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Accolades, Bond progress and legislative update - Jan. 28, 2019
Dear SAISD Staff,
I am pleased to share with you several recent teacher and student accolades.
Jerry Romero, who teaches Japanese and Chinese at Tafolla Middle School, has been named as the LOTE (Languages Other Than English) Teacher of the Year by the Education Service Center, Region 20. He was surprised with the announcement in his classroom Jan. 17. He will be formally recognized at the ESC-20 Foreign Language Educators Institute Feb. 27.
I also want to update you on DeZavala Elementary School teacher Angelica Niño, who in the fall had been named one of six state finalists for the 2018 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. This Friday, she and the other finalists will be recognized by the State Board of Education at their general meeting. She also will be recognized at the Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching this summer.
I truly believe our teachers are among the best there is. It makes us all proud when those outside of our District feel the same way. And when we have outstanding teachers mentoring and educating our children, we also have students who reach for the highest bars and excel. In fact, we have learned that several of our students recently were notified of honors as well. 
Lanier High School student and JROTC Cadet Jessica Ruiz, a sophomore, has been selected as a delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders to be held in Boston in June, where she will be presented with an Award of Excellence for her outstanding grades, leadership potential and desire to pursue medicine. At the event, she will meet winners of the Nobel Prize, award-winning young inventors and scientists, prominent medical school deans and other distinguished leaders in medicine. 
The Congress of Future Medical Leaders is an academic program of New Charter University, and Jessica may receive college credit for her attendance. She also will be able to elaborate on this honor in her college application essays and interviews. After attending the SAISD Ivy League and Service Academy campus tours this past August, Jessica is motivated to attend West Point, where she wants to earn a commission in the U.S. Army and become an Army doctor after medical school.
This past weekend, JROTC cadets at three other high schools – Brackenridge, Highlands and Jefferson – learned they will advance to the National High School Drill Team Championship in Florida after competing against cadets from seven other states in the 5th Brigade competition at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Jefferson High School’s unarmed team earned the title of 2019 Unarmed Division Champions. I wish each of these battalions the best of luck during nationals later this spring.
In addition, Madison Castillo, a senior at Travis Early College High School who also is an avid volleyball player and runs track for Lanier High School, is a finalist for San Antonio’s “Youth of the Year,” a program of the Boys & Girls Clubs. After a public speaking competition on Wednesday, the final candidate will be selected and honored Feb. 6 at the Youth of the Year Gala. The winner also will receive prizes, including a college scholarship and a laptop. 
I wish Madison well in this competition and her higher education goals. She plans to attend St. Mary’s University and study law.
Please join me in congratulating all of these individuals on their exceptional achievements! 
Today launches Tour Week at SAISD, a new initiative within our application period for choice schools and programs. Through Saturday, school staff of participating schools will be hosting campus tours and activities for interested families – including student-led visits, historical-figure wax museum performances, and presentations in Spanish and English. 
Later this week, on Thursday, one of our newest choice options – CAST Med High School – will be the topic of Texas Public Radio’s talk show “The Source.” And, earlier this month, Cyber P-TECH at Sam Houston High School was featured on an episode of “CyberTalkRadio.” 
Our District continues to move forward on exciting initiatives, from the creation and launch of new schools to the restoration and renewal of our older campuses.
Tomorrow, the District will kick off the construction phase of Bond 2016. A press event marking this important milestone will be held at Bowden Academy, which is one of the first Bond schools slated for major renovation. As journalists look on, the last of the dirt will be excavated in preparation for the crew to lay the foundation for an amazing new addition and overall school renovation. 
A total of 13 construction sites will be underway through the Bond 2016 program, and I hope you share my excitement as the rejuvenation of these campuses becomes more visible. 
Between our new and soon-to-be newly renovated campuses, as well as our improved academic accountability rating – that is outperforming many independent charter schools – the time is now to tout to parents that SAISD is the better option for their children. I spoke with all principals recently about seizing the moment, as we move into our campus registration period, to communicate campus achievements with their communities. 
Campus teams will soon be developing enrollment marketing plans to stabilize and reverse enrollment trends, so please reach out and share your ideas with your teams! Let’s let our parents know how well we are doing.
In my last letter, I addressed the opening of the 2019 legislative session and outlined the District’s key priorities for this session. Although it is still early in the legislative process, there is reason to be hopeful. 
Within the first two weeks, both the House and the Senate proposed additional funding for public schools. We welcome the energy from the legislature to make this critical investment. We hope that the funds will come through in a way that allows each school district to best meet their students’ needs. In SAISD, we would prioritize potential raises and continuing our investments in District initiatives to close instructional deficits. Most importantly, we hope we achieve school finance reform that benefits all students and employees this session.
Over the next weeks and months, I will continue to update you on how the legislative process may affect us and the education of our students. Until then, I would like to leave you with a quote from Governor Greg Abbott.
In Governor Abbott’s inaugural speech Jan. 15, he mentioned San Antonio ISD among a list of school districts using innovative strategies with positive results. With January being Texas School Board Recognition Month, what better way to commend our Trustees for their vision than with this statement from his speech: “These achievements were possible because of bold leadership by superintendents and school boards who broke the mold making tough decisions to prioritize student achievement.”
I would like to thank our Trustees, and all of you, for the hard work you’ve invested in our District. The beneficiaries of your commitment and dedication are our students – and their bright futures. Every day, you are making a difference, and I want you to know it is being noticed. 

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