Spring Branch ISD Featured News

Board Briefs -- March 25, 2019


Opening Remarks

Dr. Muri praised the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for all that it does for kids, through competitions, scholarships and more.

Sights and Sounds Around Spring Branch

Trustees watched a short video, “In the Zone,” recapping recent activities from around the district.
In the Zone

Recognition of All-State Choir, All-State Band, and All-State Orchestra Students

SBISD All-State musicians with their teachers and Board President Josef Klam (left) and Dr. Muri (right).


Trustees recognized eight All-State musicians, from choir, band and orchestra. To earn the recognition as All-State, students compete through several rounds of auditions beginning in the fall at the district, region and area levels. From Memorial High School were Ruka Adachi, flute; Crystal Wang, soprano; Joie Jamison, violin; Emily Sonn, violin (two-year All-State) and Sophia Woon, cello (two-year All-State). From Spring Woods High School was Christine Paz, baritone saxophone. From Stratford High School were Jackson Howard, second bass; and Catherine Wu, violin (three-year All-State).

First Reading of Policy

Trustees heard on first reading eight policy updates related to several proposed District of Innovation exemptions. Policy Liaison Trustee Karen Peck said that the policies had received considerable public input while posted on the board’s District of Innovation webpage, and are posted again as part of the board’s regular policy process. As a District of Innovation, SBISD can, through a defined process, exempt itself from certain provisions of the Texas Education Code. The proposed exemptions would allow SBISD flexibility in hiring certain Career and Technical Education (CTE) and special education teachers.
Policies (Item 5)
Board Policy Webpage

Approval of Allotment and TEKS Certification for 2019-2020

Trustees unanimously approved (6-0 – Trustee Pam Goodson was temporarily called away) an annual certification to the State Board of Education (SBOE) that students have access to instructional materials that cover all the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
Allotment and TEKS Certification 2019-20

Approval of Board Meeting Schedule for 2019-2020

Trustees unanimously (6-0 – Trustee Pam Goodson was temporarily called away) approved the board’s meeting schedule for the next school year.
2019-2020 Meeting Schedule

Consent Agenda

Trustees unanimously approved the consent agenda, a collection of items considered routine and voted on as a whole. Trustees have the privilege of removing an item for separate consideration. No items were removed.
Consent Agenda (Item 7)

Strategic Plan Update: School Redesign and Personalized Learning

Associate Superintendent of Academic Design and Performance Elliott Witney and Coordinator of Personalized Learning Patricia Kassir updated Trustees on the district’s initiatives around school redesign and personalized learning. Witney said that every project was “on track” – projects that include digital expansion, several CTE initiatives, a second cohort of the Presenters Academy and several school redesign projects, some in their second year. He said that the district’s North Star is still T-2-4 – that every SBISD graduate complete a two- or four-year degree, technical certification or military training within six years of graduation. He said that redesign in large part is using existing resources differently. Kassir said that school redesign requires the “very best thinking” of individuals across the district, and that while design thinking has been used in private industry for some time, it’s relatively new to education. Witney credited the board with allowing administrators and staff to “be bold” and acknowledged the difficulty of being a T-2-4 district. He also said that early student data reviews suggest that redesign programs like at Spring Branch Middle and that schools using personalized learning strategies and tactics, such as blended learning at Nottingham Elementary, show markedly higher academic achievement or student connectedness, or both.
Strategic Plan Update Presentation

FY 2020 Budget

Associate Superintendent of Finance Karen Wilson told Trustees that staff is using a modified zero-based budgeting process again this year, where division heads start at zero to build and justify their budgets. Acknowledging that the budget technically is in flux due to legislative changes, she also told Trustees that “we can’t wait” to see what the Legislature might actually do. She said that if spending remained flat and the Legislature does nothing that SBISD would receive $17 million less from the state than last year and create a $24 million budget deficit. Dr. Muri said that initial runs from separate sources on proposed school finance legislation indicate that SBISD would either receive $19 million or $40 million in additional state funding. The $19 million, he noted, would still leave SBISD with a $5 million budget deficit. He said that separate bills from the House and the Senate would have to be negotiated – the Senate bill inputs $6 billion in new money for public education, with nearly $4 billion of that dedicated to an across-the-board pay raise for teachers and librarians, while the House bill injects $9 billion in new money with provisions for merit increases. He also noted that there’s starting to be rumblings of a special session this summer to finish school finance reform.
2020 Budget

Legislative Update

Legislative liaison Chris Vierra said that there was some legislation filed that could remove the high stakes from STAAR tests while the tests are reviewed in light of recent revelations that reading passages are often written for grade levels beyond what’s being tested. Dr. Muri said that he and a group of superintendents have been asked to proposed solutions to the STAAR controversy. Board President Josef Klam said that he thinks and that he hears that the current legislative session has a different tone to it, and that the SBISD delegation is taking an active interest in matters involving the district. He said that he’s optimistic about school finance reform, but the SBISD budget has to “look at current reality.”

There were no closing remarks by the Superintendent.

The next meeting of the SBISD Board of Trustees will be a workshop at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 8, 2019, at the Wayne F. Schaper Sr. Leadership Center, 955 Campbell.