Key Agenda Items
Although normal school board operations have been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still items the school board must address and new areas of concern created by the current crisis. Houston GPS would like to highlight the following items:
1. The closure of the district, while necessary to ensure the safety of the HISD community, has exacerbated inequities amongst students. Many students have struggled with remote learning, with 42% of students failing at least one class in the first grading period. The addition of face-to-face learning comes with potential disruptions to maintain the safety of students and staff. Data quality concerns persist due to the pandemic and they must be addressed moving forward if remote assessments are given so the Board can accurately monitor student outcomes.
2. In June, the Board made a commitment to examine the role of police in the district to confront systemic racism and police violence against people of color. Considering the disproportionate discipline and forced interaction with police that students of color, especially black boys, face in public education, this is a pressing equity concern. In December, Board members expressed interest in having a second workshop on the topic, which should be organized for either later in January or February.
3. In the past, the Board has faced last-minute changes to the district budget and budget approval votes that cut close to the deadline for the district. Last year, the Board was able to pass a budget without delaying until the end of June, but this was the first time in several years. In order to ensure the budget is passed within a reasonable timeframe and not subject to late amendments, the Board should set its budget priorities early to guide the administration in developing the 2021-2022 budget.
4. HISD should start identifying teachers and principals for the next school year to ensure there are no teacher or administrative vacancies. It should be utilizing the teacher pipelines, such as Teach Forward Houston, so every student will have a teacher for all of their classes before the start of the 2021 – 2022 school year.