for their commitment to student learning and exceptional school leadership. She is now eligible for the 2024 National Assistant Principal of the Year for Texas.
FAFSA submissions have declined significantly
Around 676,000 high school seniors submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) through late January, fewer than half the number who had sent in the form by the same time last year, according to an analysis by the National College Attainment Network. As of January 26, high school seniors had submitted 56.6% fewer FAFSA forms compared to the year before. That drop is even more severe for students from high schools with predominantly low-income populations, who've seen a 65.2% year-over-year decline in FAFSA submissions. Notably, the U.S. Department of Education released the revamped form nearly three months later than normal, while glitches and technical errors have plagued its rollout so far.

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