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The start of school year 2018-19 - Aug. 6, 2018
Dear SAISD Staff,
It is with great sadness that we learned of the recent death of technology teacher Bill Davis. His legacy at Rhodes Middle School, where he taught for 23 years, is one of high energy, and most of all, passion for his students. It is an unexpected and grievous loss for his family, as well as his school family.
There is a move to name the technology building at Rhodes after Bill, and the process for this request has been started. I will keep you updated as this petition goes through the formal consideration process.
It is hard to believe that in one more week, our classrooms will be filled with excited, and nervous, students as they enter our schools for the first time this school year. The initial day back can be a whirlwind, but as in years past, we will soon find our rhythm and the school year will begin to hum along.
Many of these students return from their summer break with additional accomplishments under their belts! In July, we learned the Burbank High School Wind Ensemble and the Harris Middle School Symphonic Band were selected to perform at the 2019 YOSA Invitational, which will be held at the Tobin Center May 20-21, 2019. Last week we also received the news that the Poe Middle School Band finished in the Top 10 at the Texas Band Association state convention. All of these students and their band directors are to be commended.
I also am pleased with the number of enrichment activities our teachers and educational partners hosted to engage our students this summer. These students will come back to school next week energized and ready to keep the learning going.
We’ve recently announced new principals at some of our schools. These newly named campus leaders join our current and highly skilled principal cohort. The new principals represent a mix of exceptional talent from within SAISD, as well as accomplished individuals from outside of the District. All of our principals are proven leaders who will help lead us into our next phase of growth and success, and I am excited to work with them.
Additionally, over the summer, the District started working with school leaders on initiatives to equip classrooms and improve facilities to ensure teachers are supported in the new school year. 
One initiative has been adding technology across our schools. By October, we will have replaced a number of outdated teachers’ laptops and increased equipment accessibility on our campuses to one device per two students. In addition, we also are equipping a number of classrooms with dry-erase white boards, replacing about 1,400 outdated green and black boards; this process is expected to be completed within the first few weeks of school. 
Ensuring comfort has also been a focus. A cross-functional HVAC team has been formed to perform root-cause analysis and system repair to ensure maximum heating and cooling performance at our campuses. Already the specialized team has completed maintenance at three schools, and scheduled work at another three. Painting also has been completed at a number of elementary schools, with one more school to be painted this fall.
These improvements are just a start. During the first couple of months of school, we will be vigilant to ensure teachers’ instructional and classroom needs are being met.
As I mentioned in my last letter, the District proposed an amendment to the DK Local Board policy on teachers’ work schedules. Last week, the Trustees approved the amendment, and the new policy is now consistent with other school districts in the county and state. 

Yesterday, principals received more specific guidance on the new policy, which includes limits on the additional time teachers will be asked to work. These FAQs are the result of feedback from principals who met last Friday morning. The policy revision does not impact or change school instructional hours or bell schedules. Our intent is for principals to work with teachers so that there is minimal impact to their work day. 
Our next step is to develop administrative regulations. First, principals and their campus teams will work out solutions for their particular schools. Then we will prepare guidelines with the input from campuses. 
There has been a lot misunderstanding, and thus concern, around this policy. It is my hope that this week, with principals working together with their teams, that concerns will ease as solutions are developed.
We know there are differences of thought, especially between the District and the Alliance. But let’s not allow those differences to undermine the great work that is being done in our classrooms and schools. Don’t be deterred by those trying to wreak havoc and create a negative environment.
In the past three years, significant strides have been made that have increased the rigor in our schools. Because of your hard work, we are seeing a majority of schools making gains in improving students’ academic achievements. 
We need to continue to work together to support the strategies that are helping these children. The students’ challenges have not gone away, but we can help them overcome life’s hurdles. We all want to do what is best for our students. 
On Wednesday, let’s all come together with this shared sense of purpose during our annual Convocation ceremony. Please join me, and let’s stand united for our children.

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