FISD waives T-TESS evaluations, purchases 500 computers
Fredericksburg Independent School District’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to waive Texas Teacher Evaluation & Support Systems (T-TESS) requirments during a special meeting Thursday morning.
Out of concern for teachers and faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic, the board approved the waiver of T-TESS, which mandates principals to assess teachers through walkthrough evaluations.
“To try to do a walkthrough on a teacher right now is impossible because we’re not having school,” Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Brasher said.
Prior to this vote, teachers who’ve already completed a T-TESS would have to sit down with the principal and discuss their progress. Brasher said most of the staff feels like it wouldn’t be effective through a Zoom Conference meeting.
“We feel like our time would best be utilized prepping for next year, and focusing on instruction this year because (the distance learning process) is so new,” Brasher said.
Additionally, the board approved the purchase of 500 new Dell laptop computers for the district.
“Once we started seeing that the COVID-19 thing wasn’t going to go away very quickly, we started discussing the need amongst our student population, looking at who had computers, what computers could be passed out and what the district could do to support the gap,” said Dr. Michelle Williams, Technology Director for FISD.
The computers will be divided evenly, with 250 computers going to teachers and the other 250 going to students who have not received a school device in the past.
Any computers left over could act as a temporary immediate replacement if someone’s computer needs to be repaired.
Williams assured board members that these computers will not be shelved when this situation ends.
“Once COVID-19 is over, these computers will be used instructionally on all the campuses, speeding up our technology plan,” Williams said.
She added the district is nowhere close to having a 1-to-1 teacher-to-student technology ratio, but purchasing new computers gives the district the ability to provide more technology for students as an educational resource.
Since Dell has a six-week lead time on laptops, and those laptops will need configuring once they arrive, the district expects them to be rolled out sometime in June.
Following an executive order issued by Texas Govornor Greg Abbott on Tuesday, FISD’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously voted to extend the closing of school until May 4.
The board will reconvene in a special meeting on April 27.