NEWS HEADLINES

Board hears legislative update; AD’s contract renewed

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Alvord ISD board of trustees spent about an hour behind closed doors Monday evening before opening back up and quickly hiring one new teacher and renewing the contracts of all the others.

Among the contracts renewed was that of Athletic Director Curtis Enis, who will be starting his third year this August as the head football coach and AD. Enis’s contract was extended through next June.

The board also hired Nathan Skelton to teach social studies and coach at both the high school and middle school campuses under a one-year probationary contract. All the personnel action was approved unanimously.

The first part of the meeting was spent hearing reports from the elementary and high school campuses. Superintendent Bill Branum gave the middle school report and then updated the board on legislative matters during his superintendent’s report.

“There’s 30 days left in the legislative session, and we’re following it closely to stay on top of things that are important to our kids, our staff and our district,” he said. “These last 30 days are going to be very interesting.”

Branum said some of the House and Senate bills related to education are closely aligned “companion” bills – but others contain significant differences that will have to be worked out in conference committees.

“I feel like the legislators have heard the message very clearly that it’s not best to continue all this testing on all these kids, year after year, and have that be the driver for your system,” he said.

Both the Senate and House education bills would reduce the number of end-of-course exams from 15 to 5, and there is also a bill to significantly change graduation requirements and the types of diplomas students can earn. Those, he said, would likely be applied to next year’s freshman class.

“It will be a lot different,” Branum said. “If it comes to fruition the way it appears it may, there’ll be tracks for kids to pick from, not the four-by-four, let’s prepare everybody for college regardless of whether they’re going or not. There will be some adjustments we’re going to have to move on pretty quickly.”

He also noted that most funding bills are at least partially restoring the $5.4 billion that was cut from public education two years ago, when the state faced a budget crunch.

“About 70 percent of that would be restored, so we’d still be behind where we were two years go,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be repaid, but it looks like we may get some of the money back that we lost two years ago.”

OTHER ACTION

The board also:

  • approved applying for expedited waivers from the Texas Education Agency to allow six early-release days, a modified schedule on state assessment days, using the district’s own teacher data portal for the Texas Assessment Management System, and adding three days of staff development to the 12 already in the state’s calendar – something Alvord teachers have requested, Branum said.
  • certified to the state that the instructional materials they adopt for the coming school year will meet state standards, and
  • moved a total of $29,600 out of three different accounts where it was not needed to help pay for higher-than-expected substitute teacher and worker’s compensation costs. The budget’s bottom line stayed the same, Branum said.

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