On today's episode of The Lead Live, we welcome Texas Rep. Andrew Murr, who represents Kerr County in the Texas Legislature. Murr is in Austin for the state's third special legislative session, and he's got plenty of work ahead of him. Murr championed the controversial Senate Bill 1, which was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott last month and became law on Sept. 1. The law tightens the state's already tight election procedures — some of the most stringent in the nation. Murr has stridently defended the bill against partisan attacks by positing it's a bi-partisan effort — even though every Democrat voted against it.
The episode begins at 9 a.m.
SPEAKING OF LEGISLATION
Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted Monday night that he's joining a coalition of 10 states to stop Big Tech from silencing conservative voices.
See @TXAG's post on Twitter.
SCHOOL BOARD SPEAKERS DREDGE UP COVID CONSPIRACIES
Kerrville Independent School District Trustee Andree Hayes listens to a speaker accuse the district of violating the "Nuremberg Code" because Tivy High School's gym was used as a vaccination center.
What happens when you take a school board, mix it with a healthy dose of COVID-19 skepticism, shake it about with some jaw-dropping conspiracy theories and what do you get?
Well, first off, you have a Kerrville Independent School District meeting, but secondly, you have a public meeting hijacked by a toxic blend of menace wrapped in public comments.
However, the Kerrville Independent School District board of trustees had a full agenda to sort through on Monday night. In terms of consequential decisions, trustees tackled a deep list of information and action items, including moving one step closer to selling the former Hal Peterson Middle School property.
The bulwark of Monday's discussions centered around improving the district in the wake of COVID-19. Some of Monday's key moments were:
- Trustees unanimously approved accepting the highest submitted bid for the Sidney Baker Highway property, which has served the district well for decades. The potential financial windfall could be $5 million or more.
- Superintendent Mark Foust made it clear the district's more than 300 cases of COVID-19 have deeply affected average daily attendance. Historically, KISD saw attendance in the first few weeks of a new school year hit 95% or better. This year the district-wide numbers have been about 90%, with some schools falling as low as 80% attendance on certain days. Exactly how the losses will affect the district financially is still to be determined.
- The district's recruitment woes led to an impassioned plea from Trustee Andree Hayes to not grant a class-size waiver for a kindergarten class. The district had hired a teacher to handle a kindergarten class, but that teacher resigned, leaving the school officials scrambling. Hayes's objection was swelling a kindergarten class to 24 students. "It should be 18 students at the most," Hayes said. School officials faced other hurdles, just as challenging, including placing students at different schools. In the end, trustees voted 4-2 to grant the waiver.
- Foust spent time explaining how the district will work to improve its STAAR testing results after students performed poorly, especially in math. The results were mirrored by statewide data that showed a decline in results in the wake of pandemic-related school closures. However, math scores among district students, especially in the sixth grade, were behind state averages. Foust said an aggressive use of intervention specialists and data was the district's main tactic to turn around the scores.
Circling back to the public comments, four speakers discussed COVID-19, including two who made outlandish suggestions that the use of district facilities violated the "Nuremberg Code." Speaker Shari Snyder, who has made repeated accusations about COVID-19 vaccines and mask guidelines, said that the death penalty is punishment for violating the code.
The "Nuremberg Code" is a post-World War II artifact written to prevent human medical experimentation in the wake of Nazi atrocities enacted during the Holocaust. However, the code is an ethical guideline and not an adopted law, and certainly not one codified in the U.S.
Snyder protested the use of Tivy High School as a vaccination center. She was a one-woman demonstrator during a recent vaccination effort, drawing the attention of the Kerrville Police Department after she was asked to leave.