Frequently Asked Questions
The U.S. Supreme Court has said education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Our system of local school districts and boards of education epitomizes representative and participatory government -- citizens elected from their community making decisions about educational programs based on community needs, values, and expectations. Local school boards also allow for community participation in that decision-making process. School boards not only represent the public, but also translate the needs of students into policies, plans, and goals that will be supported by the community.
Parliamentary procedures are observed as found in Robert’s Rules of Order. Discussion of an agenda item is addressed to the President of the Board and the entire Board membership and is directed solely to the business currently under deliberation. The Board president will halt discussion that does not apply to the business before the Board and will also keep discussion within reasonable time limits. A quorum of the Board (four members) is needed to take action.
School district trustees are elected by popular vote. Terms of office vary depending on the legal characteristics of the district. Generally, school board members serve three-year staggered terms so that the entire board is not up for election at the same time.
Citizens may request to speak before the Board of Trustees in open forum by registering with the Superintendent before the meeting begins. This may be done by phone or in person at the meeting site.
Those addressing the Board are asked to adhere to a five-minute limit. The speaker should identify his or her name and residential address, group affiliation (if any), and make a brief presentation with an identified solution if one is sought. Remarks should be addressed to the Board as a whole. Groups of more than five people who wish to speak on one topic are asked to appoint a spokesperson to present the groups’ views to the Board. This open forum portion of the Board meeting will generally be 30 minutes in length and limit each speaker to five minutes. This permits the citizens to give input while allowing adequate time for important board business. In instances of great public interest, the Board may decide to expand this time to provide for more input.
In the course of a Board meeting, specific facts or review of existing policy may be furnished in response to a patron’s questions; however, the Board is prohibited by state law from deliberating, discussing or taking action on any item that is not on the meeting’s agenda.
The School Board will not hear complaints about individual district employees or permit discussion of such matters at a Board meeting. If a citizen has not first spoken with the employees most directly connected to the issue being presented, i.e. the teacher, principal, coordinator, assistant superintendent and superintendent, the citizen will be asked to do so before coming to the Board.
Individuals who wish to be placed on the agenda to present specific concerns or suggestions to the Board during regular or special meetings must direct the request to the Office of the Superintendent no later than noon on the Tuesday prior to the specified meeting.
School board members are required by Texas law and Commissioner of Education rule to participate in three types of continuing education: an orientation to local district policy and to the laws affecting public education in Texas; an annual team building activity, taken in conjunction with the rest of the board and the superintendent; and a specified number of hours each year in areas of special need. Board member determining need with their board annually by reviewing the Framework for School Board Development, a document that outlines the task an effective board performs in its governing capacity. Continuing education courses that address these needs are available through a variety of sources.
• Ensure creation of a vision and goals for the district and evaluate district success
• Adopt policies that guide district actions
• Hire a superintendent to serve as administrator of the district and evaluate the superintendent's success
• Approve an annual budget consistent with the district vision
• Communicate the district's vision and success to the community
The seven-member Howe ISD Board of Trustees is our district's policy-making body. While it is comprised of individuals, it acts officially only as a group. The HISD Board works with the Superintendent and staff to set the direction of the school district with the education and well-being of school children as its primary focus. The Board members are elected at-large by the citizens in HISD to three-year, staggered terms. They not only represent the public, but also translate the needs of students into policies, goals and strategies that reflect the standards and values of the community. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: hiring and evaluating the Superintendent; approving the district's budget; establishing goals and evaluating results; levying taxes and issuing bonds; ordering elections; and communicating with the community.
School board election may only be held on either of the following dates:
• First Saturday in May
• First Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years
Special election also may be held on the third Saturday in January or the second Saturday in August. Every school district has, by policy, selected one of these dates.
Regular meetings of the Board are held on the third Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m. in the Howe ISD board room; occasionally circumstances necessitate this date and time to be changed. Special and emergency meetings, workshops and public hearings are scheduled as needed and meeting announcements are posted at the same site as the regular meeting agendas - the Howe ISD Administration Building.
If you have other questions or would like more information concerning Board meetings or procedures, please contact the Superintendent’s Office at 903-532-3228 or go online to the Texas Association of School Boards at http://www.tasb.org. Thank you for your interest and involvement in education and in the Howe ISD.
School boards must meet in compliance with the Texas Open Meetings Act and make public records available pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act and Texas Public Information Act. Citizens are welcome and encouraged to attend all school board meetings. If unable to attend the meetings, citizens are welcome to read about board action in the local newspaper or in the summaries provided by the Administration Office the following day. Minutes are not available or official until approved at the following regular meeting of the Board. During a meeting, there are legally specified circumstances that call for an adjournment to closed session for discussion and consideration. These circumstances include personnel matters, land acquisitions or sales, legal consultation, and student or employee hearings. All votes, however, are taken in public. Public participation at board meetings is limited to the open forum portions of regular meetings and public hearing agenda items. The audience shall not, at any other time during a board meeting, enter into discussion or debate on matters being considered by the school board. Matters not resolved satisfactorily at the campus level should then be brought to the district administrator who oversees that program and then finally to the Superintendent prior to a forum with the Board.
In consultation with the Board president, the Superintendent prepares the agenda for all meetings of the Board. Individual Board members may request that a subject be included on the agenda for a particular meeting. The agenda must be set and posted 72 hours prior to a meeting. Notice of all meetings shall provide for the possibility of a closed session during an open meeting as provided by law.
To be eligible for election, a local school board candidate must be:
• a qualified and registered voter,
• a resident of the district for six months before the filing deadline, and
• a resident of the state for 12 months before the deadline.
The Commissioner of Education, the State Board of Education, and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) guide and monitor public education in Texas. The State Board provides leadership and state level administration, and the Commissioner and TEA staff implement education policy as prescribed by law. Texas has delegated much of the responsibility for education to the local school board. Locally elected school boards are political subdivisions carrying out a state function. Despite somewhat prescriptive state and federal law and State Board of Education or Commissioner's rule, local school districts have significant latitude in governing the schools.