TASB Risk Management Fund
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Members' Conference 2019 Highlights

May 10, 2019 Kristen Pham

Helping the Fund celebrate 45 years strong

Members’ Conference 2019 attracted more than 400 attendees May 1–3, at Hyatt Regency Austin to help the Fund celebrate 45 years strong. The conference included inspiration from  keynote speaker Merlyna Valentine; 24 education sessions organized by tracks; a legislative update covering issues that face public education; expertise from a cybersecurity panel; a luncheon to celebrate Excellence Award recipients; and special breakfasts for first-time attendees and for members to network by region.

Keynote speaker Merlyna Valentine

Valentine shared the story of how she turned her 10 percent chance of living into 100 percent. After she survived sepsis, doctors had to amputate her hands and her legs below her knees. As a long-time educator, she didn't let tragedy take away her passion for education and living life to the fullest. Valentine is now a full-time speaker; author of two books; and a featured guest on national media platforms such as the Today Show. Through her books and speaking engagements, she aims to inspire others to overcome adversity as she has done.

“What I want to do today is to take you on a journey that I like to call Mission Possible,” Valentine said. 

Her mission to take us on this journey during her session was accomplished, concluding with a standing ovation. She continued to participate in the conference, visiting with attendees and signing books with her husband, Tory Valentine.

First-time Attendee Breakfast and Orientation

Before conference activities began Thursday morning, first-time attendees gathered to get acquainted with each other and TASB staff, and to learn how to get the most out of their conference experience. They learned about special conference features and then gathered into small teams to compete in an interactive Fund trivia game.

Regional breakfast meetups

Seated by region, members were guided through an activity designed to make connections and deepen their knowledge of risk management topics. The groups discussed risk management challenges they face, emerging risks, and risk management initiatives their organization recently implemented. The Fund created this event in 2019 in response to member requests for more networking opportunities.

Excellence Awards

For more than a decade, the Fund has honored members for their success in risk management through the Excellence Awards program. We selected 10 members this year who were recognized at the conference luncheon May 2.

2019 Excellence Award recipients:

  • Eanes ISD: Peer Emergency and Safety Training
  • Fort Bend ISD: I Work Safely Because?
  • Garland ISD: Crosswalk Safety
  • Grapevine-Colleyville ISD: Display of Identification, Building Access, and Security
  • Maypearl ISD: School Buses, Cameras, and SMART Tag
  • Millsap ISD: Spreading Kindness One Stick at a Time
  • Mission CISD: Fall into Better Health 5K Run/Walk
  • Royse City ISD: Hometown Heroes
  • Weslaco ISD: School Resource Officer Program
  • Willis ISD: Rave Panic Button App

Legislative Update

TASB Assistant Director of Governmental Relations Ruben Longoria discussed issues impacting public education, including school finance, mental health, charter schools, and school security. The 86th Texas Legislature produced numerous house and senate bills relating to these topics. Many people in the community are working hard to advocate for public schools. Longoria encouraged the audience to contact their legislators to advocate for issues important to them.

Cybersecurity Panel

A panel of cybersecurity experts tackled how to protect sensitive student and staff data from cybercriminals. The panel was moderated by TASB Special Risks and Resources Manager Devereaux Morkunas. Panelists included TASB Privacy and Cyber Risk Consultant Lucas Anderson; TASB Liability Claims Manager Marcy Barker; Texas Education Agency Chief Information Security Officer Frosty Walker; and Austin ISD Director of Technical Support Lewis Wynn.

The panelists discussed consequences of a cyber-attack, which could include technology down time, identity theft, and even physical safety risks. Due to stretched cybersecurity budgets and the amount of sensitive information stored on their servers, schools have become a common target for cybercriminals. The panel emphasized the importance of school districts and educational entities maintaining a comprehensive cybersecurity plan.

Sessions by tracks

Sessions were organized by tracks this year to make it easier for members to identify the topics they wanted to learn about most. The tracks included emergency management and security; legal and policy; employee safety; and operational. Experts from TASB, education entities, law offices, and other organizations covered an array of topics.

Coverage credit networking activity

Throughout the conference, attendees were encouraged to get to know their peers and TASB staff. To make it a little easier to connect, each person was given a Coverage Credit Networking Game card they could complete for a chance to win coverage credit for their organization. The game cards had five networking tasks—from meeting their TASB risk solutions and marketing consultants to introducing themselves to someone outside their ESC region. Coverage credit recipients included Javier Cano, Laredo College ($1,000); Cheryl Perez, Lovejoy ISD ($3,000); and Valerie Page, Comfort ISD ($5,000).

Thank you to everyone who attended Members’ Conference 2019! Visit the Fund website to keep up with the latest Members’ Conference information.

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