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Capital needs and student highlights - Sept. 30, 2019

Dear SAISD Staff:
At our last Board meeting, we discussed the District’s near-term and long-term capital needs. 
The Trustees first addressed the current issues we’ve been experiencing with some of our oldest HVAC systems and authorized the District to find approximately $2.1 million in the operating budget to cover such expenses, repairs and labor this fiscal year. Trustees also approved $5.45 million from this year’s capital budget for chiller replacements for 10 campuses – before next year’s high temperatures kick in.
We will continue our extensive efforts to maintain and repair systems. However, we also know that we have many aging school buildings across our District, which require significant resources. 
Taking a long-range look to 2030, we have established a facilities master plan that projects interior and exterior building upgrades of more than $2 billion. While we cannot address all these costs at once, we will strategically plan for a series of bond elections in the upcoming years – with one possibly as early as the November 2020 ballot. 
The other large school districts in San Antonio have had about twice the number of bonds as SAISD has had over the past two decades. Before finishing all bond-funded construction on one bond, they already were going out for another one because that is what it takes to keep up with infrastructure needs before they compound.
We have not had the ability to have frequent, large-scale bonds in the past. However, today we are in a place where we could propose bonds that would not raise the tax base beyond where it is today. Because of property value appreciation and economic development downtown, such as with the construction of the new Frost Tower, we currently are in the desirable position to update the capital needs of our schools and classrooms through future bonds – without negatively affecting our taxpayers!
Therefore, we will start having conversations with our schools and community members to discuss priorities for future bond programs, and then this spring, our Board will decide whether to go for Bond 2020.
As we begin these conversations, keep in mind that our newer schools are testing grounds – not only for their educational models, but also for their high-tech equipment (such as CAST Med’s Anatomage Table) and facility characteristics (such as CAST Tech High School’s learning staircase). For instance, the distinctive staircase at CAST Tech is being replicated at several of our high schools through the Bond 2016 program.
Now that our school year is well underway, I am excited to share with you some of the news and events that have highlighted our students.
A little more than a week ago, CAST Med High School held a grand opening to celebrate its partners and to provide student-led tours of its recently renovated building and state-of-the-art medical equipment. And tonight, students within the new Cyber P-TECH program at Sam Houston are being welcomed with an induction ceremony and dinner.  
Also at the high school level, a few of our principals have received word that some of their students are being lauded for their achievements on the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. 
Three students received letters of commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Program recognizing their outstanding academic promise. Sam Houston High School’s Payton Gogo and Travis Early College High School’s Christopher Del Rio and Nicolas Rios were named as Commended Students through the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. 
Nicolas also was selected by the College Board for National Hispanic Recognition based on his scores, along with Travis classmate Max Estrada and four students from Young Women’s Leadership Academy – Catalina Delgado, Maria Garcia-Garcia, Jewel Medel and Thalia Revilla.
These eight SAISD students are among a fraction of the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test takers to receive these distinctions, and such recognition is beneficial in seeking college admission and scholarships. I congratulate these students and their teachers and parents on these honors.
On Wednesday, students and others will begin to learn more about the opportunities that are available through AlamoPROMISE. The Alamo Colleges District has selected Jefferson High School as its site for the media announcement of the first phase of its initiative involving 25 high schools in the city, with nine of those in SAISD. 
AlamoPROMISE ensures that tuition and fees at the Alamo Colleges are covered for students who graduate from participating high schools. Students may receive last-dollar scholarship funding to fill the gap between their financial aid awards and the cost of tuition and fees for their first two years of earning an associate degree, certification, courses for transfer or workforce training.
The Alamo Colleges District plans to hold an event for SAISD’s students on Oct. 21 at the Alamo Convocation Center. 
We each play a role in cultivating high performance in our students, and one of our many rewards is when these students graduate, continue their lifelong learning, and make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. 
Four SAISD alumni who have excelled in life and career are being honored this week during the SAISD Foundation’s Inspire Awards ceremony. These distinguished professionals include State Representative Diego Bernal, founder and CEO Yvonne “Bonnie” Garcia of MarketVision, president and CEO Paula Gold-Williams of CPS Energy, and chairman emeritus Cosmo F. Guido of Guido Construction. Also being recognized are six music teachers in the Elementary Strings program. 
I look forward to this annual celebration, just as I look forward to the day when the SAISD Foundation recognizes those among our current students who are inspiring us with their leadership. Our students already inspire me every day, and I can only imagine what their futures hold.



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