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Board Members Hear Academic Updates, CEC Progress

Board Members Hear Academic Updates, CEC Progress

 

The Career Education Center construction is progressing well on a tight timeline where there is “no room for hiccups,” according to architect Gary Baker.

 

Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths gave a monthly update on the CEC to board members in a noon special session April 11. The new $35 million building, the first secondary school built in WFISD in the past 50 years, is located on Hatton Road off Highway 287.

 

Mr. Griffiths reported that windows have been installed, a green room full of multimedia is complete, and data wires are in place. A grader is preparing the east parking lot for concrete. Clean up is beginning on the inside, he said.

 

Currently, 120 to 130 people work at the construction site on a daily basis, said Mr. Baker.

 

All construction, architect and district players in the project meet weekly for open discussion on schedules, challenges and progress. The team missed a key deadline – April 7 – to power up the building and dry out the foundation. However, the miss won’t affect the building’s completion date, said Mr. Griffiths.

 

Board members plan to do a walk-through May 15.

 

Burgess Elementary Quarterly Update

Burgess Principal Ann Pettit said a key sign of progress at her school this year was the eagerness of students and teachers to learn how they performed on STAAR tests. Until this year, the testing was simply one more thing in an otherwise busy schedule. But this year, faculty and students “want to know and care” about how they did, she said.

 

The school’s Capturing Kids’ Hearts training was revolutionary for the staff, said Ms. Pettit. It helped teachers understand why they teach, why they put in such long hours, and why it’s all worth it. In the process, they have built relationships with one another and the children, which is the foundation of all good teaching.

 

Burgess Elementary earned its Level 1 Certification in the High Reliability Schools training after its certification visit April 12.

 

Children continue to receive one hour of targeted instruction each day. Students in grades 3, 4 and 5 have shown a 12 percent increase in reading. However, math scores remain a key issue at the school. In benchmark testing, third-graders improved their math passing rates, but students in grades 4 and 5 declined.

 

“We are a work in progress,” said Ms. Pettit. All indicators predict good STAAR results for Burgess fifth-graders next week, she said, but targeted improvement plans will continue regardless, she said.

 

Booker T. Washington Quarterly Update

Principal Mark Davis told board members that his school had seen increased parental involvement this year in several of its outreaches and groups.

 

The Capturing Kids’ Hearts training given to his staff this year “has been phenomenal,” he said. The program stresses building relationships with children to open up their hearts to learning.

As a direct result of the training, the school has recorded a 60 percent decrease in office referrals for misbehavior compared to this time last year, he said.

 

Tutorials continue throughout the day and extend into after school hours, he said. All personnel at the school – including secretaries, aides, and administrators – tutor children, an all-hands-on-deck mentality he gleaned from retired principal Dalton Clark and Scotland Park Principal Laura Scott. He is building a culture of “everyone helps” and “continuous improvement,” he said.

 

Students have also learned to monitor their own test data, he said.

 

Classroom management, differentiated instruction, and special education classes are still “a work in progress,” he said. He continues to work to keep his teachers accountable.

 

He reported two highlights: The Booker T. Washington fourth grade math scores on benchmark testing were the second highest in the district. When praised for their achievement, students asked, “Who was first?”

 

Also, Booker T’s At-Risk Coordinator Chris Evans was named the downtown Rotary Club’s Educator of the Quarter. He is just one of many high-performing staff members at his campus, said Mr. Davis. They are motivated and passionate about their mission at the East side school. “Some of them beat me to work in the morning. That’s not good,” he said.

 

 

Kirby Middle School Quarterly Report

Principal Troy Farris said 100 percent of his teachers are using strategies learned in professional development seminars, particularly in reading and math classes. “We are striving to get at 70 percent (passing rates) or above,” he said.

 

Even when passing rates on benchmark tests hit 54 percent, it is still an improvement over the 20 to 30 percent pass rates logged at the beginning of the school year, he said.

 

One particular child known for his academic struggles was able to pass about 30 percent of the questions on benchmark tests. “No I’ve got to do better,” he told his teachers. He is now passing 80 percent of his questions. “It’s working,” said Dr. Farris.

 

Tutoring continues at the school, he said. “Communities in Schools is helping us with tutoring,” he said. “We are on track to reaching our goals.”

 

Mr. Griffiths thanked the three principals who are doing difficult work, he said. “If it were easy, everybody could do it. That’s why you’re there,” said Board President Dale Harvey.

 

“We’re real proud of them,” agreed Mr. Griffiths. “But we can’t get comfortable.”

 

Mr. Griffiths submitted a 2017-2018 Turnaround Plan for Burgess and Booker T. Washington that board members must approve so that it can be submitted to the Texas Education Agency for its approval, too. It’s a plan that both schools will follow for the next two years if this year’s test scores do not exceed 65 percent pass rates.

 

The Plan is familiar to the principals and students, stressing three familiar key areas: Marzano High Reliability training, Capturing Kids Hearts relationship building training (Kirby will receive this also next year), and a Balanced Literacy program.

 

Board members asked about the high turnover rates at each campus, which continue to be an issue. “Have you thought of going districtwide to ask for help?” asked board member Bill Franklin.

 

Mr. Griffiths said some teachers may be enticed by having a smaller classroom of 16 students and more tutoring help.

 

Resale Property Bids

CFO Tim Sherrod asked board members to put two properties back on the tax rolls.

 

The vacant land at 2317 Harding Street was a no-bid at the Sheriff’s sale and struck off the tax rolls and held in trust by WFISD and Wichita County. It is valued at $7,000.

 

If WFISD accepts a recent bid of $500 received Feb. 8, the property can return to the tax roll.

 

A second property, located at 820 N. Cottonwood Road, can be placed back on the tax roll if board members accept the bid for $1,200, said Mr. Sherrod.

 

The property was acquired through delinquent tax suits. It received no bids at the Courthouse sale. However, one interested party made a written offer to purchase to property to develop it. This would return the property to the tax roll and free the City of Wichita Falls from its mowing and maintenance responsibilities. The original structure on the property has been demolished.

 

The property has a $1,232 value; Mr. Sherrod recommends moving forward with the offer of $1,200. Wichita County has already approved the move.

 

March 2017 Budget Amendments

In a 6-0 vote, board members approved the proposed budget amendments to the 2016-2017 budgets. The amendments were cross-function transfers and none will amend the budget, said Mr. Sherrod.

 

Rider High School Re-roofing Project

Board members discussed a revised bid to Precision Construction for $648,500 to re-roof a portion of Rider High School.

 

The new roof would cover the band hall, tech center, auditorium, locker room and classrooms near the elevator. One administrator estimated that the new roof would cover about one-third of the school.

 

Board members expressed concern that they had received only the one bid. “Is it better to wait and get a more competitive bid?” asked board member Elizabeth Yeager.

 

District maintenance official Johnny Ozee said the need was urgent. “I think it’s an honest bid,” he said.

 

Board President Dale Harvey asked to see some references on the current bidder, particularly those that would reflect the kind of work WFISD wanted done.

 

The Rider project is expected to begin June 1 and take 40 days.

 

 

Zundy Elementary Re-roofing Project

Two vendors responded to a bid for a Zundy re-roofing project, according to Chief Financial Officer Tim Sherrod. Lydick Hook Roofing produced the best bid of $336,000; the budgeted amount for the job is $354,345.

 

“It is a smaller job at Zundy,” said Mr. Ozee, just 15 percent to 20 percent of the total roof. The new roof will cover the gym, entrances over the kitchen, and the old kitchen that is now the kindergarten, he said.

 

He recommended spending the extra money to get a 20-year warranty with a “no dollar limit.”

 

“That’s an advantage to the district,” he said. “It costs a few cents more, about 15 cents more per square foot. But it’s well worth the cost.”

 

 

Property, Auto, and Crime Insurance

Mr. Sherrod urged board members to renew the District’s property, auto and crime insurance with its current insurer Higginbotham. In all three quotes for property, auto and crime, Higginbotham was the low bidder.

 

Board members asked how the current pricing compared to the last contract. Crime insurance went up $1, auto insurance went up $2,882, and property insurance went up $1,498.

 

The property insurance quote includes the Career Education Center, which is still under construction. However, pricing will be adjusted upward when the CEC is opened, said Mr. Sherrod.

 

Instructional Materials Allotment; TEKS certification

Peter Griffiths, associate superintendent, recommended to board members that they approve the certification form required by the Texas Education Agency for instructional materials covering all elements of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in each grade level.

 

It would not include physical education.

 

In 2011-2012, Senate Bill 6 created an Instructional Materials Allotment, formerly known as the textbook allotment. It can be used to purchase instructional materials, including technological equipment and technology-related services.

 

All purchases may only be spent on student or teacher materials, tech equipment or tech services. The District must certify to TEA annually that it is meeting its obligation to cover the TEKS through its purchases.

 

 

GPA and Class Rank procedures discussed

Ward Roberts, director of innovation and advanced academics, led board members in a discussion of the District’s current policy and practices regarding GPAs (grade point averages) and Class Rank.

 

He provided research that summarized how 11 other districts handle their GPA policies. Board documents included data from Archer City, Burkburnett, Henrietta, Holliday, Iowa Park, Austin, Cedar Hill, Dallas, Katy, Lewisville and Plano ISDs.

 

Mr. Roberts pointed out the various ways other districts handle dual credit coursework and the intervals used to scale grade points.

 

In some districts, all coursework grades count toward a GPA.

 

In an effort to take some of the pressure off high-achieving students, WFISD recently changed its policy to count only a certain number of Advanced Placement classes, which was designed to encourage students to take electives that they might enjoy but would not earn them as many points toward a GPA.

 

Board member Elizabeth Yeager said now she worried that some students were continuing to take more AP courses than “counted,” but were not getting class rank values for their hard work.

 

“The system favors math and science, not the kids in art fields,” she said. “To me, we should count everything.”

 

She urged board members to consider counting every class, and the students who win the most points will then earn the highest GPA. “If you take all AP (courses), you deserve a higher grade point,” she said. “Let it fall where it falls.” Students should be rewarded for the AP classes they take, she said.

 

By law, the District has to have a ranking system, said Mr. Roberts.

 

No decisions were made during this discussion, which was for information only.

 

 

Policy BQA Update for District Advisory Committee

Debby Patterson, executive director of school administration, recommended that board members approve the local policy update that set up the process for District Action Committee selections and elections and for carrying out the terms.

 

A list of District Advisory Committee members can be found at http://www.wfisd.net/Page/20990

 

 

District of Innovation Plan

In a 6-0 vote, board members approved the proposed District of Innovation Plan developed and approved by the District of Innovation Committee.

 

Personnel report

Cyndy Kohl, director of Human Resources, reported seven professional retirements, five clerical/support retirements, 20 professional resignations and four clerical/support resignations.