September 16, 2014

Todd Marshall
Director of Communications,
Marketing and Development
903.794.3651 ext. 1013

Schools FIRST Financial Report Student Code of Conduct and Appraisal Calendar discussed during Regular Session for TISD Board of Trust

Texarkana, TX – Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees held a public hearing on Schools FIRST report and approved Student Code of Conduct revisions and Professional Development & Appraisal System Calendar during their September 16, 2014 regular session.

For the 12th year, since the inception of Schools FIRST (Financial Accountability Rating System of Texas), TISD has received a rating of Superior Achievement for demonstrating quality performance in the management of school districts’ financial resources. This rating is based upon an analysis of staff and student data reported for the 2012-13 school year. Senate Bill (SB) 875, which was passed during the 76th Texas Legislature in 1999, authorized the implementation of a financial accountability rating system for Texas school districts.

“TISD’s effort in being effective, efficient and accountable with taxpayers’ dollars is an important task that we strive continually to deliver,” said Deidra Reeves, Chief Financial Officer. “Receiving the Superior Achievement Rating during the last twelve years is evident of our excellence in managing and reporting taxpayer dollars and something that we take great pride in.”

In other business, Trustees approved revisions for the Student Code of Conduct regarding general conduct violations related to tobacco products and synthetic marijuana.

Possession of prohibited items for tobacco products now will be defined to include imitation tobacco products, electronic cigarettes or any tobacco-related product. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013, “the percentage of students in grades 6-12 who had tried e-cigarettes more than doubled between 2011 and 2012, growing from 3.3 percent to 6.8 percent.” A recent Education Week article detailed that thirty-eight states currently prohibit the sale of the product to minors, but e-cigarettes are unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A rule proposed by the FDA on April 24, if passed, would include devices like electronic cigarettes under the category of tobacco products, allowing them to be regulated as such.

“The Student Code of Conduct is typically updated every other year following a legislative session,” commented Lori Ables, Director of Secondary Curriculum-Instruction & Academic Services. “Given that we are seeing a prominence of e-cigarette sales in our area and with the increase number of “vapor” facilities within the school vicinity, we felt it was imperative for us to be proactive and strengthen our policies to include these new types of products and smokeless alternatives.”

Also, the addition of “possess, use, give or sell synthetic marijuana” will be added to general conduct violations of illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

“Again, as a proactive measure, we have added this into our Student Code of Conduct because of the popularity among young people,” continued Ables. “Synthetic marijuana is sometimes referred to as “spice” or “K2” and contains dried, shredded plant material and chemical additives that are responsible for psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. These items are often sold in legal retail outlets as “herbal incense,” “potpourri” and “bath salts”. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has designated the five active chemicals most frequently found in synthetic marijuana as Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy or possess them. Manufacturers of these products attempt to evade the legal restrictions by substituting different chemicals in their mixtures.

Trustees also approved the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS) Calendar for the 2014-15 school year.

“PDAS remains in place during this current school year as the State’s approved instrument for appraising its teachers and identifying areas that would benefit from staff development,” shared Wes Kirkham, Executive Director of Instructional Services. “The Texas Education Agency established the appraisal system in 1997. Each district is required to have a PDAS appraisal calendar in place,” he continued.

Commissioner Rules state that the calendar should exclude the first two weeks of instruction; prohibit observations on the last day of instruction before any official school holiday or on any other day deemed inappropriate by the school district Board of Trustees; and indicate a period for summative annual conference which ends no later than 15 working days before the last day of instruction for students.

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