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Swine Flu Information and Precautions

Posted by Texas Education on May 1, 2009

From the Texas PTA – tips on how to prepare yourself during this outbreak. I found this information to be very concise.

Swine Flu: What You Can Do
The outbreak of the H1N1 virus (swine flu) continues to grow. As PTA leaders, you can help disseminate factual information to the parents at your school through your newsletters and websites. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has prepared a series of questions and answers entitled Swine Influenza and You at www.cdc.gov/swineflu that you can forward to parents.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you keep your children home from school if they are sick. The symptoms of swine flu include:
  • Fever (greater than 100°F)
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Stuffy nose
  • Chills
  • Headache and body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
The CDC recommends the following to help you and your family stay healthy:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
  • Develop a family emergency plan as a precaution. This should include storing a supply of food, medicines, facemasks, alcohol-based hand rubs and other essential supplies.
  • Call 1-800-CDC-INFO for more information.
Swine Influenza and You
What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.
Are there human infections with swine flu in the U.S.?
In late March and early April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally as well. An updated case count of confirmed swine flu infections in the United States is kept at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm. CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.
Is this swine flu virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
How does swine flu spread?
Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try to not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Are there medicines to treat swine flu?
Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).
How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?
People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possibly up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.
What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?
Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
How long can viruses live outside the body?
We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent handwashing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?
If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school if ill. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.
What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water. or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. We recommend that when you wash your hands — with soap and warm water — that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn’t need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact your health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.
If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.
In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.
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Posted in H1N1 virus, In-the-news, swine flu, Texas Children, Texas PTA, Texas schools | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas PTA update – 3/20/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 20, 2009

Just in from the Texas PTA:

BILL UPDATES

ACCOUNTABILITY
There was a hearing this week on SB 3 and HB 3, the filed bills on school accountability. We will have more information for you over the next few days and weeks, but here are a few pieces:
  • The bill creates a distinction tier for excellence in a variety of areas – growth in achievement, closing the gaps, workforce readiness, fine arts, physical fitness, second language learning. Texas PTA requested that this be included so that school districts would be encouraged to provide robust, challenging programs in fine arts and physical activity/fitness.  Schools can earn distinctions in multiple areas.
  • To earn a Post-secondary Readiness endorsement, the goal for all Texas high school graduates, where students complete 4 years of English, Math, Science and Social Studies, 2 foreign language credits and 8 credits or electives of their own choosing. Career and Technology courses, approximately 30 of them, would be allowed to count for 4th year of math and science. The bill also recommends the creation of new applied math and science courses.
  • The bill defines college readiness standards and skilled workforce readiness standards.
  • To maintain accreditation, student achievement or growth in individual student achievement toward post-secondary readiness would be assessed each year, but a 3 year rolling average for each student subpopulation would be allowed.
  • The bill aligns exit standards with skilled workforce and college readiness standards.

ENVIRONMENTAL
Rep. Diane Patrick, Arlington, has filed HB 4208 relating to school bus idling.

STATEWIDE SMOKE-FREE WORKPLACES LAW
Late last week, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Houston, filed HB 3415, an alternative to HB 5 and SB 544, the comprehensive statewide smoke-free workplaces law that Texas PTA has endorsed.

OTHER SMOKING RELATED LEGISLATION
Sen. Hegar, Katy, has filed SB 2327, relating to a prohibition on smoking in a car in which a person under age 16 is riding.

SAFETY
We’ll put in a card of support for HB 149, regarding penalties for illegally passing a school bus.  We’ll put in a card of support for HB 1622, relating to a grant program to provide children at risk of hunger or obesity with increased access to nutritious foods.

FUNDING
Senator Shapiro, Plano, has filed SB 2392 relating to school finance.  This bill adjusts formulas that determine funding for school districts.

VOUCHERS
Sen. Shapiro, Plano, has again filed a voucher bill – SB 2204 relating to vouchers for students with autism.

Vondebar (wonderful!) some awesome bills filed on behaf of our kiddos!

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Texas PTA needs your help

Posted by Texas Education on March 18, 2009

We need your help to pass a sales tax holiday expansion to include basic school supplies.
Representative Dwayne Bohac, (R) Houston, has filed HB 1806 to expand the sales tax holiday to include basic school supplies.
Please call your legislator and ask him/her to sign on to the bill!

What you need to know:
Currently Texas shoppers get a break from state and local sales taxes the last weekend before the first day of school for items including clothing, backpacks, and shoes.  The law exempts most clothing and footwear priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save Texas shoppers roughly $8 per $100 spent.
The current law does not exempt school supplies.  The proposed legislation, HB 1801, would add school supplies such as crayons, pens, paper, calculators, and notebooks to the exemption.    Many policy makers are not aware that basic school supplies are NOT exempted from sales tax during the back to school sales tax holiday weekend.
The $100 per item cap that is used for other sales tax exempt items will be utilized for school supplies as well.

What you can do:
Call your state representative and ask him/her to sign on to co-author HB 1801, by Bohac, to expand the sales tax holiday weekend to include basic school supplies.

To find your state representative:

http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/welcome.php

ASK YOUR STATE REPRESENTATAIVE TO SIGN ON TO HB 1801!

SUPPORT A SALES TAX EXEMPTION FOR BASIC SCHOOL SUPPLIES!

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Texas PTA Legislative Update – Bills of Interest

Posted by Texas Education on March 11, 2009

Blogging from a remote location…computer too slow, driving me crazy. Just in from Texas PTA. Lots here, pay attention!! 🙂 HB3 and SB 3 filed, everyone’s abuzz on VOTER ID BILL COULD IMPACT LEGISLATION IN SENATE, I’m certainly interested in SHAPIRO SEEKS TO END TOP 10% RULE, another concern of mine VOCATIONAL TRAINING SEES SUPPORT,oh, not so good STIMULUS PACKAGE STALLS LEGISLATURE, LEGISLATION AIMS TO TAKE FINANCIAL TOLL ON GANGS, do we really want to know about?- POLITICS 2010, and our good buddy Rep. Scott Hochberg HB 1297 Relating to optional flexible school day program courses offered by school districts to enable students to earn course credit under certain circumstances. Oh, and LEGISLATIVE REPORTS See below:

Texas Legislature considers changes to school accountability system HB3 and SB 3 Filed
Public schools may get relief from the high stakes of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in a proposed overhaul of the way Texas measures how well they are doing. The legislation would minimize the importance of the much-criticized standardized tests and instead encourage schools to prepare students for success after high school. Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said school districts would be able to decide some of their own criteria for assessment.

The new system, which was called a work in progress, would be made up of two parts. One level would grade schools based on student achievement, completion rates and the district’s financial performance. The second level would grant “distinctions for excellence” based on measures like growth in student achievement, fine arts, physical fitness, second language learning and work-force readiness.

The 128-page bill would grade schools on students’ progress over time rather than on a one-time passing rate on state tests. It would eliminate the school ratings of exemplary, recognized, acceptable and unacceptable. Here are other features of the bill.

Schools would receive “accreditation status.” Districts and schools would be designated as accredited, accredited-warned and accredited probation. Those labels would be based on a variety of factors, including improvement in student test scores, drop-out rates and the financial accountability rating of the school as determined by the state.

Schools could also be evaluated on how they serve special populations, such as special education or limited-English students, and the effectiveness of their career and technology programs.

Students would not necessarily be required to pass the TAKS to be promoted. Districts can determine who is eligible to move on to the next grade.

Schools could earn “distinctions for excellence” in various areas including academics, work-force readiness, second-language learning, fine arts and physical fitness.

Three tracks for graduation would be created. The Texas and advance diploma would require four years of math, English and science. A standard diploma would allow students to take only three years of math. Physical education would no longer be a high school requirement, and students could take eight electives.

The higher education commissioner could award a grant up to $1 million to a college or university to develop advanced math and science courses to prepare high school students for jobs in high-demand fields. Associated Press

VOTER ID BILL COULD IMPACT LEGISLATION IN SENATE
The Senate is poised to debate the contentious issue of voter ID on March 10th. In a surprise move early in the session, the Senate voted along party lines to make an exception to the way they determine what bills may be heard on the floor of the Senate, identifying the voter ID bill as the only bill for which a 2/3 vote of the members of the Senate would NOT be required in order to hear the bill on the floor. The likely outcome if the bill is passed is a decrease in the collegiality for which the Senate is known, and the possibility that the session may descend into partisan fighting over most if not all legislation for the remainder of the session. In short this issue could negatively impact much of the proposed legislation this session. According to the current schedule the full Senate will likely vote on the issue by St. Patrick’s Day. The lawmakers are expected to vote along party lines.

SHAPIRO SEEKS TO END TOP 10% RULE
The Top 10 percent rule actually hurts Texas universities according to Sen. Florence Shapiro. The current bill filed by Shapiro marks the third time she has filed legislation to revise the 10% rule. If passed the proposal would limit the number of students admitted under the Top 10 percent rule to half the admitted class. Last session, the Senate passed its own hybrid version, with 60 percent admitted under the Top 10 percent rule. The bill was rejected in the House.

VOCATIONAL TRAINING SEES SUPPORT
Lawmakers have filed two bills which would strengthen vocational training programs in the state. Sen. Chris Harris’ bill would set up a fund to reward technical and community colleges that offer high-quality vocational and technical courses with grants. A second bill would create high-quality courses for high school students through a “best practices” clearinghouse and also reward school districts that support the development of vocational courses.

STIMULUS PACKAGE STALLS LEGISLATURE
With the possible injection of $17 billion in federal stimulus to Texas the current session has shifted form. Over six weeks ago lawmakers were worried about tapping into the over $9 billion rainy day fund to balance the budget. With this reversal the question now seems to center on how the money will be spent and when. Speaker Straus said publicly this week that it “would be up to the budget-writing Appropriations Committee to act on the recommendations of a newly formed panel, led by Democratic Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco that is reviewing agencies’ plans for spending the stimulus dollars.” Adding to the confusion, Gov. Perry’s aides have said that they believe he can block some of the funds from the legislature, while lawmakers contend they have the authority to override any such decision. This could lead to a veto by Perry on any extra spending or programs he sees as unnecessary.

LEGISLATION AIMS TO TAKE FINANCIAL TOLL ON GANGS
A Texas lawmaker has proposed new legislation to crack down on crime stemming from Mexican drug cartels. Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, filed a bill Thursday that would allow civil lawsuits against gangs, stiffer penalties for online gang recruiting and mandatory rehabilitation programs for young gang offenders. Carona, chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, said his legislation would allow businesses, communities and parents to seek civil judgments and penalties against gangs to “cripple them financially.” Gov. Rick Perry urged the Legislature to pass the bill and to spend $135 million to continue crime-fighting efforts along the Texas-Mexico border. (Statesman)

POLITICS 2010
Democrat Tom Schieffer launched a committee on Monday that allows him to raise money for a possible run for governor. A former owner of the Texas Rangers, his bid has already hit its first impediment. Schieffer is a former Bush appointee (Ambassador to Japan) and that does not sit well with the base of the Democratic Party. David Mauro, a party activist and son of former state official Gary Mauro, recently created a website to draft Sen. Leticia Van De Putte as a candidate for governor saying, “I am very hesitant to let a Bush appointee use our place on the ballot when there is so much at stake for our state and for our party”. In what is already the most anticipated race of 2010, Schieffer is seen as the first serious challenger from the Democrats.

LEGISLATIVE REPORTS:
For information on all the bills being tracked by Texas PTA please click on the following links:

Posted in accountability, Ethics, financing, funding, Good Stuff, good stuff - not so much, leadership, learning, Texas PTA, Texas schools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Texas PTA Day at the Capitol and Centennial Kick-Off

Posted by Texas Education on February 23, 2009

This just in from the Texas PTA:

Texas PTA to underscore legislative priorities and celebrate 100 years of advocacy efforts for children

AUSTIN – More than 500 people are expected to attend Texas PTA’s Day at the Capitol on February 26, 2009 at 11:00 A.M. on the south steps of the Capitol.  Texas PTA holds this event bi-annually to bring attention to its very ambitious legislative agenda for the children of Texas.  Senators Kirk Watson and Jane Nelson, Representatives Jim McReynolds and Jim Pitts and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples are scheduled to speak at the rally.

PTA Day at the Capitol encourages its members from around the state to set up meetings with the legislators in their district.  Some of the issues include improving air quality in school buses, restricting cellular technology for driving teens, strengthening child passenger restraint laws and expanding the sales tax holiday to include school supplies.

This rally also marks the beginning of Texas PTA’s 100th Annual Convention.  Jan Wilkerson, Texas PTA President, will welcome convention delegates to the Austin Convention Center, Ballroom A, on Friday, February 27, at 7:00 p.m.  The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus along with his wife and daughter are scheduled to attend to greet convention attendees and to reaffirm the Speaker’s support for Texas PTA, and guest speaker, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, will welcome PTA delegates to Austin, show her support for expanding the sales tax holiday and reiterate her long-time commitment to Texas children and nutrition.

Convention activities will continue throughout the weekend, including an exhibit hall with dozens of vendors, Texas PTA market, exciting training and advocacy workshops and Centennial activities to help Texas PTA celebrate its 100th birthday!  In addition, the event includes the official business meeting of the state organization, whereby delegates vote on bylaws amendments and legislative positions and resolutions.

Texas PTA is the largest child advocacy organization in the state with more than 600,000 members. Through events like PTA Day at the Capitol and the 100th Annual State Convention, Texas PTA continues to fulfill its mission to be a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the education and well being of every child.

For more information on the Texas PTA, visit www.txpta.org or contact the state office at 800-TALK-PTA.

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Texas PTA Legislative Update – Bills of Interest

Posted by Texas Education on February 16, 2009

I read about most of the new assignments in the Chron last week. Sorry for not updating sooner. I am certainly pleased and have been hearing of more and more “interesting” appointments that we can be proud of and happy about:

HOUSE COMMITTEES:
By the numbers – There are 76 Republicans in the Texas House and 74 Democrats. There are 34 committees. Eighteen (18 ) are chaired by Republicans; 16 are Democrats. Fifteen chairmen are in that position for the first time in their legislative careers. There are more Democrat chairs this session, more African-American chairs (5) and Hispanic chairs (4) than two years ago, and the same number of women chairs (7). The number of urban chairs fell by two, while the number of rural chairs fell by four; that balance is now 23 urban, 11 rural. (Texas Weekly)

Rep. Rob Eissler, (R) The Woodlands, returns to the chairmanship of Public Education.
Rep. Jim Pitts, (R) Waxahachie, returns to the chairmanship of Appropriations after losing the chairmanship last session due to his failed attempt to unseat Tom Craddick.

Over the next few days we will identify legislators to carry Texas PTA legislation in the House. We have been awaiting committee announcements before identifying authors for several bills.

For a complete list of committee assignments, visit
http://txpta.org/Legislative%20Articles/2009/February/House%20Committees%202.pdf

TEXAS PTA DAY AT THE CAPITOL:
February 26 is fast approaching and Texas PTA is excited to welcome several key legislators and statewide officeholders to the Centennial Rally at the Capitol. Chairman Jim Pitts, House Appropriations, Chairman Rob Eissler, House Public Education, Chairwoman Jane Nelson, Senate Health and Human Services, Commissioner Todd Staples, Agriculture Commission, Commissioner Larry Soward, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

PRIORITY LEGISLATION:
SB 61, Booster seat bill, has been referred to Senate Transportation. We expect a hearing in the next 2-3 weeks. We have met with key staff for each member of the committee and anticipate smooth sailing in committee.

HB 5, statewide smoke-free bill, was referred to House State Affairs. Unfortunately the makeup of this committee is problematic for our issue. Over the next few days we will be working to develop a strategy to deal with this. In the meantime, we hope to move the Senate version of the bill, SB 544, first. It has been referred to Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

SB 144, sales tax expansion bill, has been referred to the Finance Committee in the Senate. This bill is not Texas PTA’s version of the bill. We are working with the author, Sen. Ellis (D) Houston, requesting a substitution of our bill language. In the meantime, we are beginning meetings next week to identify a House sponsor.

HB 339, driver training program revision legislation that includes Texas PTA’s cell phone prohibition by driving teens, has not yet been referred to committee. This bill is carried by Rep. Larry Phillips (R) Sherman. Other bills that deal only with the cell phone use prohibition by driving teens, are expected to be filed in both the House and Senate in the next week to 10 days. Both the House and Senate drafts had to be resubmitted for corrections as they contained exemptions that were unacceptable. Rep. Jose Menendez (D) San Antonio, Sherman, and Sen. Tommy Williams (R) The Woodlands.

LEGISLATIVE REPORTS:
For information on all the bills being tracked by Texas PTA please click on the following links:

Posted in In-the-news, texas education, Texas PTA, Texas schools | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

TCEQ AND TEXAS PTA PARTNER TO CLEAN UP THE AIR

Posted by Texas Education on August 11, 2008

Ok, this just in from Texas PTA. I would officially put this as “good stuff.” Anything that says “work together,” or distribute funding” and “protect school children.” Good stuff, you bet! This sounds great too because my asthma is getting worse.

Reducing Particulate Matter Emissions from School Buses

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Parent Teacher Association announced today that they will work together to distribute funding to clean the air and protect school children from harmful particulate matter by retrofitting school buses. The funding will come from a portion of penalties assessed by the commission that are used to support Supplemental Environmental Projects.

“I am delighted that the PTA is joining us to administer funds to clean up school bus fleets in Texas,” said TCEQ Commissioner Larry R. Soward.” Working with such a strong partner gives each of our organizations a greater positive impact on the air quality of the state and the health of our school children.”

Through SEP funding, Texas school districts can install pollution control devices on diesel school buses. These devices reduce particulate matter emissions that can aggravate respiratory problems, asthma and allergies in children who ride the buses. Funding may also be available to replace buses model year 1991 or older with 2007 or newer models resulting in a reduction in particulate matter emissions of up to 90 percent or more.

“Drivers, students, passengers and teachers are all subject to harmful diesel exhaust emissions from school buses on our roadways,” said Kyle Ward, Texas PTA executive director. “We look forward to distributing funds to school districts to reduce these problems through the use of cleaner technology.”

Individual projects are funded based on qualifying enforcement actions taken by the commission. The amount of funding the PTA can receive is up to a maximum of $5 million per year, and the number of locations and projects may vary.

For information on Texas PTA, contact Stacy Glover-512-476-6769, or visit
http://www.txpta.org/legis-res-pos.html.

All TCEQ news releases are available at http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/

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Texas PTA Legislative Update – Farm Bill

Posted by Texas Education on July 16, 2008

Texas PTA Legislative Update – Farm Bill Passes Both U.S. House and Senate

After months of delays and contentious debate, the Farm Bill passed Congress a few weeks ago. The final version of the Farm Bill included several provisions related to the school nutrition programs, several of which are described below:

Public School Nutrition Programs Will Be Winners

  • Expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs – The bill increased funding from $9 million to $70 million a year, with the program available in 35 elementary and secondary schools in each of the 50 states. The bill also allows additional schools to be added in proportion to the student population of the state.
  • Purchases of Locally Produced Foods – The bill eases bidding restrictions for school districts trying to acquire locally grown foods. With this new language, school nutrition programs could use geographic preference in procuring locally grown items. This change should help expand participation in farm to school programs.
  • Grain Pilot Program – The legislation allocates $4 million to establish a pilot program in 125 schools in 6 states. The program will provide whole grain products to participating school nutrition programs for use in the reimbursable meal programs.
  • Purchases of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Distribution to Schools (Department of Defense (DoD) Fresh Program – The Farm Bill raises the amount of money allocated for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables to $50 million a year for the next 5 years.
  • Survey of Foods Purchased by School Food Authorities – Under this legislation, $3 million is allocated to periodically survey school nutrition programs to examine what types of food they purchase.
  • Healthy Food Education and Program Replicability – $10 million is authorized for a 5 state pilot program that makes grants available to “high-poverty” schools for school garden initiatives. The bill also encourages the USDA to sponsor projects that promote nutrition education and can be replicated in schools.
  • “McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program – The bill increases funding for the program, which provides food assistance to school nutrition programs in developing nations, to $300 million. This is a significant cut to the initial $840 million allocated in the original House version of the bill.

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