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Superintendent Message (March 27, 2017)

STAAR testing this week

March 27, 2017

Dear SAISD Staff,

It's hard to believe that today kicks off the final nine weeks of school. This year has flown by, and now we're at STAAR testing, which starts tomorrow and runs this week for select grades.

I have been visiting campuses throughout the school year and have seen the dedication and determination of our educators and those who support them. My message to Central Office staff has been to ensure that our schools have the support they need – on a daily basis and in preparation for this very important round of testing. There is no doubt staff has been working very hard, and I want that hard work to show up in the results.

Last year, we celebrated the 34 schools that earned Distinction Designations, including Davis Middle School and Gates Elementary School, which made significant gains to exit Improvement Required. We look forward to again celebrating those schools that are recognized by the state for their student performance and progress.

Because there won’t be changes to the state accountability system this year, we will be able to compare this year’s results to last year’s results. You may have heard that proposed state legislation could push back by a year – to 2018-19 – implementation of the new accountability system. If that happens, it would give us three years of results that could be compared, allowing us to more accurately gauge the progress of our transformation efforts.

As I’ve said before, it's going to take time to get to where we want to be, but we are continuing to implement a host of strong strategies designed to get us there. All of these things working together, and all of us working together, will get us to excellence.

In the area of leadership development, we are taking applications for the 2017-18 Aspiring Principals cohort. This program places principal candidates on a campus as “residents” paired with outstanding campus leaders to cultivate the leadership skills necessary for success. The residents receive expert, job-embedded coaching and mentoring. I encourage those interested to learn more about this growth opportunity.

Last week, I attended a community meeting hosted by COPS/Metro Alliance at Edison High School for families with questions about immigration. We were glad to be in attendance to learn more about the concerns of SAISD parents. We want to do what we can to help keep parents informed and have again updated our Immigration Q&A page to continue to add information that might be helpful to families.

Also, I wanted to update you about the Board of Trustees District 6 vacancy. The application period to fill the seat ended March 10, with seven applicants. The level of interest is encouraging. The Board has reviewed the applications and plans to interview the applicants at tonight’s board meeting.

In closing, I am happy to share that we are finishing up the last Bond 2010 project, construction at Highlands High School. At $65.7 million, this project was the most extensive of the 22 major renovation projects under that bond, and has resulted in a virtually brand-new, modern campus for the community. We will hold an event at the school in April to celebrate the new Highlands High School, and I look forward to commemorating this milestone with the community.