In-person summer school can start June 1
Gov. Greg Abbott's newest executive order expands the types of businesses allowed to reopen and gives schools permission to hold in-person summer school as early as June 1, with appropriate social distancing and sanitation measures . ( Click here for TEA's guidance on reopening.) We do not yet know how many districts will plan to open so soon — or at all this summer — but some teachers and other personnel may receive a request or offer from their district to work on campus in the near future. Members with questions about their obligations with regard to summer school duties should call our legal department at 888-879-8282 for assistance. Click here to read more.

Following Abbott's announcement, UIL gave the go-ahead for coaches and band directors to proceed with limited extracurricular activities starting June 8.

As state, local and federal officials release new guidance, we continue to update our FAQs about COVID-19. Check out what's new this week:

Keep in mind that our FAQs are not legal advice. Each school district will handle situations differently, so we strongly encourage members who have specific questions or concerns to call us at 888-879-8282 so we can help. Members also can submit general inquiries through our Ask-a-Lawyer portal.
Abbott requests agency budget cuts of 5%, exempts school funding and TRS contribution
This week, Gov. Greg Abbott directed state agencies to submit plans identifying budget cuts of 5% to his office and the Legislative Budget Board by June 15. The mandate came in anticipation of a major downward adjustment of state revenue projections to be released by State Comptroller Glenn Hegar in July. The governor’s order is likely to be only the first phase in cutting budgets, as state revenues have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and losses are expected to total billions of dollars.

Among the exemptions from the cuts are school funding (the Foundation School Program) and contributions to the Teacher Retirement System. However, that does not exempt TEA and TRS from the potential budget cuts, and those agencies will still submit a 5% budget cut plan. The reductions cannot include any cuts to school funding or TRS contributions, but will have to come out of other agency programs/expenditures.

Abbott’s letter to state agency heads includes suggestions such as deferring any unnecessary capital and travel expenditures, cutting non-mission-critical administrative expenses, and leaving nonessential open staff positions unfilled.  Click here to read the letter.
TEA announces optional assessments for use in fall

TEA has released an Optional Beginning of Year Assessments FAQ outlining key facets of tests that will be available for schools to use at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year to gauge where students are in their understanding of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. According to TEA, since these optional assessments are designed to diagnose understanding of the TEKS from the previous school year, they should be administered to students based on 2019-20 grade levels.

Much like TEA's optional end-of-year assessments, the BOY assessments have been built using released State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test questions that measure the TEKS and cover the same grades/subjects covered by STAAR. Assessments are available online and on paper as a printable PDF, and take about as much time to complete as STAAR tests. Districts can register students for BOY assessments between July 20 and Sept. 18. The testing window will be open July 27 through Sept. 25.
Parent with toy gun at school charged with resisting arrest

A parent was detained and charged with resisting arrest based on his conduct while visiting his daughter's school for an awards ceremony. The parent brought his two sons to the ceremony, one of whom had a toy gun. The parent put the toy gun in his left back pocket, and several staff members reported seeing a man with a gun to administrators. The school was locked down, and when police tried to detain the parent, he refused to comply. Click here to read more.
Survey seeks districts' input on online testing capabilities

This week, school districts and campuses across the state were sent a survey from the Texas A&M Education Research Center to gather information about their readiness to implement online STAAR testing. House Bill 3906 requires TEA to develop a transition plan to administer all STAAR exams electronically by the 2022-23 school year. The transition plan must be sent to the legislature by December for approval prior to implementation. While only one official survey can be submitted per campus, principals are encouraged to collaborate with teachers and other staff. Click here to download a copy of the survey.
Don't mess with Texas art contest entries due May 29

The Don't mess with Texas ® Art Contest invites Texas students in grades K-12 to submit their best litter prevention-inspired artwork by May 29. Students with the top 14 designs will have their work featured in the Don’t mess with Texas Calendar. Click here for the contest rules, submission forms and prize information.
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