Two weeks ago, the 86th Texas Legislature convened, so we are officially in session! On day one, The Texas House unanimously elected Representative Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) as Speaker of the House. In his acceptance speech, the Speaker highlighted school finance reform, which the Governor and Lt. Governor have also emphasized, as a top priority for this session. With multi-billion dollar education spending increases in both the House and Senate budgets, as well as significant increases to the state’s General Fund and Rainy Day Fund, there is sure to be major legislation on that topic.

While over 1200 bills have already been filed, the big news from the Capitol so far has been changes to committees in both chambers. The House added two members to both the Public Education and Higher Education committees. The House announced committee memberships on Wednesday the 23rd, with 8 returning and 5 new members in the Public Education committee.

Returning members:

  • Chair Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood)
  • Vice Chair Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio)
  • Alma Allen (D-Houston)
  • Harold Dutton, Jr. (D-Houston)
  • Ken King (R-Canadian)
  • Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas)
  • Mary González (D-San Elizario) (Rep. González was not a member of the committee in the 85th session, but was in the 84th)
  • Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston)

Newcomers:

  • Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin)
  • Steve Allison (R-San Antonio)
  • Keith Bell (R-Forney)
  • Scott Sanford (R-McKinney)
  • James Talarico (D-Round Rock)

The Senate committee memberships were announced on Friday the 18th, with the Senate Education committee remaining at 11 members – 7 returning members and 4 new faces.

Returning:

  • Chair Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood)
  • Vice Chair Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville)
  • Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola)
  • Bob Hall (R-Rockwall)
  • Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston)
  • Royce West (D-Dallas)
  • Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels)

Newcomers:

  • Angela Paxton (R-McKinney)
  • Beverly Powell (D-Burleson)
  • Pat Fallon (R-Prosper)
  • Kirk Watson (D-Austin)

Chairman Huberty’s strong leadership on the House Public Education Committee for a second term shows his commitment to Texas public schools. As a reminder Rep. Harold Dutton, the longest serving member of the Public Education Committee, authored pro-public charter school legislation HB 2337 last session. The 2018 Charter Champion, Chairman Larry Taylor retains his leadership position on the Senate Education Committee. Senator Donna Campbell, a strong public charter school supporter, previously authored numerous pro-charter school bills including SB 457 last legislative session. We look forward to working with all members of the Senate Education and House Public Education Committees this session.

Bookending the winter holidays were reports by the School Finance Commission and the House Public Education Committee. The School Finance Commission’s report is the conclusion of a year of meetings of a group of legislators, educators, public officials, and education policy experts on the best steps to reform the Texas school finance system. Though there are 35 individual recommendations, overall the Committee recommends balancing state and local funding for schools, restructuring and adding funding to target high-need student groups, and reducing property taxes and recapture.

Similarly, the House Committee’s Interim Report followed a year of research and testimony, including TCSA’s testimony on the issues of school safety, Hurricane Harvey relief, and charter schools. On the topic of charter schools, the committee recommends expanding ISD partnerships, helping charters fulfill their role in education children with disabilities, reducing funding disparities, and reconsidering some of the statutory disciplinary admissions policies that charters currently hold.

TCSA welcomes many of the recommendations from both reports and will track which recommendations move forward, how they work with other policy changes, and how they will all affect charter schools. We’re excited to see how the next few months unfold and to work with legislators ensure all Texas students have access to a high quality education.

 

TCSA received helpful feedback from member schools earlier this year in regards to scheduling Member Council meetings. Many of our member schools indicated that traveling to Austin for a meeting was often challenging for school leaders with their busy schedules and the difficulty of being away from their organization for a day or two.

Based on that feedback, TCSA has scheduled webinars for Wednesday, May 8 and Wednesday, August 28. Participants will be able to participate via phone (like a conference call) but will also be able to view meeting content on their computer screen. We anticipate that these webinars will last 60 to 90 minutes.

Although the May 8 and August 28 Member Council meetings will be presented in this webinar format, the October 29 Member Council will be an in-person meeting held at the 2019 TCSA Conference in San Antonio.

Member Councils are a great way to get the latest updates on legislative action, TEA requirements, and other issues that impact the public charter school movement. Be sure to register now for one or both of our TCSA Member Council webinars!

We are excited about our new event format for our Regional Meetings! Join us for one of four TCSA Regional Meetings and Charter Supporter Receptions scheduled for this Spring in San Antonio (January 28-29), Houston (February 25-26), Austin (March 5-6), and Dallas (March 25-26). All of the locations will feature a Monday 5:30 p.m. -7:00 p.m. charter supporter reception and a Tuesday 9:00 a.m – 1:00 p.m. meeting.

The Monday receptions will give a chance for charter school leaders, local political officials, TCSA staff, community partners, and other charter supporters to mix and mingle and celebrate the public charter school movement. The Tuesday meetings will allow charter school leaders, charter supporters, and TCSA staff an opportunity to cover a wide range of topics including legislative updates, local successes and challenges, charter advocacy, legal updates, and the latest TEA initiatives. The meeting will include a panel discussion with local charter leaders. Lunch is provided at each location. Attendees will receive 120 minutes of 19 TAC Chapter 100 Commissioner's Credit.

So many important things are happening this spring in the legislature that will have a profound effect on the public charter school movement in Texas. Don’t be left out of the discussion – sign up for one of TCSA’s regional events today!

It’s back to school after the holidays, and it’s time to get back to training! Join TCSA this January for two webinars that we are providing free to TCSA member schools. On Thursday, January 24 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. join us for Creating and Submitting a Successful Expansion Amendment - 2019 Edition. Follow along as we walk you through the step-by-step process for submitting a successful expansion amendment to TEA. Implementing the guidelines presented will help you assemble and submit your documentation correctly the first time and get your amendment approved. 

On Thursday, January 31 at 10:00 a.m. TCSA will present Tips and Tricks on Using Your TAPR to Boost School Performance. You've looked at your Texas Academic Performance Report and have shared the information in the report to your board and your community.  But have you really studied it?  Join us as we reveal ways to look at your TAPR data with a fresh perspective that will help you and your board make better data-informed strategic decisions and improve the performance of your school.

Are the members of your school team — board members, CEOs, business officers, and campus administrators — up to date on your TEA-mandated training requirements? We can help with that! Whether you choose to access our 24/7 on-demand training portal or prefer live training, TCSA has the right solution for your training needs. We offer significant discounts for bulk purchases of courses – the more you buy the more you save. Contact TCSA Director of Training Bruce Marchand to schedule your on-demand or live training today!

Remember that Standard Registration Rates are good through October 22 before the more expensive on-site rate kicks in, so register today! We have planned over 120 breakout and large group sessions as well as a number of social events to help you collaborate, learn, and grow as a charter school leader

Conference breakout sessions and general assembly events provide CEOs, charter administrative staff, business officials, and board members an opportunity to meet training hour requirements as set forth by the Texas Education Agency. Charter governance board members can also earn six hours of credit in Friday’s Board Workshop to help satisfy continuing education essentials for new and returning members.

There are also a number of exciting social events planned to help you grow your network of charter school colleagues. On Tuesday evening, the Charter Schools Now Reception, sponsored by the Charter Schools Now Political Action Committee, is an event for charter friends and legislators who are committed to protecting, growing and serving Texas charter schools. Lawmakers who will be supported by Charter Schools Now PAC are invited, so you can thank them in person for their support and help making quality public school options a reality for Texas families.

Immediately following Wednesday’s General Session, join us for the Taste of Houston Welcome Reception. Start your TCSACon experience off right with delicious hors d’ourves, refreshing beverages and networking with friends and colleagues at the welcome reception. Meet new friends and get reacquainted with fellow TCSA members in the exhibit hall. Be sure to get your passport through Houston stamped at each food station for your chance to win amazing prizes, but you must be present to win!

On Thursday evening, join us for an Evening at the Ballpark at the home of The Houston Astros and 2017 World Series Champions – Minute Maid Park. This will be a fun-filled night with dinner and drinks, clubhouse tours, photo opportunities, DJ and more. Plus, appearances by your favorite mascot and shooting stars will make it an event to remember. We’ll see you at the party! Finally, Friday will feature our annual Awards Luncheon where will we celebrate champions of the charter movement with a variety of awards plus enjoy special guest speakers including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and David Osborne, American Author.

Come join us as we meet to learn, grow, collaborate, and celebrate Texas charter schools.
See you at the conference!

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That’s right. Money. Dollar Bills. Not just George Washingtons either. I am talking about Franklins, Benjamin Franklins. Lots of Them.

In all seriousness, joining The Texas Charter Schools Association can have some major financial benefits for your school or network. Whether looking to double your student population or simply do more for your current students, TCSA is here to represent your interests. At the Capitol, that could mean efforts to increase the PSF capacity or funding for facilities. At the ground level, that might mean influencing local cities to allow the continued issuance of tax-exempt bonds or simply negotiating with vendors to provide more competitive pricing, discounts and rebates, or extended payment plans. 

In my stream of work specifically, I am always on the look-out for financial and philanthropic opportunities to support your work. Whether that’s learning more about Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) or engaging with lenders looking to enter Texas or conversations with national philanthropy about the Texas sector, my work is about helping you find the most cost-effective and efficient way to grow and operate.

In the past year, our work with the Walton Family Foundation has allowed six organizations to partner with Bellwether Education to undergo a strategic planning process. Also, schools like Austin Achieve Public Schools, Valor Public Schools, and Elementary School for Education Innovation will be able to scale their impact due to strategic investments from national and local funders. The Charter School Growth Fund has partnered with TCSA to identify and fund the most promising small operators seeking to grow, while New School Venture Fund is actively seeking the best new ideas and charters from the Lone Star State for key investments.   

Even as an adult, my CPA-dad always reminds me of two thing: spend money to make money and that a penny saved is a penny earned.

If you can do the former by becoming a member of TCSA, we can help you do the latter.

HOW TO JOIN OR RENEW:

Step 1: Login to the Quality Member Portal 

Applications will be completed in the Quality Member Portal. Once logged in, click the 'Membership' tab at the top. Please click here if you have forgotten your password.

Step 2: Complete the Online Membership Application

Upon submission of the online application, an invoice will be automatically generated and sent directly to the accounting contact email listed on the application.

Step 3: Remit your Membership Dues to:

Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA)   
700 Lavaca Street, Suite 930   
Austin, TX 78701

If you have questions, please contact Nadia Luna. Thank you for your continued support of charter schools in the great state of Texas.

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Don't forget to contact the Texas Charter Schools Association's (TCSA) Legal Team, Christine Nishimura and Elizabeth Cross, when you have questions or need legal assistance. As members of TCSA, each schools' administration, board of directors, and human resources specialists have access to free legal assistance on all your pressing legal and compliance questions. TCSA legal is here to keep you up to date with the ever-changing state and federal charter school laws.

In addition to legal assistance, TCSA Legal provides a voice for member schools through public comments submitted to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as it relates to regulations affecting charter schools. TCSA Legal also works closely with the TCSA Advocacy team to review, draft, and analyze legislation that strengthens the Texas charter movement.

TCSA Legal is also here to assist schools and ensure each school has policies and procedures in place to remain in compliance. TCSA Legal updated the Special Education policies for the 2018-2019 school year and continues to update the Model Policies annually. As members of TCSA, member schools receive discounts on the Model Policies, Personnel Handbook, and Student Code of Conduct that reflect current state and federal requirements.

Renew your membership today and continue to receive free legal assistance from the TCSA Legal team. Additionally, if you renew by September 30, 2018, you will receive the 2018-2019 Personnel Handbook for free!

HOW TO JOIN OR RENEW:

Step 1: Login to the Quality Member Portal 

Applications will be completed in the Quality Member Portal. Once logged in, click the 'Membership' tab at the top. Please click here if you have forgotten your password.

Step 2: Complete the Online Membership Application

Upon submission of the online application, an invoice will be automatically generated and sent directly to the accounting contact email listed on the application.

Step 3: Remit your Membership Dues to:

Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA)   
700 Lavaca Street, Suite 930   
Austin, TX 78701

If you have questions, please contact Nadia Luna.

Thank you for your continued support of charter schools in the great state of Texas.

Your partnership is crucial to our success in advocating for your interests and we hope you will renew your membership today. In addition to benefiting from TCSA’s ongoing advocacy work, membership brings additional benefits, including:

  • All Model Policy documents now included as a part of the membership fee;
  • Free On-Demand Training through the TCSA Learning Zone, TCSA’s online training portal, and discounted registration rates for the Texas Charter Schools Conference;
  • Legal information and advice, as well as updates and alerts on specific matters pertaining to public charter schools;
  • Tools to engage parents on advocacy efforts with the legislature.

We know that you have many tough decisions to make when it comes to balancing your schools’ books. Joining TCSA may mean not hiring a new teacher or foregoing something else that you need. We know you’re counting and watching every penny. But, having a strong TCSA in your corner is not a luxury. You need us to be your eyes, ears, and voice to ensure you can keep doing what you’re doing so well.

Will you please take a minute today to renew or begin your membership with TCSA? We know you count on us and we count on you too.

HOW TO JOIN OR RENEW:

Step 1:
Login to the Quality Member Portal

Applications will be completed in the Quality Member Portal. Once logged in, click the ‘Membership’ tab at the top. Please click here if you have forgotten your password.

Step 2:
Complete the Online Membership Application

Upon submission of the online application, an invoice will be automatically generated and sent directly to the accounting contact email listed on the application.

Step 3:
Remit your Membership Dues to:

Texas Charter Schools Association 
3801 South Capital of Texas Hwy, Suite 330
Austin, TX 78704

If you have questions, please contact Nadia Luna.
Thank you for your continued support of charter schools in the great state of Texas.

Dear Members,

Today I assume the role of CEO of the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA). I couldn't be more excited to lead the organization that is tasked with telling the stories of the incredible work you and your dedicated staffs are doing, and the students' lives you're changing. The responsibility of being the voice for the profound-and difficult-work you are doing every day is not lost on me, or the rest of the TCSA team. Thank you for trusting us to represent you.

While TCSA wears many hats, the one that we never take off is advocating for policies at the federal, state, and local levels that will allow charter schools to continue to open, expand, and operate with autonomy and flexibility, while being responsible stewards of taxpayer money. One benefit of TCSA's advocacy work will impact your budget this year as you receive, for the first time ever, state funding for facilities costs.

In the coming legislative session, TCSA will work to not only protect this funding, but also convert the $60 million allotted in the current budget from a fixed amount of money to a per-student allotment that grows over time. In addition, we'll be working to push back on mandates that would impact your ability to make decisions that deliver on your mission and stop local governments from blocking your ability to grow through zoning and permitting decisions, among many other policies.

Our work on your behalf isn't limited to the Capitol building. We also advocate for you with the Texas Education Agency and State Board of Education. From working to make TEA regulations fairer and provide opportunities to appeal regulatory decisions, to working with the State Board of Education to expand the Permanent School Fund's Charter School Bond Guarantee Program.

The success we have enjoyed in securing facilities funding, among other things, has led to much more intense and vocal opposition to charter schools. You need TCSA now more than ever. The 296,000 students you're educating are counting on us to make sure your ability to serve them continues. And with 141,000 names on charter school waiting lists, there's no sign that the demand for what you're offering is slowing down.

Your partnership is crucial to our success in advocating for your interests and we hope you will renew your membership today. In addition to benefiting from TCSA's ongoing advocacy work, membership brings additional benefits, including:

  • Discounted legal products, including model board policies, Student Code of Conduct, and a TCSA model personnel handbook;
  • Access to Learning Zone, TCSA's online training portal, and discounted registration rates for the Texas Charter Schools Conference;
  • Legal information and advice, as well as updates and alerts on specific matters pertaining to public charter schools;
  • Tools to engage parents on advocacy efforts with the legislature;
  • Access to a growing market of solution providers and strategically aligned partnerships with negotiated pricing and contract terms;
  • Resources and advice for navigating TEA requirements for your school's growth and expansion.


If you join or renew by September 30, your school will receive an updated TCSA model personnel handbook for free.

We know that you have many tough decisions to make when it comes to balancing your schools' books. Joining TCSA may mean not hiring a new teacher or foregoing something else that you need. We know you're counting and watching every penny. But, having a strong TCSA in your corner is not a luxury. You need us to be your eyes, ears, and voice to ensure you can keep doing what you're doing so well.

Will you please take a minute today to renew or begin your membership with TCSA? We know you count on us-and we count on you too.

Thank you for all you do and for your previous support. I look forward to meeting and working with you in the coming months.

Sincerely,
Starlee Coleman
CEO, TCSA

HOW TO JOIN OR RENEW:

Step 1: Login to the Quality Member Portal

Applications will be completed in the Quality Member Portal. Once logged in, click the 'Membership' tab at the top. Please click here if you have forgotten your password.

Step 2: Complete the Online Membership Application

Upon submission of the online application, an invoice will be automatically generated and sent directly to the accounting contact email listed on the application.

Step 3: Remit your Membership Dues to:

Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA)

700 Lavaca Street, Suite 930

Austin, TX 78701

If you have questions, please contact Nadia Luna.

Thank you for your continued support of charter schools in the great state of Texas.

SB 1882 partnerships, created as a result of legislation passed in 2017, offer open-enrollment charters and other eligible non-profit entities an opportunity to partner with traditional ISDs to improve the quality of education in districts across the state.  There are three types of partnerships as a result of this legislation:

  • Turnaround Partnerships - the district contracts with a partner to turnaround an IR campus;
  • Innovation Partnerships – the district contracts with a partner to innovate at an existing non-IR campus; and
  • New School Partnerships – the district contracts with a partner to launch a brand new campus/school model.

Listed below are the partnerships that TEA has currently approved for 2018 or are under review for approval:

Grand Prairie ISD

Uplift Education

Innovation Partnership

1 Campus

San Antonio ISD

CAST Tech

Innovation Partnership

1 Campus

Austin ISD

Mainspring Schools

New School Partnership

1 Campus

San Antonio ISD

Texans Can Academy

New School Partnership

1 Campus

Edgewood ISD

PreK4SA

New School Partnership

1 Campus

Galveston ISD

Moody ECE

New School Partnership

1 Campus

San Antonio ISD

Relay Lab Schools

Turnaround Partnership

2 Campus

San Antonio ISD

Democracy Prep

Turnaround Partnership

1 Campus

Ector County ISD

Ector County Success Network

Turnaround Partnership

1 Campus

Hearne ISD

Hearne Education Foundation

Turnaround Partnership

2 Campus

Waco ISD

Transform Waco

Turnaround Partnership

5 Campus

Austin ISD

T-STEM Coalition

Turnaround Partnership

1 Campus

 

To be eligible for the benefits associated with SB 1882 the open-enrollment charter or eligible entity partner must operate the campus.  To operate a campus, the partner must:

  • Have responsibility to hire, select, approve assignment of and manage the chief operating office or principal of the campus.
  • Have responsibility to hire, select, approve assignment of and manage instructional staff that serve a majority of the students on the campus.
  • Have initial and final authority over decisions related to curriculum, calendar, and assessments.

To be eligible for benefits associated with SB 1882 the partner entity must demonstrate the capacity to manage campuses and must have a board that does not include any school district board of trustees, the school district superintendent, any school district personnel involved in the review, approval, monitoring, or renewal of the Subchapter C charter or performance contract. 

TEA is actively seeking open-enrollment charters that may be interested in becoming a partnering entity with a school district for one of the three types of 1882 partnerships.  For more information on this exciting opportunity, contact Doug Dawson, TEA Assistant Director of System Support and Innovation at doug.dawson@tea.texas.gov or TCSA Director of Growth and Development Elliott Nguyen at enguyen@txcharterschools.org

In addition, TEA will be providing several webinars this fall to share this same information.  Stay tuned to our Events Calendar for information about this and other free webinars including Charter 101 for New Board Members and CEOs (September 11th), Customer Service Training for Front Office Staff (September 14th), and Texas Open Meetings Act Training (October 16th).  Also, remember to sign up for a TCSA Regional Meeting near you, including East Texas (September 12th), Dallas area (September 13th), San Antonio (September 18th), El Paso (September 19th), and West Texas (September 20th). 

 

 

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