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Superintendent Message

Helping our students succeed

January 14, 2019

Dear SAISD Staff,

The Texas legislature kicked off its 2019 legislative session last week. Two of the District’s key priorities for this session involve school finance and campus safety.

The Texas Commission on Public School Finance has made some specific recommendations that would be in the best interests of students, and we aim to work to support the recommended legislative policies where they align with the needs of our children – especially for those experiencing high poverty, have special needs and are English language learners.

It is important to note that Texas ranks toward the bottom among other states in education funding, as well as demonstrates some of the highest poverty rates in the country. Therefore, we agree with the commission that we need an increase in the basic allotment, which is a per-student allocation set in law. The basic allotment has been fixed at $5,140 for the past three sessions. Raising it is the fairest way to ensure all Texas students benefit from additional funding. We also support the discussion that school districts with higher rates of poverty receive additional funds.

Additionally, under school finance, we support restoring pre-kindergarten funding cuts. With extensive need across the state, we believe investing in high-quality Pre-K will be a bipartisan priority this session in Austin.

In the area of school safety, we support the commission’s recommendation to fund additional mental health supports in all campuses across the state. Investments in counselors, school psychologists and other mental health needs are ongoing and essential to student success and safety.

These are just a few highlights of where the District stands on key legislative issues. For a full picture of our legislative priorities, I encourage you to review our 2019 Legislative Agenda.

Also last week, I joined the San Antonio Police Department and two other school districts – North East ISD and East Central ISD – in announcing the launch of SAPD’s Handle with Care initiative, a confidential reporting system to help children who experience traumatic events succeed in school. The police department is piloting the new program in its East Patrol Unit, which encompasses parts of all three school districts, including 28 of our campuses.

Through the program, officers in the East Patrol Unit will notify our Student Support Services after they’ve been called to a scene where a child was present. No details of the incident will be released; we will only receive the simple, three-word message “Handle with Care” and the child’s name and age. That is all the information school staff will need to know to realize that if the child behaves differently in school, they may need additional empathy and consideration because of external circumstances.

After the pilot is completed this May, all stakeholders will decide if the program is a good fit for the community, and if so, begin discussions on how to expand it to other schools and additional law enforcement agencies.

When organizations come together like this, to respond to the needs of children, it demonstrates the true meaning of community. At the end of the day we all want our children to succeed. Programs like Handle with Care can help us do that.

Accomplishments and good news happen across the District daily. As we look toward the second half of our school year, we will have a renewed focus on communicating our achievements with parents and the community – especially the success stories happening on our campuses.

For instance, we know that a majority of our neighborhood schools are performing as well as, or even better than, nearby external competitors. Our parents need to know this, too, as we move into our campus registration period.

The application period for our Choice Schools and Programs also continues this month with middle schools hosting mini-fairs, introducing their eighth graders to the District’s high school options. Additionally, the last week of January is Tour Week, during which choice campuses will be hosting school tours for interested families. And, this weekend, Young Men’s Leadership Academy will hold its third annual MLK 5K Run/Walk.

Also in January, we celebrate School Board Recognition Month. At our Jan. 22 Board meeting, we will recognize the dedicated efforts of our Trustees as they govern our large, urban school district. Their actions and decisions affect the present and future lives of our children, and I hope you will join us as we show them our appreciation.

In closing, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year. I hope you had a good break and returned energized for the second part of this school year. Every day, I see your commitment to our students, and I want to thank you for your ongoing support as we continually strive to expand opportunities to students to help them succeed.

Sincerely,
Pedro