Gov. Greg Abbott says schools in Texas will be reopened for the fall with students in classrooms. The Texas Education Agency says will be safe to head back to campus.  At Hidalgo Independent School District, Superintendent Xavier Salinas doesn’t agree with the decision to bring back in-person sessions just yet. He believes the state and TEA need to send a survey to parents to ask how they feel about schools opening up.  “Because I know several districts did surveys already. At least 40 to 50% of the parents are saying they’re not ready to come back, because they don’t feel safe enough at this time,” said Salinas. view article arw

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said on Thursday that he would seek federal permission to suspend mandated standardized testing for 2020-21, the second year in a row, because of disruptions to learning because of the coronavirus pandemic. And he said he would keep pushing to eliminate some tests outright because the “current high-stakes testing regime is excessive.”  The announcement is the first made by any U.S. governor to seek a 2020-21 testing waiver from the U.S. Education Department, but is probably not the last, given the potential for continued disruptions to learning as the pandemic continues. view article arw

Plano Representative Matt Shaheen is requesting the suspension of STAAR testing and accountability ratings for the 2020-2021 school year. School districts across Texas continue to face challenges from COVID-19, such as uneven student engagement and numerous impediments to remote learning.  "Those students lost a vast portion of learning during the final nine weeks of the school year and it is imperative that our schools be allowed to focus on improving instructional gaps resulting from school closures because of COVID-19," Shaheen said. view article arw

State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) attended the meeting of the Ector County ISD board of trustees on Tuesday to discuss school finance, the local and statewide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and answer questions about the upcoming 2021 legislative session. view article arw

Lewisville ISD has provided the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) a list of advocacy points as the organization prepares for the 87th Texas Legislature in 2021.Each session TASB solicits advocacy resolutions from school districts to help shape its responses to various issues before the Legislature begins.  Monday, LISD adopted two resolutions. One of those calls for the removal of high stakes in the STAAR test and the end-of-course exams. In the letter view article arw

Michelle Palmer was the leading candidate in the SBOE6 race, the only SBOE primary to go to a runoff, with 46.8% of the vote. Palmer has the backing of the Victory Fund, which supports LGBTQ candidates around the country, and she was the candidate endorsed by the Houston Chronicle for the March primary. She has the co-endorsement of the Gulf Coast Area Labor view article arw

Lewisville ISD students may be able to move on to the next grade level or graduate without meeting the standard for some state assessments following the board's June 8 approval of a new resolution.  The resolution would apply to the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness math and reading tests in fifth and eighth grades as well as to End of Course tests in Algebra, Biology, English I and II and U.S. History in high school grades. view article arw

Lewisville ISD has provided the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) a list of advocacy points as the organization prepares for the 87th Texas Legislature in 2021.Each session TASB solicits advocacy resolutions from school districts to help shape its responses to various issues before the Legislature begins.  Monday, LISD adopted two resolutions. One of those calls for the removal of high stakes in the STAAR test and the end-of-course exams. In the letter LISD states that high stakes for graduation and grade promotion are not required at the federal level but are in Texas. It states that only 11 states still include high stakes with state testing. view article arw

The Willis Independent School District Parmley Elementary School teachers’ collaborative effort over the past few years has earned national recognition for improved student achievement. About three years ago, Assistant Superintendent Brian Greeney arrived at Willis ISD and introduced Solution Tree’s Professional Learning Community.  For the past 20 years, the professional development company has provided various forms of support, including strategies and resources for educators to create schools where students can achieve at all grade levels. It includes three “big ideas” including a focus on learning, building a collaborative culture, and creating a results orientation. view article arw

Texas will hold its 2020 runoff elections July 14 to finalize which Democratic and Republican primary candidates will be on the ballot for the November general election. In more than 30 races in the March 3 primary, no candidate exceeded 50% of the vote, bringing about runoff races between the candidates who came in first and second. Here are all of the candidates who will be on the ballot in the primary runoffs for statewide, congressional and legislative offices. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — While presenting the fiscal year 2020-21 budget at Monday’s Austin Independent School District board meeting, the district’s chief financial officer said COVID-19 “rocked our financial world.”  Nicole Conley says it’s still too early to quantify exactly how the recession will impact schools, but she said the most obvious similarity is concerning.  “The gathering storm clouds bare an eerie resemblance to the ones we saw on the horizon before the Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from education funding in 2011,” she said. view article arw

Ahead of the first statewide election during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott has doubled the length of the early voting period for the upcoming July primary runoff elections. In a proclamation issued Monday, Abbott ordered early voting for the July 14 runoffs to begin June 29 instead of on July 6. He noted that sticking with the truncated early voting window that’s typical for runoff elections “would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the COVID-19 disaster.” view article arw

In a statement, Abbott said the declaration would allow him to designate federal agents to serve as peace officers in Texas.  Gov. Greg Abbott announced Sunday afternoon that the entire state of Texas will be placed under a disaster declaration in response to demonstrators in several Texas cities protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed Monday in Minneapolis police custody.  The declaration allowed Abbott to designate federal law enforcement officers to perform the duties of peace officers in Texas. view article arw

Abbott has already added more time to the early voting period for the July runoff election, citing the need to create a safe environment for in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday he will extend the early voting period for an unspecified amount of time during the November election as concerns continue to persist around in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic.  Abbott has already doubled the time period for the primary runoff election July 14, calling it necessary so that "election officials can implement appropriate social distancing and safe hygiene practices."  In a TV interview Thursday afternoon, Abbott was asked if he believes Texas voters will be able to cast their ballots safely not only this summer but also in the fall. view article arw

The 24 Medina High School seniors in the class of 2020, along with seniors across the nation, faced a final disappoint of the year as the chance for a traditional graduation looked smaller and smaller.  Superintendent Kevin Newsom, the Medina Independent School District Board of Directors, teachers, staff and the Medina community set a goal to make a traditional MISD outdoor graduation happen if possible…and they succeeded. view article arw

With voting in the primary runoff election starting next month in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the Texas secretary of state on Tuesday issued “minimum recommended health protocols” for elections, including a suggestion that voters bring their own hand sanitizer to the polls and that they "may want to consider" voting curbside if they have symptoms of COVID-19.  In an eight-page document, Secretary of State Ruth Hughs laid out checklists for voters and election workers that range from self-screening for symptoms to increased sanitation of voting equipment — none of which are binding and many of which were already being considered by local election officials planning for the first statewide election during the coronavirus pandemic.   (27) view article arw

Republicans have fought the allowance of proxy voting tooth and nail. They argue that such a move upends the Constitution, and they promise a protracted legal fight. — In the grand scheme of worldwide upheaval, what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday could be just another indicator of how much the COVID-19 pandemic has upset normal life. But for a city and institution that thrives on formality and following precedent, it was a stunning moment in congressional history when members of the U.S. House voted on behalf of colleagues in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. Six dozen or so Democrats — including Texas representatives — opted to designate colleagues to vote on their behalf on a surveillance bill Wednesday, with some wondering why such a system did not already exist.   (28) view article arw

Three days after announcing it will allow teams to resume summer programs June 8, the UIL released guidelines and restrictions for schools, coaches and players to follow amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.  In its traditional allowance, the UIL will permit a maximum of two hours per day, Monday through Friday, for summer strength and conditioning sessions.  The organization will also allow an additional 90 minutes per day, Monday through Friday of sport-specific skill instruction — with no more than 60 minutes per day in a given sport. That’s an increase from the two hours per week of non-contact, sport-specific instruction the UIL instituted for the first time last summer. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott justified his expanded re-opening of the Texas economy during a national television interview on Monday by pointing to COVID-19 data heading in the right direction and saying it’s time to end “government forced poverty.”  Texas reported 11 coronavirus deaths on Monday, its lowest daily death total in more than a month.   view article arw

Despite an early heads-up from Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who raised concerns in late March and early April that the current state budget will be billions of dollars out of balance, state agencies haven’t received any official requests to slow their spending.  Hegar’s warning that he would lower the official forecast of state revenue was ominous, unambiguous and a little blurry: “It’s probably going to be a revised downward adjustment of several billion dollars,” he said then. He has promised to put out exact numbers in mid-July, after the economic hits to retail sales, corporate franchise, and oil and gas tax revenues have come into focus.  view article arw

Texas schools got the green light Monday to open classrooms for in-person summer classes starting June 1, but San Antonio’s larger school districts said they were still planning to do so in July.  Gov. Greg Abbott said school district leaders could invite students to schools “so long as they follow safe distancing practices as well as all other health protocols” to slow the spread of COVID-19. view article arw

State and local governments are at odds over what should and should not be allowed during a pandemic — a debate over health, economics and civil liberties. The old sparring partners have increasingly appealed to a referee: the courts. Texas courts are being pulled into the war between the state of Texas and its local governments as what has been primarily a legislative and political fight grows into a legal one.  The pandemic is testing the authority of the governor, city and county government officials, state district judges, businesses and individuals on issues from masks to haircuts to voting — even to whether a state attorney general can make a rhetorical and political appeal to try to get a trial judge to change a ruling. view article arw

Six candidates, including some well-known Austin-area politicians, have filed to run for the July 14 special election to replace retired Democratic state Sen. Kirk Watson, according to the Texas secretary of state’s office. Candidates had until 5 p.m. Wednesday to file to run for the seat.  State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, a longtime Austin Democrat, and former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt are widely considered the two most prominent candidates for Texas Senate District 14, a historically Democratic seat that covers Bastrop County and parts of Travis County. view article arw

Lewisville ISD trustee resigns

May 1308:20 AM
 

Kronda Thimesch has resigned from her position as a Lewisville ISD trustee as she focuses on her campaign for the State House of Representatives. view article arw

As Texas’ economy reels from a monthlong shutdown of commerce statewide, unprecedented unemployment and falling oil prices, some Texans are calling on officials to tap into the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund that has billions of tax dollars officials have been saving for years. For weeks, Texans’ attempts to access unemployment benefits, food giveaways and housing aid have swamped government agencies and nonprofits. Kelly Hayden, who works at a San Antonio call center for a defense health agency, said state lawmakers should tap the savings fund to provide economic relief for people struggling to stay afloat financially during the pandemic. view article arw

A coalition of voters and civil rights groups opened a new front Monday in the legal wars over mail-in voting in Texas during the new coronavirus pandemic.  Several lawsuits already underway challenge state limits on who can vote by mail, but a lawsuit filed Monday dives into the mechanics of mail-in balloting, arguing that existing rules will deprive voters of their constitutional rights in the middle of a public health crisis. In the federal lawsuit filed in San Antonio, five Texas voters with medical conditions, Voto Latino, the NAACP Texas and the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans argue that four existing rules for absentee voting will place undue burdens on the right to vote, or risk disenfranchising Texans, during the pandemic. view article arw

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — A senior at Fort Bend ISD’s Ridge Point High School wrote a song that not only speaks to her senior class but every single other graduating student across the country.  Its haunting melody is accompanied by the voice of 18-year-old Sarah Tassin. Tassin wrote the song "Last Walk" during this pandemic and in just a few weeks it has been heard by more than 80,000 people. view article arw

Local governments have gone too far in issuing emergency orders during the coronavirus pandemic and can expect to have those powers whittled down when the Texas Legislature meets again, key state lawmakers say.  State laws give local leaders broad power during emergencies, but state Sen. Paul Bettencourt of Houston, a leading Republican in the Texas Senate, said too many local officials have taken it too far. view article arw

AUSTIN (KFDX/KJTL) — In a press conference, Monday Governor Greg Abbott announced that his Stay at home order will expire April 30, 2020, for the entire state of Texas. Governor Abbott will open businesses in phases beginning May 1, 2020. The following businesses will be allowed to open: All retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls however occupancy will be no more than 25 percent. view article arw

House Speaker Dennis Bonnen has proposed 5 percent budget cuts to all state agencies as Texas begins to reckon with the financial fallout from the coronavirus.  The outgoing speaker told Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick earlier this month that revenue shortfalls are expected later this year, and likely into 2021 and the next biennium budget cycle, according to a letter he sent April 9. view article arw

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen has reached out to fellow state leaders to initiate conversations about the state’s economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that the lower chamber would like to discuss a directive to all state agencies “to immediately identify and execute 5% budgetary savings.”  “It has become apparent that the time to engage in long-term economic planning is now,” the Angleton Republican wrote in an April 9 memo to Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, which was obtained Wednesday by The Texas Tribune. “While it is true that we do not have an immediate funding need or a lack of COVID-related emergency funding, all indications are that we will most certainly have a future state revenue concern due to lagging economic conditions statewide.”   (23) view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott could make an announcement as soon as Friday about reopening a wide range of Texas businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, including restaurants, hair salons and retail outlets. During a series of radio interviews Wednesday, Abbott gave the most details yet about the highly anticipated announcement, which he has been previewing since he announced preliminary steps to reopen the economy last week. He initially advertised the next wave of steps as scheduled for Monday but made clear in some of the interviews that they could now come sooner.  Abbott stressed in the interviews that he is seeking approval from medical advisers on the business reopenings and that they will reopen under new standards to slow the spread of the coronavirus. He also suggested his announcement's implementation could vary by county, depending on how prevalent the virus is in each place. view article arw

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the country never should have been locked down and is blaming the “wrong numbers” and “wrong science” for devastating the state and national economies. “Our country should not have been locked down,” Patrick, a Republican from Montgomery County said on a Fox News Channel program with host Tucker Carlson.  Patrick, 70, took issue with the science that has been cited to justify the lockdowns. view article arw

The Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers endorsed Sen. Royce West of Dallas for U.S. Senate at a Tuesday news conference. West is vying for the Democratic nomination in a July 14 primary runoff to face Sen. John Cornyn in November.  “Sen. Royce West comes equipped with a deep understanding of what our students need to achieve,” said Zeph Capo, Texas AFT president. “As a member of the Texas Senate Education Committee for years, he has the experience to lead on influencing national education policy.” view article arw

SAN ANTONIO - The recent announcement by Gov. Greg Abbott that Texas schools will stay closed for the rest of the academic year leaves lots of unanswered questions.  Superintendents at San Antonio's two largest school districts are planning changes for not only the next two months but also through the summer and into the fall.  "Education - and the world - Is going to change in a lot of ways," says North East Independent School District superintendent Sean Maika. view article arw