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Commendations, collaborations and future plans - Jan. 27, 2020
Dear SAISD Staff:

Please join me in congratulating three of our high school counselors for being featured as part of the 2019-20 College Board Counselor Recognition Program. Being honored are Chenelle Turner from Sam Houston High School as well as Ashley Cash and Angeles Coss from Young Women’s Leadership Academy. The College Board is awarding our counselors lapel pins for their dedication to guiding students to college and career success. Additionally, the College Board will feature them on their website during National School Counseling Week, which begins a week from today on Feb. 3. 

These outstanding counselors are three among many in our District who go the extra mile to expand opportunity for our students. All of our counselors make a difference on a daily basis, and I appreciate each and every one. Because of them, approximately three-fourths of our seniors have submitted college applications, and already have earned more than $13 million in scholarships.

By the time our seniors walk the stage at their spring graduation ceremonies, I’m sure these numbers will be even higher. 

I also would like to commend teachers from two of our IB World Schools – Longfellow and Harris middle schools. Social studies teachers from both schools collaborated on a 25-day Holocaust Remembrance unit that they developed over the summer as part of a two-year grant through the SAISD Foundation. Sixth-graders from each school participated in the pilot program, which is culminating with tours to Holocaust memorials and exhibitions at their schools.

Harris students, who traveled to the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, will display their work at an event today. Longfellow students, who toured the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio, will show their work in their school library Tuesday through Friday of this week.

I am proud to see our teachers partnering to provide these types of cross-campus initiatives. The similar international perspectives of IB schools made this collaboration a good match, but I believe all campuses across our District can work together to further enrich and deepen the learning of our students.

Finally, I want to update you on outcomes from our Jan. 21 Board meeting. At last week’s meeting, our Trustees approved the composition and the process for appointing members to a 2020 Blue Ribbon Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to inform and advise Trustees in matters relating to a potential Bond 2020. This summer, our Board will decide whether to propose Bond 2020 on the November ballot.

The creation of this Blue Ribbon Task Force puts us on the pathway to ensure that all of our amazing students learn in 21st-century environments. Our goal is for all SAISD schools to benefit from the next bond. Every classroom will receive advanced technology, each campus will benefit from security upgrades, and all outdated chillers will be replaced.

Task force members will help us start conversations with our schools and community members to further discuss priorities and shape long-range recommendations. They will consider which buildings have the most needs and they will look at where prior bond investments were started but not completed. Members also will determine where investments can spur enrollment in schools with strong academic programs – especially since it is hard to compete with shiny, new charter buildings even when the charter’s academic programs aren’t as strong as ours.

Over the next decade, SAISD is strategically planning for a series of bond elections to address about $2.5 billion in capital and technology needs across the District’s campuses. Because of downtown economic growth, taxpayers will not see a tax rate increase if they approve the proposed bonds. 

Also at the Jan. 21 Board meeting, the Trustees approved the District’s efforts to partner and support the work of the U.S. Census Bureau to encourage participation among SAISD families and community members. An accurate census count is critical to school districts because the data determines the distribution of funds to public schools, including Title I and special education grants, and programs for school lunches and Head Start. For instance, an estimated 2,400 SAISD students were not included in the 2010 Census. This equals more than $500,000 in lost revenue to the District, which is equivalent to eight teaching positions.

Census Day is April 1, but the process begins mid-March with a completion date at the end of July. You’ll hear more about SAISD’s efforts to make sure all children are counted over the coming weeks. The most important thing to know, and share with others, is that federal law protects census responses for everyone – whether they are citizens or not. In fact, census records are kept confidential for 72 years!

I hope you will join us to build awareness, complete the census, and tell your family, friends and neighbors to complete it, too.


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