Articles in the Crisis Management category

Inside look at Texas

The Texas Association of School Boards reports to BoardBuzz:

In what may be the first trace of normalcy, students displaced by Hurricane Katrina are enrolling in schools across Texas. The generosity of Houston has garnered national attention, however, districts everywhere in the state are reaching out to help with fund-raisers, donations of clothes and school supplies, and volunteer work at area shelters.

Officials have estimated 50,000 to 60,000 displaced students will enroll in Texas schools in the aftermath of the disaster. Almost 19,000 displaced children have already started school. District officials are visiting evacuation centers to help with enrollments, setting up school tours for parents and students, and providing school clothes and supplies. Individual campuses are collecting food, money, and care packages. School administrators are scrambling to figure out where to accommodate hundreds of new students, who will teach them, and how they will get to school.

In Houston, the district has registered more than 1,000 children and more are being processed at the Astrodome. The district has reopened two closed elementary schools that can hold up to 1,350 children, and many more students will be attending schools throughout the district.

The Texas Education Agency (state department of education) has set up a toll-free hotline (800-957-5109) number and posted information on the Agency’s web site (www.tea.state.tx.us) to orchestrate offers of help and districts in need. TEA has promised to release money immediately to help affected districts cope. The federal government is sending $250,000 apiece to six Texas regional education service centers in various parts of the state.

“Texans have extended their hearts and hands to people impacted by Katrina and school districts across Texas are welcoming displaced students and their families. It is heartening to watch Texas educators rise to the challenges with such professional grace and personal generosity,” said Karen Strong, TASB associate executive director.

Erin Walsh|September 8th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Feds discuss school relief with ed groups

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings yesterday met with national education groups, including NSBA, to discuss the department’s relief response and impact on schools and students, and coordination among groups that are implementing relief efforts. The key points:

1. The Department of Education has created a Web site, Hurricane Help for Schools, to encourage schools to post supply needs and organizations to post items they can donate. Contact information is provided so schools and organizations can directly connect.

2. Regarding funding, the department plans to work with affected states and districts that want to transfer or reallocate funds—across districts. “This could include the transfer of funds to districts in other States that are serving displaced students,” writes Spellings. The department also will work with the Office of Management and Budget as further supplemental relief efforts are made.

3. Regarding NCLB, the department says it will “consider promptly” requests for waivers from those affected. Spellings also indicated Adequate Yearly Progress reporting requirements may be relaxed—but no details as to what that may precisely mean. The department did note it will be flexible on highly qualified teacher requirements, particularly where displaced teachers have begun working in new states. This makes sense considering the different certification standards across states.

4. The department is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to determine immunization needs of displaced students. In recent days, we’ve seen countless stories of school districts helping to get students back in class by waiving enrollment rules regarding immunization records.

5. Spellings is dispatching Assistant Secretary Henry Johnson, the former Mississippi state superintendent, to the region to determine ongoing needs.

This letter provides more details.

As BoardBuzz noted yesterday, NSBA already has made several general recommendations for Congress to consider regarding schools’ needs.

Erin Walsh|September 8th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

No health risks posed by displaced students

Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, Texas Commissioner of State Health Services, said this week that students displaced by Hurricane Katrina enrolling in Texas schools pose no increased health risk to Texas students. In a statement, he addressed those concerns and said schools are safe:

Sanchez said some Texas parents have expressed concerns about health risks to their own children from the incoming students’ exposure to floodwater and their vaccination status. He called the concerns “understandable but unfounded.”

“Many of these kids were not exposed to floodwater,” Sanchez said. “And those who were exposed are being evaluated in the various shelters for types of exposure and monitored for illness symptoms and are getting treatment if they need it. Standard practice says any child, not just evacuees, who’s sick should not be sent to school.”

Erin Walsh|September 8th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Schools not faced challenges this great since Civil War

Two big-picture stories today from Sam Dillon in the New York Times and Steve Wieberg and Greg Toppo in USA TODAY on Katrina’s impact on schools and students. Historians say America’s public schools have not faced challenges this great since the Civil War. “In terms of school systems absorbing kids whose lives and homes have been shattered, what we’re going to watch over the next weeks is unprecedented in American education,” said Jeffrey Mirel, a professor of history and education at the University of Michigan.

Estimates on the number of students displaced by the storm range from well over 200,000, according to the Times, to closer to 300,000 by USA TODAY.

Houston Public Schools are enrolling many of those students. School board member Kevin Hoffman said Houston, Texas’ largest school district, can handle the influx. “This is a Herculean effort,” he said. “But it’s one of the types of things that just falls on your lap and you deal with it.”

Speaking of Houston Public Schools, their Web site has much hurricane-related information for parents, students, teachers, and anyone willing to help.

Erin Walsh|September 7th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

NSBA advises Congress on ways to support hurricane-impacted districts

As Congress returns this week to a full agenda, relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina is front and center. Last week NSBA sent this letter to every member of Congress to put them on notice of some things they will need to be thinking about in providing immediate and longer term relief for hurricane-impacted school districts. NSBA top lobbyist Michael A. Resnick explains that since the situation is still developing, the idea was to give Congress a “heads-up” rather than offer a comprehensive proposal. Among the issues addressed: The need to move now on capital needs, since it typically takes about 18 months to complete a school building after funding is in place; short-term and long-term operational funding considerations, especially given what has happened to both the local property tax base and state revenues in affected areas; and the impact of gasoline shortages. Resnick reports that the letter already has prompted some Congressional response. Stay tuned.

Erin Walsh|September 7th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Wisconsin reaches out to displaced kids

Sue Huhn, a school board member in Wisconsin, alerts BoardBuzz to the efforts of enrolling displaced students in school districts in her state. Details here. The state schools superintendent has sent out a guidance letter to local school districts instructing them to immediately enroll the students and to count them for state aid.

Tell us more about how your state education system is responding by clicking here.

Erin Walsh|September 6th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Texas Education Agency coordinates Gulf region educators

The Texas Education Agency is developing a database to link educators to areas with education needs. It is anticipated that administrators, teachers, teaching assistants, therapists, counselors, and diagnosticians will all be needed. Those available to help in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana can e-mail texasteachers@tea.state.tx.us.

Erin Walsh|September 6th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Mississippi DoE teams will visit impacted school districts

Linda Buford-Burks, Mississippi School Boards Association director of communications, tells BoardBuzz that MSBA Executive Director Michael Waldrop is working closely with the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to help school leaders get up and running again as soon as possible. “In addition, MSBA is advising districts regarding the procedures for insurance claims, the purchases of emergency items, and other matters of concern to board members in our state at this time,” she says. “We’re also looking at collaborating with various entities to make needed supplies and services available for coast schools.”

MDE will provide a detailed numbers update on Tuesday, Buford-Burks reports, but the situation in that state at last count: 160,000 students in 44 schools districts attending 271 schools have been directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina. But every single school district in the state will be affected somehow, wrote Hank Bounds, state education superintendent, in a memo to local superintendents.

MDE is forming damage assessment and recovery teams that will be able to visit districts, to provide whatever assistance is needed, if requested by local superintendents.

The USDA has already issued a memo on the Food and Nutrition Services policy for the feeding of school children in areas recently devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Schools will be allowed to serve all meals free to attending children through September 30.

Erin Walsh|September 5th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Toll-free lines for parents, teachers

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has opened a hotline for hurricane Katrina-related questions. The toll-free number, 1-800-957-5109, is for educators as well as parents. The line will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (CST). Superintendents are invited to post this number on their school district Web sites as well.

On Tuesday, September 6, TEA will post on its Web site a toll-free number for Louisiana teachers who are seeking employment in Texas schools. This toll-free number will also be staffed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Please check the TEA Web site for details and updates.

The Texas Education Agency estimates that as of the Labor Day weekend, 6,100 students displaced by the hurricane have enrolled in Texas public schools. If you would like to donate school supplies for evacuees, e-mail schoolsupplies@tea.state.tx.us for information.

Erin Walsh|September 5th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

La. and Miss. sites offering continuous updates

Both the Louisiana and Mississippi departments of education Web sites are full of continuing updates on the hurricane’s impact on schools, with key information for parents, students, and employees.

Louisiana’s site is here and Mississippi’s is here.

Erin Walsh|September 4th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|
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