Austin school board members are urging district administrators to avoid further missteps as the district prepares to shutter four schools as early as next school year and move students to other campuses.  Trustees at a school board meeting Monday night told administrators to learn from the mistakes they made during the rollout of the plan to close Brooke, Metz, Pease and Sims elementary schools. The district's announcement in September to close 12 schools, which later was whittled to four, prompted outrage among parents, politicians and community members, who said the plan lacked transparency and unfairly targeted historically marginalized communities.  Last week, board members received a critical summary, authored by the district's chief equity officer, of the problems with the closure plan; the report, which said the closures perpetuate long-standing policies of racial and economic segregation, was made public Monday.  Some campuses will close as early as May. view article arw

Austin ISD’s equity officer completed a report days before district leaders voted to close four schools, calling the closure's plan flawed and inherently racist, but board members didn’t receive it until weeks later. In a 20-page report released Monday, Chief Equity Officer Stephanie Hawley argued the decision to close four elementary schools would gravely affect under-served communities and continue racial and economic segregation. view article arw

The Wildorado High School FFA program will have their success featured in a new documentary. The profile, called Wildorado, is a part of the docuseries I am Angus, produced by the American Angus Association. The films director, Josh Comninellis, said it was the program’s impact on the town that drew his attention. “So, it’s the story of starting a program all the way to their first sale and all the all the trials and struggles that went into that process,” Comninellis said. “But also kind of the big stakes that were surrounding it. So, it’s kind of the story of these kids, you know, putting this together and how that impacted the town.” view article arw

Recently, I was training a group of teachers and during a break, a teacher asked me, “I see that one of the people you dedicated the book, The Fundamental 5, to was Betsy Shipper. Is that the Betsy Shipper who taught middle school math in Aldine ISD?”  “Yes. How do you know her?” “She was my math teacher when I was in middle school. She was one of the best teacher’s I ever had.”  “Same here, hence the book dedication.” view article arw

After back-to-back years of declining enrollment, Houston ISD has added about 400 children to its classrooms for the 2018-19 school year, a positive development for the district amid ongoing leadership turbulence.  As of late October, when districts across the state take a state-ordered snapshot of their student bodies, HISD reported an enrollment of 210,053 children, up 0.1 percent from the prior year. Enrollment in the state’s largest district had dipped by about 6,300 students, or 4 percent, over the prior two years, which education leaders largely attributed to displacement from Hurricane Harvey, growing competition from charter schools, and declining trust in the administration and school board. view article arw

Frisco ISD will apply for a waiver for full-day prekindergarten for the 2019-20 school year. The board voted in favor of applying for the waiver at a Dec. 9 board meeting. Full-day pre-K comes as a result of House Bill 3, which passed in the recent Texas legislative session. The law requires school districts to offer full-day pre-K to 4-year-old students who meet certain requirements, such as those who cannot comprehend English or who qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch program. view article arw

Class ranking policy changes that will affect students attending academy programs and specialized “programs of choice” at Fort Bend ISD schools are being considered and may soon become official policy. Trustees recently discussed changing guidelines for calculating class rank, beginning with the class of 2024. If approved, the new policy would mean students enrolled in academy programs and programs of choice would be measured against students at the campus those students are zoned to attend for class rankings. view article arw

It's no secret that schools are doing some amazing things to help kids prepare for their future - Brenham ISD is no stranger to that. Students and teachers proudly displayed their achievements in academics programs at the district's Advanced Academics Expo Tuesday night. "It ranges from the high school with advanced academics and dual credit, then all the way down to our kindergartners and elementary students that have gifted programs there as well," said Lori Ruiz-Wamble, the director of Special Programs and Advanced Academics for Brenham ISD. view article arw

More elementary school students in Eanes ISD will soon have access to learning more Spanish after the school board voted Tuesday night to expand the pilot program. Futuro is the program that currently teaches some students in kindergarten through second grade some of their core subjects in both Spanish and English. Following the board’s vote, students in third through fifth grade will have access to the program over the next few years. view article arw

Eanes school board member Ellen Balthazar’s motion to continue providing a Spanish immersion program to students at four elementary campuses in the district was met with applause and cheers from parents and teachers who weathered a more than four-hour discussion Tuesday night. "In the time I’ve been on the board, one of the things that has been a desire from parents in our district has been a desire for more diversity," Balthazar said. "So I cannot fathom how we would walk away from a program of diversity now that we have it." view article arw

Austin equity officer: School closures are not equity strategies  The Austin school district’s school closure plan perpetuates longstanding policies of racial and economic segregation, targeting vulnerable and historically underserved communities, according to a report by the district’s chief equity officer released Monday.  Stephanie Hawley, the chief equity officer, completed the 20-page report in advance of the 6-3 board vote three weeks ago to shutter four elementary campuses, but district officials did not share it with board members until last week. Hawley told board members before the vote that the plan was what “21st century racism looks like.”  Hawley describes in the report a plan that was flawed early on, excluding affected teachers, principals and communities that has led to deep mistrust of the school district. view article arw

The Austin Independent School District’s board of trustees meets tonight to discuss the transition plan for the four schools it voted to close at last month’s meeting.  Starting in January, AISD will schedule community meetings to discuss how to transition Brooke, Metz, Pease and Sims elementary school students to their new schools. view article arw

You have a choice. Your school can use the last two weeks of the Fall Semester to do traditional things. Lots of parties, concerts, reviews, slowing down and counting the days until Christmas Break.  Or, you can excise the fluff and go hard. Teaching forward and maximizing every instructional minute available. view article arw

Amarillo’s North Heights Alternative School is using focus groups to test out a new program that will help prevent students from dropping out. The PASS program at the school currently helps at-risk high school juniors and seniors stay on the path to graduating. The focus groups in the new Crossroads program have already shown that many AISD freshmen and sophomores need the same kind of help. view article arw

Four days before the Austin ISD Board of Trustees voted to close four schools, the district’s first-ever equity officer wrote the closure plan was created in a racist environment and emphasized money and buildings instead of the well-being of students and communities of color. view article arw

Austin school board members meet Monday to talk about changes when four schools close next year. Metz, Pease, Sims and Brooke elementary schools are all set to close, and parents at one of the schools are concerned about what will happen with after-school childcare. view article arw

Bryan ISD gets superior FIRST rating

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In a public hearing last week, the Bryan school district announced it had received a superior FIRST rating for the 17th year. Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Kevin Beesaw told the board the district received an A rating and a score of 98 points. He also noted the results are based on year-old data from the 2017-2018 school year. The ratings are calculated based on 15 indicators, including five that are considered “critical indicators.” A district that fails to pass any of the five critical indicators receives an automatic F rating. view article arw

While video and computer games capture of the interest of many young kids, the designing process that goes into them is something Angleton ISD Assistant Superintendent Adam Stephens wants to emphasize as a part of a growing computer science and engineering world. During Computer Science Education Week, fifth-grade students at Westside Elementary took an hour of class time to meet with local dignitaries, including County Judge Matt Sebesta, Superintendent Phil Edwards and Angleton Mayor Jason Perez, to take part in coding activities. view article arw

Sulphur Springs Independent School District Board of Trustees will still hold the monthly meeting on its usual day and place, the second Monday of the month, in the board room of SSISD Administration Building. However, the board meeting will convene at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 9, instead of the usual monthly 6 p.m. meeting schedule earlier than usual. A representative from Rutherford, Taylor and Company PC is scheduled to present from trustees’ approval the Annual Financial and Compliance Report for fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2019. view article arw

Two students in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD’s (PSJA ISD) Early College Program have been accepted to two of the country’s most prestigious universities with full-ride scholarships. Senior Mariano Salcedo from PSJA Southwest Early College High School was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Senior Melanny Garcia from PSJA North Early College High School was accepted to Stanford University. Both students will receive  full-ride QuestBridge National College Match Scholarships. view article arw

Several factors go into being kindergarten ready and parents play a big role in preparing their children for that first step into education. Diana Ruiz, director of First 5 and assistant professor of nursing at the University of Texas Permian Basin, said skills, characteristics and behaviors show when a child is ready for kindergarten. When First 5 conducts research into kindergarten readiness, they use a tool called early development instrument. They have done this for several years in Ector and Midland counties. view article arw

Top LYS Tweets – December 9, 2019

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If you are not following @LYSNation on Twitter, then you missed the Top 10 LYS tweets from the past week when they were first posted.  And if you are on Twitter, you might want to check out the Tweeters who made this week’s list.  There is nothing like knowing you had a hand in keeping ONE student from dropping out of school! Education is a blessed profession! (By @tgrierhisd) view article arw

Taylor High School students balance school and farming life while nabbing major prizes in the process at the 2019 Williamson County Livestock Show Monday, Dec. 2 to Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Williamson County Expo Center.  The age of competitors range from grade school children to high school seniors, and while some are too young to compete in Taylor High School’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) program, they have their sights set on the future with its current members as examples on time management.  Taylor High School sophomore Thomas Oman is a member of the Taylor FFA.  view article arw

Some students at South Texas ISD Science Academy got to show off their skills during a competition last month in Angleton, Texas. The Electric Car Club competed against teams from Texas and Alabama in the Texas Greenpower F-24 Race. According to a release, Greenpower runs engineering challenges for schools focused on designing and building a single-seat electric powered race car. view article arw

The Marlin Independent School District has not met state student academic standards since 2010, longer than any other school district in Texas. Since then, the district’s student population has shrunk by more than 200 students, while more students transfer out of the district each year. The Texas Education Agency has intervened in an effort to improve student academic performance, beginning in 2015 with an agreement between the agency and the district to keep Marlin ISD open, despite failing standardized test scores. view article arw

From design to installation, a group of 12 Killeen ISD Career Center students from three separate programs completed a project to help a local youth organization. Six seniors in the school’s welding program designed and pieced together a deer skinning rack for Parrie Haynes Ranch south of Killeen for its youth hunts. view article arw

Students at Whitehouse ISD had the opportunity to take flight and learn what it takes to be a pilot. Part of the district’s aviation program, students are given the chance to learn from pilots who have been flying for decades. The goal is to show them what to expect on their first flight. A demonstration was given to show them what preparations have to be made, and how to operate a small plane from take-off to landing. view article arw

Corpus Christi ISD is among 12 Texas districts that have been recognized for their outstanding programs with the release of Texas School Business magazine’s 13th Annual Bragging Rights 2019-20 special issue. Bragging Rights, which calls for nominations and is published every December, recognizes school districts that have implemented programs that are bettering the lives of Texas’ students, schools and communities. view article arw

Henderson ISD trustees could approve the district's performance objectives at their Tuesday meeting. The board also may approve an early resignation stipend and board standard operating procedures. view article arw

As Houston Independent School District fights for its independence, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel gave little indication Thursday of whether he would tap the brakes on the state’s plans to strip power from the elected trustees and install a new governing board.  However, Yeakel complimented the district on a “well-presented” case and said he plans to rule quickly on HISD’s request for a preliminary injunction. An injunction would stop the state from making moves to upend management at the state’s largest school district until the court hears and decides the full case. view article arw

Educators and parents are planning to rally at Houston ISD headquarters Thursday to demonstrate that they are against the state takeover of houston schools. The Houston Federation of Teachers has also filed a lawsuit against the proposed takeover. The union said the rally will be the first hearing of that federal lawsuit they filed against the takeover. In a town hall meeting Tuesday, those in view article arw

I was working with some new assistant principals today as they were dealing with a fairly cut and dried student issue.  Yet, they were bending themselves into pretzels trying to devise a solution.  After a while, I stepped in and said, “What’s the big deal? You do this thing, because it’s best for the students. Let’s move on.” view article arw

During Monday’s joint meeting with the City Council, the Denton school district took a step in the right direction by proposing the addition of three more school resource officers to boost security at its largest high schools. The district also did not go far enough. If approved by the City Council, the additional officers will be assigned to Denton, Guyer and Ryan high schools, bringing each campus’s total to two full-time officers. With the hires, the district would have at least one officer in each of its four high schools and eight middle schools, with the Denton Police Department providing the officers for the three high schools and three middle schools within the city limits. The school district contracts with neighboring police departments for schools outside the city limits. view article arw

More Katy Independent School District students are enrolling in advanced placement courses than previous years, and they are getting higher scores. Now, the College Board is honoring the Katy school district for those accomplishments.  Katy ISD is one of only 250 school districts in the U.S. and Canada that's been placed on the 2019 College Board AP District Honor Roll for increasing Advanced Placement course participation and scores. Katy ISD is one of only 18 districts in Texas to earn this distinction. view article arw

In a last-ditch effort to prevent a state takeover, lawyers for Houston Independent School District implored a federal judge Thursday to stop Texas education officials from replacing the district's elected board until he rules on the merits of their lawsuit challenging the action.  Houston ISD lawyers told U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel that Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath exceeded his authority at nearly every step as he moved to appoint a board of managers to lead Houston ISD, a decision they said would disenfranchise voters of color. view article arw