January 21, 2015 | A full agenda was on tap for the Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees January 20, 2015 regular session.
Texas Academic Performance Report
At the beginning of the meeting, TISD held a Public Hearing on the district’s Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR) from Texas Education Agency for 2013-14.
All campuses met standard for student performance results on the 2014 State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) except for Westlawn Elementary. Dunbar Early Education Center and Theron Jones Early Literacy Center are non-tested schools.
Additionally, TISD received fourteen Distinction Designations, which is the most in our area. Texas High School received four distinctions, Nash Elementary received two distinctions, Spring Lake Park Elementary received one distinction, Wake Village Elementary received one distinction and Morriss Elementary received six distinctions.
“We are extremely pleased with the results and the seventy-five percent increase in Distinction Designations over last year,” stated Paul Norton, Superintendent of Schools. “I commend our students, staff and parents on their state testing efforts and look forward to seeing greater success in the future.”
The TAPR report for TISD can be found online at http://www.txkisd.net/aboutTISD/districtperformance.asp.
Maximum Class Size Exemption
Trustees approved maximum class size exception waivers for two classrooms each at Highland Park Elementary and Spring Lake Park Elementary. As part of Texas Education Code 25.112, each school district in Texas is required to review its class size enrollment to determine whether its class size for grades kindergarten through four meet the requirements. If the survey indicates any class exceeding a 22:1 student to teacher ratio, the district must submit a class size waiver and compliance plan.
“Class size waiver exceptions at the elementary level have become a standard at TISD during the past ten years due to our steady enrollment increases,” shared Nanette Power, Executive Director of Quality Assurance. “We make every effort to maintain less than a 24:1 student teacher ratio.
TISD Closes Virtual Academy
A difficult decision to make for Trustees during the Tuesday meeting was the discontinuance of the Texarkana ISD Virtual Academy program effective the end of the 2014-15 school year.
In 2011, TISD was one of three public school districts in Texas, approved by the Texas Education Agency, to participate in the Texas Virtual School Electronic Course Program for providing online learning options to students in grades 3-6. The District began accepting students at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year to provide more options to students who could benefit from a quality, online curriculum delivered to them at home or outside of the traditional “brick and mortar” school.
The collaboration between TISD Virtual Academy teachers and a customized version of the world-renowned curriculum from Calvert Educational Services provided online learning for any public school student who was motivated to learn academic content in a customized educational setting with the daily support of a responsible adult. Enrolled students had course studies tailored to their individual strengths and needs. Studies included: English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education, Health, Fine Arts and Spanish for grades 7 and 8. All students enrolled in the academy had the same accountability measures required by the State and were required to take all annual assessments.
During the past four years, the Texarkana ISD Virtual Academy expanded their offerings to the 7-8 grade level. The program has served an estimated 106 students per year in grades 3-8 from as far west as El Paso, south to San Antonio, Houston, Austin and many centrally located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
“Since opening in 2011, the Texas Legislature and the Texas Education Agency have changed the ‘terms of participation,’ or rules, governing online/virtual programming,” commented Norton. “Those changes, coupled with burdens that were being placed on our assessment division and the fact that fewer and fewer parents are available during the day to provide support to their students who are learning online, have made it unfavorable for us to continue to operate the school. We value our partnership with Calvert Educational Services and the parents of our students who have been active supporters of the program but must make the best decision for our district at this time.”
Increase in Tuition Rates
In other business, Trustees approved the 2015-16 tuition rate for ineligible students to be set at $5,255 per student (increase of $94). TISD establishes a tuition fee each year for students seeking enrollment that are ineligible for state funding. The annual rate is set according to the estimated Adjusted Basic Allotment the district expects to receive from the state.
Update on Bond Election
Lastly, Trustees heard from Brian Grubbs, Managing Director of SAMCO Capital Markets, Inc., on the summary of the plan of finance for the recently approved November 4 Bond Election for $29.9 million. Financial advisors will price and sale the bonds on the morning of February 17. During that evening’s Board of Trustees meeting, they will review the bond sales results and ask the TISD Board of Trustees to adopt the order authorizing issuance of the bonds. The bond closing and transfer of funds will be on March 18. TISD anticipates breaking ground on the new Sixth Grade Center at Texas Middle School in early April with the new elementary school shortly thereafter. Both are expected to open for the 2016-17 school year.