The 2016 Texas Charter Schools Conference is the largest gathering of its kind for the charter school community in the state and was held in Austin earlier this week. More than 1,600 attendees participated in training sessions over three days.

The Conference Chair, John Armbrust of Austin Achieve, kicked off the conference with a warm welcome followed by a video message from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

David Dunn, the Executive Director for the Texas Charter Schools Association, delivered remarks celebrating 20 years of public charter schools in the state. He also provided an update on the state of the sector to the conference attendees. Additionally, there was a special performance from the Rhodes School choir and students who spoke about why they love their charter school at the opening session.

Dr. Steve Perry provided the opening keynote address and inspired conference participants with some straight talk about the charter movement. He revved up the crowd to keep striving and continue the necessary work in providing quality options within public education.

There were nearly 100 exhibitors and 155 training sessions on topics such as IDEA, budget creation, HR best practices, the national lunch program, cameras in the classroom, data, coding skills, bonds, financial integrity, among many, many more subjects.

A TCSA Member Council Meeting was also held at the conference to announce the newly elected members of the TCSA Board of Directors. John Armbrust of Austin Achieve and Rick Baumgartner of Rise Academy in Lubbock were announced as the Small School Representatives. Separately, the following were announced as members of the Elected Advocacy Committee:

  • Large School Representative: Janelle James, Southwest Schools
  • Small School Representative: Richard Rickey, Orenda Education
  • RTC/JDC Representative: Bruce Rockstroh, John H. Wood Jr. Charter District
  • University Charter Representative: Melissa Chavez, University of Texas Elementary Charter School

One of the biggest highlights of the conference was an appearance by Governor Greg Abbott who was the keynote speaker at the closing session. He delivered remarks in strong support of public charter schools and called education a “civil rights issue.” The conference participants were encouraged and excited by his strong commitment to public charter schools in the state.

The conference ended with remarks from Deputy Commissioner AJ Crabill, additional award winners, a dance performance, and a Q&A session with Andre Agassi and Bobby Turner who raise funds to support charter schools across the country.

TCSA thanks everyone for their support in making the 2016 Texas Charter Schools Conference a success! We extend a special thank you to the more than 1,600 conference attendees for their participation! We cannot wait until next year!