Bulldog Relays and the Impact of Sequestration

Today, EISD will be hosting the annual Bulldog Relays. The field events will start at 3:40. The first running event will be the 3200 m run. That race will start at 4:00. All of the other running events will start at 5:30. There is no admission charge for the track meet. Everyone is invited to come out and enjoy a great evening of track and field.

Yesterday, I touched upon the impact that federal sequestration might have in the district. Sequestration is the automatic cuts that will go into effect at the federal level if a budget resolution is not adopted. Sequestration will impact programs ranging from national defense to education. Below is correspondence from TEA on the effects that the reductions are predicted to have in the state of Texas:

House Appropriations Committee
Subcommittee on Budget Transparency and Reform

 TEA Testimony, Cory Green, Chief Grants

General Information

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, reached at the beginning of the
year to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” postponed the sequestration action of the
Budget Control Act of 2011 from January 2, 2013, to March 1, 2013. Due to the
postponement, the total amount of the cut in fiscal year 2013 was reduced by $24
billion, from $109 billion to $85 billion.

Without legislative action this week, the budget reductions will be
implemented across most federal education programs with the next state education
allocations on July 1, 2013. However, some local educational agencies (LEAs)
receiving direct grants from USDE, such as Impact Aid programs, will start
seeing federal reductions as quickly as USDE is able to calculate the reductions
to grantees.

Most federal education programs are forward- or advance-funded, meaning the
state receives the majority of the federal fiscal year funding on July 1, at the
end of the federal fiscal year for use primarily in the following fiscal year.
USDE has reported that forward-funded programs will not be retroactively cut
back to the October 1 beginning of the federal fiscal year, but will take the
full reduction from the July 1 allocation. What this means for LEAs is that
their school year (SY) 2012-2013 entitlements will not be reduced mid-year, but
rather the full reduction will be taken from their SY 2013-2014 entitlement

Many education groups following the sequestration process are calculating the
estimated potential impact of the reductions. USDE has used an estimated impact
of 5% in a letter provided as testimony in a Congressional committee hearing.
(National Title I Association is using USDE estimates.) Other groups have
calculated reductions of 5.1% (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, used by
NEA, CCSSO, et.al.) to 5.3% (Government Accountability Office, used by AASA,
et.al.) which due to the two month postponement is less than prior estimates of
8.2% reductions.

Since Congress has not yet completed work on appropriations for fiscal year
2013, we can only model data based on federal fiscal year 2012 data. Actual
reductions will differ slightly once federal fiscal year 2013 appropriations are
finalized. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which has responsibility
at the federal level for determining the actual percentage of the reductions,
will release the amount and percentage of reductions required by the Budget
Control Act after March 1, 2013. This process is expected to take at least 30

While Congress and the Administration continue to discuss the sequestration
process, many do not believe there is time to pass legislation to avoid the
reductions required on March 1, 2013. It has been proposed by some groups that
the sequester could be addressed in the federal fiscal year 2013 appropriations
due by March 27, 2013, when either an appropriations bill or another continuing
resolution must be passed.

Potential Impact

For discussion purposes, the state’s largest federal programs demonstrate the
potential impact on LEAs.

  • ESEA, Title I allocation could be reduced by $67-71 million depending on a
    5.0% or 5.1% reduction, which could impact services to approximately 285-300
    schools, 172,000 to 179,000 students, and 930 to 1300 staff.

Based on a 5.1% reduction,

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, Part B) allocation
    is expected to be reduced by approximately $50 million, with reduced services to
    impact approximately 20,000 students and 900 staff,
  • The ESEA, Title III, Part A–English Language Acquisition allocation is
    expected to be reduced by approximately $5.2 million with reduced services to
    38,000 LEP students and 100 staff, and
  • The Perkins Career and Technical Education allocation is expected to be
    reduced by approximately $4.5 million, with reduced services to 66,000 CTE
    students and 75 staff.

One of the largest concerns for LEAs (school districts and open-enrollment
charter schools) is the need for more information to be able to plan for next
year’s staffing, services, and program budgets. In general, LEAs would be
required to reduce their services to students served by each program. This may
be accomplished by across the board reductions to staffing, professional
development, direct services to students, and LEA administration. However,
generally it appears most LEAs would likely take the reductions in professional
development related costs and direct services to students not provided by grant
funded staff as a preference to reducing grant funded staff and the related
direct services provided by those staff.

Regardless of reduced state administrative funds, TEA is still required to
meet federal requirements for compliance, reporting, and submission deadlines.
The vast majority of federal grants are formula, or entitlement, awards to the
LEAs and the amount of work required to administer and implement the federal
programs would not change.

For discretionary type grants, TEA would likely provide less assistance to
grantee LEAs, have slower grant response and processing/approval time, and could
potentially eliminate some smaller grant programs or contracts in order to
maintain funding for other higher priority projects.

Also of concern to states and LEAs are the impact on the sequestration
reductions on federal maintenance of effort (MOE) and supplement, not supplant
requirements at both the state and/or local levels.

Currently, TEA has only modeled a 10% reduction (based on earlier projected
reductions). However, for some programs with hold-harmless provisions, such as
Title I, Part A, in the statutory formula this 10% model suggests the “worst
case” scenario. In Title I, Part A statute, the hold-harmless provision applies
to state appropriations as well as LEA entitlement calculations. The LEAs that
by the data are at or below the hold-harmless amounts must be guaranteed the
hold-harmless amount while the LEAs above their hold-harmless amount actually
have the sequester reductions taken from their allocations. All LEA
hold-harmless calculations in the country are aggregated up to the state level;
meaning Texas’ overall state allocation could be reduced more than the estimated
5.1–5.3% by the statutory formula.

Once the state receives more detailed information from USDE after March 1,
2013, TEA Grants Administration staff will model the reductions and make
planning amounts available to LEAs. It is estimated that the
entitlement/planning amount calculations will take 3 weeks to complete once data
are received.


Who is in charge of "Show and Tell" in Your Classroom?

via TECH TREK by Twyla Felty

Teachers everywhere are using great technology to encourage student production that fosters independent learning. These awesome educators are no longer running all the learning in their classroom, but instead, students are in charge of a great deal of the “Show and Tell” that takes place at school. This is a hallmark of true engagement and learning.

Unfortunately, these heroes of the classroom often go unnoticed as they are too busy facilitating, planning and experimenting to share or broadcast their own efforts or the endeavors of their students.

Today, I want to share a Prezi created by a high school student in Mr. Kennedy’s history class. Just a small taste of what goes on in this classroom, but I hope to see more.

What have your students created today….this week….this school year?

Legislative Update

Below is a list of bills that have recently been heard by the senate and house committees. There is also a section that addresses the sequestration process and the overall impact it would have on educational funding in Texas. This information was furnished by the Texas Association of School Boards.

Senate Finance Passes Key Bills

The Senate Finance Committee met Tuesday to consider two important bills.

HB 10 (Pitts) is the $4.8 billion supplemental bill to close out the
current biennial budget. The bill, which includes $4.5 billion for Medicaid and
$630 million for the Foundation School Program (FSP), must be approved by
two-thirds of both chambers and signed by the governor before the end of March
when Medicaid payments will stop to various providers. Sen. Tommy Williams
(R-The Woodlands) introduced a committee substitute that would appropriate an
additional $1.75 billion to move the final FSP payment back into this biennium,
contingent upon passage of SB 758 (see below). The bill was voted favorably out
of committee as substituted.

SB 758 (Williams) would amend the statutory schedule of payments to school
districts through the FSP to bring the final payment back into August.
Witnesses testifying on the bill suggested that the legislature consider
applying the $1.75 billion that it would cost to enact this legislation toward
specific education programs. The bill was voted favorably out of committee.

House Public Education Hears Various

The House Public Education Committee met Tuesday to discuss the following bills:

HB 210 (Marquez)
expands TEA’s authority to issue subpoenas and conduct accreditation
investigations. Rep. Marisa Marquez (D-El Paso) said she wants cheating schemes
to be taken seriously and that this measure could help.

HB 525 (Aycock) would require TEA to collect additional PEIMS data on
military students. Those testifying in support said districts and the military
need information regarding the academic performance and needs of students of
military parents to best serve this highly mobile population.

HB 234 (Guillen) would provide school districts with more flexibility to
operate a flexible school day program. This bill would not change the school
start date.

HB 422 (Davis, J.) would provide students with more flexibility within the
current high school curriculum. Instead of students being required to take a
fine arts course, a student could choose to enroll in a career and technical
education course. Rep. John Davis (R-Houston) stated that if Rep. Aycock’s
accountability and graduation requirement bill, HB 5, were to pass, HB 422
would not be needed.

HB 580 (Howard) would allow school districts to utilize compensatory
education funds to provide childcare for students at risk of dropping out.

All bills heard were left pending.

LBB Outlines Sequestration Impact on Texas

Legislative Budget Board (LBB) staff testified Monday before a House Appropriations subcommittee on the effects of federal sequestration on the Texas budget.

LBB staff noted that the sequester will result in the loss of $334.6 million — $167.7 million of which would be from federal education funding. The impact of sequestration would be most significant during the 2014 fiscal year.

View the LBB’s presentation, including an appendix detailing cuts to specific programs.

The Texas Tribune has developed this interactive feature that shows how sequestration would affect specific federal programs in Texas.

Ten Facts About K-12 Students' Technology Use

I do not often copy and paste entire stories for my blog; however, the article below contains too much good information to not pass on in its entirety. I received the article via eSchool News: www.eschoolnews.com.

More than half of students in grades 6-8 now have access to a tablet computer—a percentage that has doubled since last year. And Twitter use has grown three-fold among high school students in the last year, with a third of high schoolers now using the popular micro-blogging service.

These are a few of the results that the nonprofit Project Tomorrow [2] has released from its annual Speak Up survey of students’ and parents’ technology use, as well as their attitudes and opinions about ed tech.

Project Tomorrow will be issuing the full results of its Speak Up survey of students and parents in the next few weeks, but the organization released “Ten Things Everyone Should Know about K-12 Students’ Views on Digital Learning” earlier this month, in conjunction with Digital Learning Day [3]. The findings come from Project Tomorrow’s survey of more than 364,000 students last fall.

Here are those 10 facts…

1. Students say they use the internet to help with homework at home. More than half of students in grades 6-12 say they do this at least weekly; for 29 percent of high school students, it is a daily event—and 68 percent say their primary internet access is through a 3G or 4G mobile device.

2. Students want to learn any time, any place—and at their own pace. Forty-one percent of students who have not taken a fully online class would like to take a virtual class; they see the No. 1 benefit as being able to learn at their own pace.

3. A majority of students support the “flipped classroom” model. Six out of 10 students say it would be a good way for them to learn.

4. A growing number of students are asking for digital texts—but print is still the preferred method of reading. One-third of students in grades 6-8 say their preference is to read a digital book for schoolwork; 44 percent of students say they want to read on a digital reader.

5. More students are learning via YouTube. Twenty-nine percent say they’ve used an online video to help them with their homework.

6. Students would like to be able to text their teachers for help. Thirty percent of students say that being able to text their teacher during class (and getting a personalized response) would help them be more successful in science.

7. Students are experiencing gaming at a younger age. Three-fourths of students in kindergarten through second grade are using computers and mobile devices to play educational games on a regular basis.

8. Use of Twitter is exploding among young people. Thirty-four percent of high school students are Twitter users now—a three-fold increase since 2011, when only 11 percent of students acknowledged tweeting as part of their social media profile.

9. Facebook is now a regular destination for group projects. Thirty-eight percent of students say that they regularly use Facebook to collaborate with classmates on school projects.

10. Students’ use of mobile devices continues to rise. Students’ personal access to mobile devices has reached several significant tipping points: 80 percent of students in grades 9-12, 65 percent of students in grades 6-8, and 45 percent of students in grades 3-5 are smart-phone users now. Middle school student tablet access doubled from 2011 to 2012, with 52 percent of those students now tablet-enabled.

Source: Speak Up 2012 National Research Project Findings—the results of the authentic, unfiltered views of 364,240 K-12 students nationwide. Learn more about Speak Up and other research findings from Project Tomorrow at www.tomorrow.org [4].

FFA Auction and This Week

FFA Chili Supper and Auction

I want to thank Danny Davis and all of the Ag Booster members for another great chili supper and auction this past Saturday. If you have never been to one of these auctions, check out the video on the Eustace ISD YouTube page to see all of the different items up for bids. You can also get a view of all of the desserts available after you finish your bowl of chili!! Unofficially, I understand that this year’s auction brought in over $20,000!!

This Week

We have a very busy schedule this week. Today is the start of the 5th six weeks. Track meets start this week. We will also have a full week of baseball and softball games. Bulldog Extra will continue to run from Monday – Thursday from 3:30 – 5:30.

Monday – Start of 5th 6 Weeks; Bulldog Extra – 3:30 – 5:30; Golf at Pinnacle Club; JH Track Meet at Eustace

Tuesday – Bulldog Extra – 3:30 – 5:30; JV & V Baseball v. Athens – 4:30; Softball v. Scurry – 6:30

Wednesday – Bulldog Extra – 3:30 – 5:30

Thursday – Bulldog Extra – 3:30 – 5:30; Report Cards; 1st Grade Family Reading Night; Intermediate Perfect Attendance Treats; UIL Concert Contest at Canton; Softball at Mildred Tournament; Baseball at Grand Saline Tournament; JV Baseball at Athens Tournament; Bulldog Relays at Eustace

Friday – Primary Awards Assembly; Intermediate Right Choice Rewards; High School Yearbook Price Increases; Baseball at Grand Saline Tournament; JV Baseball at Athens Tournament; Softball at Kemp – 6:00

Saturday – Baseball at Grand Saline Tournament; JV Baseball at Athens Tournament; Softball at Mildred Tournament

I hope everyone has a great week!

Senate Bill 2

Below is a summary of Senate Bill 2 that is to be discussed at the Senate Education Committee hearing, today. While charter schools may very well serve a useful purpose in the state of Texas, Senate Bill 2 raises some fundamental issues that need to be examined carefully. First, it provides that the commissioner of education would create a list of underutilized and unused school district facilities in the state. These facilities would then become available for lease or purchase by charter schools for $1.00. In almost every case, the facilities in question were approved and paid for by voter approved bonds. The state may have contributed some funding in some cases, but the majority of the costs were paid by local taxpayers. As the bill currently reads, the local taxpayers of the district would be left out of the decision process entirely. Even though they provided most, or all, of the funding for facilities, they would have no voice in how these facilities were used. I believe that this is another example of the lack of respect for local control of school districts. The best decision for the use of school facilities is made at the local level, not the state level.

Further, as the summary indicates,  “SB 2 would also reduce the number of laws that apply to home-rule school districts, including educator certification, admissions, attendance, transfer provisions, and class size requirements.” If this reduction of laws is considered a good thing for charter schools, then why is this also not a good thing for public schools? To me, in essence, this is saying that more local control for charter schools is viewed as positive; however, in the case of public schools, more local control is negative.

Local taxpayers, parents, and local school board members know much better the needs and desires of their district than anyone else. They should have the opportunity to meet these needs through local control of their district. More local control is needed in all public schools, not less.

SB 2
would require the  commissioner of education to create a list of underutilized and unused school  district facilities that may be purchased or leased by charter schools, at their option, for $1.The bill would establish the Charter School Authorizing Authority (CSAA) which would grant open-enrollment charters and university charters and monitor and revoke charters. The authority would be composed of seven
politically-appointed members who would serve staggered four-year terms. SB 2
would also reduce the number of laws that apply to home-rule school districts,
including educator certification, admissions, attendance, transfer provisions,
and class size requirements. SB 2 would also make it easier for a district to be
converted into a home-rule district. The bill removes the cap on charters that
may be granted in Texas. Open-enrollment charters would be entitled to an
instructional facilities allotment based on average daily attendance for the
preceding year and the statewide average amount paid per student in facilities



Board Meeting

Last night, the EISD Board of Trustees met in regular session. The meeting started at 7:00 PM and was held in the High School library. Actions taken during last night’s meeting included:

  • Approved minutes of January 15, 2013 meeting.
  • Approve financial reports as presented.
  • Approved a waiver request for staff development days for the 2013-2014 school year.
  • Approved the 2013-2014 school calendar as presented (calendar is attached at bottom of this entry).
  • Approved moving the March regular board meeting from Tuesday, March 19 to Thursday, March 7.
  • Accepted resignations of Cyndi Wanek, Jarrett Grant, James Taylor, and Rich Risner.
  • Approved the employment of Mary Burke, Head Start aide, and Irma Perez, custodian at Primary.
  • Approved the substitute list as presented.
  • Approved student transfers as presented.
  • Approved contract extensions for the following personnel: Coy Holcombe, superintendent; Janice Beasley, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction; Mack Saxon, director of special education; Brian Herman, athletic director; Dianne Shaffer, Primary principal; Robert Reeve, Intermediate principal; Truman Oakley, Middle School principal; Stan Sowers, High School principal
  • Adjourned

Board Meeting Tonight

Tonight, the EISD
Board of Trustees will hold their regular monthly meeting. The meeting will
start at 7:00 PM and be held in the HS library. Everyone is invited to attend.
Agenda items for tonight’s meeting include:

  • Receive and approve minutes of previous meetings.
  • Consider Financial Reports
  • General Reports: PaySchools, NCLB Report Cards, Preliminary Property Tax Values for 2012, 2013 Gold Leadership Circle Award, STAAR Reports, Stone Leaf Housing
  • Hear Committee Reports from DEIC
  • Consider State Waiver for Staff Development Days for 2013-2014 School Year
  • Consider 2013-2014 School Calendar
  • Consider Moving Date of March Regular Board Meeting from Tuesday, March 19 to Thursday, March 7.
  • Update on Enrollment
  • Consider Update 96 (First Reading)
  • Closed Session
  • Accept Resignations
  • Employ Personnel
  • Substitute List
  • Review Evaluation and Consider Contract for: Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Athletic Director, Director of Special Education, Campus Principals,
  • Student Transfers
  • Consider Action on Closed Session Items
  • Adjourn