Spring is the time for all things new, and at TCSA we’re committed to ensuring that our member schools have access to professional development that is up to date and that our webinars, workshops, and on-demand content is exactly what you need in your role as a school leader.  Speaking of new (which is a term that doesn’t ordinarily apply to me) you may already know that I am in a new position at TCSA as the Director of Training.  You may also start to notice some subtle changes in our approach to professional development at your association, all of which are designed to improve our services and help our member schools access the highest quality training to help you achieve your school’s mission.

That said, we’ve had great responses to our free one-hour webinars, and there are four scheduled between now and the end of May:

April 19th, 4:00 p.m.Energy Savings 101 - How to Find Energy Savings in Your School Facility.  Energy efficiency experts Kwame Watkins and Chuck Thomas from Jengo Consulting will present a step by step overview on how to reduce energy costs in your school building.  Energy reduction best practices will be shared that can be implemented at little or no cost.  Audience – Operations staff, CEOs, CFOs

May 1st, 4:00 p.m. - Employee Situations Involving Alleged Harassment, Retaliation and Discrimination.  Texas charter school expert and attorney Joe Hoffer will offer authoritative advice and guidance in this one-hour webinar on dealing with employee situations regarding alleged harassment, retaliation and discrimination.  Audience – CEOs, HR and Operations staff, Campus Leaders. Credit – 60 minutes Charter School Law.

May 16th, 9:00 a.m. – School Safety and Active Shooter Threats – Next Steps.  This webinar is a follow up to our well-attended March webinar on school safety.  Edward Rivas of AIG will guide school leaders through additional steps to take that will help ensure that your school is utilizing the latest information and practices to ensure the safety of your students and staff.  Audience – CEOs and Campus Leaders. Credit – 60 Minutes Health and Safety.

May 22, 4:00 p.m. – Charter Advocacy 101 for CEOs, Boards, and Campus Administrators. TCSA advocacy experts Martha Fernandez, Director of Civic Affairs and Advocacy, and Erika Rocha, Central Texas Outreach & Field Manager, will provide expert advice and guidance on ways to successfully advocate for your school in today's contentious political environment. Audience – CEOs, Board Members, Campus Leaders. Credit – 60 minutes Charter School Law.

TCSA is very excited to co-host the Charter School Law Institute Texas Legal Seminar: Student Civil Rights Summit on Tuesday, June 26th at Goodwater Montessori School in Georgetown.  This one-day workshop presented by national charter law experts will provide the legal expertise charter school leaders need to serve their students, staff, and community in understanding the breadth of civil rights law and the ways they are changing with a clear understanding of how they are applied to charter schools.  Register by May 25th to get an early registration discount.  Discounts are also available for two or more participants from one organization.   Audience – CEOs, Board Members, Campus Leaders.  Credit - 360 minutes Charter School Law.

Our next Member Council Meeting is scheduled for April 26th from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the TCEA training facility in Austin. This is the best way to engage with your organization and strengthen our movement.  Please note the agenda on the registration link.  Lunch will be provided by our sponsor Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  At this time we are also planning on making remote access available as well; we should have that link available shortly.

Finally, with our annual TCSA Conference coming up October 24-26, we are looking for quality conference session proposals focused on one or more of the following areas - Innovation, Advocacy, Finance, Governance, Leadership and Coaching, Operations, Student Success and Learning, School Law, Growth, Safety and Security, Strategic Planning, Marketing, and Communication.  We are planning for our 2018 conference to be the biggest and best yet.  Please help make that happen by considering submitting a conference proposal before the May 15th deadline!

At TCSA we offer specially discounted bundled training for governance teams and administrators, and we can set up customized in-person training for your staff and governance teams as well.  Please reach out to me and let me know how we can help meet your training needs!

Did you forget to renew your membership before December 31st? Luckily, January is a TCSA membership grace period. The last day to submit your renewal before incurring late fees and losing access to all member benefits is January 31st. Renew today to keep your membership current and continue to access high-quality charter-specific services, like training, data consultation, advocacy and legal support. Other membership benefits include:

  • Representation with the Texas Legislature, Texas Education Agency and State Board of Education.
  • Discounted legal products including model board policies, Student Code of Conduct, and a Personnel Handbook
  • Access to the Learning Zone, TCSA's robust 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 charter schools
  • Tools to engage parents on advocacy efforts with the Texas 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

While there is tremendous diversity in the scope, size, and mission of our public charter schools, we must work together as one voice to represent our sector and achieve our common goals. Whether we're advocating for charter-friendly policies at the state capitol or sharing best practices through continuing education and training, we're more effective as one body.  The future is bright for charter schools in this state and for the association, as last year there were nearly 273,000 students at 675 public charter school campuses across the state and we continue to see growth in enrollment and campuses.

Please, take this time to renew or begin a membership with TCSA. Add your voice to the conversation and ensure the charter movement continues to grow and succeed.


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 2018 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.

As we kick off 2018, the horizon is bright for both public charter schools and our association. As interim CEO, the prospect of selecting a permanent leader for TCSA is exciting. I am actively involved with the search committee to ensure we attract top candidates that share our passion for public charter education.  The association staff, board members, and committee leaders are making good use of time while the CEO search is underway. In the next few weeks, I will be hitting the road to visit with charter leaders to learn more about what we can do to improve our services and meet the needs of all TCSA member schools.

There are a lot of things we can be proud of at TCSA during our first decade. Our advocacy gains from last session – the first ever state facilities funding and the passage of the “minutes” bill from last legislative session are historic. In 2017, TCSA reviewed nearly 6,700 bills, provided more than 1,895 hours of training, and had more than 1,600 attendees at our annual conference. We can’t rest on past success. Now is the time to take stock of what works well at TCSA, but also focus on the future and ways we can be even more effective in the coming years.

Everything is on the table – from the way we set our legislative agenda, to the type of professional development we offer, to how we stay in touch and operate as a member led organization. Are there ways to make the member council more relevant to you, or ensure our legislative agenda addresses your concerns?  Do our trainings provide what your management team seeks? I don't believe you should fix what isn't broken, or make change simply for change sake, but we can always be better, stronger, and more efficient.  So now is the time to speak up, step forward, and share your ideas about the future of TCSA.

In the coming weeks we will launch several working groups that will re-envision core areas of operation: advocacy, training and services, and the member council. I encourage you to attend the next council meeting on February 1st. We will have more details at that meeting, and begin work on our advocacy agenda for the 86th Legislature. Now less than a year away, it's time to focus on our future legislative goals. We will also discuss the rulemaking underway at the TEA regarding district-charter partnerships.

It's my privilege to volunteer as your interim CEO. This is one way I can give back to the association that’s worked hard to advance public charter schools in Texas. Stay tuned, but more importantly – get involved in shaping the future of TCSA. Working together, our next decade will be even better than our first.

Most traditional teacher support organizations are anti-school choice – are your staff’s paychecks going to one of these organizations? Working at a charter school comes with its own set of unique challenges. Staff work long hours and are selfless in their pursuit of supporting their charter’s mission, but what if they belong to an organization that seeks to stifle the charter movement? Let us offer a better choice.

“I want my teachers to be a part of a professional educators association but finding one that advocates and supports charter schools is not easy. AAE provides the professional benefits we care about as educators in addition to advocating on behalf of all public school teachers including those who choose to serve in a charter school.”

Lisa McDonald
Executive Director
Brighten Academy Charter School

One of the best things you can do to support your staff is help them advocate for themselves and the charter sector. TCSA collaborates with The Association of American Educators (AAE) to support educators working in our charter schools. AAE is the largest national, non-union, professional educator’s organization that supports school choice and legislation that paves the way for new and innovative learning environments, including charters and virtual schools.

“We all know teachers and school personnel aren’t paid what they are worth. So it is even more important to offer them opportunities to be financially responsible and proactive. They are building the future every day, so partnering with AAE just makes sense to help your staff prepare for that future. They should be able to enjoy it!”

Michelle Holland – Elementary Principal
Leadership Prep School Frisco

AAE provides professional benefits and services to its members such as liability insurance, professional development opportunities, supplementary insurance, and classroom grants. A number of Texas charter school educators are members of AAE, including Anita Collins, who received a classroom grant in 2017.

“I joined AAE because I wanted to build relationships and network with other educators around the country, gain knowledge on the latest trends and issues impacting education, and to receive the excellent insurance benefits it provides.”

Anita E. Collins - Teacher
Life Oak Cliff Secondary

AAE offers school-wide training and advocacy resources for your staff. Have you seen their Teachers as Charter School Advocates toolkit? Keep your staff energized and engaged – let them be a part of the grassroots effort to advocate for Texas charter schools while building a culture of leadership at your campuses.

To learn more about TCSA’s partnership with AAE, contact Erin Tholen. To speak directly with AAE, contact Rena Youngblood.

Model Policy Updates

Model Policy subscribers can find more updates in the Quality Portal incorporating important changes made by the 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature. TCSA Legal updated 400.080 Required Instruction & Graduation to include changes to college readiness and vocational assessments. Section 400.120 Health now includes information about required lice notices and donating food. The School Marshal policy, 400.150, updated the minimum number of students needed per school marshal to 200 students instead of 400 students. Concerning the Texas Open Meetings Act, section 500.020 updated the minimum requirements to hold a video conference meeting, as well as updated the exceptions for closed meetings. Section 500.040 updated procedures to respond to a public information request under the Texas Public Information Act, including when a request may be considered withdrawn for failure to pay costs associated with the request.

For the convenience of subscribers, all updated legal authorities and policies clearly note which subsections within the policy have been updated.

Personnel Handbook Update

In early fall, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas granted a permanent injunction against the Department of Labor’s proposed Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rules. By issuing a permanent injunction, the exemption from overtime salary test will remain at $455 per week or $23,660 per year instead of the proposed $913 a week. The Personnel Handbook 2nd Edition has been updated to reflect this change. Additionally, for your convenience, the Commissioner approved pre-employment affidavits have been added to the Personnel Handbook folder in the Quality Portal.

As always, do not hesitate to contact Christine Nishimura with questions or for more information regarding the TCSA Model Policy Series.

Did you know a lack of board, officer, and campus administrator training can result in a material violation of your charter?  Many charter systems struggle to aquire the appropriate amount of training for board members, officers, and campus administrators.   The Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) offers member schools various webinar trainings either free or at a discounted rate to help charter leaders meet Texas Education Agency training requirements.  Member schools can opt to join bi-monthly webinars or access the webinar recording each month, accelerating progress toward training requirements.

Member schools also receive deep discounts on training bundles within the TCSA Learning Zone.  If you are a new or existing charter on a tight budget, TCSA can manage your school's compliance training efficiently and affordably. Please contact Dr. Paula Moeller to discuss how online training is the right solution for your school. This is one more reason to join or renew your membership with 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 2018 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.

There are several reasons to join or renew your membership with the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA), and one of the primary reasons includes TCSA’s support in addressing the challenges that you and your charter team are wrestling with right now.

TCSA assists charters and their boards with a wide array of subject matters, all of which fall into one of the systems in your TCSA Quality Framework. As Director of Quality Services, I assist campus and district leaders and governing board members in resolving or addressing areas of struggle by improving performance and/or processes.

I am ready to help your team with any of the following tasks:
• Develop logic models and action plans (Leadership/Planning)
• Refine governing practices and optimize board composition and norms (Leadership/Governance)
• Refine improvement efforts and data review processes (Data Driven)
• Conduct an organization-wide analysis to determine expansion readiness (Leadership/Planning)
• Develop, launch and analyze surveys to inform practices or address issues (Staff/Stakeholder)
• Conduct an organization-wide analysis to identify gaps and strengths and craft improvement plan (Leadership)
• Refine mission/vision statements, develop values or norms, or improve organizational culture (Mission Vision Values)

Public charter schools with strong systems and good leadership remain sustainable over time. Join or renew your membership with TCSA today and let us help your team advance to the next level.

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 2018 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 about TCSA membership, please contact Nadia Luna. Thank you for your continued support of charter schools in the great state of Texas.

Wayside Schools became a member of the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) five years ago when I joined the Wayside staff as CEO. I have been a passionate supporter of TCSA for many years and share the belief that every parent should have the opportunity to choose the free, public school that best fits the needs of their scholar(s).

TCSA is a great partner in advocacy efforts and one primary example includes the passage of HB 21, which provides $60 million in facilities funding beginning in 2018-19. Like many public charter schools, our small charter network is impacted by the disparity in funding. However, we worked with TCSA during the last legislative session to pass HB 21! Public charter school students will receive about $200 per pupil, which is a first step in closing the funding gap. Unlike any single charter network, TCSA is able to bring together multiple voices and multiple communities, to advocate on behalf of increased funding and other important policies affecting charter school operations.

As a member organization, Wayside Schools receives special help scheduling legislative visits and engaging legislators to attend individual school events. TCSA staff work alongside our parents helping them to practice their talking points and prepare for advocacy activities. TCSA is there every step of the way so that parents never feel they are acting alone. Their staff go above and beyond to provide the support we need to have a voice in the world of education public policy.

As a network leader, they have helped me connect with other charter leaders to share best practices. TCSA offers many trainings and workshops that give insight into charter and school policy changes that will impact how our school operates. They also provide a comprehensive analysis tool as part of membership. More than anything else, I recommend a TCSA membership because they make you feel like you are never alone and provide support while navigating the world of running a charter school.

As a founding board member of the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA), I have been passionate about this organization since its inception. TCSA’s mission is to improve student achievement in Texas by advocating for and strengthening a diverse set of high quality charter schools. I’m thrilled to be a part of this mission both in my capacity as the CEO of ResponsiveED and now as the Interim CEO of TCSA.

I made a commitment to TCSA’s Board and to you to serve as the Interim CEO while the Search Committee conducts a national search for a permanent CEO. I want to assure you that my aim includes supporting and strengthening the good work already happening at public charter schools by providing continuity of services at TCSA and transparency in our efforts.

The future is bright for charter schools in this state and for the association. Last year, there were nearly 273,000 students at 675 public charter school campuses across the state and we continue to see growth in enrollment and campuses. Texas families want options within public education to meet the needs of their children, and these options come in various forms such as college preparatory charters, charters at residential treatment centers, STEM-focused campuses, and dropout recovery models. Public charter schools are meeting their promise by providing innovation in education and offering flexibility in the classroom.

While there is tremendous diversity in the scope, size, and mission of our public charter schools, we must work together as one voice to represent our sector and achieve our common goals. Whether we’re advocating for charter-friendly policies at the state capitol or sharing best practices through continuing education and training, we’re more effective as one body.

That’s why I encourage you to either join or renew your membership with TCSA today.

TCSA members receive:
• Representation with the Texas Legislature, Texas Education Agency and State Board of Education.
• Discounted legal products including model board policies, Student Code of Conduct, and a Personnel Handbook
• Access to the Learning Zone, TCSA's robust 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 charter schools
• Tools to engage parents on advocacy efforts with the Texas 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

Please, take this time to renew or begin a membership with TCSA. Add your voice to the conversation and ensure the charter movement continues to grow and succeed.

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 2018 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 about the membership process, please contact Nadia Luna.

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

After almost a decade of outstanding and unfailing service, our founding executive director, David Dunn, will conclude his leadership at the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA) in October.

David had a huge task when we asked him to help create our Association in 2008 and no one could have done a better job. Under his leadership:

  • Public charter school student enrollment increased from 90,000 students in 2008-09 to nearly 250,000 in 2015-16, averaging a 13 percent increase annually as compared to two percent growth by the overall public school system. Sixty-seven percent of these students are economically disadvantaged.
  • Parental demand for charter schools swelled significantly to include an additional 141,000 waiting list students, far outpacing existing capacity.
  • Membership in the Association has grown to cover almost 90 percent of all students educated in charter schools in Texas.
  • TCSA developed the Quality Framework, the first comprehensive self-improvement process designed specifically for charter schools, which is a condition of membership in the Association.

In addition, David’s advocacy expertise drove important policy advances for Texas charter schools, most recently:

  • Charter schools’ access to the Permanent School Fund (PSF) Bond Guarantee Program was again expanded during the recently concluded 85th Texas Legislative Session. Charter school participation in this program has already realized a savings of about $10.5 million annually for the next 25 years. It is anticipated that savings will increase four-fold over the next five years, allowing charter schools to better utilize those dollars for classroom and expansion purposes.
  • Support for charter schools in the Texas Legislature has advanced in important ways, including a resounding 144 to 3 defeat for a proposal to defund charter schools during the most recent Texas Legislative Session.
  • Advances were made in prior sessions, including passage of SB 2 in 2013, which raised the cap for charters and also increased accountability. In 2011, TCSA also worked on the passage of legislation providing charters access to the PSF Bond Guarantee Program for the first time.
  • As one of the foremost public school finance experts in Texas, David was an integral part of the plaintiff group representing students in a case that reached the Texas Supreme Court. While the state’s highest court dismissed the group’s claims, the Court recognized the rights of charter school students to an adequate, suitable and efficient education.

David has done a great service for the children and families of Texas by devoting his wisdom, experience and in-depth policy knowledge to our cause. We fully intend to build upon his achievements and continue the progress he has begun under new leadership later this year.

The TCSA Board of Directors has appointed an executive search committee, headed by founding board member, Lori Fey—and also featuring Mike Feinberg, Alfredo Segura, and Kathleen Zimmermann—to lead the process for selecting a new executive director.

We are determined to find a leader who, like David, has the focus to tackle critical issues, a passion for providing quality education options, and the integrity to accomplish our objectives in ways that reflect the TCSA’s values.

David is leaving TCSA to launch a new venture, D2 Strategies, LLC, where he will continue supporting our cause as a consultant in education and other important domestic policy issues.

We want to thank him again for championing our efforts and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. David – you will be very missed.

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