March 21, 2014

Taylor Gilliam (far left) from Congressman John Carter's office, spoke to an AP Social Studies class and then toured Gateway College Preparatory School in Georgetown.  Shown left to right: Taylor Gilliam, Alissa Hale (UT student and TCSA intern), Tracy Young (TCSA VP of Public & Government Affairs) and Alan Santucci, (Head of School).

The Texas Charter Schools Association Charter School Business Officer Certification (CSBOC) program takes the diverse, complex and ever changing responsibilities of a Charter Business Officer and creates an environment where you learn the responsibility, competencies and strategic vision to ensure your charter school is viable, stable, fiscally sound and has a foundation of continuous improvement and growth. The certification program is a combination of online courses, live training days, and documentation workshop days. All training classes are open to everyone and fulfill required credit hours. Trainings also count toward the program if you choose to pursue certification.   

Don't Miss Out on the 2013-2014 TCSA Training Series in the Rio Grande Valley, (Edinburg); April 28-30
Ignite Public Schools
4701 S. Sugar Road, Se. D
Edinburg, Texas  78539
For your convenience, a room block will be arranged for training attendees at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Pharr. Details and pricing will be provided as soon as we have finalized the contract.

Successful Leadership of Instructional Programs for Charter Schools, April 28, 2014; RGV 
(6 Commissioner Hrs.: (3) School Law, (3) Accountability to the Public)
$125 TCSA 2014 Member; $195 Non-member

Confirmed Faculty: Veronica Garcia, Maxine Longoria-Nash, and Eric Rodriguez (Walsh Anderson); TCSA Staff and Tenured Charter Operators

register now 
This session will equip charter school leaders and board members to design and implement curricula and strategic plans that enhance teaching and learning in direct alignment with a school's charter contract. The proper leadership culture at your charter school over instructional programs will promote the success of all students by advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a charter school district culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth.


Training Sponsored by: 

Employment Law and Payroll Requirements for Charter Schools, April 29, 2014; RGV
(6 Commissioner Hrs.: (2) School Law, (3) School Finance, (1) Accountability for Public Funds)
$125 TCSA 2014 Member; $195 Non-member
Confirmed Faculty:
Joe Hoffer (Schulman Lopez Hoffer); Mark Chi and Jennifer Clark (TRS, Benefit Counseling Department) 


register now    
This session will equip charter school business and finance staff to proactively review the soundness of their current employee policies and procedures, including their payroll practices, to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements for charter schools. We will cover hot topic areas that have previously been a source for litigation and audit findings for charter schools and develop solutions to reduce the risk of those events in your school.

TRS representatives will discuss various reporting topics including:
  • Membership Eligibility Rules - who should and should not be reported to TRS
  • Compensation - what is creditable and non-creditable
  • Employment After Retirement - employment rules for retirees
  • Surcharges due from Employers - when the employer is required to pay surcharges for work done by a retiree
  • Reporting Requirements and Employer Contributions - Regular Payroll report, New Member report, Federal Funds reports.
Training Series Sponsored by: 

Instructional Coaching and Leadership to Improve Student Achievement, April 30, 2014; RGV 
(6 Commissioner Hrs.: (3) School Law, (3) Accountability to the Public)
$225 TCSA 2014 Member; $375 Non-member 
Confirmed Faculty:
Kyle Seipp, Institute for Public School Initiatives, University of Texas at Austin 
This session will equip charter school officers, administrators, and teachers to implement principles of instructional coaching to facilitate and guide a school-based professional learning program for groups of teachers in specific content areas. These groups focus on the intersection of school and student needs and district reform initiatives with the goal of building a professional learning community that supports collective leadership, continuous improvement of teaching practice, and, ultimately, improved student learning.
register now
Attention vendor members! Sponsorship still available! Interested in connecting directly with charter school Superintendents, Chief Academic Officers, Principals, and Teachers?
Contact:  Erin Tholen at ph. 512.584.8272 ext.316 

Dallas: Starting a Charter School Beginner Workshop
April 9, 2014; 9am-5pm
A+ Charter Schools Conference Room
This one-day training session is designed for all persons thinking about applying for a charter school through the Commissioner of Education and the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE).This eight-hour training session aims to empower future charter leaders with knowledge for the development of a competitive charter application and an effective charter school. REGISTER 

FREE Webinar: So You're a Priority School, Now What? 
Under the Texas Education Waiver granted by the US Department of Education, several schools within your district may be designated as Focus or Priority Schools. These schools will be able to apply for and receive funding to help implement the seven critical factors of transformation. This webinar will discuss the next steps as well as services that TCSA will make available via an exciting new partnership to implement required improvements and meet TEA expectations. For more information about the identified focus and priority schools and the available funding, refer to the  TEA news release.
View the complete list of 2013-14 Priority and Focus schools.

FREE Webinar: What is the Texas Charter Parent Teacher Alliance?    
Tuesday, March 25, 2014; 10am to 11am REGISTER
OR Friday, March 28, 2014; 12pm to 1pm REGISTER

Join us for a webinar to learn more about the Texas Charter Parent Teacher Alliance  (TCPTA) and how it can help your school! Phase 2 of this statewide grassroots network pilot is launching and we want you on board. 2014 is the year we will build an army of support to advance the cause of public charter schools.  
What is the Texas Charter Parent Teacher Alliance?
The Texas Charter Schools Association is working with member schools to build a durable, sustainable campus based network of parents and supporters throughout Texas. For schools with active parent organizations it could become an extension of your existing group. Some schools are creating new TCPTAs as stand-alone organizations. Our mission is to build and mobilize a network of 6,000 parents and supporters in support of public charter schools. The Texas Legislature will return to the state Capitol in less than a year, and we need to be ready when they do. 

TCSA Member Schools Saved 44% on Fourth Quarter Purchases
Preferred vendor, S&S Worldwide provides classroom supplies, furniture, sports, & PE equipment, and arts & crafts supplies to educators and learning institutions nationwide. As part of a National Charter School Discount Program, we are making it EASY by saving you time and money. Shop any time and see your discount on the S&S website. 
Texas Interscholastic League Foundation Scholarship

The 2014 TILF scholarship application is now open. All application items must be submitted by May 30, 2014. Due to the late competition date of the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest (TSSEC), applicants competing in that contest must have all materials submitted by June 20, 2014.  Read the eligibility requirements. 

Houston Charter Schools Participate in Anti-Violence Campaign
The D12 Foundation's "Block Out Violence" Program is a grassroots, student driven competition focused on promoting non-violence, anti-bullying, respect and acceptance, with the goal of creating safe campuses and ultimately, safe communities. The Junior and Senior High School that creates the most creative, and impactful campaign that generates school-wide participation, will be named the "D12 Block Out Violence" School, and will win a "Block Party" (school rally) with Dwight Howard. Help your fellow charter schools "Block Out Violence." Spread the message about respect, acceptance, and anti-bullying by posting, tweeting or re-posting pictures or messages via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. See the leaderboard.

Search for the hashtags on social media to see what Houston charter schools are saying about "Blocking Out Violence":

Harmony School of Advancement   #BOVHarmonyAdv  
Harmony School of Ingenuity   #BOVHarmonyIng  
YES Prep West  #BOVWest 
YES Prep Northside  #BOVNorthside 
YES Prep White Oak  #BOVWhiteOak 
YES Prep Southwest  #BOVSouthwest 

Book Festival 13th Annual Youth Fiction Writing Contest - Texas Book Festival 
This year marks the 13th annual Fiction Writing Contest. The theme for this year is "The People Our Parents Warned Us About." The Fiction Writing Contest encourages and rewards creative writing in Texas schools. Junior and high school Texas students are invited to submit a piece of original fiction, no more than 2,000 words in length. The submissions are judged by Texas Book Festival authors, local educators, and leaders in the publishing industry. Each year the Festival provides a unique theme. Judges look for excellence in use of dialogue, character development, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. Submitted entries are considered in three divisions: grades 7-8; grades 9-10; and grades 11-12. Deadline: June 2, 2014

Aggie STEM Teacher Professional Development Opportunity 
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) awarded Texas A&M University $256,000 to improve instruction in Texas middle school mathematics and algebra classrooms. The grant funds 110 hours of professional development over the course of one year for teachers who qualify to participate in the program.  More information. 
charter news
State drafting new way to evaluate educators
By Francisco Vara-Orta; March 15, 2014
... Texas got its NCLB waiver in late September, under the condition it incorporate an objective measurement of student academic growth. Most educators say that will mean assessing teachers on how well their students perform on standardized tests ... Michele Moore, Texas Education Agency associate commissioner, hopes to make public in coming weeks what its specific plans are in meeting federal requirements. So far, a website approved by the TEA only lists the general components of how teachers and principals will be assessed ... The TEA initially planned to pilot its new model in 40 districts, but Moore said response was strong enough to merit expanding to 71, including Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District and Jubilee Academic Center, a San Antonio-based charter system with 16 campuses in Texas. Read the article.

Comptroller's FAST website revamped: The Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST)
The new website makes it faster and easier than ever to see how any public school or district stacks up. With more than 200 data points tracked and a host of visuals making that data tangible, you'll better understand the financial and other factors affecting educational progress in Texas. The heart of the FAST website, FAST Tracker changes the way you view and interact with Texas public school and district data. Just pick any Texas school or district--or several schools and districts--and the cutting-edge application will create an array of interactive visuals illuminating trends and comparisons among districts or campuses.

The Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST) provides a unique model for measuring how relative spending in Texas public school districts and campuses compares to student academic progress. In December 2013, the Comptroller released the latest set of FAST ratings. The results help to show the relationship between educational achievement and expenditure levels in Texas public schools and districts. Five-star districts and campuses show good academic progress while keeping spending low. 

Local lawmakers support education funding overhaul
By ENRIQUE RANGEL; March 19, 2014
Some attorneys representing the various plaintiffs - the school districts, a group of parents, a business group and charter schools - made this basic argument during the three weeks of oral arguments that ended last month: Despite the restoration of most of the funding cut in the 2011 session, the public education financing system remains inequitable, and therefore unconstitutional. Read the article.

Texas charter schools and charter parents are part of the school finance lawsuit.   Contact Denise Pierce, TCSA General Counsel for more information.

El Paso Times Logo El Paso Academy students dig deep for new environmental project
By Amand Bankston; March 03, 2014
Nine weeks ago, Charles Garcia was a disengaged student, keeping to himself in the back of the classroom. But since breaking ground on his latest school project, the El Paso Academy West senior can be found wielding a sledgehammer or behind the wheel of a bulldozer in the school's new garden, where he often works with classmates until long after the sun sets. Read the article. 

COMMITTEE: Public Education
TIME & DATE: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, March 26, 2014  
PLACE: E2.036  
CHAIR: Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock 
The committee will meet to consider the following interim charges:  Implementation of HB 5 (83R) and review of TEKS.  Public testimony may be limited to 3 minutes.
INTERIM PUBLIC HEARING for the Committee on Education, TEXAS SENATE
COMMITTEE: Education
TIME & DATE: 10:00 AM, Monday, April 14, 2014  
PLACE: E1.028   
CHAIR: Senator Dan Patrick

The Committee will hear invited testimony followed by public testimony on the below interim charges:  redesign of high school English EOC exams & STAAR and HB 5. Public testimony will be limited to two (2) minutes per person. More information 

Save the Date for Charter Summer Summit! 
The Network is sponsoring a state-wide Summit June 16-17, 2014, "Charting the Course."   This 1-1/2 day event features keynote speaker Mark McLeod and more than 45 breakout sessions on the standards of Operations, Finance, Governance, and Education. Charter school experts from the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Charter School Association and Education Service Centers, as well as leaders of charters in Texas will provide timely and valuable professional development.  More information.
Registration is $50 and includes a luncheon. REGISTER
Questions? Contact: Melodie Wahlert. 

Help Us Thank A Million Teachers and Give A Million Dollars to Teachers 
Farmers Insurance is giving away $2,500 grants to America's teachers and you can help! Take this opportunity to say "Thank You" to an educator that's made a difference in your life and your community.  
job post of the week
Life School of Dallas
Lancaster, Texas
Job ID:  657542       
Position Type: Full-time
Positions Available: 15          

Monday, March 24, 2014
Life School Red Oak Campus, 777 S I35E, Red Oak, TX 75154

We are actively seeking EXCELLENT candidates to support our mission of training leaders through strong academics, character training and a parenting program.
  • Elementary Teachers Diagnosticians Speech Therapists
  • Secondary Teachers Special Education & Instructional Aides Substitutes
  • Bilingual Teachers Special Education Teachers Office & Facilities Staff

TEA logo

REVISED Calculator Policy for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) Grade 8 Mathematics in 2014-2015 School Year
Read the letter.

2014-2015 IMA Allocations and Purchasing Options
2013 Federal Report Cards are now available on the TEA Website

Clarifying Revision to Online School FIRST Application

Read the letter.

Adoption of New Commissioner's Rule, 19 Texas Administrative Code Section 109.3001, and Incorporation of Guidance Handbooks
Read the letter.

Middle School Students Taking Algebra I
Read the letter.

New SC5010 for All Charters, State Schools
Deadline: 4/7/14 
Read the letter.
2013-2014 Data Validation Monitoring
Deadline: 4/9/2014
Read the letter.