Houston ISD has restored stipends for speech and debate sponsors for the 2024-25 school year after initially excluding them from the list of eligible employees. HISD announced its compensation plan for the upcoming academic year in early March, including a link to all positions that would be eligible to earn stipends during the upcoming school year. The district offers stipends for duties that are unrelated to an employee’s primary job, such as working days outside of their normal schedule. The posted list initially did not include several positions, such as academic coaches, teacher mentors, speech and debate sponsors and department chairs, who earn stipends this year. The district also removed stipends for sponsoring yearbook, newspaper, student council or robotics in New Education System schools but kept the stipends for employees at non-NES schools. view article arw

Rusk ISD has canceled classes for Rusk High School Monday after a fire inside of a classroom Sunday evening. Superintendent Grey Burton said the fire was contained, but there is smoke in the building. Classes will be canceled Monday so the building's electrical system can be checked. view article arw

Frisco ISD officials are considering expanding the 6.0 weighted GPA to include dual-credit courses for the class of 2030. The change in grade point average would affect current sixth graders, said Amy Harp, FISD’s managing director of academic programs, during a March 4 meeting. Changing the GPA weights was only discussed by the board of trustees and district staff, and no action was taken by the board. view article arw

After a few students made noise during the drill, the principal allegedly yelled at the 5th grade class until they cried and then took photos of them.  ALLEN—According to a parent, a lockdown drill at her daughter’s elementary school quickly got out of hand when a substitute teacher and principal overreacted. After the experience, Brooke Wilcox pulled her daughter out of the school.   Texas Scorecard offered Allen ISD the chance to respond to Wilcox’s allegations. Their response is printed in full at the bottom of this article.  view article arw

Texas’ practice of busing illegal aliens to Democrat-led cities continues. Gov. Greg Abbott’s office released an updated list Friday regarding the number of illegal aliens Texas has transported to Democrat-led cities over the last couple of years. State officials have transported over 12,500 illegal aliens to Washington, D.C., since April 2022; 40,300 to New York City and 33,000 to Chicago since August 2022; 3,400 to Philadelphia since November 2022; 17,100 to Denver since May 2023; and 1,500 to Los Angeles since June 2023. The numbers represent a jump of 1,300 more illegal aliens to New York City, 800 more to Chicago, and 500 more to Denver since Abbott’s office last updated the totals. view article arw

The man was found in the suitcase by Border Patrol agents in Uvalde. As the crisis at the border wages on, a photo has surfaced that shows an illegal alien smuggling victim being transported over the Texas-Mexico border inside a suitcase. The shocking photo—reported by The Dallas Express—was posted on Facebook by Galveston County Constable Jimmy Fullen, who said the photo was shared with him by a Kinney County deputy working with Operation Lone Star. The photo shows a man stuffed inside a suitcase in an attempt to avoid detection from border patrol. Fullen told The Dallas Express that the photo was originally taken by Border Patrol agents in Uvalde County, just east of Kinney County, and shared among law enforcement in the region. view article arw

Texas is divesting $8.5 billion from BlackRock Inc. due to the investment company’s fossil fuel policies, according to a statement from the chairman of the State Board of Education. Aaron Kinsey, the Republican chairman of the board, said the $53 billion Texas Permanent School Fund on Tuesday delivered an official notice to BlackRock “terminating its financial management of approximately $8.5 billion in Texas’ assets.” ADVERTISEMENT The move drew a sharp rebuke from the world’s largest asset manager. “Today’s unilateral and arbitrary decision by Board of Education Chair Aaron Kinsey jeopardizes Texas schools and the families who have benefited from BlackRock’s consistent long-term outperformance for the Texas Permanent School Fund,” a BlackRock spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. “The decision ignores our $120 billion investment in Texas public energy companies and defies expert advice. As a fiduciary, politics should never outweigh performance, especially for taxpayers.” view article arw

South Sudan is closing all schools starting Monday in preparation for an extreme heat wave expected to last two weeks. The health and education ministries advised parents to keep all children indoors as temperatures are expected to soar to 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit). They warned that any school found open during the warning period would have its registration withdrawn, but the statement issued late Saturday didn't specify how long schools would remain shuttered. view article arw

As firefighters contained the largest wildfire in Texas history last week, the electricity provider for the state’s Panhandle region, Xcel Energy, announced some bad news: The wildfire, which burned more than a million acres of land and killed at least two people, seemed to have been caused by one of the utility’s electrical poles. “Based on currently available information, Xcel Energy acknowledges that its facilities appear to have been involved in an ignition of the Smokehouse Creek fire,” the statement read, referring to the largest of several fires raging in the area. An investigation from the state’s forest management agency found that the fire began when a decayed wooden pole splintered and fell, sending sparks onto nearby grass. Photos obtained by Bloomberg News appear to show that the pole had been marked unsafe before the fire. view article arw

A series of deadly wildfires have burned for nearly three weeks, destroying farms and ranches in several counties.   LUBBOCK — Firefighters have completely contained the Smokehouse Creek fire in Hutchinson County after a nearly three-week battle with what quickly became the largest wildfire in Texas history. That inferno and a series of other wildfires killed at least two people as it burned more than 1 million acres across several counties.  Many Panhandle residents lost homes, farms and ranches. Thousands of livestock were killed.  Relief efforts in the region are ongoing. The U.S. Small Business Administration has set up disaster loan outreach centers in Canadian and Borger for people affected. A Texas House committee is investigating the cause of the fires, as well as the response and effectiveness of disaster preparedness. view article arw

LUBBOCK — Texas firefighters are gaining more control over the remaining wildfires in the Panhandle, more than two weeks after the infernos first engulfed large swaths of the region and burned more than 1 million acres. As of Monday, the Smokehouse Creek fire — which quickly became the largest wildfire in state history — was 89% contained. This means firefighters have secured nearly the entire perimeter around the fire, stopping it from spreading. This is a significant improvement from the week before, when the fire was only 37% contained. The fire has burned nearly 1.1 million acres since it started near Stinnett in Hutchinson County, about 60 miles northeast of Amarillo. view article arw

Families were infuriated by praise for local law enforcement in a report on the Robb Elementary School shooting released Thursday by a private investigator.  UVALDE — A city-commissioned independent review of Uvalde police’s response to the Robb Elementary School shooting cleared local officers of wrongdoing, infuriating parents of the 19 children killed in the massacre and at least two city council members who rebuked the report after it was released Thursday.   City officials hired private investigator Jesse Prado, a retired Austin police detective, to conduct the review into the response from the city’s police department to the May 24, 2022 mass shooting that also resulted in the deaths of two teachers and injured 17 others.  The findings of the report were presented in a question-and-response format with Prado at a city council meeting and the actual 182-page report was released later Thursday after city officials shared it with families. Prado said the review identified training, communication and leadership lapses, but he also commended some of the city’s officers and characterized their actions as in “good faith” — contradicting findings of previous audits by state and federal officials. view article arw

Officials in Texas say power lines ignited deadly wildfires across the state’s Panhandle region that destroyed homes and livestock and left a charred landscape last week  Power lines ignited massive wildfires across the Texas Panhandle that killed at least two people, destroyed homes and livestock, and left a charred landscape, officials said Thursday, including the largest blaze in state history.  The notice came one day before HISD lets out for spring break, potentially throwing a wrench into principals' holiday plans.  The 117 principals who received the notice from Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles represent schools across the board, from the lowest to the highest performing schools. Miles reportedly met with the principals Friday to discuss their next steps. view article arw

Before it burned to a pile of ashes, Melanie McQuiddy’s house on the outskirts of Canadian was her family’s home base. Her daughter and grandchildren flocked there for holidays. At Christmastime, she put a tree in every room and transformed herself into “Mimi-Claus,” complete with a wig and red costume dress. The family considered the home a place of joy, laughter and shenanigans, she said. Now — after the state’s largest wildfire in history tore across a million acres in the Texas Panhandle — the house is gone. So is McQuiddy’s Steinway piano. Her christening gown. Her family Bible. “We have those memories,” McQuiddy said, her voice straining with emotion. “I’ll rebuild again so that my family can return.” view article arw

A coalition of Texas congressmen is set to introduce a resolution opposing a bill that proposes connecting the state grid to the national grid.  The resolution will be filed on Friday, but was first shared with The Hill, and is co-sponsored by four Texas members of the U.S. House:  Randy Weber, Troy Nehls, Pat Fallon, and John Carter. The resolution's wording echoes what the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has been saying from the start—that it and by extension the Public Utility Commission of Texas, not the federal government are best situated to evaluate any proposals to end the state's power isolation. view article arw

When a nasty autumn storm blew through North Texas in September of last year, it did more than break limbs and twist trunks of decades-old oak trees. It tugged on the heartstrings of four teen boys. For most of their young lives — 12 years to be exact — Connor Karazissis, 14, and Austin Jones, 15, had played around the stately oaks at The Oakridge School. Their friends — Evan Krum, 14, and Brady McGraw, 15 — were introduced to the trees when they started their elementary education at the Arlington prep school. “Every year, I’ve always been so devastated about all these trees,” Karazissis told the Star-Telegram. “So, I asked my mom if I can do anything. And she said, ‘maybe that we could raise some money or something like that’.” But they never dreamed they would raise $65,000. view article arw

Fred Parsons, with the London Museum, will be the guest speaker for Book Talk at noon on March 12 at McMillan Memorial Library in Overton. Parsons will discuss the London School explosion, which occurred on March 18, 1937, and its impact on the people in the community. Fred is an East Texas native, originally from New London, Texas. view article arw

VIDOR — On Tuesday, a visually and physically impaired preschooler at Vidor Elementary found himself left outside of the school all alone. His mom says she wasn't notified until her son was on his way home 5-year-old Walker Wilhelm is blind in one eye and has very poor vision in the other. His mom has been attempting to get him an aide since he started school. view article arw

Firefighters in the Texas Panhandle on Wednesday are still trying to keep the largest wildfire in state history from spreading beyond the nearly 1.1 million acres it has already incinerated as weather officials warned of dry, windy conditions in the afternoon. The Smokehouse Creek Fire in Hutchinson County was 44% contained — meaning that percentage of the area touched by the fire has been secured from further spread — as of Wednesday morning, according to the Texas Forest Service. The fire was among several still burning in the Panhandle. The Windy Deuce Fire in nearby Moore County had burned 144,206 acres and was 81% contained as of Wednesday morning, according to the Forest Service. East, the Grape Vine Creek fire has burned 34,882 acres and was 77% contained. view article arw

Firefighters in Texas faced rising temperatures, whipped-up winds and dry air Saturday in their battle to keep the largest wildfire in state history from turning more of the Panhandle into a parched wasteland. Firefighters were focused on containing the fire along its northern and eastern perimeter, where aggressive gusts from the southwest threatened to spread the flames and consume more acreage, according to Jason Nedlo, a spokesperson with the team of firefighters battling the Smokehouse Creek Fire that began Monday and has claimed at least two lives. "The main goal is to continue using dozers and fire engines to contain and patrol the fire," Nedlo said. "We're also focused on not losing any more structures, no more loss of life." view article arw

The Burkburnett ISD Maintenance Shop caught fire on Wednesday evening. The school district posted the news on Facebook. As of the publication of this article, Burkburnett ISD said they do not know how the fire started and said the building is ‘pretty much burned up’. view article arw

Rural Texans are more than twice as likely to go without homeowners insurance than their urban peers. Many Panhandle residents whose dwellings and possessions burned in the region’s ongoing wildfires may never financially recover for one simple reason: Their homes weren’t insured. “A lot of the people who have lost a home had no insurance,” Gov. Greg Abbott said at a Friday press conference. “So there are a lot of people in great need right now.” Texans pay some of the highest homeowners insurance premiums in the country. Increased risk of extreme weather events, at least partially driven by climate change, have driven up those costs. Growth in homeowners insurance rates here outpaced the rest of the nation last year, straining Texans’ ability to pay. view article arw

HEMPHILL COUNTY - A new lawsuit claims a falling utility pole caused the tragic 1 million-acre Smokehouse Creek fire in the Texas Panhandle. A system of different wildfires has torn through the Panhandle scorching over 1.2 million acres over the past week. A woman is suing the Southwestern Public Service Company after her home near Canadian was burned, alleging the Smokehouse Creek fire was caused by human error. Melanie McQuiddy sued Southwestern Public Service Company, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, and Osmose Utilities Services, a Georgia-based contractor that inspects wood utility poles, late on Friday. According to McQuiddy's lawsuit, the fire started on February 26 when the pole, which the firms "failed to properly inspect, maintain, and replace," cracked and snapped off at its base. view article arw

On Thursday, February 29, 2024, School Resource Officers from the Midlothian Police Department swiftly responded to a concerning situation at Midlothian High School. Reports indicated that a student had made threats against two teachers. Upon arrival, officers took immediate action. One officer entered the classroom and detained the student, while another approached the juvenile's vehicle. It was during this approach that a firearm was observed in the front seat. view article arw

Get the latest updates as firefighters continue battling massive fires that have burned more than 1 million acres. The largest wildfire in Texas history has burned more than 1 million acres in the Panhandle. The spreading has slowed, but weather conditions remain precarious. At least two people have died. The blaze has also killed thousands of livestock, destroyed crops and gutted infrastructure. Officials in some areas are only now beginning to assess the damage. Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties and traveled to the region Friday. view article arw

STINNETT, Texas (AP) — Firefighters in Texas faced rising temperatures, whipped-up winds and dry air Saturday in their battle to keep the largest wildfire in state history from turning more of the Panhandle into a parched wasteland. Firefighters were focused on containing the fire along its northern and eastern perimeter, where aggressive gusts from the southwest threatened to spread the flames and consume more acreage, according to Jason Nedlo, a spokesperson with the team of firefighters battling the Smokehouse Creek Fire that began Monday and has claimed at least two lives. “The main goal is to continue using dozers and fire engines to contain and patrol the fire,” Nedlo said. “We’re also focused on not losing any more structures, no more loss of life.” view article arw

STINNETT, Texas (AP) — Wildfires may have destroyed as many as 500 structures in the Texas Panhandle and that number could rise as damage assessments continue, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday. The Smokehouse Creek fire, the largest blaze in state history hat began Monday, has burned about 1,700 square miles (4,400 square kilometers) in Texas and killed two people. It has left behind a charred landscape of scorched prairie, dead cattle and burned-out homes in the Texas Panhandle. “When you look at the damages that have occurred here it’s just gone, completely gone nothing left but ashes on the ground,” Abbott said at a news conference in Borger, Texas. view article arw

The small town of Fritch is again picking through the rubble of a Texas wildfire, a decade after another destructive blaze burned hundreds of homes and left deep scars in the Panhandle community  Residents in and around Fritch and other rural towns fled for safety Tuesday afternoon as high winds whipped the flames into residential areas and through cattle ranches.  Fritch Mayor Tom Ray said on Wednesday the town’s northern edge was hit by a devastating wildfire in 2014, while this week’s blaze burned mostly to the south of the town, sparing the residents who live in the heart of the community. view article arw

A nuclear weapons facility was forced to evacuate most of its staff due to a fast-moving wildfire blazing across the Texas Panhandle. The Pantex plant, northeast of Amarillo, removed nonessential staff Tuesday night as the fire grew into the second-largest in state history. Pantex is one of six production facilities in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nuclear Security Enterprise. It has been the main U.S. site for assembling and disassembling atomic bombs since 1975. Early Wednesday, Pantex posted on X that the facility has reopened for "normal day shift operations" and that all personnel should report for duty. view article arw

Known as the Smokehouse Creek Fire, the largest blaze expanded to more than 1,300 square miles and jumped into parts of neighboring Oklahoma. It is now larger than the state of Rhode Island, and the Texas A&M Forest Service said the flames were only about 3% contained. “I believe the fire will grow before it gets fully contained,” said Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management. The largest fire recorded in state history was the 2006 East Amarillo Complex fire, which burned about 1,400 square miles and resulted in 13 deaths. view article arw

LUBBOCK — Five raging wildfires in the Texas Panhandle collectively worsened Wednesday and have already burned more than 1 million acres of land, an amount of land that's nearly as big as the Grand Canyon National Park. view article arw

Fort Worth ISD is inching closer to bringing sex education back into district classrooms. During a board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 27, district trustees will consider the approval of a brand new sex education curriculum. If adopted, Fort Worth ISD students would be taught sex education this spring. “The steps to recommend a human sexuality education curriculum resource have been thoroughly conducted and completed,” district spokesman Jessica Becerra said in a statement sent to the Fort Worth Report. “Approving … Choosing the Best provides the opportunity for students to participate in high-quality learning.” view article arw

A nuclear weapons facility in the Texas Panhandle said it had evacuated some staff Tuesday amid wind-fueled wildfires that covered thousands of acres and prompted the governor to issue a disaster declaration. The Pantex Plant, which handles nuclear weapons, said it was monitoring the situation but that there was no fire on the plant site. All weapons were safe and unaffected, the facility said. “We are responding to the plant, but there is no fire on site or on our boundary,” Laef Pendergraft, spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office stationed at Pantex, said at a news conference Tuesday night. view article arw

Officials have ordered nearly 5,000 residents in the Panhandle cities of Canadian, Fritch and Glazier to shelter in place Tuesday as four separate wildfires engulfed the region, burning more than 280,000 acres. Residents in Hemphill County, where Canadian is, were initially told to evacuate as the Smokehouse Creek fire — the largest of the four — spread and burned more than 250,000 acres within a day. As firefighters worked to contain the fire in Canadian, about 100 miles northeast of Amarillo, evacuation efforts hit a snag as the main roadway was blocked by the fire. view article arw