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Latest updates in the District - Jan. 13, 2020
Dear SAISD Staff:

It is with a heavy heart that we learned of the deaths of three SAISD family members over the winter break. It always is incredibly difficult to lose those near and dear to us, and even more so during the holidays. Please keep the families, friends and close colleagues of SAISD Police Detective Cliff Martinez, computer and network technician Mark McRae, and J. T. Brackenridge Elementary School pre-kindergarten teacher Allison O’Connell in your thoughts. 

We will always be grateful for their dedication to SAISD and our students. They will be greatly missed.

Each had been with the District for more than a decade, including Det. Martinez who served with us for almost three decades and for whom a scholarship has been named. Last week, the SAISD Police Department paid tribute to Det. Martinez in an Honor Ceremony that was attended by first responders across the state and nation. It was a deeply humbling and touching memorial for a protector lost in the line of duty.

As we’re now moving into the second semester of our school year, it was timely to hold our third annual Experience SAISD districtwide showcase. Families soon will be registering for next school year, and it was nice to see so many of them join us for this informative and interactive day. 

I want to thank everyone who represented their school or program, volunteered or attended with their children on Saturday. This Districtwide event is a massive undertaking, and I appreciate your hard work and collaboration to make it happen. I also want to express my gratitude to Mayor Ron Nirenberg for his presence and support.

Also last week, we celebrated the academic achievements of more than 180 students during the Advanced Academic Scholar Celebration. The District, the SAISD Foundation and VIA Metropolitan Transit hosted the event, which recognized students who have been named Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) Scholars, National Hispanic Merit Scholars or Advanced Placement (AP) Scholars. 

To be eligible for the Duke TIP program, a seventh-grader takes the ACT exam and scores at the college-ready level – while they are still in middle school! This year we had seventh-graders who earned state, and even national, recognition as Duke TIP Scholars. All of our Duke TIP Scholars receive extensive college-planning resources and access to college courses – either online or on a college campus. 

I also want to point out that for the first time, each high school had at least one AP Scholar. This means that these students scored a 3 or higher on three or more AP exams, which may qualify them for college credit. 

Please join me in applauding all of these scholars.

Additionally, we are learning from our high school seniors where they have been accepted to college – and it’s an impressive list! 

Nick Rios at Travis Early College High School plans to study neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. Jewel Medel at Young Women’s Leadership Academy also plans to study neuroscience, but at Brown University. Three other YWLA students have been accepted to top-tier universities, too: Catalina Delgado plans to study architecture at the University of Notre Dame; Thalia Revilla plans to study anthropology at Stanford University; and as I mentioned last month, QuestBridge Scholar Maria Garcia-Garcia will study engineering and computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

As of this month, across all of our high schools, approximately three-fourths of our seniors have submitted college applications. Already our seniors have earned more than $13 million in scholarships. I look forward to hearing more outstanding news from our seniors over the next few months.

We all love to see our students succeed, and some of the most ardent supporters of our District and students are our Trustees. January is the month that is dedicated to showing them our appreciation. Please join us at our Jan. 21 Board meeting as we celebrate School Board Recognition Month and the role our Trustees play in launching the next generation. I am forever grateful for their tireless efforts on behalf of our children.

In other exciting news, some of the walls for the new Administration Building are now standing. You can see the progress on this live feed from the construction site. The new building will be approximately 140,000 square feet and will house more than 600 employees. It will include conference spaces, a dining space, a wellness center, surface parking and a parking garage. The building, which is situated across from Fox Tech High School and near the San Pedro Creek Culture Park, will include 1.65 acres of green space. 

The District will generate approximately $1 million in annual operational savings as a result of the efficiencies of a new, consolidated facility. The construction is at no cost to taxpayers and is funded 100 percent through the previous sales of District real estate. 

On a final note, I hope you will join us this Sunday, Jan. 19 for the Young Men’s Leadership Academy’s MLK 5K Run. We have more than 700 participants signed up so far, but we’d love to see 1,000 participants this year. Start time is 9 a.m. at the Wheatley Heights Sports Complex, located in Martin Luther King Park. Because of community support and sponsorships, all registration fees will go directly to the school to fund student programming, such as college trips and student clubs.

I hope to see you there.


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