Claycomb Associates, Architects

Far too often, superintendents and school administrators are forced to implement programs and policies they do not endorse because they are mandated by the Texas Education Agency, not locally elected officials. The issue of where the locus of control lies has been an ongoing push and pull between school districts and TEA for years. However, since the onset of the pandemic, the autocratic decision- making at the state level has increased at an alarming rate. This escalation began as an innocuous attempt to assist districts in planning how to end a school year during a statewide shutdown, through guidance on grade promotion and graduation. However, this guidance quickly became a detrimental top-down decision-making pattern affecting all aspects of school operations, from books to buses. This includes diverting federal stimulus funds from school districts to purchase software and curriculum at the state level that most local educators do not need or want. view article arw

Patty Young, a middle school language arts teacher, says the state assessments are causing kids unnecessary stress. Listen in the weekend edition of The Brief podcast. view article arw

More STEM options emerge

April 0908:25 AM
 

Ector County ISD and UTPB STEM academy are in discussions about a partnership that would launch in August 2022. Meanwhile, STEM Superintendent Shannon Davidson has another proposal. Because the STEM Academy facilities weren’t seen as sustainable, in May 2019, University of Texas Permian Basin President Sandra Woodley formed a task force made up of parents, teachers, staff and students to work with the university and the STEM advisory board. She has said that the university has had to spend “quite a bit of money” patching up the portable buildings the school is in and she didn’t know how many years the buildings would remain viable because they weren’t meant for long-term use. view article arw

The superintendents of Klein and Tomball ISDs met to discuss work programs, COVID-19 adaptations and hopes for the 2021 legislative session at an April 8 North Houston Association event. KISD Superintendent Jenny McGown said her district is focusing not only on maintaining its current career and technical education programs, but also expanding to include a logistics program and a virtual academy for students who have thrived during remote learning. view article arw

The Klein Independent School District said it is investigating after a seventh-grade student was hit in the back of the head with a laptop. James Blackshire said a video shows his 13-year-old son Jeremiah getting stuck by another student on Monday at Wunderlich Intermediate School. “I watched it one time. I was angry,” Blackshire said. “That angered me to see my son get hit like that when he don’t deserve it.” view article arw

On the same day thousands of Texas students experienced technical difficulties taking their STAAR exams online, a lawmaker suggested the state’s push to administer all of the exams virtually could take longer than expected. About 200,000 Texas students were impacted by STAAR exam outages on Tuesday, Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood, told the House Public Education Committee. Students in districts across the state were kicked out of their exams and unable to log back in, resulting in some schools halting the tests for the day. view article arw

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Some students ran into trouble today trying to take a required achievement test including in the Amarillo metro area. AISD, Canyon, River Road and Bushland all reported connection issues with taking the STAAR test online. Bushland Superintendent Chris Wigington said students were kicked off line or couldn’t sign on at all. The Texas Education Agency said the effects were statewide for grades four and seven writing, and freshman English. The agency hopes to have the technical issues fixed by tomorrow to resume testing. Below is the Statement from TEA Student Assessment Division: view article arw

In a school year when students and teachers have faced more educational hurdles than probably any other time in their lives, this is one more problem they didn’t need: The state’s online platform for the STAAR had multiple breakdowns Tuesday, causing many schools to give up in frustration and sometimes send their students home after they came to campus specifically for the test. The Texas Education Agency said the three STAAR tests affected were Grade 4 writing, Grade 7 writing and English I. The breakdown occurred on the first of five days that students were eligible to take one of these three tests online. view article arw

KISD names Teachers of the Year

April 0808:30 AM
 

An elementary teacher known for bringing space science to her kindergarten students and a middle school coach who motivates students and teachers alike are Killeen ISD Teachers of the Year. Palo Alto Middle School coach Elise Kea is the Secondary Teacher of the Year. Lisa Stewart of Skipcha Elementary School is the Elementary Teacher of the Year. The school district combined virtual technology with surprise-at-the-front door tactics to reveal the pair Tuesday evening. view article arw

Big Spring ISD has launched its new mobile app throughout the district. The app will offer updates about news and events going on in the district and at various schools within BSISD. “Big Spring ISD is committed to keeping our community members actively engaged and connected with our school district” said Jay McWilliams, Big Spring ISD Superintendent. “We strongly believe that our new app will help keep our parents and community members up to date on the various events and activities taking place each and every day in our school district. I sincerely hope all of you will download the app and keep up with the outstanding things happening in Steer Nation!” view article arw

For months, Gus Peters, a high school senior in the East Texas town of Jasper, went where the Wi-Fi was. Some days, he parked himself at the local coffee shop, Jasper Java, ordering a green tea frappé to appease whoever was working the register. Other times, he went to Elijah’s Cafe for a Trail Blazer, the diner’s signature dish of chopped steak smothered in gravy. Often, he spent hours in his gray Ford Escape in the parking lots of Walmart, Lowe’s, or McDonald’s, his sister Grace beside him, both of them on their laptops, doing schoolwork. “I didn’t feel right sitting in the parking lot,” Gus says. “Didn’t feel like I was supposed to be there.” He and his sister were Wi-Fi nomads. view article arw

Denton ISD announced recently that it has established a new K-8 Virtual Academy for the 2021-22 school year, a permanent full-time online learning option for students in eighth grade and below. All Denton ISD students are eligible for pre-enrollment, the district said in a news release. The registration portal was opened on Thursday and will remain open through April 30. Preliminary enrollment will be on a first-come, first-served basis. view article arw

VICTORIA, Texas- Today districts across the state experienced connectivity issues with the STAAR Online Testing Platform (SOTP). The three STAAR tests affected were online Grade 4 writing, online Grade 7 writing, and online English I. Students could have experienced four different scenarios with online testing today: •the student could have successfully submitted the test without disruption; view article arw

Canutillo, Texas -- Having access to internet has been so crucial for students to continue their education during the pandemic. However, those who live in rural areas don't have the same access. Oscar Rico, director of technology at Canutillo Independent School District, says the district hopes to give students in the Canutillo, Vinton, and Westway areas access to the internet. view article arw

Whitehouse ISD students now have a chance to squad up and learn new ways of interacting with technology. When Whitehouse ISD began remote learning, students received Chromebooks and with hundreds of devices throughout the district, it can get overwhelming for the technology department to help with all the repairs. Whitehouse ISD has created a student technology team, The Whitehouse Cyber Squad, to help with work orders and updates. view article arw

Denton ISD announced recently that it has established a new K-8 Virtual Academy for the 2021-22 school year, a permanent full-time online learning option for students in eighth grade and below. All Denton ISD students are eligible for pre-enrollment, the district said in a news release. The registration portal was opened on Thursday and will remain open through April 30. Preliminary enrollment will be on a first-come, first-served basis. view article arw

Regardless of societal situations presented to us, Chisum ISD, students, faculty and staff and voting taxpayers continually prepare for success. Successes at Chisum ISD are constant and continuous and come in a variety of forms. Academic success is embraced throughout the district. Winning championships has evolved into a long-lasting tradition at Chisum ISD. For the fifth year in a row, Chisum High is once again Academic UIL Champions. Chisum Middle School has been district champions for 23 years in a row and Chisum Elementary has been district for nine years in a row. Our Beta Club, Agriculture, Band, Theatre and Art students all continue to excel in their respective competitions all while exhibiting Mustang Pride. view article arw

This week the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 5, a bill I authored that would address broadband access across the state. I appreciate the support of my colleagues and the leadership from the House author Rep. Trent Ashby. Here are five things happening around your state: view article arw

Dallas Morning News School districts learned the hard way from a year of disrupted and disjointed remote learning that the digital divide is a major impediment to academic achievement, particularly to children from impoverished backgrounds. Districts found that internet access away from school classrooms may be limited to a parent’s smartphone, simply not readily available or prohibitively expensive for some families. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas estimates that roughly 42% of Dallas households do not have high-speed internet. Many of those households have school-age children, so a remarkable number of students lose internet access when the school day ends. view article arw

Longview Independent School District is transitioning away from remote learning and requesting all students return to on-campus education for the final six weeks period. Effective Monday, April 12th all Longview ISD students will be required to return to campus for regular instruction. Families wishing to continue remote instruction due to extenuating circumstances may contact their campus principal. These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott is supporting House Bill 5, which would expand broadband access statewide. The legislation was co-written by state Rep. Trent Ashby. It currently sits in the State Affairs Committee. “For too long, rural communities throughout our region have struggled with access to broadband internet service,” Ashby said. “Increasingly, we live in a time when internet connectivity is no longer a luxury, but rather a necessity for critical services such as education, health care, public safety and economic development.” Ashby joined a press conference with Abbott, House Speaker Dade Phelan and Hamshire-Fannett ISD Superintendent Dwaine Augustine this week to discuss the impacts of broadband expansion.    (1) view article arw

GUNTER, Texas (KTEN) -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state legislators are putting the spotlight on legislation to increase broadband access across the state. Students across the country were sent home to continue their education at the peak of the pandemic, relying on personal internet access. "Schools would not have been capable of providing education to students without broadband access, and because of lack of broadband access to some homes, some students have not been able to keep up with their peers," Abbott said Monday. Outside city limits, many parts of Texas are internet deserts due to slow or non-existent online options. view article arw

The Texas community of Bastrop is just a 30-minute drive from Austin, but its rural character meant when the pandemic hit, the lack of internet connectivity kept the communities worlds apart. Kathy D’Amico, a teacher who coordinates the Response to Intervention efforts in the Bastrop Independent School District, said adopting remote learning was no easy feat. “I’m in the system,” D’Amico explained. “I know the system backwards and forwards. I know what to do, I know what they need to do, and it was still a huge challenge.” view article arw

Katy Independent School District wants feedback from parents about creating a possible Katy ISD Virtual High School for fall 2021. This year amid the pandemic, students have had the option to learn at home while others have learned in classrooms. According to a news release, the district has had success with its high school virtual learning models, and some families have been asking if the programs might move forward. view article arw

BEAUMONT, Texas — Texas Governor Greg Abbott is visiting Southeast Texas Monday to highlight legislation to increase broadband access across the state. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Video above is from December 2020.) Abbot will be joined by Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, Representative Trent Ashby, and Hamshire-Fannett Independent School District superintendent Dwaine Augustine at a news conference at Hamshire-Fannett Elementary School.  Ashby is the author of legislation that aims to increase broadband access in Texas.  In Texas, experts say more than 9 million people don’t have a broadband internet connection, either because the infrastructure doesn’t reach their homes or because they aren’t subscribed to a service. The state is one of six that don’t have a broadband plan — a roadmap to address the digital divide. view article arw

From filing taxes to finding a pizza restaurant, you can do almost everything online. So when schools shut down, it seemed so simple to say 'we'll teach that way' but so many districts didn't have devices for everyone and that wasn't the biggest problem. “We have one-to-one computers for students in 4th grade on, but they might as well be boat anchors without internet,” said Castleberry ISD Assistant Superintendent, Renee Smith Faulkner. Thousands of North Texas families, especially those in low-income areas, didn't have internet access in their homes. view article arw

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) discussed legislation around the rising importance of reliable statewide access to broadband internet services Monday. The governor held a press conference at Hamshire-Fannett Elementary School in Beaumont where he addressed the infrastructure need. Abbott was joined by Texas Speaker Dade Phelan, State Rep. Trent Ashby, and Hamshire-Fannett ISD Superintendent Dwaine Augustine to discuss the importance of reliable broadband for education, business, and health care.    (30) view article arw

Banquete ISD officials announced Thursday that they will end all remote learning on April 9. All students will be required to either return to face-to-face instruction on Monday, April 12, transfer districts or move to a home-school setting. A letter from BISD said a TEA report shows students have suffered a tremendous loss of learning since the pandemic began in Spring of 2020. view article arw

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Roger Williams (TX-25) today introduced the Eliminate the Digital Divide Act to help bring critical access to broadband to rural and low-income communities. The bill would create a $10 billion State Broadband Program where governors receive funds based on the number of unserved individuals in their state and then partner with broadband service providers to build out networks. “Access to reliable internet remains one of the biggest challenges in today’s digital economy, and I am proud to introduce this bill to prevent Texans from being left on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said Congressman Williams.    (25) view article arw

Houston ISD leaders plan to offer online-only classes to families that want them to start the 2021-22 school year — as long as state officials continue to provide funding for children enrolled in virtual instruction. HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, speaking Wednesday after her annual State of the Schools speech, said district leaders hope to bring as many students as possible back to classrooms by August while also remaining committed to an online-only option. view article arw

Harlandale Independent School District has partnered with the City of San Antonio to bring internet to hundreds of students by installing cell towers throughout the community. “I have been in this district for almost 25 years, and we have been fighting the digital divide from year one,” said Myrna Martinez, information services director at Harlandale ISD. Martinez is excited about a new project that will help students learn remotely.    (25) view article arw

School districts learned the hard way from a year of disrupted and disjointed remote learning that the digital divide is a major impediment to academic achievement, particularly to children from impoverished backgrounds. Districts found that internet access away from school classrooms may be limited to a parent’s smartphone, simply not readily available or prohibitively expensive for some families. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas estimates that roughly 42% of Dallas households do not have high-speed internet. Many of those households have school-age children, so a remarkable number of students lose internet access when the school day ends. view article arw

The coronavirus pandemic has posed unforeseen challenges for student learning, two Round Rock ISD students have worked to create a way to help students stay on top of their classwork. In November, RRISD students Sarayu Kommuri and Anagha Sampath co-founded SparkED Round Rock, a new peer tutoring program. To date, more than 50 students have received tutoring from 40-plus student volunteers. view article arw

The PPRP program will reimburse 84.6% of the eligible costs submitted by LEAs by the application submission deadline. Please note that the LEA must submit the required PPRP survey indicating its use of the reimbursement funds before TEA can send the reimbursement payment to the LEA. LEAs that have not received the PPRP survey or are experiencing issues completing it must contact customerservice@teabulkorder.com for technical assistance. view article arw

Mask wearing and other social distancing measures will remain in place in Denton ISD at least through the end of the school year. The decision came after a unanimous vote Tuesday night by Denton school board members. The vote was the last action taken by board members before they broke into closed session shortly before 10:30 p.m. Members didn’t discuss the action before their unanimous vote, but district officials have previously discussed on-campus safety and funding as significant factors for keeping existing pandemic safety policies. view article arw