Superintendent Message (Oct. 24, 2016)

Early voting for Nov. 8 election kicked off today

Oct. 24, 2016

Dear SAISD Staff,

I first want to thank each of you for your patience with all of the changes we are implementing in our District. They are a response to the changes that are occurring as our state standards and assessments become more rigorous, which is evident by the number of campuses that were rated "Improvement Required" in 2016.  We had the highest percentage of IR campuses, by far, of any large district in the state. In addition, many of our campuses took double-digit drops in proficiency levels.  

These results nearly overshadowed the hard work of our staff and the amazing turnaround made by some of our schools, such as Davis Middle School, Gates Elementary, Crockett Elementary and Highland Park Elementary.  All of these campuses were in IR status for more than one year and were able to exit with Distinction Designations, which the state issues for notable performance or improvement. In all, 34 SAISD campuses earned distinctions. We recognized these achievements recently by inviting all of these principals to our Board meeting to share our appreciation of them and their staff.

I know that we are asking a lot from our staff with all of our changes, and we also know the type of success you and our students are capable of. I will continue to take your feedback and adjust our pace of implementation, as necessary.  

Almost halfway through my second year, the challenges in our District are evident. The majority of our facilities do not have the proper working and learning conditions for staff and students. The levels of poverty in SAISD create significant social and academic needs for our children that we are not adequately funded to meet.

This is the reason that the Board and I supported the Blue Ribbon Task Force recommendations to pursue two ballot questions on Nov. 8. A bond for $450 million would allow us to renovate 13 of our neediest schools, including all of our comprehensive high schools, with the exception of Highlands, which is being completed through the 2010 Bond.  

The Tax Ratification Election (TRE) is our second ballot question and would allow us to modernize classrooms at all schools that are not part of the 2016 Bond. In addition, we would have the resources to pay our staff to have after-school and summer programs for our neediest students. We would be able to meet technology needs across our District and be able to invest in successful academic programs.  

The TRE would allow our community to generate approximately $15.6 million in local tax revenue; the state would match that with an estimated $16.5 million, for a total of $32.1 million in additional operating revenue.

Many in the business community, which would be paying over 60% of these new taxes, have made their position on these proposals known (see recent op-ed in Express-News by Board President Patti Radle). They understand the important role that our District plays in the success of our city. But, more importantly, they know the potential of our staff and our students!  

We’ve been holding community meetings across the District to help ensure voters are well informed about our two ballot proposals. Early voting for the Nov. 8 election kicked off today and runs through Nov. 4. There are a number of sites within our District, including the Alamo Convocation Center. All early voting sites are listed here.  

At the same time, we are in the process of wrapping up Bond 2010. Earlier this month, we celebrated renovations completed at Jefferson High School under that bond program. And we’re nearing completion of the second phase of the extensive Highlands High School renovations, our final project. The upgraded career facilities at our high schools are outstanding and much appreciated by our students – you can hear from some of them here.

Again, thank you for your continued patience as we work to hit our stride as a District. We value your commitment to SAISD and to our students.