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Work of the Task Force

The Task Force met as a whole for the first time on November 2, 2004, under the leadership of Dr. Cunningham. Subsequent meetings were held on December 15 and January 6, and all meetings of the Task Force as a whole were posted as open meetings in compliance with the Open Meetings Act, codified in Chapter 551 of the Government Code.

At the first meeting, Dr. Cunningham proposed dividing the Task Force into subcommittees to address topical areas of the start date issue. Task force members brought forward additional questions to add to the list of questions posed by the Comptroller, and the following subcommittees were formed:

Public Participation Task Force Members
  • How do parents, teachers, and community members currently feel about the earlier start dates?
  • How should the issue of school start dates be prioritized among other critical education issues, i.e., teacher salaries, student dropout issues, college readiness and student performance, school employee health insurance, school funding and/or tax restructuring?
Linda Silva -- Chair
Craig Tounget
Donna N. Haschke
Kathy Ragsdale
Additional Subcommittee Members:
Eddie Hopkins
Nancy Ojeda
Waiver Process  
  • How can the waiver process be strengthened to ensure that parents and community members have a say in the decision-making process?
  • Who has the responsibility for determining a school district's start date--the local community or the state?
Amy Beneski -- Co-chair
Jeri Stone -- Co-chair
Luis de la Garza
Judy Farmer
Bill Grusendorf
Additional Subcommittee Members:
Dr. Gene Buinger
Judy Nallella-Williams
Professional Development  
  • What value is added by allowing schools to waive instructional days in exchange for staff development? Are teachers benefiting from, and are they satisfied with the quality of mid-year staff development days? Dr. Yolanda Rey -- Chair
John Cole
Rey Garcia
Libba Massey
Additional Subcommittee Members:
Christine Ardis
Donnie Cody
Judy LeUnes
Student Learning and Instruction  
  • When should the TAKS test be given? Would giving the test later in the year ensure that instructional time is used effectively?
Bonnie Northcutt -- Chair
Gary Bledsoe
Tom Leyden
Tracy Weinberg
Additional Subcommittee Members:
Meredith Keller
Fred Guerra
Alternative Calendars  
  • What will it take for schools to return to a nine-month school calendar with classes beginning at or near Labor Day?
  • What are the real benefits and detriments to giving finals before the Winter break?
  • How does the school start date affect the budget of school districts, i.e., in what ways does a school district see savings or costs in relation to their school start date?
  • How does a start date after Labor Day affect community-desired holidays within the school year -- Fall Breaks, Winter Breaks, and Spring Breaks?
  • How does the school start date affect the ending date of the school year? What are the ramifications of ending after Memorial Day, or ending after colleges have started their first summer term?
Dr. Bill Cunningham - Chair
Tina Bruno
Harley Eckhart
Melinda Sparks
Danielle Shaw
Floyd Ivy
Kathy Golson
Doug Rogers
Additional Subcommittee Members:
David Fincher
Migrant and Workforce Development Issues  
  • What can be done in the context of this study to help migrant families and children?
  • What is the economic and social value of meaningful summer employment, including such things as learning about work ethics, career development, career and education choice and resume ethics, all of which are only possible with "meaningful" summer employment that is limited if not impossible with the shortened season?
Cristela Perez -- Chair
Cindy Gamez
Dr. Albert Campbell
Angela Valenzuela
John Stevens
Additional Subcommittee Members:
Lewis Patton
Kathryn Whipple

At the first meeting, the Task Force proposed two primary methods for obtaining public input. The first was a Public Forum, where members of the public could come and talk face-to-face with Task Force members. The second was an on-line survey.

Public Forum
A public forum was held on the afternoon of Friday, November 12th at the Travis Building in Austin. At the request of the Task Force, Comptroller staff put out a press advisory announcing the public forum and posted the event as an open meeting in compliance with the Open Meetings Act. The majority of participants came, however, at the direct invitation of the Task Force members who were asked to notify their membership of the event. A summary of the comments can be found in Appendix A.

At the first meeting on November 2, each subcommittee was asked to develop five or six questions that would provide their subcommittee meaningful feedback on their assigned topical area. Each subcommittee forwarded those questions to Comptroller staff, who compiled and formatted the instrument. The draft survey containing each subcommittee’s questions was then sent out via email for final approval by the subcommittees. On November 15th the survey was placed on the Comptroller’s Web site and individual Task Force members were asked to notify their membership and local communities of the existence of the survey.

Preliminary survey results were distributed to the Task Force prior to the December 15th meeting, but the survey remained available to the public on the Comptroller Web site until December 15th. On December 15th the survey was taken down from the Web site and Comptroller staff compiled the results, which can be found in Appendices B through J.

Drafting Recommendations
The Task Force met for the second time on December 15th in Austin. Each team was asked to provide a one or two page draft report of their preliminary findings and recommendations. Each team, with the exception of the Migrant and Workforce Development committee, presented either a written or oral report of their preliminary findings and recommendations. The chair asked each subcommittee to submit their final reports to Comptroller staff by Tuesday, December 21. Comptroller staff was asked to roll the reports together into one final report on or before December 29th and resend the report in its entirety to the Task Force for review and comment. The Task Force was asked to provide written comments by January 4th, so that a final report could be compiled for discussion and presented to the Comptroller for her consideration at the final January 6th meeting.

Because consensus of opinion, rather than unanimous consent for the report was asked for, some members of the Task Force requested an opportunity to voice dissenting opinions, and were told that minority reports would be accepted. The report shown here represents a general consensus of the Task Force subcommittees and not necessarily the Task Force as a whole. Exceptions are noted in the minority reports shown in Appendix K.