Superintendent Message (Sept. 21, 2015)

Bold goals that raise the bar for students

Sept. 21, 2015

Dear SAISD Staff

Three of the seven community input meetings around the 5-Year Plan to redefine excellence for our District were held over the past two weeks. So far, the turnout has been good, and the feedback on this draft plan has been informative. Input from these meetings will be factored into the final plan, which I expect to take to the Board of Trustees in November.

Community members have asked tough questions, and I welcome them. It’s a sign that these members are engaged or looking to be engaged, and that’s what we are going to need to realize our goals for transforming SAISD into a national model urban school district. Some at the meetings applauded our vision but questioned how we could hope to achieve the goals we’ve set out. There’s no question that these are bold goals, but I believe that they are attainable, if everyone is a part of the effort.

We are in the process of visiting schools, observing classrooms, evaluating program offerings to identify needs and working with principals. I am continuing to work with staff and hold meaningful conversations with each member of our Board of Trustees. All of this work will be used in creating a blueprint of our long-term strategies. In January, we will announce which strategies will be implemented for the 2016-17 school year.

Any blueprint we develop not only must have a long-term perspective but also must be inclusive, which is why we actively are seeking the input of external institutions and organizations. We want our students to be successful during their time with us, but we also want them to be successful in life, after they graduate from SAISD. For that to happen, all stakeholders need to involved in the plan.

So far, I’ve met and talked with most of the presidents of the local community colleges and universities, and last week, I went to Corpus Christi to get a first-hand look at the Craft Training Center, which “offers students Accelerated Craft Training (ACT) courses and Apprenticeship Programs designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed for high-quality entry level jobs in the construction industry.”

We have to try a new approach, one that raises the bar for our students. When we set high expectations for our students, they will rise to the occasion. Our efforts will involve overhauling, over time, our gifted programs Districtwide to ensure that we are challenging our advanced students. They will involve offering more dual-language academies and programs around the increasingly critical STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The blueprint that we put in place will be long-term and sustainable but must focus on students graduating and achieving their aspirations.