Two school districts will make masks optional for students and staff this week. It comes after a drop in COVID-19 cases. Plano ISD’s board of trustees voted Tuesday night against extending the district’s mask mandate. "To continue the mandate or the requirement, in my opinion, it just does not make sense," one person said.    (24) view article arw

At the outset of the pandemic, Governor Abbott suspended portions of the Texas Open Meetings Act making it easier for school boards to meet by telephone or videoconference. That suspension ends at 12:01 a.m. on September 1, 2021. Starting on September 1, 2021, boards must again comply with all parts of the TOMA. Telephonic and videoconference meetings are still viable options for school boards, but certain prerequisites must be met.

While school boards around the state have seen their fair share of drama when mask mandates make it onto the agenda, theatrics at the Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD) have turned downright Shakespearean. Following the same quick tit-for-tat process that has characterized mask mandate lawsuits for months now, a district court judge blocked RRISD from enforcing a mandate on September 16 only to have his order reversed at the Texas Third Court of Appeals the next day. The rulings are part of the state’s lawsuit against the district for violating Governor Greg Abbott’s prohibition on mask mandates. With a path cleared by the court, the RRISD school board implemented a mask mandate last night in a 5 to 2 vote after public comment ended at 10 in the evening. Rather than a uniform blanket mandate, the board approved a “matrix,” which will conditionally require masks when local health authorities find transmission to be high. Students may opt out for medical reasons. view article arw

A week after the return of classes at Fort Bend ISD in August, the district had already seen hundreds of positive COVID-19 cases, in the middle of a surge that left many parents concerned for their children’s safety. Fort Bend County Judge KP George issued a mask mandate for the county, raising the threat level to red, and the school district ultimately voted to follow suit, issuing its own mandate in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders banning such requirements. view article arw

A new temporary restraining order issued by a Williamson County district court has blocked the Round Rock ISD school board from censuring two board trustees at a meeting Wednesday evening. view article arw

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The Bryan ISD Board of Trustees received an update at Monday’s school board meeting on the virtual academy the district is looking to start. It’s a learning option Bryan ISD aims to bring its kindergarten through 6th graders. Staff updated board members on what its virtual academy could look like and who might be eligible to attend. “We’ll actually be expanding the survey to include any resident in the Bryan ISD area, even if you’re not currently enrolled in Bryan ISD, you would still be eligible to enroll in the virtual academy,” Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Barbara Ybarra said. Ybarra says the district has received about 170 applicants who are interested in attending, which breaks down to between 17 and 33 students per grade level between K through 6th. The district is reviewing each of those students’ records to determine if they meet eligibility requirements. view article arw

ROUND ROCK, Texas — After heated discussions over masks and capacity limits became disruptive at last week’s Round Rock ISD board meeting, the district made a change to better accommodate the anticipated crowd expected at Wednesday’s meeting. The meeting will be held at the Raymond E. Hartfield Performing Arts Center on September 22nd at 6 p.m. At Wednesday’s board meeting, the board will discuss and take action on the implementation of a mask matrix and take action regarding resolutions to censure two trustees, Mary Bone and Danielle Weston.  Trustees Mary Bone and Danielle Weston left the meeting and now an item to censure them is on Wednesday's agenda.    (22) view article arw

SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - Students at Sherman Independent School district are no longer required to wear a face mask on campus, effective Tuesday September 21. Board members voted to lift the mandate on masks after an hours long executive session, following a lawsuit filed by the state attorney general and a heated school board meeting Monday night. This comes just 10 days after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit against the district, saying they defied the governor’s executive order prohibiting mask mandates and a new temporary restraining order requiring the district to make mask-wearing optional. “I want them to know that there are some of us out there who support them and believe they are making the right decision for our kids” said Sherman ISD parent Paul Manley. On Friday, the Texas Education Agency finally came out with their guidance on masks in schools, saying executive order GA-38 made it illegal to require them. view article arw

Clear Creek ISD’s board of trustees approved the district’s fiscal year 2021-22 general, debt service and child nutrition budgets Aug. 23 with an $0.08 tax rate reduction to be presented for approval Sept. 27.  The budget is built on a proposed tax rate of $1.1797 per $100 property valuation, a reduction of $0.0862 compared to the previous fiscal year’s rate of $1.2659. A resident with a home value of $300,000, for instance, would see a $258.60 reduction in their tax bill year over year. view article arw

JEFFERSON — Jefferson ISD school board trustee and former city tourism director Kevin Godfrey was recently indicted by a Marion County grand jury on two counts of injury to a child causing bodily injury.  According to the indictment, on or about April 18, 2020, Godfrey allegedly caused bodily injury to a female child 14 years of age or younger, by allegedly slapping the child on her back with his hand and allegedly kicking the child with his foot.  The second count alleges that on or about April 18, 2020, Godfrey allegedly caused bodily injury to a male child, who was 14 years of age or younger, by striking the child on the head with his hand.  Bond was set at $15,000 on each charge, for a total of $30,000.  Godfrey was elected to the school board in November 2020. His term is set to expire in May 2023.  JISD Board President Jason Bonner issued a statement regarding the impact the charges against the elected official may have on the board.  “I am aware that certain charges have been brought against a member of the JISD Board of Trustees,” said Bonner. “The matter is in the hands of the judicial system, and I trust that the system will provide justice for those involved. view article arw

There’s an old saying, “all politics start at the local level.” Important decisions on rules, laws, ordinances, codes, annual budget, and a large portion of our taxes are decided at the local level during meetings that most residents don’t give a second thought about. The issues that affect your city, county, schools, and every day of your life are discussed and decided on during these meetings, including your tax rates. It is up to all of us to keep our local officials honest and shape the future of our county, school districts, and cities. These weekly meetings, where important decisions are made for Hays County, school districts, and the surrounding local municipalities of Buda, Dripping Springs, Kyle, San Marcos, and Wimberley are listed below. view article arw

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The Wichita Falls ISD school board will meet Monday, September 20, and we could soon know the finalists for the mascots and the colors for the new high schools.  School board members are expected to narrow the choices down to a final two, then WFISD students 9th grade and below will complete a final vote.  For Wichita Falls Memorial High School, the mascot and color combinations are: view article arw

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Two men are facing charges after a Round Rock Independent School District board meeting was cut short earlier this week when tensions between some board members and attendees escalated. Dustin Clark and Jeremy Story have both been charged with hindering proceedings by disorderly conduct, according to court records. The two men say they were arrested in the late evening Friday, held in the Williamson County Jail overnight and released around 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. view article arw

A Leander school board member has resigned in protest of graphic material still found in books available to high school students in the district even after a recent book ban, according to an email he sent to officials.   Jim MacKay sent an email to the superintendent and school board president saying he made the decision after the board meeting on Sept. 9. During that meeting, some parents had read aloud examples of sexual content in books that are still available for high school students to read at the district, even after other books were banned. view article arw

SALADO, Texas (KWTX) - Salado Independent School District Superintendent Michael Novotny said Wednesday his district will continue with its face mask policy for students and staff despite the threat of a lawsuit from the Office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “It really just seems like a threat tactic to pressure districts to not defy or disobey the governor’s order,” said Novotny. Salado ISD and the Connally Independent School District both received a warning letter from Paxton for non-compliance with the order issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott banning face mask mandates by public entities in the state. The letter accuses the districts of enacting some form of a mask mandate in violation of Abbott’s Executive Order GA-38. Paxton has already filed a lawsuit against four Waco-area school districts - McGregor, La Vega, Waco and Midway - for the same reason. view article arw

At the August 26 board meeting, the Leander ISD Trustees approved language for policy updates related to instructional materials adoption and the teaching of controversial issues in the curriculum. The policy update specifies that: view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week in Central Texas, at least two school board meetings dissolved into chaos as districts work to navigate COVID-19 safety protocols, specifically whether they will enforce mask mandates, regardless of Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order. On Monday night, several people were escorted out of a Leander ISD board meeting, according to people at the meeting and videos obtained by KXAN, despite a warning from leaders in their previously posted agenda, which announced people who were disruptive would be removed. That’s exactly what ended up happening.    (16) view article arw

The Round Rock Independent School District did not make a decision on whether to extend its mask mandate Tuesday night after the meeting was disrupted several times by angry community members. They were overall upset at not being allowed in the main chamber for the meeting. view article arw

Former Leander ISD trustee Jim MacKay cites inappropriate content within school literature as reasons for resigning. MacKay wrote an email to Superintendent Bruce Gearing and LISD President Trish Bode Sept. 10 explaining his resignation. MacKay publicly stated two weeks ago that if inappropriate reading selections made it into school curriculum again, he would expect resignations, he wrote in the email. During a school board meeting Aug. 26, the board voted 6-1 regarding new policies concerning the selection of instructional materials. MacKay voted against the new policies. "This situation does not require a committee, nor re-evaluation of policy and procedure," MacKay said in the email. "No, what it requires is for those responsible for the potential psychological abuse of our children to be immediately terminated. That is not going to happen under this superintendent or this board." view article arw

Leander ISD trustee Jim MacKay is resigning from the board of trustees, according to a Sept. 13 news release. The board of trustees held a special meeting Sept. 13 to discuss MacKay’s resignation and the next steps to fill the Place 5 vacancy. MacKay began his first term with the board Nov. 2016 and won re-election in Nov. 2020. His current term was set to expire in 2024. Since he had more than a year left in his term, the board is legally required to fill the vacancy within 180 days. view article arw

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Brownsville Isolated School District board trustees met on Tuesday for a regular meeting. On the agenda, under closed meeting, are two items to discuss and consultation with the legal team regarding trustee Minerva Peña. One item is set to discuss and consult with the legal counsel about possible censuring of Peña and issuing a referral to Cameron County District Attorney. view article arw

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Nacogdoches Independent School District’s school board on Tuesday voted down a measure that would require the use of masks as a COVID-19 protective measure. The vote came during a special session meeting of the school board, who voted down the mask mandate 5-2. However, the board did approve the offer of a $500 stipend for any staff or faculty member who provides proof of vaccination, as well as approving of an extension to the 10-days of paid sick leave for any staff member who tests positive for COVID-19. view article arw

Charlcya Wheeler, in her 18th year as a La Porte ISD trustee, resigned at the Board’s Sept. 7 regular meeting, effective immediately. In a letter to her Board colleagues, Wheeler cited health concerns as her reason for stepping down. “Her true love and devotion for the entire community are what called her to serve, and serve she did,” said Kathy Green, a fellow trustee and longtime friend of Wheeler’s. “It was never about her, but about the community and everything else.” Trustees on Tuesday said they would consider appointing a temporary board member to fill Wheeler’s seat until the next election in May 2022. read more arw

Angleton ISD will require everyone on campus to wear masks indoors under a policy change approved by trustees during a special meeting Wednesday night. Parents will have the choice to opt their child out of wearing face coverings, and face coverings will not be required in outdoor settings, the district said in a news release. The requirement will take effect Monday. The district will have masks available as needed. view article arw

Information is available. Everywhere we look, we are flooded with information. Sometimes we get information in the form of news media, sometimes from online sources, sometimes from the people we hang around with and sometimes from social media. Further, we take in information directly through our own senses. The problem with much of the information we receive is that it is filtered by someone else, and we usually don’t give much thought to the filter. Even the people we hang around with often serve as a filter for the information we receive. There are mountains of research that show that as humans we try to set up echo chambers in our groups because we want to believe our beliefs are true, and what better way to reinforce our beliefs than to surround ourselves with others who believe the same way? view article arw

Lewisville ISD is giving its employees additional paid sick leave in case they test positive for COVID-19. This week, the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution providing 10 additional sick days for employees for their own COVID-19 illness during this school year. “If our staff has COVID, we want them to stay home, not come to work because they don’t have the (sick) days,” Superintendent Dr. Kevin Rogers said during this week’s LISD board meeting. view article arw

A monitor from the Texas Education Agency is being appointed to the South San Antonio Independent School District to “address material deficiencies in the district” between the board of trustees and the superintendent. According to a letter from the TEA to South San ISD School Board President Ernesto Arellano and Superintendent Marc Puig, the appointment of a monitor comes after a two-year investigation found that school board members failed to “adequately collaborate” with Puig on actionable items that pertained to the district educational plan, which is a violation of the Texas Education Code. view article arw

A group of seven upset parents showed up at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, at the Marble Falls Independent School District administration offices to protest a mask mandate approved by the board of trustees the previous night. “They’ve got to reverse this unlawful mandate,” said Jake Brydon, one of the parents at the morning protest. “It’s unacceptable.” Parents against the mandate were also on campuses at the end of the school day handing out flyers to promote a more formal — and loud — protest at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1, when the mask mandate approved by the school board goes into effect. They plan to meet at the administration offices. view article arw

ARCHER CITY (KFDX/KJTL) — Students and parents in Archer City ISD are fed up with the district’s grooming policy. The students and parents plead their case to the school board last night and the district unanimously voted to keep the policy the way it is. The group cites an ACLU letter and district court cases as their defense that boys and girls must have equal dress codes. But they say school board officials weren’t having it. The way that their hair is now, most of these boys that attend Archer City High would not be in compliance with their grooming policy. view article arw

Barbara Stroud, the Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees president, stepped down from her role Aug. 30. Stroud announced her intention to resign in an Aug. 25 letter to the board, stating she needed to step down from the time-consuming role to fulfill personal obligations, including visiting her family. She will continue to serve as a trustee. The board voted to elect Vice President Mary Jane Hetrick to the president role at the Aug. 30 meeting. In recent weeks, Stroud led meetings with hours of heated public comment on masking and other COVID-19 policies. view article arw

Yet another East Texas school district has chosen to cancel classes until Sept. 7. Garrison ISD announced the closure in a letter posted on the district’s Facebook page. “Due to the high number of staff members and students experiencing battles with COVID-19, we feel as though all campuses should be closed until Tuesday, September 7, 2021,” Garrison ISD Superintendent Reid Spivey wrote in the letter. “This decision does not come easy, but after many discussions, we felt at this time it is in the best interest of the overall safety of the school to close. The health and safety of our students are of utmost importance.” view article arw

Roughly 8% of Plano ISD students will not have to wear a mask in school -- despite a districtwide mandate -- because their parents asked for an exemption. The Plano school board voted earlier this week to require masks inside schools, but left a loophole for the parents opposed to sending their children to class with a face covering. Parents were allowed to exempt their child for medical, religious or philosophical reasons, by filling out a brief online form. Roughly 3,800 students opted out of wearing a mask for various reasons, the district announced Friday evening. Plano ISD serves more than 50,000 kids. view article arw

The Hurst Euless Bedford ISD school board voted — six to one — against a temporary mask mandate on August 27. This after a high number of students at one school have already tested positive for COVID-19. The board heard from dozens of parents, teachers and staff as well as their attorneys who walked them through several different court cases regarding mask mandates currently pending in Texas and Governor Greg Abbott’s order banning mask mandates. view article arw

Trustees with the Copperas Cove ISD school board are expected to adopt the budget and property tax rate for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 on Tuesday evening. According to the agenda for the special meeting, the district is proposing a property tax rate of $1.04092 per $100 valuation, which is more than 8 cents lower than the current rate. Broken down, that amounts to 96.965 cents per $100 valuation for the purpose of maintenance and operations and 7.127 cents per $100 valuation for the purpose of principal and interest on voter approved debt. view article arw