Huckabee | Architecture | Engineering | Management

Surviving Crazy “Leaders”

March 3008:30 AM

Good information! “Miguel,” a dear friend and colleague asked me, “Have you read the new superintendent’s book?” At my blank stare and smile, she pointed to the Simon Sinek book in her hand entitled, Leaders Eat Last. I felt my hackles rise as my instinctive dislike of mis-applied lessons from other fields made my gorge rise. view article arw

By a 4-3 margin, Brownsville Independent School District trustees on Wednesday  approved spending $1.175 million to buy tablet computers for every fifth-grade student in the district. The vote came after a contentious discussion, but in the end the board decided the purchase had been properly vetted and the district was getting the best value for its investment. Board president Cesar Lopez and trustees Joe Rodriguez, Ralph Cowen and Carlos Elizondo voted in favor, with Minerva Peña, Sylvia Atkinson and Laura Perez-Reyes against. view article arw

Schools are building up their cyber defenses as more students turn to high-tech methods of sabotaging online testing, grade reporting, and communications. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are on the rise, forcing those in charge of districts’ cyber security to adapt and defend their networks. (EdTech) view article arw

Someone has tried to file at least three tax returns using the Social Security numbers of Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco Independent School District employees. It all stems from an IRS phishing scam that the District's business manager fell victim to back on Jan. 27. Since that time, the FBI and IRS have been working to find those responsible and stop the fraud. "Our business office received an email that was seeking the release of W2 information," said Superintendent Tim Little of Ben Bolt=Palito Blanco ISD. "Unfortunately they were successful in that, and they posed as me to get that to happen."   view article arw

This week a Maryland student's mass shooting plot at her high school was stopped after her father tipped off police. It is part of a disturbing trend. An ABC news investigation found in the last 17 years there have been at least 79 thwarted school massacre plots. Just a few years ago Socorro ISD didn't even have security cameras at schools. That has since changed. view article arw

For Tatum ISD, the introduction of cheaper computers and Google educational apps means the district has moved away from the Microsoft devices and equipment used in the past, said Director of Technology Wes Boyd. "Most things are web-based these days," Boyd said. "You don't do a whole lot of installing on computers anymore. (Google) Chromebooks are basically a tool to allow (students) to access the resources on the web. It's inexpensive compared to even buying computers, or especially Apple devices. We can buy five Chromebooks for one Macbook." view article arw

Sue Dixon often warns her high school grandson never to sign online petitions and to be suspicious of all websites asking for personal information. Now Dixon, a public school teacher in Gatesville, wonders whether she’s the victim of some sort of web-related scam. “Absolutely not,” Dixon said when asked whether she recently entered her name, email address and mailing address into an online form asking her state representative to support the use of public dollars to fund private education. “No, no, no, no, no.” view article arw

The Wichita Falls ISD is expanding its digital footprint - again. While the 2016-17 school year meant big things in the digital world for sixth-graders - all the district’s sixth-graders received their own take-home Chromebooks - when 2017-18 rolls around, it will be the fourth-graders’ turn. “This year, with federal funds, (the goal) is to get fourth-graders going,” Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths said at Tuesday’s school board special session. view article arw

They’re having shoot ‘em ups in the desert and blowing up asteroids in space, all for high school credit. Kilgore High School has a class called Game Design and Animation where students can play video games, if they make them first. Pretty much everyone has played some type of video game, but creating that game is tougher than getting to the third level. Benjamin Wood is the game master of this bunch. “The school board had to actually approve and go through some processes to get this course able to be taught at a high school level here,” Wood explained. view article arw

A questionable software purchase has led to the discovery of over $1 million in waste in Dallas ISD's information technology and procurement departments. An external investigation found that DISD staff skirted both the district's own purchasing policies and state law by avoiding competitive bidding for data analysis software, and then used approved vendors as a "pass-through" for services from a company that wasn't approved. In the course of the investigation, DISD's IT department was also found to be supplementing its staff with full-time subcontractors, using money set aside for short-term projects. view article arw

A million dollars in waste and it could lead to some serious punishments. That's after an external investigation into the purchase of computer software at the Dallas Independent School District. At least two senior level employees have been fired. In all, seven DISD employees have been disciplined. All over an alleged scheme to circumvent the bid process and award a $5-million contract to an out-of-state technology firm. view article arw

Katy ISD trustees were updated at their March 20 board meeting on services provided by the Katy Virtual School. Darlene Rankin, director of instructional technology, and Susan Richards, eLearning manager, spoke about the progress the school has made and plans for future accomplishments. The need for the program arose from an increased number of junior high students who had to be transported to high schools for a pre-Advanced Placement geometry courses, according to KISD officials. view article arw

Burleson County schools could have access to high speed internet as soon as the end of the summer. The lack of high speed internet has been a big problem for Caldwell ISD. "Our phones are IP addressable, so our phone's work through the internet. If the internet goes down, our phones go down. That's happened to me twice since Christmas,” said Caldwell ISD Superintendent Andrew Peters. view article arw

School trustees will decide today whether to buy desktop and laptop computers for Career and Technology Program students. The computers, which have already been budgeted for, would serve three classes: anatomy and physiology, law enforcement and automotive collision. view article arw

After completing a yearlong pilot program, Waco Independent School District (Waco, TX) has extended the amount of class time spent teaching STEM topics to its pre-K students from two minutes to an average of 36 minutes per day. The district ran a pilot program for the 2014-15 school year where pre-K students tested out the online and activity-based STEMscopes Early Explorer curriculum developed by Rice University and Accelerate Learning. “It is built from the ground up to Head Start, state and national prekindergarten and kindergarten guidelines, and is scaffolded to prepare students for Next Generation Science Standards in kindergarten,” according to a prepared statement from Accelerate Learning.  view article arw

SAN BENITO — It’s like Christmas for the Career and Technology Program. First, the program received approval to purchase a new ambulance simulator and greenhouses last month.  Now, program officials are requesting new laptops.  Last week, the CTE Director Hector Rendon approached the finance committee with the request to purchase about 76 new laptops. view article arw

Putting even greater emphasis on technology in the classroom, Kountze ISD next year plans to supply all 1,100 of its students with personal laptops loaded with digital editions of textbooks, educational software and the capability to move standardized testing completely online. The district this spring leased 1,300 computers, enough for each student from kindergarten through high school to have their own to bring to and from school each day. Teachers also get one, and schools will have spares on campus in case students forget theirs or laptops break. Superintendent John Ferguson said the district is one of the first in Southeast Texas to have a 1 to 1 student-to-computer ratio. Sabine Pass ISD has a similar program. view article arw

The spoofed e-mail that requested and received all 2016 W-2's from Tyler Independent School District, was an account.KLTV 7 Investigates obtained the text of the e-mail through a request under the Texas Public Information Act. The e-mail was sent on March 1 to what the district described as a "low-level" human resources employee and appeared to be from Marty Crawford, who is the current superintendent for Tyler ISD. The e-mail with the subject "Review 2016" told the employee the superintendent needed a list of "all Employees wage and tax statement for 2016." However the recipient did not notice that the sender address did not match Dr. Crawford's official Tyler ISD e-mail. By the time the error was discovered, all of the district's 2016 W-2 forms were sent to this spoofed account. view article arw

Jacksboro ISD is looking to cut its energy costs by more than $60,000 a year.  The district has contracted with Ideal Impact, Inc. for energy optimization services. The bill for optimization is $240,000 which the district is financing for four years. “The guaranteed savings from Ideal Impact will cover the costs of the payments,” said Superintendnet Dwain Milam. “They guarantee around $60,000 a year. Once that obligation is done, the savings will go back into the classrooms or wherever we need it. We anticipate the saving to be in excess of $60,000.” Milam said he also anticipates the district will see savings in less wear-and-tear on the HVAC system. Ideal Impact will program the school’s computerized system on the back-end to run units differently to maintain a constant designated temperature that changes when the facilities are unoccupied. It will also prevent all units from running simulateously to reduce the district’s peak electrical draw and as a result, it’s electric rates. view article arw

Nearly 1,000 parents in the Austin Independent School District whose children ride the school bus received a letter this week informing them they will be part of a new pilot program. view article arw

Marshall ISD students are taking advantage of today's latest technology to find innovative ways to learn in the classroom. Marshall ISD STEM Coordinator Cindy Wallace introduced South Marshall STEM Academy students to the Osmo game system about a year and a half ago and she said students are using the system's games to make strides in learning in every subject. "We use the Osmo game system, coupled with our iPads to reinforce academics in a fun and innovative way," she said on Friday. view article arw

While school districts celebrated Career and Technical Education month in February, one Montgomery County school district will continue the celebration with a groundbreaking ceremony on its new Career and Technology Education Center building this Spring. As Willis ISD prepares to open its $39.4 million CTE building, passed in the $109.5 million November 2015 school bond, two Willis High School senior students in the advanced engineering design class already are preparing to take an industry recognized certification test that can be added to the resume. "Instead of working in fast food, they can actually get job at an engineering firm while they are still in college," WHS Advanced Engineering Design Instructor Tony Evans said. view article arw

One bill would earmark $5 million a year to help school districts across Texas set up similar programs.  High-tech companies in Austin and across Texas struggle to find workers with the computer science and technical skills they need. More often than not, they have to poach workers from other companies or recruit them from other states and countries.  Even at full capacity, the Central Texas higher education pipeline produces only half the computer science graduates needed to fill the open jobs in 19 of Austin’s key high-tech occupations, according to a 2015 report from the Austin Technology Council. view article arw

The Tyler Independent School District has issued a statement after employees fell victim to an email attack that seeks W-2 information. The district reportedly sent a letter to employees this week notifying them about W-2s that were sent outside the district. view article arw

A phishing scam has allowed an impostor to receive sensitive information about all 1,300 employees with Groton (GRAH'-tuhn) Public Schools. Superintendent Michael Graner says someone pretending to be him sent an email to the business office on Wednesday requesting information on personnel W-2 forms. The email was not sent from Graner's account. view article arw

For the second consecutive year, Kelton has qualified to compete in the national level of the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). Kelton has 108 students enrolled from pre-K through high school, and they beat much larger schools from Amarillo, Lubbock, and El Paso. Each year, the FTC presents a new challenge for students to solve. view article arw

Calvert ISD is taking measures to make sure its students and staff are safe. A new app allows anyone in the school to bypass dispatch, and directly connect with law enforcement agencies. Calvert Police sergeant Joseph Bleecker said his job just got a little easier, thanks to an app called Cop Sync 911. view article arw

On Friday, students at various schools in the WFISD got to show off how new technology is changing the way kids learn in the classroom during Digital Learning Day. School administrators had the chance to take several community members and other members of the education field on a tour of several campuses to see first hand how educators can use technology like iPads and Google Chromebooks as learning tools. Eva Yandell is a fourth grader in her mom Mrs. Yandell's class at Jefferson Elementary. She, along with four classmates, are trying to figure out figure out clues to unlock a code for an assignment during the event today. She, along with four classmates, are trying to figure out figure out clues to unlock a code for an assignment during the event today. view article arw

Computer Science Education

March 0107:45 AM

A new $5 million grant from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) aims to increase the number of Texas educators certified to teach computer science. UT Austin’s WeTeach_CS program will use the grant to provide intensive, sustained K-12 professional development. “TEA’s previous support of WeTeach_CS has already been transformative for districts across the spectrum—from giant urban districts like Houston and Dallas to remote rural districts like Presidio and Iraan-Sheffield,” says Carol Fletcher, director of WeTeach_CS. view article arw

Tascosa junior Mya Engert may have more than just an opponent to grapple with today at the state wrestling tournament. Engert is in the same bracket as Mack Beggs, a transgender athlete in the Metroplex who’s been the subject of a great deal of media attention lately. Engert and Beggs could face off tonight if they both win afternoon matches in the first round of the University Interscholastic League Wrestling State Tournament in Cypress. view article arw

Installing four cameras and a server to collect video from a life skills classroom at Henderson Middle School will cost HISD $11,300, superintendent Keith Boles told trustees during Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting. The cameras and recording device are needed after a parent requested installation, Boles said. Senate Bill 507, a law adopted in 2015 by Texas legislators, requires districts to make the installation if one parent asks, Boles said Tuesday. view article arw

Weslaco ISD students will have the opportunity on Thursday to speak to a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Arminda “Mindy” Muñoz, public information officer for the district, said on Monday that students will be making the “earth-to-space” call at around 11 a.m. for a 20-minute conversation scheduled to air live on NASA Television and on the agency’s website. According to a school district press release, Expedition 50 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson will answer students’ questions from the Weslaco ISD Performing Arts Center at Central Middle School. view article arw

Tonight, the school board will make its final decision on the purchase of an ambulance simulator and the construction of two greenhouses. view article arw

Amarillo Independent School District is considering switching up the way its schools are connected via the internet to increase capacity for digital learning. view article arw

Mission Consolidated Independent School District board of trustee members are being asked to consider spending approximately $600,000 to place video and audio recording devices in some classrooms where students receive special education instruction with about a third of that amount already approved. In addition, board members are considering a proposal to put live video streaming on some district school buses. view article arw