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True gems among staff, students and enrollment numbers - Oct. 14, 2019
Dear SAISD Staff:
I am proud to share with you that at tonight’s Board meeting, three of our SAISD family members will be recognized as the 2018-19 District’s honorees for the Great Employees Modeling our Standards (G.E.M.S.) Award
Norma Lopez, a porter at Lamar Elementary School, has been named the Classified Employee of the Year. Lucia Gutierrez, senior executive secretary in the Human Resources Department, and Josefina Serros, secretary at Highland Hills Elementary School, will co-own the title of Paraprofessional of the Year – it was a tie! 
I commend these talented employees – as well as all the campus and departmental honorees who were selected each month throughout last school year – for their exemplary performance in modeling the District’s core values. 
We work every day with talented personnel throughout the District, and the tradition of these awards is an outstanding reminder of the high-quality of our staff.
Another SAISD tradition that I admire is the annual selection of high school seniors to sit on our Student Advisory Committee. The 2019-20 cohort met for the first time last week, and throughout this school year, these 13 seniors will select topics of discussion, garner peer feedback on these topics, and then share their insight with the Trustees and me. 
I have appreciated the candor of the student committee members in the past, and I look forward to working with this newest group. I know the Trustees and I will find their perceptiveness and understanding of the educational issues that personally affect them invaluable.
At our last Board meeting, we discussed our enrollment status with the Trustees, and I have good news to share. Every indication tells us that we’re stabilizing our enrollment. 
More than 90 percent of students who registered before the first day of school remain enrolled with us today. Not only is this an excellent conversion rate, it also is a good indicator of the importance of early registration. Having an accurate estimate of the number of students who will be enrolled in the fall allows us to better plan for campus needs, including staffing levels and school resources. 
It is important to encourage registration with families in the spring and summer, and a good number of campuses who emphatically took this to heart exceeded their goals. More than half of our campuses surpassed their enrollment projections by more than 25 students. The stronger showing this year can be attributed, in part, to the marketing strategies employed at the campus level. Block walking, which many of our campuses chose to participate in, was the most effective strategy! 
I want to thank each of you who played a role in being an ambassador for our schools. Your presence in our neighborhoods made a difference, and our District is stronger because of it.
Our goal for next year is to build on our stabilizing enrollment numbers. We will learn from what we have done this year and improve upon it for greater impact next year, such as providing resources for mobile registration and ensuring every campus has notary services available.
At the District level, we will target traditional grades at which big academic changes happen and make sure families are aware of all their options. School planning meetings already are underway with the goal to have key decisions made by December, which will drive projections, staffing, programming and other District processes for next year.
We are an attractive option for parents. The opportunities we offer – school programs right in our neighborhoods and specialized schools without boundaries – are gaining in popularity. Families are responding, and now we’re seeing the positive effect on enrollment.
Another way we continue to transform our District is through technology. 
On Oct. 4, we celebrated the groundbreaking of the District’s dedicated high-speed fiber network, making us one of the few districts in the city and state to install our own fiber network. This will increase our network capacity and internet speeds tenfold and give us the infrastructure we need so that every campus will be able to support 1:1 devices over time. 
As our District has been expanding the use of innovative digital learning technologies in the classroom, we also have realized our need to increase bandwidth. Nothing is more frustrating than to have new devices and smartboards, but not the infrastructure to fully leverage them for academic achievement. 
This new Wide Area Network (WAN) will open up even more opportunities in instruction, and ensure our network capacity and internet speeds will increase to meet our demands over the next two decades.
The network will work in conjunction with the wireless infrastructure on individual campuses as the District continues to update systems and technologies over the next few years. For those campuses and offices that will have the infrastructure in place to connect to the WAN, such as the 13 schools that are part of the 2016 Bond, the new network will be ready for service in the summer of 2020.
The needs of additional campuses will be worked into our plan for our next bond. Our goal is to have lightning-fast connectivity in every single classroom.
It will truly make us future ready!

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