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Posts under ‘School days’

Fort Bend ISD

A lot going on over there. With a fifth-grader in Palmer Elementary School in Missouri City, Steve Brown has begun to think about where his son should attend middle school. The campus is just a two-minute drive from the current one but the change has him concerned. According to the latest accountability rating, the middle […]

La Marque ISD gets a stay

Not so fast. Galveston County’s La Marque ISD received a lifeline Wednesday when state Education Commissioner Michael Williams agreed to put the district’s closure on hold. Williams said he would not shut down the district in July, as he had previously ordered, but would wait to make a final decision until the Texas Education Agency […]

HISD postpones redrawing school boundaries

This stuff is hard, y’all. The school board [had planned] to vote Thursday on the district’s biggest rezoning plan in recent years, involving more than two dozen campuses. The proposal mostly would redraw attendance boundaries to shift homes from more crowded schools to campuses with space. The major impact may not be immediate, however. As […]

A slowdown in construction would be good for school districts

One potential upside to a weakening real estate market. Since the Houston Independent School District passed a historic $1.9 billion bond issue in 2012, the construction market has boomed, driving up costs and drying up labor. But now, with the recent drop in crude oil prices, district leaders say they may be able to ease […]

State moves to close La Marque ISD

I hadn’t realized this was in the works. Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams has ordered the closure of Galveston County’s La Marque ISD in July unless the school district successfully appeals. Williams notified leaders of the 2,500-student district this week that he intended to take the rare step of revoking its accreditation after consecutive years […]

HISD considers a different kind of redistricting

It would likely be just as contentious as the usual kind. Houston school officials may rezone students from roughly two dozen elementary schools over the next few years in an effort to meet the state’s class size limits. District officials presented a proposal to the school board Thursday morning. It would be the largest redrawing […]

HISD Student Congress

Kids today, with their “getting involved” and their “having their voices heard”, I tell you. The high school students gave up their Saturday afternoon, meeting at the downtown library with laptops and legal pads to brainstorm ideas for improving the Houston Independent School District. “Let’s say class sizes are too large at some schools in […]

HSPVA groundbreaking

Looking forward to seeing how this turns out. A slab of cracked cement painted over with yellow parking lines sits at the corner of Rusk and Austin – with downtown skyscrapers looming overhead. Come Tuesday, the cement will be ripped up and construction will begin on a new five-story, 168,000-square-foot building for the Houston ISD’s […]

How Texas can improve its pre-k programs

From Raise Your Hand Texas: Raise Your Hand Texas recently released a report highlighting research-driven practices proven effective in public pre-kindergarten programs across the country, and comparing how Texas’ pre-k program stacks up. “Pre-Kindergarten for the Modern Age: A scalable, affordable, high-quality plan for Texas” was prepared by Dr. Robert Pianta, Dean of the Curry […]

Re-redistricting HISD

Well, this would be different. The Houston school board would grow from nine elected trustees to 17 under a bill filed by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, who said she wants to give residents of the former North Forest school district increased representation. The Houston Independent School District took over the northeast Houston district in 2013 […]

Texas asks for federal funding for pre-k vouchers

Not sure how I feel about this. Teacher groups are up in arms as Texas seeks millions from the federal government to fund a new pre-K voucher program that would begin next fall. Last month, the Texas Education Agency applied for $30 million in prekindergarten grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education, its share […]

HISD Board approves one cent tax rate increase

Still a low tax rate, just slightly higher now. As architects prepare designs for dozens of new campuses, the Houston school board on Thursday approved a 1-cent tax rate increase to help pay down debt from the largest school district construction bond in Texas history. The board voted 7-1 to raise the tax rate, the […]

Early Matters presents its case

They’ve got a good coalition. Let’s see where they can go with it. Access to preschool programs – and their quality – varies widely across Texas. A broad coalition of Houston-area executives, educators and nonprofit groups assembled by Houston’s premier business organization is working to change that, though a major hurdle remains: securing funding in […]

On school districts selling stadium naming rights

Raise your hand if this surprises you. When Bert Brocker wanted to advertise his auto business on the entrances of New Caney ISD’s new football stadium recently, the district offered another, bigger possibility: Naming rights to the entire $20 million, 8,000-seat facility. Brocker, who runs the Texan GMC and Texan Dodge auto dealerships in Humble, […]

More on Early Matters

Scott McClelland, president of H-E-B Houston and also the chair of the Greater Houston Partnership Education Advisory Committee, pens an op-ed about the importance of pre-kindergarten and the latest effort to provide for it. It’s hard to believe, but more than 60 percent of children in Houston start kindergarten lacking basic letter identification skills and […]

HISD should not be on the hook for North Forest’s liabilities

Come on! Fourteen months after the Texas Education Agency ordered Houston ISD to take over the long-troubled North Forest school district, some unexpected disputes over funding have surfaced. The Houston school board has authorized its attorneys to challenge a Texas Workforce Commission ruling that the district owes more than $3.7 million in unemployment benefits to […]

HISD approves its redistricting plan

As we know, HISD now includes all of the former North Forest ISD, and with that new territory came the need to reapportion its Trustee districts. They completed that task last week with a minimum of fuss. The Houston school board Thursday unanimously approved a redistricting plan that changes all nine trustee districts to accommodate […]

HISD’s volunteer reading army

HISD’s number one priority is, or at least needs to be, improving reading performance. I really hope this will help. Leaders of the Houston Independent School District turned to the community on Thursday, launching the district’s largest volunteer recruitment effort in recent years – all to help solve HISD’s intractable literacy problem. The nation’s seventh-largest […]

Teachers are doing it for themselves

I know this is intended to be an upbeat story, but I can’t help but find it a little depressing. Some tech-savvy teachers turned to the Web this summer to try to offset the nearly $500 typically spent to ready a classroom for the first day of school. Numerous Houston-area educators posted pleas on social […]

Trying again with pre-K

Different approach, hopefully a different result will follow. On the first day of school for most Houston-area children, a coalition called “Early Matters” organized by the Greater Houston Partnership announced Monday it would release a 10-year “game plan” at a summit next month to expand pre-kindergarten and child care programs and assist parents so they […]

HISD passes its budget

They restored a lot of funding, but it’s the changes to magnet school funding that everyone is talking about. Bouncing back from recent cash-strapped years, the Houston school board Thursday approved a bigger budget that gives raises to all employees, provides more money to campuses and may require a tax rate increase. The board, over […]

Bad signs of the times

I don’t even know what to say. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD will spend $55 million to tighten school security, including installing strategically placed panic buttons on campuses and replacing existing entry windows with bullet-resistant glass – upgrades experts call a necessary but unfortunate sign of the times. Voters overwhelmingly approved the improvement, which will be completed districtwide […]

HISD prepares its budget

Teacher pay raises and magnet school funding changes are the main points of interest. Thanks to rising property values, all Houston ISD employees would receive raises and schools would get more money for supplies, field trips or tutors next year under a budget proposal drawing complaints for its long-term cuts to some popular magnet programs. […]

HISD hires its defenders for the teacher evaluation lawsuit

I have to say, I’m a bit uncomfortable with this. Earlier this year, seven teachers sued the Houston Independent School District in federal court over their evaluation system. That system uses a statistical formula and student test scores to grade teachers. At its meeting this week, the Houston school district decided to hire a high-profile […]

Digital textbooks are on their way

HISD is on the leading edge. HISD is the first of Texas’ large districts – and among the first large districts in the nation – to radically rethink the way it buys new high school instructional materials, shifting from printed textbooks to digital materials accessible from school-issued laptops. “Our rule is that, each time state […]

HISD magnet funding vote delayed till next week

You still have time to talk to your trustee about this. Superintendent Terry Grier’s administration has proposed standardizing how the programs are funded – a plan that would result in some schools losing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and others gaining as much. School board president Juliet Stipeche said Monday that she used […]

What is the deal with Vanguard funding?

It started with an urgent action email sent to Travis Elementary School parents: As you may have heard, the Houston ISD Board’s proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year would eliminate HISD Vanguard Magnet funding. These drastic cuts would threaten the viability of the Vanguard program at Travis. (see the April 24 Budget and PUA […]

Meet T-TESS

Texas has a new teacher evaluation system on the way. It won’t come without a fight. Texas’ more than 380,000 public school teachers are girding for a tumultuous few years as a new method of grading their performance is expected to generate heated legislative debates and perhaps legal challenges. Already, the Houston Independent School District […]

More on Achievement School Districts

Chris Barbic, the founder of YES Prep and the superintendent of Tennessee’s Achievement School District, one of the models for Greg Abbott’s education plan, weighs in on what these things are and are not. First, by law, the Tennessee ASD charters can’t pick and choose their students; the charters are not open-enrollment schools. When a […]

Jay Aiyer: Consider a local option for pre-k

Note: From time to time, I solicit guest posts from various individuals on different topics. While I like to think I know a little something about a lot of things, I’m fortunate to be acquainted with a number of people who know a whole lot about certain topics, and who are willing to share some […]

HISD does have a role to play in the Bush Foundation literacy effort

I learned this from a Terry Grier op-ed in the Chron. That’s why last week’s release of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s “Houston’s Literacy Crisis: A Blueprint for Community Action,” was such a welcome event. The foundation’s plan to unite educators, government and community programs – plus human and financial capital – in a […]

More on the Bush Foundation literacy effort

We had the preview story, now we have the rollout story about the efforts by the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation to tackle the problem of illiteracy. The nascent campaign to improve Houstonians’ reading skills got a $300,000 kick-start Thursday from the federal agency that oversees community service. The three-year grant will fund 15 workers […]

On improving literacy

I have three things to say about this story. In Houston, a city known for its brilliant doctors and energy executives, adults are waiting in line for classes that teach basic literacy skills – reading, writing and speaking clearly. They can’t land jobs or promotions, can’t help their kids with homework. At the same time, […]

Two truths about testing

Lisa Falkenberg boils it down. While there’s no doubt standardized tests are an important part of student assessment, somewhere along the way, they became too important. We’ve tethered them to everything from student promotion to teacher pay to school reputation. And it’s not just the test days that take away from meaningful learning but the […]