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Milestones in academics and technology - Sept. 9, 2019
Dear SAISD Staff:
We have hit a milestone in academic performance in the area of Advanced Placement. I am excited to share with you that we have recent confirmation that we reached our “AP 1K” goal during the May 2019 AP exams. 
For the first time, our high school students in AP courses achieved more than 1,000 scores at the criteria needed to qualify for dual credit – this means they earn both high school and college credit for these courses. This is twice as many scores at criteria than just a few years ago. Additionally, almost 50 more students qualified to be AP Scholars in 2019 than last year. 
These are numbers to celebrate because they mean our students are not only achieving at higher levels, but that when they go to college, they will be saving time and money toward their degrees. 
The positivity and confidence that surrounds our District’s growing list of accomplishments is echoed across our campuses. I continue to be inspired by the sense of optimism that I’m seeing during my school visits. 
Last week, Carvajal Elementary School observed the launch of its new STEAM curriculum with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for its families. Many community and educational partners were on hand to mark the occasion.
One of these partners was The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, who spoke about arts integration – that which puts the A in STEAM. The Tobin Center and SAISD currently have three initiatives on which we are collaborating, including field trips to their venue to view live performances and two projects that are new this year.
Through The Tobin Center’s Arts Integration initiative, all teachers at three schools – Carvajal, M.L. King Academy and Tafolla Middle School – will receive professional development to guide them to further incorporate art into core subject areas, leading to learning in both subjects.
Also new this year, the Tobin Center Teaching Artists program places part-time teaching artists at more than 20 of our campuses. These educators are providing arts-based education for our students, including rehearsals that will lead to end-of-year performances on each participating campus. 
Our partnership with The Tobin Center is helping us to expand access to fine arts for our students – one of our key initiatives to provide a well-rounded education and leading to higher academics overall.  
In other news that is more behind the scenes, but just as critical, SAISD has become the first school district in San Antonio to host our core network in a commercial data center. In addition to being a more secure location, the move allows us redundant access to key internet and network services, which decreases our risk level for an outage.
The relocation of the District’s data center – the central repository for our information technology operations and home to our critical systems and data – has been happening with barely a blip on the radar for most of us who turn on our computers every day to start work. The seamlessness of the operation to date is a feat in and of itself, and I commend the Technology & Management Information Systems Department for their hard work to make this happen for our District.
The data center migration will be completed later this month, and at that point, we will have a truly reliable and secure foundation upon which to build our enterprise network. 
Technology supports us every day, and while mostly unseen, there are two additional initiatives that will affect how we communicate as a District – both internally as well as externally to outside audiences. 
At the beginning of this school year, the department launched a private network accessible only to District staff. The new mySAISD Employee Portal is a centralized landing page for easy access to all employee resources, including memos, the District calendar, Office 365 apps, forms, and policies and procedures.
And this week, we’ll also be seeing a new look and feel to our District website. On the redesigned website, clicking on the “Employee” tab will take you directly into the portal.
As we pause to celebrate these highlights, we also continue to address ongoing and pressing campus needs – especially around our air conditioning issues. 
We have been working diligently toward short-term solutions to keep our campuses cool during these consecutive 100-degree days, but we recognize we need long-term answers, too. I know it is challenging at the campus level. Please know that at the Sept. 16 Board meeting, we will address this issue directly during a discussion about our capital needs.
I understand your frustration and appreciate your fortitude.

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