Texarkana, Texas | During the Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees November 18 regular session, trustees moved forward on filling the District 4 vacancy left open from the June resignation of Jerry Chapman due to unforeseen family circumstances.
TISD will accept letters of interest for the vacancy of District 4 from Monday, December 1 through Friday, December 5. The unexpired term will be filled through an appointment until an election is held in May 2015. All letters of interest should be forwarded to Gayle Hale, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, 4241 Summerhill Road, Texarkana, TX 75503.
Trustees heard from auditors of the firm of Thomas & Thomas, LLP who gave a clean opinion with no findings on the District’s accounting procedures and determined that the District continues to maintain sound financial practices.
For the 2013-14 fiscal year, the District ended with a fund balance of $13.8 million, an increase of $538,189 over the previous year. The fund balance at the end of 2013-14 was 26% of expenditures.
“As Chief Financial Officer, I am proud of the level of financial strength we maintain for TISD,” said Deidra Reeves. “Our team works hard to manage tax payer money with care and preserve a strong financial record.”
Lori Ables, Director of Secondary Curriculum, Instruction & Academic Services, presented for approval the Texas High Program of Studies and Course Description Guide for 2015-16. Sixteen new courses were approved bringing the total number of course offerings for the high school to 487. “Through a wide array of course options, Texas High School students are provided an academically enriched environment with a broad range of choices to meet the interests and abilities of students,” she shared. “We now provide 80 dual credit courses and 25 Advanced Placement courses which allow students the opportunity to complete college coursework while in high school. In fact, you can receive a high school diploma and an Associate Degree, through Texarkana College, by following a prescribed plan beginning your freshman year.”
Additional aspects of the new Course Guide include extensive information concerning graduation requirements and the endorsement areas.
With the passage of HB 5 during the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, a new graduation program, the Foundation High School Program, went into effect beginning this school year, replacing the current Minimum, Recommended and Distinguished Achievement High School Programs. The Foundation Program expands the availability of career and technology courses and encourages students to select a personal pathway of study called an endorsement.
The State Foundation Program requires a minimum of 22 credits; however, TISD recommends that an additional 4 credits be required to maintain the district’s current requirement of 26 credits for graduation. The four additional credits may be used in obtaining an endorsement.
According to Ables, “All students entering the 9th grade are now required to select an endorsement pathway. Students may choose their pathway based on career interests and post-secondary goals. At Texas High, students will have access to 44 customized four-year plans to help them make personal decisions about endorsement areas and course elections.”
Endorsement areas include: Arts & Humanities; Business & Industry; Multidisciplinary Studies; Public Services; Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM). Every Texas school district is required to offer at least one option under one endorsement area.
In other business, a Public Hearing was held on the reconstitution plans for Paul Laurence Dunbar Early Education Center, Westlawn Elementary School and Theron Jones Early Literacy Center. Following the Public Hearing, trustees approved the district to move forward with their targeted improvement and reconstitution plan which outlines strategies and activities for improvement of student performance as required by the state of Texas and which will be implemented during the 2015-16 school year.
Also attending the Board of Trustees meeting were representatives of the Junior League of Texarkana who presented eleven TISD teachers with “Teacher Take Wing” grants. These annual grants are given to area teachers for innovate in-class projects that might not otherwise be funded. Applications are accepted, reviewed, scored and ranked by a JLT committee and grants are awarded to the highest scores. TISD teachers receiving grants were: Christina Cook; Kacey Davis; Nichole Keener; Brandy Latham; Chelsea Norton; Karen Phillips; Emily Ransom; Nichole Smith; Nathan Upchurch; Leigh Welch; Lauren Willis. Teacher Nathan Upchurch received the highest score out of all applicants and received the “Outstanding Teacher Award.”