Bond 2015 Finances and Projects Wrap Up
Bond 2015 Finances and Projects Wrap Up
Successful construction and improvement projects totaling $63.5 million conclude
On Nov. 28, 2017, Barwise Middle School's eighth-graders were bused to the new Career Education Center for a tour of all 26 career programs. Here, they enter the $35 million facility from the back door. Principal Synthia Kirby stands at the center door and greets them. This facility was the centerpiece of the 2015 bond and opened its doors in August 2017.
In November’s regularly scheduled board meeting Nov. 20, WFISD board members unanimously approved making the final payment for Bond 2015 construction.
The $63.5 million bond required a pledge of $59.5 million from taxpayers, with another $4 million pledged from the WFISD Fund Balance.
On Monday, board members approved that $4 million payment as the District’s part in the bond project that included the building of a Career Education Center, middle school additions and renovations, and upgrades in Memorial Stadium parking and restrooms, technology infrastructure and safety enhancements.
Specifically, $3,634,000 was transferred from the General Operating Fund to the Bond Fund. “This was our contribution to the effort,” said Board President Dale Harvey.
The payment was the finishing touch to a job well done, said board member Bob Payton. “All the work that has gone on the past few years – it’s great to come back and put the bow on it,” he said.
Nearly all projects paid for by the bond have concluded. A few finishing touches are still underway at the $35.7 million Career Education Center, which opened its doors in August, and on $500,000 in projects for safety and security enhancements across the District.
Rider High School Choir Room Named
In a 7-0 vote, board members made it official: The Rider High School Choir Room is officially named in honor of former Rider music teacher Don Cowan.
“Long overdue. Great idea. Thank you,” said Board President Dale Harvey.
Mr. Cowan was Rider’s first choir director, serving the school from the day Rider opened its doors in 1961 until his retirement in 1993. He composed the Rider High School Alma Mater and set the standard for the school’s A cappella Choir, which won many awards under his direction.
Rider High School Football Practice Field Named
In a 7-0 vote, board members approved the naming of Rider High School’s football practice field in the honor of Morris K. Mercer, a former coach. Coach Mercer was the Head Football Coach and Athletic Coordinator at Rider High School from 1969 through 1983. He played a key role during the District’s period of integration and the closing of Booker T. Washington High School. With a win-loss record of 92-55-11, he had double the most career wins at Rider compared to all other Rider head football coaches.
“Long overdue. Sorry this didn’t happen earlier,” said Mr. Harvey. “Morris Mercer had a profound effect on these schools.”
Quarterly Report of the District’s Four Improvement Required Campuses
Principals from the District’s four Improvement Required campuses summarized their efforts to improve student performance at their schools.
Hirschi High School
Hirschi High School Principal Doug Albus said the school is addressing its low English Language Arts scores by giving teachers High Reliability Schools training and providing frequent networking in professional learning communities.
He is trying to improve the English scores of special education students by putting special education staff who teach English through two trainings in September and a third in November. Students’ schedules have also been adjusted to align with the training, he said. Currently, 16 special ed students “have a good shot at passing the EOC,” he said.
To address low performance STAAR scores of the school’s incoming ninth graders, Mr. Albus is bolstering teacher training through special meetings four days a week and weekly collaborative meetings to plan lessons and create assessments.
Teachers are learning to use data to drive their instruction, he said.
Ben Franklin Elementary School
Ben Franklin Principal Angie Betts said her teachers are addressing two problem areas: (1) Low academic performance of economically disadvantaged and Hispanic student groups and (2) Low 5th grade math scores.
Students are experiencing success with the use of IStation’s computer-adaptive assessments and instruction, she said. They are reading with more fluency and comprehension because of special strategies targeted to bolster such improvements.
Currently, 5th grade reading scores are 2 percent below the District’s average.
She has completed nearly 100 walk-throughs and observations of her teachers during the first semester and has provided constructive ideas to everyone.
“Data analysis is being used with fidelity,” she said. The importance of using data to help each child improve has been a wake-up call for teachers, she said.
Her teachers are also working hard at improving math scores. In fifth grade, scores are 9 percent below the District’s average.
She has confidence in her fifth-grade math teacher, who has taught lessons, reviewed them, retaught them, built new assessments, and seen a minimum of 15 percent growth in students’ scores.
Moving forward, the school is busy with after-school tutorials using Title 1-funded tutors, math vocabulary work with students, Math Fact Fluency practiced daily, Seidlitz implementation and walkthroughs, and ASOT (Robert Marzano’s book “The Art and Science of Teaching”) elements noted in teacher lesson plans.
Booker T. Washington Elementary School
Principal Mark Davis said his teachers are learning to track data in reading and math to help children progress.
The school is also implementing the Capturing Kids Hearts program, moving toward the goal of having 100 percent of teachers using its principles and strategies.
“Discipline is not an issue at this time,” said Mr. Davis.
Two key programs – Balanced Literacy and Scientific Learning – are helping teachers help children, particularly in reading. “(Curriculum specialist) Mae Walker is coming on campus and reinforcing several components,” he said.
Mr. Davis is now tutoring math in fourth-grade classrooms on Thursdays. “It helps me be closer to the data,” he said.
He is also trying to keep teachers motivated and excited. “We have a lot of initiatives,” he said. “We are trying to keep them motivated and keep their eyes on the prize.”
Kirby Middle School
Principal Troy Farris said he met with each of his teachers during Professional Learning Community time and reviewed their students’ test scores. He encouraged them to own the data and know specifically how each child performed.
“I asked, ‘What did you do with the data?’” he said. He encouraged them to also familiarize themselves with each child’s strengths and weaknesses, then decide how they would address their weaknesses. He also asked them to create a plan of action for students who didn’t perform well.
Students are tested every Friday over what they learned that week, he said. A key weakness now seems to be in 6th grade math, he said. Some students’ scores actually declined, he said.
However, reading scores have seen “tremendous gains from STAAR and now on CBA,” he said. Scores in 7th and 8th grade math have also seen good gains.
Overall, problems stem from ineffective teacher strategies, he said. They are now working on finding better ways to engage students. For example, instead of learning vocabulary by writing out words and their definitions from the dictionary, he is urging teachers to find creative strategies, such as using QR codes to create a vocabulary scavenger hunt.
“We’re looking for student engagement,” he said. “It is hard for some teachers to step back from stand-and-deliver (instruction) and let kids take charge of their learning. We’re seeing teachers letting go of some of that power.”
He has done well over 100 walk-throughs in classrooms, he said.
The District’s new Scientific Learning reading program has been a big help because it has provided data-driven instruction, he said. This year, teachers are consulting their data daily. They are looking for their weaknesses and filling the gaps.
Dr. Farris said he will occasionally visit a classroom and ask a student to explain what he is doing. If the student can’t explain what he is learning, Dr. Farris figures the child doesn’t understand the lesson and should be retaught. “If I see a class struggling, I tell the teacher to go back and reteach,” he said.
He has also asked teachers to increase the rigor on tests to match the rigor on STAAR. “Everything now has to be STAAR quality,” he said.
He is also having discussions with teachers about the progress of individual students and how to apply High Reliability School standards and Capturing Kids Hearts strategies.
The school has also implemented a new incentive program by giving each student a personal goal to meet.
Campus Improvement Plan Performance Objectives
In a 7-0 vote, board members approved the Campus Improvement Plan Performance Objectives submitted by Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths.
It is a board policy that a district improvement plan, along with improvement plans for each campus, be developed, reviewed and revised annually to improve the performance of all students.
Also, the Texas Education Agency asked something new this year of districts, requiring them to create five-year planning documents that will be tied to Title funding. It is a federal plan that must be in compliance with ESSA, “Every Student Succeeds Act,” said Mr. Griffiths.
The plan will ultimately be submitted as a state to Washington, D.C.
Campuses must develop strategies to:
- Recruit, retain and support teachers and principals
- Build a foundation of literacy and numeracy
- Connect high school to career and college
- Improve low-performing schools
Resolution for Community Healthcare Clinic at Zundy Elementary
In a 7-0 vote, board members approved the resolution to lease designated clinic space at Zundy Elementary to the Community Healthcare Center.
The mobile unit will be placed on the southwest corner of the Zundy property. It will provide clinic services to the Zundy neighborhood, serving Zundy staff, students and their parents with medical services.
Wichita Appraisal District Board of Directors Appointees
In a 7-0 vote, board members appointed Mr. Steve Cookingham and Mr. Kerry Maroney to the Wichita County Appraisal District Board of Directors.
The District has the opportunity to appoint two representatives to the Wichita Appraisal District Board of Directors. Mr. Cookingham, who is already on the board but whose term expires Dec. 31, 2017, has agreed to serve another two-year term. Mr. Maroney will also serve a two-year term.
In a 7-0 vote, board members approved the Consent Agenda. It included Financial Reports through Sept. 30, 2017, meeting minutes, and a personnel report.