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Happy 2020 to everyone!
We have hit the ground running as we returned from the Christmas holidays. Our winter extracurricular teams are competing well, our spring Academic teams are preparing for their meets, and our CTE programs are preparing for their spring shows. And, of course, our students are learning each and every day.
Each year in our district, we conduct a Year in Review in which we look back at the accomplishments of our campuses and our departments. This is lengthy process but one that is very rewarding as we get to remind ourselves of the awesome work that takes place in our district every year. We just finished the Year in Review, and I have included a brief summary below. Enjoy:
District Year in Review
The calendar year of 2019 was an outstanding year for our district. Our enrollment was very strong, and in the fall of 2019 we almost hit the 3,500 student mark – our highest ever.
Academically, we met and slightly surpassed our first priority goal by scoring a B on our TEA rating and only missed an A by two points. We not only “ironed-out” the technicalities of charting a path to earn an A in College/Career/Military Readiness (2nd Priority Goal), but we actually scored the A! For us to show our community that TEA gave us the highest rating available in how we prepare students for life after high school is excellent. Finally, Southside Elementary tremendously improved by increasing scores 30 points in getting off the Improvement Required list and earning a B.
We had the best legislative session that we have had in over a decade. We have realized about $4M in additional state aide since the conclusion of the session which allowed an average $5k plus raise for our staff members. We appreciate Rep. Harris, Sen. Nichols, and other legislators as well as our Board of Trustees in working on legislative issues and for supporting those pay raises.
Our HR and Instructional Departments worked very hard in creating our own Grow Your Own program for future teachers (3rd priority goal for 2019) and for working with the affiliated TEA Grow Your Own Grant. We now have over 10 individuals working to become teachers in this program.
Maybe our most visible change and accomplishment this year came with our PreK expansion and opening of our new Employee Daycare Center. We have right at 80% of our future kindergartners now in PreK (awesome), and our new daycare center has become the talk of the town.
We had a couple of key personnel changes in May/June with both Coach Angel returning to us and Dr. Stewart returning to the high school. It has been nice to reunite with Coach Angel, and what a year our Wildcat Football team had! We also named Breck Quarles as our full-time Transportation Director. Mr. Quarles has really embraced this position, decreased bus discipline referrals, and earned the trust of bus drivers. We also made another really good hire in Bruce Bradley as our Safety Director. We look forward to Mr. Bradley’s work as we have now adopted our own Police Department under his leadership.
On the Public Relations front, we moved Mrs. Loveless into a full time PR Director position. It seems the community is really embracing her work, and it seems that our new Wildcat News Network is beginning to take off. I thought that our back to school activities, convocation, and fall Happy Hour were very well appreciated by our staff members – maybe some of our best work. Great job, Mrs. Loveless!
Our 4th priority goal in 2019 was to begin implementing our Athletic Facility Renovation Project. Not only did we get that going in the fall, but we added a new Welding Shop along with some Fine Arts expansion. When we complete those projects at the end of 2020, we are going to look very sharp and have provided awesome expansions for our students.
As we got into the fall of 2019, we completed another review of Vision 2020 and continued visiting about potential adjustments to our grade level alignments with the Board of Trustees (5th/final priority goal). We also renewed our commitment to special education inclusion, and it seems that our SPED staff has embraced that renewed commitment. And finally, we concluded 2019 by giving our staff members over $500k+ in Performance Incentive Pay!
Moving into 2020, we need to keep in mind that our student and family demographics continue to change. We continue to see an increase in economically challenged students, SPED students, and students who move in and out of our district on a regular basis. We also know that our many of our students come from single-family homes where the parent is working one or more jobs to support the family. We recently established a Community Advisory Group to look into this situation, and we hope to continue receiving feedback from our community as to how we can further help students who have difficult learning situations.
We have awesome kids, committed staff members, a great school board, and a wonderful place to live. Thanks to everyone for trusting us to do what’s right for kids!
Have a great 2020, and stop by to see us sometime.
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