Superintendent Message (Sept. 26, 2016)

Support amid change, National Voter Registration Day and college access

Sept. 26, 2016

Dear SAISD Staff,

Much change is underway in our District, and I want to assure you that it is all for our students. Teachers are making strong efforts to implement best practices to ensure our students’ success, and we are seeing more engaging lessons in the classroom. We are grateful for the work that our teachers are doing.

We also know that some of our teachers are struggling with some of the new teaching practices we are rolling out, and we apologize to those who are feeling overwhelmed. I want to remind you that we are on a long journey together. Transformation does not happen overnight. We don’t have to get it all right just out of the gate. We are learning together. Thank you for your hard work and dedication and being willing to grow with us. Separately, we will be sending more information to our teachers later today.

On a different note, tomorrow, is National Voter Registration Day, and our District will be joining the effort by hosting registration sites at more than 70 of our early childhood education centers and elementary and middle schools.

This civic effort is made possible thanks to the nonpartisan organizations that have partnered with us, including the GOTV Volunteers, League of Women Voters, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, LULAC, AARP, COPS/Metro Alliance, NAACP, Alpha Kappa Alpha and Our Lady of the Lake University.

Also, at our high schools, eligible students will have the opportunity to register during their government, social studies or economics classes, so this brings lessons to life for our students.

We had other lessons for students last week, during National GEAR UP Week. There was an intense focus on college access at our high schools, which hosted GEAR UP University, a mock college-registration event, SAT College-Prep Workshops and motivational speakers who talked to students about the importance of the college essay and more.

Our 5-year goal is to have 80 percent of our graduates attending college by 2020 – 50 percent of those going to 4-year colleges or universities and 10 percent attending Tier-One institutions. Already we’re seeing promising results. In 2014, about 2 percent of our graduates attended Tier-One colleges. For the class of 2016, about 5 percent were accepted to Tier-One institutions, and we’re confident the percentage of students who enroll will increase from previous years.

We’re working on a number of fronts to ensure that students are well-prepared for and aware of their college options:

  • On Oct. 19, we will have a free SAT administration during the school day for seniors, the second year in a row we have a school-day administration. Testing during school hours removes any barriers that students might face in getting to a Saturday test administration.
  • We have launched Naviance, an online college-access program that puts a number of resources in one place for students to access any time or place, including signing up for college visits, creating college lists, requesting transcripts and looking for scholarships.
  • We are hosting College Essay Assistance Nights, where graduates from top colleges are sitting down with students to help them with their college essays. The last of the workshops will be Oct. 3-5.

Another big focus right now is our two Nov. 8 ballot propositions. Community meetings to provide information are underway. I encourage you to attend to learn and ask questions about the $450 million bond for extensive renovations to 13 schools and the 13-cent increase to the District’s Maintenance & Operations tax rate to fund daily operating costs.

The next meeting will be tomorrow (9/27) at 6 p.m. at Sam Houston High School. You can find a list of additional meeting dates, as well as information about the proposals on the Bond and TRE website.