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District highlights and community engagement - Nov. 4, 2019
Dear SAISD Staff:

I am pleased to share with you news on two of the District’s long-term projects – ones that will positively affect SAISD for years to come.

The most visible of the two is Bond 2016. Construction and renovation progress is steadily moving forward, and in some cases students already are learning in newly completed spaces. Nearly half of the 13 projects have finished their first phases. Even more work will occur over the upcoming holiday breaks, which offer an opportunity for contractors to work without students on campus. By the end of the winter break, seven schools will be at or beyond the halfway mark of construction, and construction for the whole bond program will be at 45 percent completion. 

By early spring, we’ll be celebrating the completion of one of our smaller bond projects – Bowden Academy, where we officially kicked off our construction phase in early 2019.

The second project is the development of the District’s School Performance Framework, a tool we have been working with our community – principals, teachers, parents, and students – to develop since last year. A School Performance Framework is a way to assess and better support our schools that is grounded in a “whole child” philosophy. The framework also will help us empower educators and distribute resources more equitably based on a school’s individual needs.

While the state accountability system is based primarily on standardized assessments such as STAAR tests, our framework will be a way to measure additional aspects of school quality based on our values, such as campus culture, climate, and other qualities that are important to SAISD schools and families. As part of the development phase, we are surveying our staff, teachers, and parents to hear their thoughts on what values we should consider. Throughout the year, we also will be surveying students, parents, and teachers to learn more about their experiences with our schools.

In January, we will publish the results of our pilot framework and continue to engage stakeholders around its benefits and how the results can be used to better support our campuses. 

The District also has been engaging the community to help us reimagine what the new Rodriguez Elementary School will be like when it reopens in the fall of 2020. Two community meetings have been held on the campus, and bus tours to visit possible educational models – such as Montessori and dual language – gave families insight into how these models look in action. 

We wanted to give families the opportunity to share their hopes and dreams for the new school. Their feedback will play a part in choosing a new model for Rodriguez, which we hope to do by the end of this semester.

Tomorrow begins our application period for Choice Schools and Programs for the 2020-2021 school year. Parents may submit applications for their students, selecting from among 42 specialized offerings at 38 campuses. We are accepting applications from within the District and across the county and surrounding areas through Jan. 31. During the application period, campuses will be hosting open houses, school tours, and parent information sessions to introduce their models and answer parent and student questions.

A new program that will be offered during the application period is the Healthcare Pathways Early College High School, or H-TECH, at Fox Tech High School, which will debut in the fall of 2020. Following the P-TECH model approved by the state in 2017, it will have a focus on preparing students with the skills, credentials and industry-specific associate degrees necessary for high-demand careers in nursing and healthcare. This will be the second P-TECH model in SAISD – the first was Cyber P-TECH at Sam Houston High School, which opened this school year.

The H-TECH program at Fox Tech will be under the school’s health magnet and will partner with San Antonio College, Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, and University Health System. By program completion, students will be able to earn their high school diploma as well as an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing and/or certification in Patient Care Technician or Medical Billing and Coding. Students also will complete work-based training.

Every year, we see more schools participating in the application process, which is open for all students to apply. For next year, the list has grown to about 40 percent of our schools, which increases the likelihood that parents will take advantage of the options right in their own neighborhoods.

Additionally, because we are becoming a stronger District, more parents want to learn about our offerings. Attracting parents within our boundaries, who might otherwise select external options, as well as parents who reside outside of our boundaries helps stabilize enrollment – which benefits everyone. 

To further meet the needs of our parents and students, we also are simplifying the student transfer process for all of our campuses. This gives both schools and families greater flexibility.

Later this week, on Thursday, I will join Trustee Alicia Perry during her Meet and Greet event within her single-member district. We will update families on state accountability results for the schools within the Sam Houston feeder and share the latest progress on school renovations at Davis Middle School and Sam Houston High School. 

I enjoy engaging our community – both sharing the District’s great progress and hearing directly from families their ideas and needs. Together, we are working to improve lives through a quality education. 


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