Big news was discussed at the Abilene school district agenda review meeting.
House Bill Five passed in the Texas Senate late Monday afternoon. The bill is part of a major overhaul that includes reducing the number of required tests students have to take from 15 to 5. Some other changes in the bill are students no longer needing to take Algebra II to get a high school diploma. Instead students would have the flexibility to take career focused courses like Business or Arts and Humanity.
Also the rating scale would change. School districts are rated from "Exemplary to Academically Unacceptable." The new system would be scaled down from "Met Standard to "Needs Improvement."
AISD Superintendent Dr. Heath Burns said he's encouraged about the bill's momentum.
"Our House of Representatives will consider the amendments proposed by the Senate," Burns said. "It's possible that a conference committee will be convened between the two legislative bodies to sort out differences.
Burns said he feels the new school standards could be finalized soon.
"I think it's entirely likely that we're going to see some significant relief this session," Burns said. "I'm very proud of our local representative Susan King, has been an advocate and a champion for more reasonable testing. Senator Fraser has also been supportive. I think we've had some very fine local representation in this session."
The board also discussed the possibility of moving to uniforms or creating a standardized dress for middle school students. School administrators argued the shift in dress is cost effective and provides a safety element.
Some other items on the agenda are replacing the roofs of four other district schools and replacing the tennis court at Craig Middle School along with repairing it's rear drive and also doing a concrete repair. The re-roofing will cost over one million dollars. The project will be paid upfront through low-interest government backed bonds. The district plans to re-pay these funds through it's maintenance budget. The board will also consider increasing the price of meals at schools. The hike in price is a federal requirement under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The increase is expected to be ten cents per meal.