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Taking Aim at Excellence Isn't Easy

Taking Aim at Excellence Isn’t Easy

Board members discuss District’s performance goals



Hirschi commended

These two seniors from Hirschi High School were honored at the October 16 board meeting for earning "Commended Students" status in the College Board 2018 National Merit contest. They are, from left, Sankirthana "Kirthi" Malireddy and Andi Newberry.



School districts like WFISD find it difficult to write performance goals for themselves when the state has not released current data on how students performed within the past year.


That was the dilemma facing WFISD recently that caused Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths to recommend setting only slight 1 percent and 2 percent increases in reading and math goals for the coming year.


The discussion about the wisdom of this approach came at the October 16 regularly scheduled board meeting held at the Education Center.


When the actual scores are published, it may turn out that to hit the current science goal of 73 percent, it will take a 5 percent to 7 percent increase – not the estimated 1 percent to 2 percent increase, said Mr. Griffiths. The District can’t know the actual situation until the state reports it, he said.


However, board member Bob Payton balked at what looked currently like minor increases.


“I operate from a different perspective,” he said. “I’m not going to cut off someone’s head for missing a goal.” Yet striving for excellence means aiming for more than a 1 percent or 2 percent performance increase, he said.


While WFISD continues to wait for the Texas Education Agency to publish its most recent report – once called the AEIS Report, now called TAPR – WFISD wrote out its goals to meet federal priorities: to retain teachers and principals, to build a foundation of reading and math, connecting high school to career and college, and improve low-performing schools.


 “We all want to excel based on data that’s real,” said Board President Dale Harvey. “Mediocrity is not part of the conversation.”


In a 7-0 vote at the October 16 board meeting, board members approved the District Improvement Plan and Performance Objectives, with one condition. They asked that the goals be updated and re-presented once the TAPR report is released. It is expected in November. (Editor’s Note: The TAPR data has now been released.)



Board members recognized the District’s highest academic performers at Hirschi High School.


Two Hirschi High School seniors, Sankirthana “Kirthi” Malireddy and Andi Newberry, earned the title “Commended Student” in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. That means their scores on the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test ranked among the top 50,000 out of 1.6 million test-takers.


This year, eight WFISD students hit the top tiers in the National Merit contest. Earlier in the month, Rider High School announced five seniors who also earned the “Commended” title (Justin Williams, Andrew Fry, Matthew Spears, Leah Schrass, Caroline Clarke).


One other Rider student, Caleigh Studer, scored among the nation’s top 16,000 students and earned the most prestigious title of all: National Merit Semifinalist.


Rider senior Justin Williams also qualified as a National Hispanic Scholar, as did

Rider senior Summer Perez, in the College Board’s National Hispanic Recognition Program. The Program identifies outstanding Hispanic high school students.



Chartwells update

Chartwells Food Service Director Farai Sithole gave board members an update on the Chartwells transition into WFISD schools this fall. Mr. Sithole recently replaced Robert Jones, who began the school year as food service director.


Mr. Sithole reported increases in the amount of breakfasts, lunches and after school food provided for children, which means more students are taking advantage of the Chartwells meals.


The company has also been working hard to train its workers. Since Sept. 1, Chartwells has held five manager meetings with cafeteria managers. On Oct. 9, he spearheaded a staff training day for 45 employees that created time pressure situations for staff to prepare Chartwells recipes. The competition was designed to build teamwork and confidence among employees.


The company expects to be fully staffed within two weeks. Twenty-six vacancies have been reduced to five. Chartwells plans to over-staff so that five full-time “floaters” may substitute café staff wherever needed.


The company’s resident dietician, Sarena Glenn, helped educate 1,363 elementary students during September about the use of herbs and spices in cooking.


Recently, Chartwells successfully catered its first event, serving 150 people at the Better Together Parenting Conference, held by the Hispanic Coalition.


The company is also working to partner with businesses and farmers to provide fresh food.


Mr. Sithole addressed board member concerns, such as menus that have changed without notice. Menus are still 85 percent accurate, he said. However, recent hurricanes in South Texas disrupted the supply chain for some items, forcing last-minute changes. “I’m cleaning up the November menu with things I’m sure we can get,” he said.


The company continues to work to develop and train staff in food preparation and teach them about food presentation and execution, he said.


Consent agenda

Board members also passed the Consent Agenda in a 7-0 vote. The Consent Agenda approved the purchase of new Chromebooks and licenses and also updated several policies. These topics were discussed an at earlier work session. Read about them here.