Superintendent Message (Dec. 5, 2016)

Update on Bond and TRE

Dec. 5, 2016

Dear SAISD Staff,

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. The winter break will be here before we know it, and I wanted to update you about a few key items before then.

On Nov. 28, the Board of Trustees approved adopting an additional homestead exemption  of at least $5,000 to help decrease the tax impact associated with the bond and Tax Ratification Election (TRE), which voters approved Nov. 8. This exemption, to go into effect January 2017, will be on top of the current homestead exemption, or any other exemption for which a homeowner currently is eligible.

We are grateful to the community for supporting and investing in our District and equally grateful to Trustees for doing what they can to try to minimize the tax impact.

We are wasting no time in moving forward with implementation of Bond 2016 and TRE projects. Trustees will hold a workshop this evening to review the recommended project priorities and timelines, which were developed following a recent, lengthy meeting of Executive Cabinet.

First-priority actions related to the Bond include issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for architects, engineers and other consultants to design and oversee construction of the bond projects. The plan is to assemble that team over the next few months. Also, we will be talking with the Board about the process for forming the Citizens 2016 Bond Advisory Committee. The Blue Ribbon Task Force recommended forming this group, which will monitor and report to Trustees and the public about progress of the bond projects.

Regarding TRE projects, we will be discussing the timeline and development of an extensive summer school program to begin this June, as well as the expansion of our new Multi-Age Accelerated Classrooms program, which began as a small pilot this school year to help put back on track students who have been retained, or are well behind academically. We will now take the program to scale across the District with the help of a federal grant and with some revenue from the TRE.

We also will be discussing with the Board how we will prioritize which schools will be first to get TRE funding for 21st-century classroom projects. Over time, we plan to fund classroom renovations for all schools that did not benefit from Bond 2010 and were not included in Bond 2016. We will also be looking at technology needs across the District.

In addition to improving our school buildings, we continue to focus on improving the teaching and learning that takes place inside of them. That includes increasing the number of SAISD teachers who hold advanced degrees. One way we’re doing this is through a new program, in partnership with the Relay Graduate School of Education, that will allow middle and high school English language arts, math and science teachers to earn a Master of Arts degree. This is an important part of our 5-Year Plan because more educators with master’s degrees in those content areas will allow us to offer students more dual-credit and Advanced Placement courses. Applications for the first 75 slots are being accepted through Dec. 15. Teachers beginning their third year of teaching this school year are eligible to apply. You can learn more here. 

This will be my last message before the winter break. I want to wish you and your family happy holidays. I know it’s been an incredibly busy year so far, and I appreciate all the hard work you are putting in every day. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Pedro