The State Board of Education subcommittee on School Initiatives met on November 18 to take up a number of items. The subcommittee discussed reappointments of trustee members, certain online school exemptions, charter applications, and school safety training for board members. An archive of the hearing can be found here.

 

This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics taken up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the discussions but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.

 

Agenda Item 1: Recommendation for Reappointments to the Fort Sam Houston Independent School District Board of Trustees

  • 3 reappointments for the Fort Sam Houston Independent School District of Trustees
  • Terms of office for those three trustees are expiring
  • Willie E. White, Deborah E. Seabron, and Andrea D. Nicholas for terms November 2021- November 2023
  • Hickman – Performance of these?
    • Overall A ratings for the last two years they were rated

Motion to reappoint trustees passes

 

Agenda Item 2: Approval of Applicability of State Statute to Special Purpose School Districts

  • Two special purpose districts Texas Tech University K-12 and The University of Texas at Austin High School are online schools
  • Both are under the purview of the SBOE
  • UT Austin High School has not requested any changes
  • Texas Tech K-12 made a request; exemption to the ASVAB to students since it has to be administered in person and they are an online school
  • Cortez – Have already set up a board of trustees? How large?
    • Minimum of 5; were set up during the SBOE hearing in September
    • UT Austin is going request a new board member in January
  • Cortez – Do these schools administer other tests in person?
    • Online schools are to be administered in STAAR person/a secure environment
  • Cortez – What about UT?
    • UT has not administered a request to be exempt from that
  • SBOE Members discuss not approving this item and having Texas Tech coming to their meeting in January to present their case

No action taken by the committee

 

Agenda Item 3: Approval of Required School Safety Training for District Trustees

  • Last meeting was a discussion concerning HB 690 (87R) requires school safety training
  • TEA will digitize this course after this item is approved so they can participate in the training
  • Hickman – How much training do board trustee members need to take?
    • Answer is inaudible
  • Hickman – Does the SBOE approve all this training, or does it come from other places?
    • Usually SBOE sets administrative rule, but do not adopt exact curriculum
    • In this case, it is more prescriptive as required by HB 690
    • Training has been created by the Texas School Safety Center

 

Public Testimony

Susan Elliot, TASB

  • Concerned there is a lot of instructional architecture to aid in understanding
  • Need to back away from specifics and focus on content
  • Cortez – How would we takes those recommendations on the account?
    • Need to set up a meeting between you and the Texas School Safety Center
    • Have a statutory deadline in January 2022; law requires a specific curriculum
  • Davis – If we wanted to amend the language, how would we go about that?
    • Would be at the discretion of the board
    • Curriculum would likely be updated every two years
  • Davis – Recommendations are about what?
    • Missed opportunities on how to make connections; could be minor changes, but might require more conceptual changes
  • Davis – Will be an online program?
    • Yes
  • Cortez – When we have created similar things in the past, we look to TASB for input; why we should postpone

 

Dr. Celina Bley, Texas School Safety Center

  • Can work to with these recommendations and get something prepared for December
  • SBOE Member – Tomorrow we can make the final approval with the full board in order to have a special meeting to adopt amended materials
  • Davis – Notes a safety incident at a family members‚Äô school, this training is important
  • Cortez – What happens if there is a tie on the vote?
    • It fails; the full board makes a final decision on what to do tomorrow
  • Johnson – We can make changes at any time after it is adopted?
    • Correct

No action taken by the committee

 

Agenda Item 5: Review of Proposed Amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 229, Accountability System for Educator Preparation Programs

  • These amendments were approved by the SBEC in October
  • Amendments:
    • Pause Educator Preparation Program accountability system for 2020-2021
    • Includes EPPs have made programmatic changes that would have reached accreditation in 2020-2021
    • Implements HB 159 to note students with disabilities are included in the achievement indicator
  • SBEC approved these amendments unanimously
  • Hickman – Does this have to do with retired teachers getting back into the field?
    • Is about preparation programs and their accountability system

Motion to take no action on proposed amendments passes

 

Agenda Item 6: Open Enrollment Charter School Generation 27 Application Updates

  • Launched application in September
  • Have been conducting mandatory application support sessions
  • Application deadline is December 7
  • Will then conduct external review from January to March
  • Will conduct capacity interviews in May
  • Commissioner will present recommendations to the SBOE May 27 and at the June SBOE meeting
  • Application is for charters that will open August 2023
  • 15 returning applications from Generation 26 who are planning on replying
  • Will know the total amount of who is applying on December 27
  • Cortez – How will geographic boundaries effect this?
    • Is still in the application and have added addition information on where to propose location of schools
  • Cortez – Current rule is clear and enforceable; changing it to allow charters to enroll from outside the boundary does not make any sense
    • Rule change is not the item on the agenda
    • Are still requiring geographic boundaries
  • Cortez – Student attendance is not germane to this conversation? Will talk to you about this offline
  • Davis – Language included for SB 3 (87 2nd Special Session) violations?
    • Charters are required to ensure it is in line with current law; nothing included concerning SB 3
    • Have not made any language suggestions
  • Davis – Approved three charters last time and two were focused on African American populations; both have been flagged for violating HB 3979 (87R)
  • Davis – Need a way to avoid that
    • Part of the challenge with HB 3979 and¬† SB 3 is that the agency was not given any explicit monitoring authority to the agency
    • The issue you are referencing was a vote among board members
    • Law did not exist at the time applications were due
  • Cortez – Any change in geographic boundaries would require a change in law?
    • Would require changes to our rule
    • Legal Counsel – Would require a change of law
  • Cortez – These were posted 6 weeks late last time, any assurances they will be on time?
    • Plan is to have them posted Jan 28, 2022
  • Johnson – Agency sets boundaries for each application?
    • Applications propose geographic boundaries; evaluate that information
  • Johnson – Any role in them setting the final boundaries?
    • Commissioner can recommend modifications.; did not do that last cycle
  • Hickman – Limit total size of application by 100 pages how would we do that?
    • Is the Commissioner‚Äôs application; is no page limit currently
  • Davis –
    • Have made modifications to the special education sections asking for proposed amount of certified staff
  • Cortez – How are geographic boundaries enforced?
    • Through administrative oversight process
  • Cortez – Does that happen often? Have the capacity to monitor that?
    • Commissioner noted yesterday we have 30 corrective action plans
    • Work with complaints as they arise
  • Davis – Is it just by complaints? Or do you look at this proactively
    • Through complaints or another way; have a staff member for attendance or tracking issues

 

Public Testimony

Ruth Funk, Parent

  • Supports the application as it currently is
  • Speaks in favor of charter schools
  • Hickman – Where is Great Hearts located?
    • They are all over Texas, but we are in San Antonio

 

Jennifer Nunen, Parent

  • Supports the application as it currently is
  • Speaks in favor of charter schools

 

Cara Belu, Texas Public Charter School Association

  • Charter school waitlist demonstrates the need to expand charter schools across Texas
  • Current application is robust
  • Davis – What percentage of special education students are in charters?
    • Mirrors that of traditional Texas ISDs at 10%
  • Davis – Got a report that said it was much lower at 6%
  • Davis – Need to ensure this application includes requirements of hiring special education teachers, some have not hired one; what language do you propose for the application?
    • Is already covered in the application
  • Davis – If it is the same language, may have the same results we have now
  • Hickman – If the charter school does not follow promises, how do you manage charter schools?
    • Conduct on campus inspection in the fall of their first school year
    • Use performance framework the school is
    • Address complaints in oversight process
  • Davis – Do you go back after that fall inspection?
    • Yes, depending on what situation arises
    • Work with them to ensure compliance
  • Davis – How do we have so many without special education certified teachers?
    • TAPR report appears that they do not have special education staff in a report, but we investigated and found they do
    • They can also contract with those who provide special education services
    • Davis – Will continue this conversation

 

Jennifer Duval, Teacher

  • Teaches at a charter school in Austin; waitlist currently has 1,800 students

 

Farina Shoduar, Parent

  • Asks for favorable consideration to keep the charter school application as it is
  • Children go to Great Hearts in San Antonio

 

Kiara Cabrera, Parent

  • Supports charters; provides personal anecdote of their charter school education

 

Felix Parrez, Parent

  • Supports charter school application staying the same
  • Provides an anecdote of their child who goes to Compass Rose in Manor

 

Mira Dodry, Compass Rose Destiny in Manor

  • Supports the application as it currently stands
  • Have retained 100% of students and families since Compass Rose was established

 

Pablo Cruz, Marketing Manager Compass Rose Public Schools

  • Support generation 27 charter schools
  • Provides personal anecdote of their experience in charter schools

No action taken by the committee

 

Agenda Item 4: Discussion of Proposed Amendment to 19 TAC Chapter 61, School Districts, Subchapter A, Board of Trustees Relationship

  • Will bring draft rule language to the committee in January
  • Second reading and final adoption will be in April 2022
  • Need to know the frequency the committee would like this to be held
  • Davis – Does not seem like they would need to do the full training every time, but would just need updates after legislative sessions
  • Cortez – Agrees
  • Hickman – How long would this course be?
    • Dr. Celina Bley – Would not be longer than an hour or hour and a half
  • Hickman – Suggest every couple years or a shorter update

 

Public Testimony

Susan Elliot, TASB

  • Recommends this be a one-time training for the term
  • Cortez – What is the difference in what is proposed and what you are recommending?
    • Do not know the purpose of members taking the same class every two years
    • New information can be found in the legislative updates we already have after each session
  • If you have had a break in service, requirements of a new trustee would be in place

 

Dr. Celina Bley, Texas School Safety Center

  • Every school board member will have to take this training in 2022
  • Intent is to continually update the curriculum; do have legislative updates as well
  • Recommend for board members to get specific trainings from us
  • Cortez – Returning members will have to take the course again? Or just the updates?
    • Need to determine that; can work with you on that
  • Cortez – Would be preference for members to not re-take the entire training
  • Johnson – Just because you had it once does not mean you will retain in

No action taken by the committee