April 18, 2014

Life School broke ground on its seventh campus in Waxahachie on Tuesday. The 127,432 sq. ft. building will open August 2015 and will house up to 1,000 9th-12th grade students. Pictured from left: Courtney Stacy, Life School student; Wayne Barnes, Life School parent; Dr. Tom Wilson, LS Founder; John Wray, Waxahachie Mayor; Chairman Jim Pitts; Brent Wilson, LS Superintendent; Rick Pinson, Life High School Principal; Christopher Clemmons, LS Board Member; Ruben Martinez, LS Board Member; Sharon Williams, LS Board Member

Pre-sale Registration Opens April 15, 2014 -- Save $100 per Person 

The Texas Charter Schools Conference will be held at the Westin Galleria in Houston on December 10-12, 2014.

The pre-sale rates, available from April 15 to May 14, are the only discounted rates offered in 2014. Register your team early to save $100 off the regular rate on each registration. In addition, charter schools that calendar a Professional Development Day for their teaching staff can take advantage of our special $100 rate for each Teacher One-Day Pass to attend the workshop on Friday, December 12.* See the draft schedule.
register now  
charter news

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The Q&A: David Dunn
by John Reynolds; April 16, 2014
Trib+Edu: So this would be the main aspect you would like to see addressed in a final ruling, if major changes are coming to the school funding system?
Dunn: Yes, we think the Legislature needs to step up and provide direct support to charter schools. We did a survey of our members a couple of years ago. Charter schools, on average, have to take $830 out of their instructional or operational budget in order to pay the rent or pay the mortgage. And that's just not fair. So we're asking the Court to rule that the Legislature must fairly fund charter schools.
Another thing that SB 2 did was lift the arbitrary cap on charter schools. There's a huge demand and there continues to be a huge demand with 180,000 kids attending charter schools and over 100,000 on a wait list. And that 100,000 maintained this year even though an additional 30,000 kids were enrolled in charter schools. So there's clearly a demand and we're grateful and appreciative that the Legislature responded and increased that cap going forward. Read the interview.

Texas senators voice concern over poor high school test scores
By TERRENCE STUTZ; April 15,2014
The most difficult high school end-of-course tests have been eliminated, but several senators voiced concern Monday about the poor performance of many students on the five remaining end-of-course exams required for graduation. Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said the unimpressive test scores signal a "crisis in education" in Texas that must be addressed. Read the article.

Senators vying for higher posts spar in hearing
By WILL WEISSERT; April 14, 2014
A Senate panel's discussion about how best to overhaul the curriculum and testing procedures for Texas high schools at times felt like a political debate Monday, as a gubernatorial hopeful and two candidates for lieutenant governor shared the spotlight. Read the article.

UTPB Announces Plans For New Charter School
Permian Basin 360.com; April 15, 2014
The University of Texas of the Permian Basin has received approval to move forward with the creation of a charter school to be named the UTPB STEM Academy ... The UTPB STEM Academy is dedicated to implementing the newest and most promising practices in education emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The foundational belief of this academy is that learning should be both engaging and social ... Read the announcement.

Want to know more about the UTPB STEM Academy?
  • Open - August, 2014.
  • Begin with K-6 and Add One Grade Level Each Year
  • Open Enrollment on UTPB Campus - 44 Students Per Grade Level
  • Half Day Format, Flipped Classes with Opportunities to Learn from UTPB
  • STEM Professors
  • Technology Rich Environments - iPads for each Student
  • Teachers Must Be Certified and Possess a Master's Degree or Working on a Master's 
  • Virtual Online Curriculum

INTERIM PUBLIC HEARING for the Public Education Committee, TEXAS HOUSE
COMMITTEE: Public Education
TIME & DATE: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, April 22, 2014  
PLACE: E2.036  
CHAIR: Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock
The committee will meet to consider the following interim charges: 

Review successful strategies and methods that have improved student achievement at chronically underperforming schools. Identify alternatives that could be offered to current students who are attending these schools and determine how to turn these schools around. Identify the benefits and concerns with alternative governance of underperforming schools. Public testimony may be limited to three (3) minutes. 

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. 
image with white outlineTCSA Free Webinar: 2014 State Accountability Update
April 22, 2014; 10am-11am
The Commissioner of Education released his final decisions for the 2014 State Accountability Rating System. This webinar will give an overview of the accountability system and discuss the changes to the 2014 Ratings. REGISTER

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 responsibilities, 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  78539
For your convenience, discounted rates at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Pharr have been arranged for training attendees. RESERVE A ROOM.   

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, (2) School Finance, (2) Accountability for Public Funds)
$125 TCSA 2014 Member; $195 Non-member
Confirmed Faculty:
Joe Hoffer and Rick Lopez (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. Read the Agenda.

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 

STEM Education Day: Friday, May 2, 2014
Teacher and Counselor Workshops: 8:45am-2:45pm
Teacher Resource Fair: 8:00am-4:30pm
George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston
Hosted in part by Harmony Public Schools. See the agenda. 
Governor Rick Perry again granted a proclamation recognizing April 28 - May 4, 2014 as the second annual "Celebration of STEM Education Week in Texas," both demonstrating his support of strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education in schools as well as emphasizing the importance of STEM education when it comes to preparing the youth of Texas for their futures. REGISTER for STEM Education Day.

Heroes for Children Award
The State Board of Education established the Heroes for Children award program in 1994. Individuals who volunteer time, effort, and support to public schools and students, and who advocate for students and public education in Texas are eligible for these awards. The awards are given annually in recognition of outstanding service and dedication to helping provide each Texas student with a meaningful, positive learning experience in school. Deadline: May 30, 2014. Read the letter.

Holocaust & Human Rights Educator Conference, Dallas 
August 4--5, 2014; 8:30am--4:30pm 
Registration Fee: $20  (Hotel and Travel Scholarships Available)
This two-day event provides educators at secondary schools with the necessary information to teach on the Holocaust and various Human Rights topics. This Educator Conference includes Echoes and Reflections Curriculum as well as CPE certification. Submit completed applications by email or fax to 214.747.2270 before the June 15, 2014 deadline.   

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. 

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.  

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.Thank a teacher now.
job post of the week
Texas Charter Schools Association
Austin, Texas

Job ID: 691112                 Application Deadline: Posted until Filled
Posted: April 8, 2014       Starting Date: Immediately

Job Description: The TCSA Conference Planner will be responsible for coordinating TCSA's annual conference as their primary role within the Association. In addition, during off-peak conference planning, the individual will assist the Quality Services Team with membership, training, quality initiatives and revenue generation.

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Honor Graduate Certificate 2014
2013 Snapshot: School District Profiles
now available on TEA website

PSF is here! First Steps Toward Facilities Help for Texas Public Charter Schools
PSF Application