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Legislative session finished…for now!

Posted by Texas Education on June 4, 2009

Yes, yes you don’t have to tell me I have been lax in updating my blog! Just haven’t been up to it much. I guess I get tired of always being the bearer of bad news, pretty much anyway. I know I’m the one who chose to blog about texaseduation! So, I need to man up, as they say, or is it womanup? I’ve been twittering more, much more fun! Seems to be my niche also! Well, here is the poop and nothin’ but the poop!

A compromise school finance bill was passed (HB 3646), and it now awaits the Governor’s signature. The main components of this “school finance reform bill are:

Directs $1.9 billion of new money into public schools – this has been consistent with all versions of this bill.

Increases the basic allotment, guaranteed yield, and equalized wealth level, putting districts with low revenue targets back onto formula funding – we know enough now to determine that this provision only impacts the lowest WADA districts (about 350) districts in the state. We, (Humble ISD) along with about 70% of the districts in the state remain on a new total target revenue system, now frozen at the 2009 level of revenue.

Provides every district a minimum $120 per Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA) increase – this is the amount of new state funding we will receive, and it means an approximately $4 million increase for us in each of the next two years.

Provides an across-the-board educator pay raise of the greater of $800/year or each educator’s share of $60/WADA for the district and includes speech-pathologists in the educator pay raise – the $60/WADA here is how our teacher salary increases for next year will need to be calculated. So effectively, our “new additional funding from the state” for operating budget is actually $2 million in each of the next years!

Establishes a permanent “roll-forward” for the Existing Debt Allotment (EDA) program – this is a very good thing, but there was no increase in EDA funding.
Establishes a new program to guarantee bonds for new school construction – this will hopefully be very helpful to us as we begin to sell Bond 2008 bonds and pursue Bond 2008 needed projects.

Provides an additional $50 career/tech allotment for students in sequences leading to certification, and provides for funding of certification exam fees – we will realize some additional dollars here.

Provides funding for credit recovery classes for students – this too will get us a few more dollars.

So where are we with this now passed “school finance reform” legislation? W e are left with a system that did not improve our equity lot relative to WADA funding, and we will continue to have to confront deficit operating budgets over the next two years. So especially now, THANK YOU Humble ISD Community for passing the tax rate election this past year! That at least will keep us solvent through the next legislative session.

Humble ISD is  also now working with their legal counsel, as they assess whether or not to file suit against the state.

The legislature also passed a compromise Accountability bill. Unfortunately, it is going to take a few weeks to really decipher and understand how the new system will work, but it is very unfortunate, that this new legislation does not even come close to resembling what the Select Committee on Accountability recommended after a year of public hearings throughout the state!

Posted in accountability, financing, funding, good stuff - not quite, texas education, Texas schools, Texas State Legislature | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

WADA gap widens under HB 3646

Posted by Texas Education on May 20, 2009

If we didn’t have enough problems with funding, HB 3646 by Rep. Scott Hochberg, well, suffice it to say that under HB 3646 Humble ISD will receive a $100 per WADA increase. Katy ISD, which already receives approximately $300 more per WADA than we do, will receive an additional $272 per WADA under HB 3646! Looks like the equity gap widens to me! And Sheldon ISD which already receives about $1,100 more per WADA than we do, will receive the same $100 per WADA increase as we do under HB 3646.

Also under HB 3646 is a $1.9 billion school finance reform package that purports to improve funding equity among districts and provides a $800 across the board salary increase for teachers. However for us, is much too little by way of needed relief for the next biennium and it is far from equitable!

HB 3646 will provide between $4 – $5 million in new money to our district in each year of the biennium and nearly half of those funds would have to be used to fund the $800 salary increase to teachers! Now there is no debating that teachers not only need and deserve a salary increase of way more than $800, BUT here we go again with the Legislature giving with the right hand and taking some back with the left hand trick! Having cut $27 million from our operating budget since 2002 and being frozen at the 2005-06 total operating revenue level, we need much more than $4 – $5 million annually from the state to even get close to where we were in 2004-05!

Our only hope for getting the right thing done in Austin now lies with Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and the Senate. Whether the Senate Education Committee advances Sen. Van de Putte’s SB 982 or Sen. Shapiro’s SB 2392, we need them to right the wrongs of HB 3646!

PLEASE contact the members of the Senate Education Committee and urge them to truly address adequacy and equity in funding to our schools. For me, it is not a threat, it is just a statement of fact, the only outcome of HB 3646 for us is heading back to court.

Sen. Florence Shapiro, Chair
Sen. Dan Patrick, Vice Chair
Sen. Tommy Williams
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte
Sen. Royce West
Sen. Mario Gallegos
Sen. Steve Ogden
Sen. Wendy Davis
Sen. Kip Averitt

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Maplebrook is clear to reopen Wednesday May 6, 2009

Posted by Texas Education on May 5, 2009

Officials have cleared Maplebrook Elementary (Humble ISD) to reopen to teachers and students on Wednesday, May 6, 2009. All staff and students should report to school as usual.

Posted in bizzare, H1N1 virus, learning, say what???, swine flu, teachers, Texas Children, texas education, Texas schools, uncanny | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Jim Parsons resigns

Posted by Texas Education on May 4, 2009

When it rains, I guess, it pours!! Something from Jim Parsons Executive Director for Accountability. Here is some info for you:

A email just doesn’t seem enough, but it’s about the only way I have right now of sharing some news with you.   I have resigned from Humble ISD, effective June 30.  I start a new job at the University of Texas at Dallas the next day.

I have accepted the position of Assistant Director of the Texas Schools Project and the UT-Dallas Education Research Center.  My responsibilities will include expanding the Education Research Center data warehouse, strengthening and expanding research and data sharing relationships with Texas schools districts, managing data standardization and documentation, and directing the evaluation unit of the TSP.

As you may imagine, this is a dream job for me.  I’ll have an unbelievable huge set of TinkerToys, and quite a few researchers in Dallas and around the country to join me in playing with them.

1. I will miss you.

2. Remember that I-45 runs both ways!  We’ll still be involved in Texas public schools, and we’ll certainly keep in touch with our friends in Humble.

I hope to have the chance to visit between now and the end of June.  I look forward to seeing you before we head our various directions.

Thank you all for the experiences we have shared over the years.  You have all given me so much.

All the best.

Jim Parsons
Executive Director for Accountability
Humble Independent School District
20200 Eastway Village Dr
Humble, Texas 77338

Good luck my friend, you will be missed!

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Potential Delay in TAKS Results

Posted by Texas Education on May 4, 2009

Below is information I received from Executive Director: Jim Parsons; Coordinator of Student Assessment

On Sunday evening, Jim Parsons spoke to a TEA student assessment staffer to confirm a fear he had about a side-effect of the H1N1 flu school closures. The delays in testing and/or shipping completed documents caused by flooding or school closures will probably cause a delay in everyone receiving test results.  In other words, even though Humble ISD didn’t close any schools until after testing was completed, and we did everything on schedule, our results will be delayed, too.

The reason is this:  Before the testing contractor determines the final cut scores for the tests, they must score a very large sample of all the tests.  That process, part of the “post-test equating” activities, is designed to make certain that the exams are of equal difficulty across years.  Field test item analysis gave estimates of the difficulty levels of each item on each test, but only the final results confirm those estimates.  To be certain, they must check, recalculate, and possibly make changes before all tests can be scored.

About 300,000 Texas students are now out of closed schools.  TEA estimates about 150,000 should have had TAKS tests.  Because those missing tests are not randomly distributed across Texas, the tests they will have may not be representative of all students in the state.  The closing of Ft. Worth ISD made a huge difference.  That’s why they can’t just proceed with the tests they get on schedule.

We were originally scheduled to receive the reports by May 22.   There could be a day-for-day slide.  That is, each day’s delay in TEA getting all tests in Austin could mean a day’s delay in our getting results.  That could possibly push the results past the end of the school year.

TEA must still make some final decisions about how all of this is handled.  Look for official announcements sometime this week.

BTW, the Agency will also need to make some decisions that may affect accountability, too.  Jim will be talking to the head of accountability today to see if he can get some sort of forecast.

Posted in accountability, H1N1 virus, swine flu, TAKS testing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Swine flu – a little too close to home

Posted by Texas Education on May 1, 2009

Maplebrook Elementary will closed until May 18 as a child has been diagnosed with a probable case of H1N1. Thankfully, the child is recovering and doing well. As is customary, the Center for Disease Control has directed that the probable case be treated as if it is a confirmed diagnosis. At the CDC’s direction, the school will close for 14 calendar days. Teachers will be asked to report back to work on May 11 th.

This is what is on the Humble Website. I got a call from a teacher friend at the school, and an email from my support group. A sibling of a student does in fact have the swine flu. All the siblings have symptoms, but do not have their results back.

I’m a bit numb from this as it all seemed so surreal hearing about it, now I’m so close to it. I don’t know who the student is, but I’m sure he/she has been in my class.

Please pray for us, I’m very scared.

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This & That

Posted by Texas Education on April 21, 2009

I know I’ve been a bit AWOL. I’ve been tired, working full time can wear a person out…and, there is a lot going on. Last Tuesday’s City & State had a great article by Lisa Falkenberg, who, I must say, in person, is very funny! She talks about the stimulus money, which I am most interested in due to the fact I hope it gets me gainfully employed! See, they tend to cut out tech stuff, but with some money…well, crossing fingers, anyway! I have to agree with her on this one, she says, “can you still call it ‘stimulus’ if it’s being used for a purpose no more stimulating that maintaining the status quo?”

Also, on that front page is an article on sex ed in the doctor’s office. Talks about mother’s taking their daughters to the gynecologists to do the talking for them. That’s a tough one for me, I have a daughter, 17, so again, this one is a bit near and dear (for lack of a better way to say it.) I don’t wish to comment on that one, don’t know what to say, really. I found this part interesting though:

“If you say: ‘Are you sexually active?’ They say: ‘No, I only have one boyfriend.’ If you ask, ‘Are you having sex?,’ they say no, but when you ask them about the last time they had sex, they say a month ago,” said Sinacori, a Memorial-area obstetrician/gynecologist.

Then on Thursday of last week, Humble filled up the Kingwood/Humble section, well actually the whole section. Front page “An ‘A’ for extra effort.” This talks about how the mentoring program and how successful it is. I believe that, seems like a no brainer, if you put anything into it…should come out positive. One part in the article about Waymond Wesley, the AP at Humble MS, he is quoted as saying:

“I never saw my father, so I learned from others,”

260xstoryGotta say, that pretty much sums up my childhood. (Ok, some may TMI here, but I feel I can talk about my successes just like Mr. Wesley.) I also feel I can connect with some of the students because of my background.  That paragraph goes on to say:

“They conveyed to me that I could do whatever I wanted. The more they shared of themselves, the more confidence I got in myself.”

I don’t even feel I had it THAT good. I was not real good at anything, but I did well in school, but didn’t have anyone to convey anything, share, nor give me confidence. I pretty much did it on my own, looked at role models, etc. Hey, I’m not crying here, just telling it like is was. School was my sanctuary, and I’m thankful for that, and try to make it that way for any student I come across.

Another article with a great mug of Dr. Sconzo! “District finds ways to turn hard issues into success stories.”  Pretty much sums up the article. They didn’t put that one on-line though, sorry!

And rounding out that section, the “Report Card.” The school I’m currently at did extremely well, looks like, most of the schools in Humble did well, also. We must be doing something right, eh?

You can check out your schools “Report Card” here.

Posted in Abstinence Education, financing, FYI, Good Stuff, In-the-news, learning, mentoring, Sex-education | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Capturing Kids’ Hearts is coming to Humble ISD

Posted by Texas Education on April 16, 2009

Well, not exactly, but…I got an update from the last Board meeting, sorry I missed, that they are…well here’s the update:

Capturing Kids’ Hearts Professional Development

The entire Summer Creek High School staff will be pursuing Capturing Kids’ Heart professional development training. This special training in affective development techniques will cost $67,900 and will be paid for with Federal Title II grant funds.

This is such a wonderful, and I must say, surprising thing. My heart believes so strongly in Capturing Kids’ Hearts. I do believe it has made me a much better teacher and has given me the hope, that all of us need, to know that every child deserves the best from his/her teacher and this program/philosophy does just that.

In other action, the Board approved:

  • Design development plans for elementary school #26, Turner Stadium renovations and additions, and Community Learning Center renovations and additions.
  • Boundary option 1 for Lakeshore Elementary. Details
  • The annual AVID Membership Renewal for 2009-10 for all secondary campuses. The $42,574 is paid through the State High School Allotment fund.
  • Declaring a corner lot across the street from the old Bender High School in Humble as surplus property. The Board authorized having it appraised and advertising it for sale.
  • Population And Survey Analysts to begin its total Demographic Study focusing on the southeast area of the school district at this time.
  • Lemons Auctioneers to provide online auction services for 31 surplus portable buildings.
  • Chick-Fil-A to provide pre-packaged, ready to serve chicken sandwiches at all middle and high schools.
  • SBWV as the architect for the Kingwood High softball field design work.

Posted in Good Stuff, leadership, teachers, teaching, teen leadership | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

CommUNITY Youth Protection Fair

Posted by Texas Education on March 13, 2009

girljumpWow, was browsing around Humble ISD website and came across this. The Humble ISD Council of PTAs is hosting a youth protection fair at Oaks Elementary, Saturday, April 18 from 10 – 2 p.m. Youth Protection Presentations from: Crime Stoppers, Laura Recovery Center, Local Emergency Units & Predator Check.  Presentations on dog safety and bicycle safety will begin every hour. They will have a lot going on like: immunizations, preventative programs-Crime Stoppers, Missing Children Organizations, alcohol and tobacco awareness, and door prizes, just to name a few. Check it out!!!

For information contact: H. Gordon @ 281-852-4610 or HGordon639@aol.com or www.humble.k12.tx.us/pta.htm

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Humble ISD – update 3/10/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 12, 2009

Just in – update from Humble ISD. I missed Tuesday night’s meeting, and it looks like there was much covered. The trustees voted on next years calendar, so you will need to synchronize your calendars with your children’s. Elementary #25 gets a name Lakeshore Drive, oops, my bad, it’s just Lakeshore, I guess…Elementary. And Wood Creek for the newest middle school, ummm….that one is going to be hard to get used to, to open in 2010. Also, a regional program for the deaf, in conjunction with New Caney ISD, great idea! I’ve always assumed things would come to this, sharing with other districts. It’s come up in past budget meetings, and it’s not a bad thing! Using a commissioning agent for ES# 26 and future construction projects? ES #25 cost us $30,000, no comment! Then Dr. Sconzo’s comments, he goes on about the bond and the PSF, oh, not so good. And finally, the board’s comments. We are working hard at bridging that huge gap between school districts and the Lege. I’m feeling optimistic too Bonnie.

2009-2010 School Calendar
The Humble ISD Board of Trustees approved the school calendar for the coming year. The 2009-10 calendar mirrors this year’s and includes a two week Winter Break, a one week Spring Break, and a three-day Thanksgiving holiday. School starts on August 24, 2009 and ends on June 2, 2010 for students. View/Print the new calendar

Elementary #25 gets a name: Lakeshore
Lakeshore Elementary is the name selected for Humble ISD’s 25th elementary school. The name was chosen based on preferences expressed by parents, students and community through a web site survey and the review of the Board’s School Naming Committee. The school opens in August 2009. It is located at 13333 Breakwater Lane, Houston.

Woodcreek Middle opens in 2010
Woodcreek Middle will be the name of the school district’s eighth middle school. The name was selected based on the preferences expressed by parents, students and community through a web survey and the review of the Board School Naming Committee. The school will open in August 2010. It is located at 14600 Woodson Park in Houston. It is near Beltway 8 and West Lake Houston Parkway.

Establishing a Humble ISD regional program for the deaf
The Board approved a shared services agreement with New Caney ISD to establish the Humble Regional Day School Program for the Deaf. In this agreement, New Caney will pay tuition to Humble ISD for serving its deaf education students. This is expected to be a more comprehensive and cost efficient way for both school districts to provide services for deaf children.

In other business, the Board approved:

  • United Healthcare as Humble ISD’s new third-party administrator for our Health Care Program.
  • Using a commissioning agent for elementary 26 and future construction projects. A commissioning agent adds a level of professional review of design documents, assurance that operating systems function properly, pre-operation reviews and recommendations, start-up testing with verification of system’s efficiency, one year follow-up assessment, etc. The total cost is $.30 per square foot. For Lakeshore Elementary, the cost was $30,000.

Superintendent’s comments
Dr. Guy Sconzo noted that the last bond sale from Bond 2005 and the first sale from Bond 2008 were planned for this month, but will be delayed. The state’s Permanent School Fund (PSF) is not available to guarantee school bonds at this time. The problem is that there has been no Federal action to approve the increase in the eligibility cap for securing bonds with the PSF yet.

One of the negative ripple effects of the current economy is the demise of all bond insurance companies. Purchasing bond insurance instead of having the PSF guarantee is no longer an option. Without the PSF guarantee or insurance for bonds, Humble ISD would pay a significantly higher interest rate on bonds sold. This is why a delay in selling bonds is necessary.

Dr. Sconzo noted the need to avoid losing ground on “must have” bond projects that need to begin this summer. Losing ground could mean up to a year’s delay in necessary roof and HVAC replacements, Community Learning Center renovations and additions, ES #26, and Turner Stadium renovations. The immediate amount required to begin and/or complete these critical projects is $12.9 million.

To avoid the interest costs of short-term borrowing, the district plans to temporarily redirect a significant portion of unencumbered balances in Bond 2005 projects to fund the “must have” summer projects. Humble ISD’s financial advisors believe that the climate will be better for the planned bond sale in September or October 2009. In the worse case scenario, the school district might have to consider conducting the bond sale absent the PSF guarantee at that time.

Dr. Guy Sconzo reviewed the progress of the Citizens Boundary Advisory Committee and the Summerwood community’s representatives regarding Lakeshore Elementary’s boundaries. Action on this is expected in April.

Comments by Board Members
Humble ISD Board members have been actively working with legislators in Austin to increase funding for education and to provide more equitable funding solutions for Texas. Charles Cunningham, chair of the Board’s Legislative Committee, noted that Board members have talked with at least half of the House and Senate Education Committees’ members and have received a warm response and an invitation for the superintendent to “have a seat at the table” to help legislators work through funding solutions.

Board members Dan Huberty and Dr. Bonnie Longnion expressed cautious optimism about the response from legislators. Huberty noted that it is difficult for legislators to argue that the current funding formula is equitable when districts like Katy and Humble with their similar demographics, have such disparate funding.

Longnion stated that she is especially pleased with our local community’s enthusiasm and public engagement. She noted that the Humble ISD Legislative Committee’s work is especially energetic and that we must keep up the effort.

For complete information about this Board meeting, see the board packet .

Note: the complete packet is posted by the end of the day after the meeting. If you would like to be on the list to receive this report by email every month, please visit Your Schools Insider and sign up!

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