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The Sweetwater ISD Board of Trustees took steps for the district to join the TACS (Texas Association of Community Schools) AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) lawsuit during their meeting held on Monday night, November 19 at the Administration Building.
AYP is used as an accountability resource to evaluate public school campuses and districts, in accordance to the federally-mandated No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
A press release from TACS noted that since the federal system was started in 2003, the ratings are invalid and are "destructive...to local school operations." Should success be found from the lawsuit, the TEA (Texas Education Agency) would have to withdraw its AYP regulations, thus eliminating nine years of ratings and start a new system.
Sweetwater ISD Superintendent Terry Pittman noted that the AYP ratings are becoming "unrealistic expectations" as the state continues to raise the bar. Over 600 local school systems are being represented in this particular lawsuit; another lawsuit--regarding school finance--has been filed, with 900 school districts being represented.
Pittman stated that this particular lawsuit will hopefully inform state legislators that "enough is enough" with the unattainable standards being set for students. As part of the current AYP, Sweetwater ISD recently completed a district snapshot to comply with the district's standing ratings.
Several area school districts have also joined, including Abilene ISD, who is making an effort to involve local groups. Approval was given to join the lawsuit, in which each school district will have to pay a fee that will go toward legal costs.
In other action items, the Policy Update 95, which affects local policies, was presented and approved. Among the changes in the policy were employment issues for non-renewals and resignations, public complaints and grievances, retention, the district name, and work contracts.
In addition, three delinquent tax lot bids were presented to the board which all proved to be unique situations. The first bid was approved, with the understanding that the entire payment would be made toward it.
The second bid did not meet the specified requirements and was not accepted, but the third bid was approved, subject to legal matters being resolved and releases being completed and filed.
Approval was also given to the consent agenda, which was made up of the minutes of the October 15 meeting, the investment statement and the October 2012 financial statement and bills.
And while no action was taken, the board looked over five proposed district calendars for the 2013-2014 school year. Each calendar started on the fourth Monday in August on the 26th--the earliest a school year can begin according to state law--but each boasted different holiday schedules.
However, after some discussion, it was determined to bring two calendars to the staff to get their opinion. Following a decision from the district staff, the board will then come back at a later date to approve one calendar for the upcoming school year.