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. In August, the Board decided to forgo drafting additional COVID-19 emergency constraints and instead scheduled a series of workshops to finish developing the Board’s goals, which will guide the district for the next five years, and move up the monitoring timeline for these more permanent measures. These goals are one of the most important responsibilities of the school board and deserve careful consideration. The Board is holding community meetings on October 6th and 15th to gather feedback from the community on their drafted goals, the language for which they plan to finalize at a special meeting today, October 5, at 5 pm. The Board must work efficiently and collaboratively to keep to the necessary timeline to meet not only state requirements, but also the proposed monitoring start date in November for these goals.
2. The closure of the district, while necessary to ensure the safety of the HISD community, has exacerbated inequities amongst students. The district is expected to offer both in-person and remote learning beginning October 19, as required by state regulations for funding. Many students have struggled with remote learning and will likely need additional supports to remain on pace with their learning before the pandemic. The addition of face-to-face learning comes with potential disruptions to maintain the safety of students and staff. With learning split between multiple models of instruction and students still facing uncertainty due to the pandemic, the Board must continue to receive updates from administration about what additional efforts are being made to ensure all students are able to safely continue their learning regardless of learning environment. To review HISD’s reopening plan, visit the district’s reopening page.
3. In June 2020, the Board approved changes to district policy regarding charter and other external performance contracts. As part of these changes, Board policy now requires the district to notify charter organizations if the district intends to revoke or fail to renew their agreements by October 31.
4. 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. Initially, the Board and administration were going to have a workshop on the topic in September, but thus far one has not been scheduled. While the Board has formed a Police Function Ad Hoc Committee that is supposed to provide an update at the meeting on Thursday, it does not appear that the committee has been able to meet, with the only scheduled meeting having been cancelled. 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. Moving forward, we hope to see increased public activity from the Board and the Police Function Committee.