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February 27, 2012 Regular Board Meeting

Deadline for Submitting IDEA Choice Forms Extended to March 9

Superintendent Carstarphen opened the meeting by announcing the school district has extended the deadline for parents to submit choice forms for the IDEA in-district charter college preparatory program at Allan Elementary School.

According to Dr. Carstarphen, the district is satisfied that its efforts to inform families of their options have been successful, and no formal request for an extension has been submitted from parents affected by the choice. The district decided to extend the deadline from Feb. 24 to March 9, she said, to alleviate any lingering concerns from other community stakeholders. This week, the Office of Student Services will again call affected Allan families, including rising sixth graders, to confirm their assigned school.

Highlights of Consent Agenda

The Board of Trustees approved the Consent Agenda, including:

  • The current consultation agreement with Education Austin was extended until May 1, 2012 to provide the Board more time to consider possible changes to the process for consulting with district employees in such areas as compensation, working conditions and contracts.
  • An inter-local agreement with the City of Austin regarding historic property tax exemptions was approved.
  • Architectural and engineering firms were selected to provide design services for energy efficiency improvement projects and to implement the 2008 Bond Program projects.

STAAR End-of-Course Assessment:  Revising District Policies for Calculating Grade Point Average and Class Rank

The Board of Trustees approved the district’s recommendation to revise District Policies EIC(LOCAL) and EIA(LOCAL) so a student’s score on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) end-of-course (EOC) exams taken during spring 2012 will have no effect on that student’s grades or class rank.

State law requires 15 percent of a student’s course grade be determined by the student’s performance on the corresponding EOC exam. On Feb. 17, the Commissioner of Education announced the state will allow school districts to delay the implementation of the “15 percent requirement” until the 2012-13 school year. In view of this, Dr. Carstarphen said the district’s policies may need to be revisited in the future to conform with state law, which has not changed.

This is the first year under the new assessment system, Dr. Carstarphen said, and much remains unknown regarding passing standards and test performance. Delaying the “15 percent requirement” for the current school year could relieve some of the pressure felt by students and parents, she said. Students still will be held accountable for their performance on this year's EOC exams in order to satisfy graduation requirements under STAAR.

In addition, Dr. Carstarphen announced a district policy allowing middle school students enrolled in high school courses to take only one test per subject area. Under the STAAR program, all students enrolled in a course that offers an EOC exam must take the exam, including students in 8th grade or below. While the state has already confirmed that these students need not take the STAAR grade-level subject area test in addition to the EOC exam, it is still not clear whether this policy is consistent with federal accountability regulations. The district expects to receive a formal response on this matter from the federal government later in the spring. In the meantime, the Texas Education Agency has advised the implementation of this policy is within the district’s authority, Dr. Carstarphen said, and the administration will revise grading guidelines to formalize this decision.

Presentation of FY 2013 Preliminary Budget and Tax Rate

Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley-Abrams presented the Preliminary FY 2013 Budget. The preliminary budget includes funding for implementation of the 2012-13 Annual Academic and Facilities Recommendations and other programmatic needs, as well as a one-time compensation increase for all staff.

The process of refining and revising the budget will continue through the spring. The public will have more opportunities to learn about and comment on the proposed budget at two community meetings in March and at a public hearing in April.  The final Recommended FY 2013 Budget will be presented at the Board Work Session June 11, and is scheduled for Board action June 18.