UTRGV announces large-scale free tuition program

Beginning in the fall of 2020, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley will cover tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying students with a family income of $75,000 or less through the Tuition Advantage grant. UTRGV President Guy Bailey made the official announcement in the crowded lobby of the Performing Arts Center on Monday morning. Read more on the monitor.com.

UTRGV announces free tuition for qualifying students with $75,000 and under household income

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley announced Monday that it will be offering free tuition to certain students with annual household incomes of $75,000 and under, beginning for the 2020 academic year. UTRGV President Guy Bailey made the announcement during a news conference inside the Edinburg campus' Performing Arts Center lobby Monday morning, calling the new tuition program the "most expansive" in the state, and will be available to qualifying incoming, returning and transfer students. The impact of which, Bailey said, is expected to lead to more than half of the university's students paying no tuition by next year. Read the full story on themonitor.com.

Judge requests more evidence in McAllen schools election contest

EDINBURG — After about two hours of oral arguments, District Judge Romeo Flores on Wednesday requested that more evidence be presented with regard to a McAllen school district election contest before making a decision. This allows for the attorneys to move forward with finding evidence. Gina Karam Millin filed a petition for an election contest in June against school board member Tony Forina, following a closely contested race in May in which he defeated her by 12 votes in the race for Place 4. Read more at the monitor.com.

Hearing set in McAllen ISD election contest

A hearing is set Wednesday for the election contest between Gina Karam Millin and Tony Forina with regard to McAllen ISD’s May election, the latest action in a relatively quiet dispute. Filed through her attorney, Ronald Hole, in June, Karam Millin alleges in the petition that McAllen ISD “systematically promoted” Forina, who defeated her for the Place 4 seat in the election by 12 votes — 2,759 votes to 2,747. She also charges that a curriculum audit that would have been “very damaging,” according to the petition, was not released until after the election.

Former Monte Alto ISD employee sues district, trustees over firing

A former employee is challenging his dismissal from the Monte Alto Independent School District, alleging he was wrongfully terminated by the district for “perceived political association” with former board members. Pete Riojas, the former executive director of business administration, filed a petition through his attorney, John Shergold, against Monte Alto ISD and four current board members. Riojas filed this petition in U.S. District Court in McAllen on Aug. 23. Read the full story at The Monitor.com.

PSJA ISD police department poised to apply for state certification

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District is continuing the process of creating an in-house police department and is near its final stages as it waits for a state agency to certify the department.  The district in June hired Police Chief Rolando Garcia, who is tasked with hiring, making policies and creating the department. The school board approved Garcia’s current position in May following a process that started in December 2018 to create the in-house department. The school district has entered a memorandum of understanding with its three cities and will send the application to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement early this week, Garcia said. Read the full story on TheMonitor.com.

Teacher feedback helped influence McAllen ISD pay raise adjustment

McAllen school district trustees voted to increase compensation across the board in a room filled with veteran teachers and concerned employees during a contentious board meeting last week. Many local representatives from the Texas American Federation of Teachers, a union with local chapters, and trustees felt that the initial proposal presented by administration did not compensate experienced teachers enough. School board members voted for a compensation plan for employees June 17 based on a “conservative” expectation on school revenue in accordance with models. However, additional funds were higher than what the district expected a few months ago, leading to a series of board meetings and workshops in August to discuss and approve additional compensation. Trustees compromised on the adjusted and approved measures. Read the full story on TheMonitor.com.

‘She adds life’: PSJA Pathways grad garners praise in new position at elementary school

Animating the motions of coach Veronica Muñiz, Carolina Vallejo makes “hamburger hands” demonstrating a visual cue to about 20 children inside the Berta Palacios Elementary School gym Thursday morning. Following the instructions, the children gripped and lifted the red, green and yellow parachute as they circled around the object, continuing the game. Vallejo has Down syndrome and graduated in May from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district’s Pathways Toward Independence program, or PTI, which provides vocational training and independent living skills for special needs students. She also currently works at the district as an alumna and staff member. The PTI program also offers employability skills and certificates through South Texas College, according to PSJA’s website. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

AgriLife panelists explore agriculture-health connection

Connecting agriculture and health, making the state a model for the agriculture industry to follow and making the field more appealing to future generations, were among the major ideas during a panel between three key figures on Thursday evening at the Texas A&M Higher Education Center here. This is also a part of the Advancing Texas Roadshow, with Texas A&M AgriLife visiting different venues across the state. The event brought three panelists, state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp and Patrick Stover, vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M AgriLife. Susan Ballabina, deputy vice chancellor, Texas A&M AgriLife, College Station, acted as the moderator for the panel. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

School districts’ financial ratings show drastic changes

School districts across the Rio Grande Valley either saw significant progress, regression or simply maintained their financial rating in the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, a state program that holds school districts accountable for their money management practices. The Texas Education Agency released the preliminary results for the schools districts in August. The FIRST ratings are based on the previous year’s data. For instance, the 2018-19 results are based on data from the 2017-18 school year. Across the Valley, school districts saw increases or drops in ratings. Read the full story at themonitor.com