New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 20, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas
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But the question has arisen: Is a flow rate of 26 cfs enough to get the springflow-dependent species in Comal Springs through a repeat of the drought-of-record alive?
“On a short-term hasis, the species will make it througii on 26 cfs,’’ said Robert Gulley, EARIP’s program director. “I think people are a bit afraid because they think that all of the sudden it’s going to flow at 26 cfs all the time — and that's not the case."
He said 26 cfs would be the expected lowest flow, based on computer models, which would take place only during the worst two months of a repeat of the drought-of-record, which occurred in the 1950s.
“Much of the rest of the time it’s 80 or 100 cfs,” he said.
Of course, under nondrought conditions, the flow would continue at its normal rates.
A benefit of 26 cfs is that it is opposed to zero flow, which occurred during the drought-of-record — and claimed Comal Springs’ native population of the little endangered fish known as the fountain darter, which had to be replaced by darters from San Marcos.
‘Twenty-six isn’t forever’
Gulley also said too much emphasis shouldn’t be put on the current HCP draft version.
“It’s only meant to start the dialogue with the EARIP group ... and to start getting feedback,” he said. “Its significant because it means things are starting to come together. But in terms of what’s in there, it’s still very preliminary."
Other drafts will be published as the group works toward finalizing the HCP for a 2012 deadline.
But 26 cfs is indeed the current working number, he said.
Gulley said the 26 cfs number is planned to be used during the first seven-year phase of the sought 15-year permit.
“The important part about the 26 cfs is that it’s only to get us through the first seven years. Twenty-six isn’t forever. It’s a Phase 1 number. There could be more after, but that will be based upon the science developed in the first seven years.” The 26 cfe is part of a package of planned HCP measures — including improvements to the species’ habitat: removal of harmful non-native species; and pumping-management
Sunday, February 20, 2011 — Herald-Zettung — Page 7A
EARIP subcommittee to meet Tuesday in New Braunfels
A meeting of the Implementing Agreement Drafting Work Group of the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program will be 9 a.m. Tuesday in City Council Chambers at the Municipal Building, 424 S. Castell Ave, New Braunfels.
The meeting’s purpose is to continue discussions regarding the structure and elements of an implement-
measures, such as paying farmers not to pump during droughts — that would be assessed during the first seven years.
Also during Phase 1, field studies into the legitimacy of 26 cfs would be made.
Why 26 cfs?
Iwenty-six cfs, he said, is “a modeled number” derived via scientific computer modeling, not actual field studies. The minimum-flow number is what simulations say is expected to occur during a drought-of-record with all of the tenefits of the various projects in place.
“We don’t have a lot of data about what really happens to habitat, what really happens to fountain darters, in low flows. Si) we want to do some studies that will give us some real infor-mation. It’s a critical piece,” Gulley said.
Those field studies, which will test the species reactions to imposed low-flow conditions, will be done in an exper-imental channel, which is planned to be built in either Landa Park or in San Marcos. The EARIP group will be discussing the options for the location of that experimental channel, he said.
In addition to the field studies, EARIP will be monitoring the effectiveness of the HCP’s various other measures.
The first phase is going to make sure that all the changes we re making really work,” he said. “The idea would be that we would have a process over the first seven years of collecting new information we would use to make a decision as to what’s needed for the second phase.”
He said the measures being taken may result in minimum drought flows much higher than 26 cfs. But if the flow number is found to be too low, the proposed 26 cfs figure
ing agreement and the issues that must be resolved by the guiding EARIP Steering Committee to enable the work group to start work on that agreement, program manager Robert Gulley said.
The agreement would outline the implementation process to be used to make adjustments to the Habitat Conservation Plan, using an adaptive decision-making process.
could be raised before the end of the 7-year Phase 1.
“If your assumption needs to be tweaked, you tweak it. You don’t wait for Year 8 to do that.”
Incidental Take Permit
Ihe EARIP is developing its HCP as a support document needed to apply for a federal Endangered Species Act Incidental Take Permit, which would authorize the “take” — or the chance harming, harassing or killing—of a small number of endangered critters in Comal and San Marcos spring».
Under such permits, “take” is allowed during the conduct of otherwise lawful actions, in this case the economically vital recreational tourism in New Braunfels and San Marcos, as well as the aquifer pumping permitted by the Edwards Aquifer Authority as part of its state-mandated duty to manage the Edwards Aquifer, which serves as a drinking water source for over 2 million Texans.
“That means, as a practical matter, New Braunfels would have incidental take protection from a lawsuit trying to shut down recreation to protect the species,” said Robert Gulley, EARIP’s program director.
Take is allowed as long as it is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.
The EARIP will continue its work at a Feb. 28 meeting in San Antonio. The EARIP’s HCP is scheduled to be completed and in the hands of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies by Sept. 1,2012.
It would take effect on Dec. 31, 2012.
To check out the draft Habitat Conservation Plan, visit http://earip.org/.
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II and calculus. They fear leapfrogging over geometry — which has certain principles that apply to algebra II — might not be the right thing to do. Other parents are concerned students who are better equipped to absorb the harder curriculum might get bogged down while waiting for other students to catch up.
Pursch said both are legitimate concerns. Those apprehensions are among many that will spring up during the implementation of the new system and its end-of-course (EOC) testing.
“Absolutely, there are concerns — because it’s a radical paradigm shift from the way we’ve tested in Texas before,” Pursch said. ‘There are many, many issues that will have to be addressed specifically as to how this will play out in the first school year.
I think there will be even more issues to be worked out after we go past the first round of testing and then have EOC failures on our plate.
The Texas Education Agency, charged with implementing STAAR statewide, hasn’t worked out all of the kinks in the system. More details are being released sporadically; including one this week that addresses AP courses and their relationship to EOC testing.
Getting the sequence right
Of immediate concern at NBISD is math sequencing. Of the four core content areas, math is the only subject offered in middle school for high school credit. Half of New Braunfels’ 640 eighth-graders take algebra I, with the other half enrolled in prealgebra. Those in algebra I now won’t have to take the EOC exam next year.
Incoming freshmen will have options in their course selections for next year. Most pre-algehra students will take algebra I. However, algebra I students could either advance to algebra II, take Math Models to supplement their knowledge of algebra I, take geometry or a combination of Math Models and geometry.
Sound confusing? Some parents of current eight-grade algebra students
believe abandoning the traditional sequence might not be right for their kids. Then again, the choice is theirs.
“VVe are giving parents and students choices as to which sequence to take,” Superintendent Randy Moczygemba said. “About 15 percent of those students have that option, and we believe they are capable of going in any direction they feel they need togo.”
There's no set mandatory course sequence to follow — only the best option that fits a student’s comfort level and ability. NBISD is only recommending that one Algebra course follow the other.
“EOC testing is course-specific,” Pursch said. “When you take the algebra I test, the only thing on it will be algebra I. It’s the same for the EOC tests in algebra II, there’s no geometry tested in algebra II.
“We believe that it’s important to keep the algebra constant. We re saying don’t forget the algebra I concepts prior to the algebra II class and EOC tests. We don’t want a student to take a year off from algebra, take geometry, and then come back to algebra II and be in a review situation.” There are three tests available during the year that gauge a student’s ability. The student’s proficiency in those tests, along with the course grade, should help determine the next step.
“What it will tell is if a student really knows algebra I in order to take algebra II, or should that student take Math Models to build his algebra I skills,” Pursch said. “If the answer to the first question is yes, then we see no reason not to put that student into algebra II.
“But it’s a 100 percent choice — one that’s made by the parent and the student.”
State, not NBISD, sets mandates
Because Texas ranks 46th in the nation in SAT math scores, Pursch said New Braunfels is crafting its curriculum based on models that have proven to work. She and high school math curriculum specialist Ken McMullen have studied other states whose math regimen and sequencing have produced high SAT scores, such as Minnesota and Vermont, and determined it can work here.
Parents of gifted and talented students can’t understand why their children must take the same pre-AP curriculum as the regular students. It’s the state, however, that is mandating what all students will need to know.
“ Ihe argument isn’t that we should not be giving all students a (high) level of educa-tion,” Moczygemba said. “The argument hinges more on parents who feel like the lower level of students in those classes are going to drag the learning experience down for their students.
“In the math curriculum, they have the option to go in the upper level, and it will only be the top 15 percent of students who have that option anyway.”
Raising the bar for everyone
Charged with preparing students for STAAR, NBISD says it must raise the academic bar for everyone because all students will need to pass the EOC exams to graduate.
“I don’t know if any of us really had a lot of choice in that — that decision was made by the state back in 2007,” Pursch said. “I’m not going to write off a group of children for fear that they might not be able to be educated. I have to make sure that they pass — no matter who they are.
“AH high-performing students are not all high performing on the same topic on the same day every time. A good teacher takes you as high as you can go — no one should be held back.” Moczygemba agreed.
“It’s a big learning curve for teachers and students, but we feel like it can be accomplished. We cannot water down those AP classes — that is not an option. Doing that will not make those students successful, and we believe the direction we’re taking is appropriate.
NBISD board will address STAAR again at a workshop on March 7 and its regular meeting on March 21.
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