July 21, 2020

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

Naming of Acting Superintendent and Hiring of Search Firm Headlines TISD Board of Trustees Meeting for July 2020; Annual Reports and Approvals Given for the 2020-21 School Year

Texarkana, TX – Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees carried a full agenda for their July 21, 2020 regular session. Members reviewed and/or approved the following:

*Approved Items as Surplus. Items no longer useful to the District but still have value and can be sold were declared as surplus. Listing includes: Music Department Sound System and Canon 8585i Copy machine. Items will be sold through an online auction. Interested persons can bid on items by visiting the TISD website at which will take you directly to the district’s page on the online auction site;

*Approval of Proposals for:
Transportation Department Repair Service Vendors and Repair Parts, Equipment and Supplies Vendors awarded to Artex Truck Center, Discount Auto Glass, Glass Doctor, Lone Star Truck Group and Rush Truck Centers. Previously approved vendors include: Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts, Coleman Motors, Gateway Tire, Heavy Duty Bus Parts, Todd Shores’ McLarty Ford, MHC Texarkana, O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Pratt’s Truck Service and Southern Tire Mart;

*Approval of TISD Employee Handbook for 2020-21. The annual document is updated and provided for employees to use as a reference guide to policies and procedures. All topics are edited to align with district procedures and the 2020 Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Model Employee Handbook. Key updates for the 2020-21 school year include a complete revision to the Technology Acceptable Use Policy following a thorough review by a staff committee. Training for staff on the policy changes will be provided during the back-to-school time period;

*Approval of Student Code of Conduct for 2020-21. The Student Code of Conduct, mandated by Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code, addresses legal requirements and organizes the provisions of the law into a framework that communicates to students, parents, school staff and community exactly what is expected of students and how misconduct will be handled. Yearly updates are made based upon recommendations from Texas Association of School Boards (TASB);

*Approval of Campus and District Improvement Plans. The 2020-21 Campus and District Improvement Plans include strategies to provide various instructional opportunities targeting key foundational standards from the Spring to address student regression and solidify mastery due to on-site campus closure during the Spring. Plans also include the implementation of the writing component of TISD’s literacy initiative;
*Approval of “paid” meal pricing a calculated by USDA’s Equity Pricing rules. For the 2020-21 school year, TISD student meal prices will be: Breakfast $2.35, Elementary Lunch $2.85 and Middle/High School Lunch $2.95;

*Approval of Agreement for Acting TISD Superintendent. Following the resignation of Superintendent Paul Norton, who has been named Superintendent of Schools for Lake Travis ISD, the TISD Board of Trustees has named Deputy Superintendent Autumn Thomas as Acting Superintendent beginning July 22, 2020 for a five (5) month period or until the District enters into a contract with a superintendent, whichever occurs first.

Thomas has been with the Tiger Family since 1997 when she was named Director of Human Resources and Employee Benefits. In 2003, she moved into the role of Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Public Relations & Community Involvement and in 2008 was named Deputy Superintendent. Since that time, Thomas has overseen Human Resources, Elementary Campuses, Instructional Services, Special Education & Federal Program, Information Technology, Instructional Technology, Health Services, Textbook Distribution and Business Operations.

Thomas, who has elected not to pursue the position of Superintendent, will move into the Acting Superintendent role while TISD begins the search for the next Superintendent of Schools;

*Approval of Amendment to TISD and eSchool Texas, LLC Online Program Management Agreement. Annual operational and funding agreement amendments to TISD’s online school, eSchool Prep, for the 2020-21 school year;

*Approval of TASB Policy Updates. Policy Update 115 has been reviewed by school administrators and legal counsel. Updated policies include: Employee Welfare, Professional Development, Equal Educational Opportunity, Admissions, Attendance Accounting, Child Abuse & Neglect, Student Welfare, Contest and Competition, Student Rights & Responsibilities;

*Approval of the Engagement of Thompson & Horton, LLP to Conduct a Search for the Position of Superintendent of Schools. Taking the next step in finding TISD’s new Superintendent, the TISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve Thomas & Horton, LLP as the third-party firm to lead the search.

Thompson and Horton have 20 years of experience with superintendent searches. During the meeting, David Thompson and Dr. Mike Moses (former Texas Education Commissioner) outlined how they would work for the board to recruit a chief executive with a proven track record of success and one that would fit wonderfully into the Tiger Family culture.

Thompson & Horton will begin working with trustees to identify a timeline for the district’s search process. It is expected that the application period will open on August 3;

*Approval of TISD Compensation Plan for 2020-21. Includes teacher step increases in salary and a 3% of mid-point range for all other professional, paraprofessional and auxiliary employees who receive a satisfactory performance rating of 3.0 or above on their 2019-20 appraisal.

New for this year will be that new STEM teachers will be required and current STEM teachers will have the opportunity to complete National Institute of STEM Education (NISE) STEM Teacher Certification. The National Certification is being provided by TISD at no cost to teachers and certifies that teaching professional are delivering high quality STEM education. Participants are guided through a self-paced, mentor-led, competency-based program that demonstrates proficiency in 15 teacher actions essential to STEM learning. The average completion time for this certification process is 5-6 months, but teachers can have up to 10-11 months for completion;

*School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) 2019-20 Annual Report. The purpose of this committee is to ensure local community values are reflected in the District’s health education instruction. Per state law, TISD must consider the recommendations of the SHAC before making changes in the District’s health education curriculum or instruction.

The committee met on two separate occasions during the 2019-20 school year to review programs related to Child & Adolescent Outpatient Mental Health, Immunizations, Behavioral Health Services, Personal Hygiene Programs and Health & Wellness Challenge for Employees.

Goals for 2020-21 include the increase in parent/community involvement with the committee, research & implement a new initiative to fulfill the TISD Health and Fitness Challenge requirement and to research & implement a Personal Hygiene (grades 3-5) and Puberty Program (grade 5);

*Approval of TEA Waivers Related to COVID-19. Due to COVID-19 and the closing of the physical school buildings as of March 23, 2020, the Texas Education Agency allows school districts to apply for waivers from certain requirements. The waivers were approved by TEA using the TISD March 2020 Board Meeting minutes providing the superintendent with the authority to make decisions on behalf of the board. The following waivers related to COVID-19 have been approved by TEA: Annual Financial Report Due Date Waiver, Required Parent Notice of Students at Risk of Failure Waiver, TXVSN Course Review and/or Teacher Professional Development Waiver.

In closing the meeting, TISD Board of Trustees President, Fred Norton, Jr., shared his sentiments on the departure of Paul Norton, Superintendent of Schools by presenting his a crystal tiger and thanking him for his leadership and dedication to public education.

In response, Paul Norton said, “TISD is an amazing school district that I have been blessed to call home for the past 19 years. The Board of Trustees has an amazing heart for our students and this community as a whole. Our administration, teachers and staff have the best interest of our students at the forefront of their minds every minute of every day. There is no doubt the future of TISD is very bright and I cannot wait to see the amazing things that continue to happen for TISD and in our Texarkana community.”

The next meeting for the TISD Board of Trustees will be Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

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