Summary Report & Media Highlights
January 23, 2017
Board of Trustees Regular Agenda:
Board Agenda
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Sights and Sounds Around Spring Branch ISD

Trustees watched a video featuring Dr. Emmanuel Urquieta, a NASA mission specialist who recently spoke to SPIRAL teacher Molly Nipper’s class at the Bendwood School. Urquieta urged students to find their passion, and addressed how passion can make you the best that you can be. Passion is a big part of Nipper’s classroom – she helps her students find theirs, and she’ll ‘pay forward’ her own passion for teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) by collaborating with other teachers on STEM curriculum at a NASA Space Exploration Educators Conference in February for teachers from the U.S, Canada, and Japan, and showcasing SBISD students. Ms. Nipper spoke to trustees following the video.

Watch video

Recognition of #IAMSBISD Award Recipient

The #IAMSBISD campaign recognizes members of the Spring Branch ISD community who represent the best qualities and demonstrate the core values of SBISD. Medallions are awarded by Dr. Muri and senior staff and recipients receive instant recognition through social media and are invited to be recognized at that month’s regular board meeting.

Associate Superintendent for Finance Karen Wilson presented an #IAMSBISD medallion for #Collective Greatness to Melissa Norton, a payroll specialist in the Finance Division. Norton not only organizes a Friday food pantry for Spring Branch Elementary, so needy students won’t be hungry over the weekend, but also organizes the central office’s food drive at Thanksgiving. This year’s drive provided complete Thanksgiving meals for 26 families, Wilson said, adding that the goal was seven families. Wilson said that she’s blessed to work with such giving, caring people in finance, and that Norton embodies that family spirit through her actions.

Board President Karen Peck (left), Melissa Norton, Karen Wilson and Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri.

Recognition of SBISD Board for School Board Appreciation Month

Both in Texas and across the nation, January is the month that communities traditionally recognize their elected school trustees. Dr. Muri started out by recognizing that SBISD trustees daily carry out the challenge set forth to district staff during Convocation – to be brave, be proud and be learners. It takes great courage, he said, to raise your hand and say ‘I’ll serve.’ Trustees exhibit great pride in SBISD through their words and deeds on a daily basis, and are constantly absorbing information to make better decisions for the system. Community Relations Officer Linda Buchman said that if the ESPN producer who “fell in love” with Tully Stadium while doing research on high school football in Texas had met this Board of Trustees then she’d have fallen in love with them. “We appreciate that we have in each of you a strong advocate for children,” said Buchman, calling trustees “super volunteers” before she and senior staff members presented each board member with a personalized SBISD football jersey.

SBISD Trustees showing off their personalized jerseys are Carter Breed (left), Chris Vierra, Board President Karen Peck, Josef Klam, Secretary Katherine Dawson and Chris Gonzalez. Vice President Pam Goodson was not present.

Joint Public Hearing with DIT for 2015-16 TAPR

Trustees heard the Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR) during a joint public hearing with the District Improvement Team (DIT). Dr. Muri told trustees before the presentation that while the report contains “lots of interesting data,” SBISD takes “lots of measures (and) uses that data to drive the system.” Associate Superintendent of Research and Design Elliott Witney reminded trustees that the district’s strategic road map uses “multiple measures” and the TAPR provides some data that inform our knowledge about every child’s academic preparation and progress.

Executive Director of Assessment and Compliance Keith Haffey presented the data, in three categories: STAAR grades 3-8 and End of Course (EOC), graduation rates, and college readiness. SBISD’s enrollment demographics are generally reflective of the state, Haffey said, although SBISD has nearly twice the number of English Language Learners (ELL). SBISD’s performance largely mirrored that of the state and region, being better in some areas and behind in others. Haffey said that there were no comparisons to the previous school year because passing standards were increased.

Trustee Chris Vierra said that the STAAR is a flawed and biased test and asked Dr. Muri how he and the district use TAPR diagnostically. Dr. Muri called the report “autopsy” data – “this is the history lesson that tells us what happened ... it in no way tells us about the work we’re doing today. It’s difficult to make decisions using these data.” Trustee Katherine Dawson noted that while the district knows that “STAAR has flaws,” those results are what the public sees and asked how messaging that de-emphasizes STAAR results can be changed. Dr. Muri said that the district should empower students with their own data, and that he thinks most SBISD students don’t know how they did on a particular STAAR exam. Vierra reiterated that she has a “big problem” with STAAR and using related data to drive any district decisions.

There was no public comment offered during the public hearing.

TAPR

Approval of 2017-18 Calendar

Trustees unanimously adopted the 2017-18 academic calendar. The calendar takes advantage of the school start date exemption recently enacted by trustees as part of SBISD’s District of Innovation status, with school starting a full week earlier than normal this fall, on the third Monday of August, Aug. 21. The adopted calendar allows for a full week off over Thanksgiving and the traditional two full weeks at winter break. The last day of classes will be June 1, 2018.

Dr. Muri acknowledged the work of the District Improvement Team (DIT) on the calendar, and said there are other things the district might consider with the calendar and its DoI status. Trustee Dawson praised the transparency of the process, including putting draft calendars out for vote twice to determine community wants. Trustee Vierra said she’d like the DIT to start earlier on the calendar, because “people have been waiting on this.”

2017-18 Academic Calendar

Approval of Resolution Regarding Property Tax Relief and Transparency in Taxation

Trustees unanimously approved a resolution calling on the state legislature to take steps to reform the public school finance system and to be open with how it uses money it collects from local school districts. SBISD will send an estimated $67.4 million to the state in recapture (Robin Hood) payments this year while receiving only $17.5 million in state funding, less than a third. The resolution calls for reform of that system as well as an end to the supplanting of state education dollars with recapture dollars. Trustee Vierra noted that the resolution brings to light how recapture money is used in the state budget. Board President Karen Peck said that it’s important that the community knows how local school dollars are helping fund other state obligations.

Resolution

Consideration of SBISD to Participate in One Voice for Texas Public Ed

Trustees discussed participation in One Voice for Texas Public Ed, a coalition of area school districts pooling voices to promote common issues. Trustee Vierra said that she’s been to several of the group’s meetings and while none besides SBISD are Chapter 41 (recapture) districts, the districts do share some similar concerns. She said the group is still finding its way and likely wouldn’t gain traction until the next legislative session in two years, and that she saw no harm in joining. Other trustees were skeptical – the district’s primary legislative priority during the current legislative session is school finance reform and relief from escalating recapture obligations. The measure was pushed out to be considered in a future meeting.

One Voice for Texas Public Ed

Consent Agenda

Trustees unanimously approved the consent agenda. The consent agenda comprises items considered routine and is considered as a whole. Trustees have the privilege of removing items from the consent agenda for individual consideration. No items were removed for separate consideration.

Consent Agenda (Item 7)

Legislative Update

Trustee Vierra reported that she and Trustee Dawson had recently spent a day at the Capitol and had visited with members and/or staffs of the local delegation about recapture and the financial situation in SBISD. “I think they all got the message loud and clear,” she said, adding that they want to help and recommended other key lawmakers to visit. Vierra said “two more waves” of trustees are scheduled to go and visit with legislators. While trustees and Dr. Muri acknowledged that it’s still early in the 140-day session, school finance is “front and center” with the House seemingly willing to tackle reform and the Senate appointing a working group to look at school finance. Dr. Muri said the district will continue to monitor bills being filed affecting public education, including bills concerning the A-F rating system.

SBISD School Finance Website

The next Board of Trustees meeting is the workshop on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, at 6 p.m., at the Wayne F. Schaper Sr. Leadership Center, 955 Campbell. The next regular meeting is Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, at 7 p.m., at Northbrook High School, 1 Raider Circle N.

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