Author: East Texas Review

How to steal from a school district and not get caught

  By Jon Cassidy/Watchdog.org   Texas Watchdog.org So, you and a couple buddies have gotten control of a school board or a county commission somewhere, you’ve got your guy installed as the chief executive, and you’d like to cash in on your opportunity – send some work to a contractor you know, maybe put a few relatives on the payroll. The specifics don’t matter too much, as long as you get a kickback. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of bond money to play with, so nobody at work notices anything is missing. Nobody’s ever going to catch you actually taking the envelope full of cash from the contractor, as long as you’re not stupid about it, but there is going to be a paper trail for the money paid to him. Those are the records you want made as unpublic as possible. Used to be, you had to worry about gadflies or political opponents or even reporters filing public records requests for these contracts. You’d have to cough ‘em up, as everyone knows government spending is the very thing that sunshine laws are meant to cover. Then two years ago, in a case called Boeing v. Paxton, the Supreme Court of Texas asked the question, but what if you don’t feel like sharing? Now, if you or your buddy don’t want anyone to know how much he’s getting paid,...

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The University of Texas at Tyler Creates Center for School-Based Research, Instruction

The University of Texas at Tyler College of Education and Psychology has created a collaborative center to help address educational challenges facing area schools, universities and communities. The East Texas Center for School-Based Research and Instruction stems from an initiative designed to engage a cross section of educators. The center consists of a partnership between the College of Education and Psychology, seven Smith County independent school districts: Arp, Bullard, Lindale, Troup, Tyler, Whitehouse and Winona; as well as The University of Texas at Tyler Innovation Academy, which consists of its three campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine. The center will help build capacity for its partners by offering professional development and educational services, as well as coordinating joint programs and activities within their respective districts. “Through this collaboration, we are committed to providing the highest quality of education to the 40,000 students attending our public schools in Smith County,” said Dr. Ross Sherman, college dean and center co-director. Participating school districts, in turn, enhance their connection with their communities by providing leadership for the center and its activities. They also serve as a channel between schools, universities and community organizations to foster innovative ideas. “The complex, multi-faceted and wide-ranging educational challenges facing our schools and communities require shared commitments, leadership and collaboration among universities, public schools and community organizations. Therefore, having this center is so important,” said Dr. Kouider...

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U.S. Department of Education Announces 2017 National Professional Development Grant Competition to Support Educators of English Learner Students

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), announced recently in the Federal Register, the availability of $20 million for its National Professional Development (NPD) grant competition to support educators of English Learner (EL) students. “These grants are great investments in helping prepare new teachers improve their content skills to better serve the needs of English Learner students,” said Supreet Anand, deputy director of OELA. “Our English Learners benefit by having competent and capable instructors in the classroom.” The NPD program provides grants for eligible institutions of higher education or public or private entities with relevant experience and capacity, in collaboration with states or districts, to implement professional development activities that will improve instruction for ELs.  Professional development may include preservice or in-service activities for educators of ELs including teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals or other educators working with ELs.  Professional development activities may also include teacher education programs and training for other education professionals that lead to certification, licensing or endorsement for providing instruction to ELs. The deadline for submitting an Intent to Apply is March 13, 2017. The deadline for submitting the applications is April 24, 2017. Since 2008, the Department has awarded an estimated $370 million in NPD grants to assist educators working with English Learner...

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Rental Properties Can Make Good Investments, but They Come with Risk

By Nathaniel Sillin Maybe your financial house is in order. Your debt is manageable or paid off. You have an emergency fund and now you’re looking for ways to grow your wealth. Or, perhaps you’re planning ahead by learning about different investments options. Have you considered becoming a landlord? Rent prices tend to rise over time, providing an inflation-protected income into your retirement years. You also might be able to cash in big later if the unit’s value increases. It doesn’t always work out that way, though. Some landlords wind up with a trashed property after evicting a tenant or lose their savings in a natural disaster. In between the extremes of easy, hands-off income and total ruin are the everyday concerns, benefits and risks that most landlords face. A few risks you could face as a landlord. Investment property mortgages tend to be a little more difficult and costly to secure than primary residence mortgages. It can also be harder to take cash out of investment properties – either with a cash-out refinance or a home equity line of credit. In other words, you might not have access to the money during an emergency. Owning a rental property outright can be risky as well. Especially if you’re placing a significant amount of your savings in a single investment, the lack of diversification could put you in a precarious...

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Downtown mural contest announced

Local artists have the opportunity to win a cash prize and have their work on exhibit at a major Downtown Tyler entry corridor via a project announced by Invest in Tyler LLC and Heart of Tyler Inc.   A call to artists for proposals for a mural can be found at the Heart of Tyler website, www.HeartofTyler.com.   “Invest in Tyler, one of Tyler’s largest downtown property developers, is proud to support this project,” said Al Thead of Invest in Tyler LLC. “Our goal over the next three to five years is to renew, refresh and rebuild Downtown Tyler. This project is one small step in bringing more life to our downtown. We have so many talented artists in East Texas and this is a fantastic opportunity for one of them to brighten up downtown,”   Representatives from Invest in Tyler, Heart of Tyler and the Downtown Tyler Arts Coalition’s public art committee will jury submissions and choose the winning entry. The artist with the winning proposal will receive a $500 cash prize and $1,000 stipend for materials.   “This project is a perfect example of what we want to see more of in the Downtown area,” said Heart of Tyler president-elect Jon Honea. “We are so happy to join forces with one of our major Downtown property owners to bring more character and visual interest to the Downtown...

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