All About ACE

News from the Spring ISD Advisory Committee on Education

2021-2022 Issue 2

The Advisory Committee on Education Convened to Address District Issues that Matter

The district’s ACE committee met on Wednesday, Jan. 19, to discuss important agenda items and to gather feedback from its members. The committee, which includes campus and district representatives, and parents and community members, focused on the District of Innovation renewal process as well as curriculum updates and announcements.

Lone Finalist for the Spring ISD Superintendency, Dr. Lupita Hinojosa began the meeting by thanking everyone for their service on the ACE committee, followed by taking time to recognize that our district’s leadership transition is currently underway. She emphasized Dr. Watson’s commitment to keeping the staff informed and how the ACE has always been one of the key groups for doing that. Continuing with the same level of commitment will ensure a seamless transition.

Dr. Hinojosa shared her thoughts in the usual opening segment, “What’s on My Mind?” She wanted to allay any concerns regarding changes in the district as a result of the leadership transition.

“This semester, in particular, is so very important to our students,” Dr. Hinojosa explained, “We’ve invested a great deal of time and energy into our curriculum, which we committed to implementing with fidelity. What is right for us as a district and best for our students is consistency. With that in mind, we are staying the course.”

Before closing, Dr. Hinojosa issued a charge to the committee: to re-engage and recommit to the goals of Spring ISD. She also charged them to find joy in the daily work they do. “Give it your best. Say ‘yes'," she said, “If we can find joy in the work that we do, it transfers to our students and families. It’s truly contagious.”

Dr. Hinojosa closed her opening segment with a pledge to walk alongside each and every employee, student, parent, and community member. Within seconds, the Zoom emojis and chat messages flowed as a sign of support and commitment, and an answer to the call.

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District of Innovation Renewal

In 2017, a committee of Spring ISD stakeholders convened to develop its first District of Innovation (DOI) plan under the designation guidelines of the Texas Education Agency. The DOI plan is effective for five years, with options to amend within the period of the district’s current plan and/or renewal at the end of its effective term.

Beginning at the end of January, the DOI Renewal Committee met for the first of a three-part meeting series to fulfill the renewal process and plan development by key district stakeholders, including members of the ACE who volunteered to participate in the process.

During renewal, all sections of the plan are reviewed and revised based on the feedback and recommendations from the committee. Small teams are being convened within the meetings to ensure all voices are heard and to facilitate the feedback process. The recommendations that are gathered through these three meetings are critical to the successful development of the renewal plan.

“As the ACE Committee, you play a very important role in the District of Innovation process as many of our other stakeholders do,” Dr. Julie Hill, Chief of Human Resources and Human Capital Accountability, stated. She explained that there are key times when the ACE will be called upon to engage in the DOI renewal process.

The DOI renewal timeline is concise and follows a strict set of steps to examine and revise the plan as determined by the committee. Dr. Hill further explained the following exemption areas that are included in our district’s innovation plan:

  • Modifications to the School Day, which allows flexibility of scheduling to ensure time for planning and preparation is afforded to campus staff before or after instructional hours.

  • Modifications to the School Year, which provides a school district the option to begin the instructional year before the fourth Monday in August.

  • Innovation Curriculum and Instructional Methods provides an exemption from the required 90 percent seat-time rule to attain course credit;

  • District Budget and Sustainable Program Funding, which waives certification mandates of career and technology education teachers; and

  • Campus Governance, which allows flexibility in district-wide staff development, class size, and specific staffing requirements.

“Becoming a District of Innovation back in 2017 positioned us as a district to pursue the goals and objectives of our strategic plan at the time, Every Child 2020,” Dr. Hill stated. “We look forward to the renewal plan, affording us the same level of local benefits that will align to our new Every Student, Every Teacher, Every Day strategic plan as well.”

One of the key next action steps in the DOI renewal process is the ACE Committee’s approval of the proposed plan. The members will receive the plan in advance in order to make an informed vote at the next meeting on February 23.

All Spring ISD employees and community stakeholders are encouraged to read the current DOI plan and become more familiar with the renewal timeline.

Curriculum Update

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Workforce Development Dr. Matt Pariseau presented curriculum updates to the ACE Committee as an emphasis on student outcomes as outlined in our new strategic plan Every Student, Every Teacher, Every Day. The aligned curriculum and assessments, as well as differentiated professional development were highlighted, in particular.

Additionally, the Academic Update is a weekly e-newsletter that is created especially for teachers to provide ongoing news and updates related to the district curriculum, effective instructional practices, and professional development opportunities.

“When we empower our teachers with the knowledge and skills to reach their students, they’re able to make a huge impact,” Dr. Pariseau stated.

The Academic Update newsletter also contains surveys and other tools for gathering feedback to inform our district departments of teachers’ needs and development trends.

Meet Your New District Leaders

As of February 1, our new Spring ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lupita Hinojosa, a familiar face in the schools and throughout the community, officially began her tenure. To other new leaders, either new to the district or to their position, the ACE gave a warm welcome:

  • Mr. Lester Gretsch, Chief of Communications

  • Dr. Miguel Perez, Chief of Schools

Q & A Recap

Time was set aside for Q&A to address questions directly from Dr. Hinojosa and members of the Superintendent’s Cabinet. Here’s a recap of this portion of the meeting:

What is the district’s plan to address the lack of substitute teachers?

Julie Hill, Chief of Human Resources and Human Capital Accountability, distinguished the need for substitutes versus vacant positions. She stated that substitutes are hired when there is an absence by a teacher of record. In this instance, whether the need is to fill the absence for a day or for an extended period of time, the district has contracted Kelly Services to fill our substitute staffing needs on a daily basis. So far, they have provided substitutes for approximately 65% of the needs, which is remarkable compared to a 30% fill-rate for substitutes prior to working with them. Regarding vacancies, the district is staffing positions with interim teachers in addition to virtual teachers through Proximity Learning.

Is the vacant position list updated?

The current roster of vacancies by campus is accurate as the vacant teacher list is updated daily, as confirmed by Dr. Hill.

How will incentive pay be awarded this year?

Dr. Hill explained that the Spring Rewards Employee Incentive Program is currently being finalized and will be rolled out very soon. Stay tuned for more details from the Human Resources and Human Capital Accountability team.

Make Your Voice Heard! Talk to Your ACE Representative

Every campus in the district has at least two ACE representatives elected by the staff to serve in an advisory role to the Superintendent. Central office representatives are also elected to serve, as well as community members who are appointed by the Superintendent serve on the ACE as another integral voice.

Over the next month, your ACE representatives will share meeting highlights such as those found in this newsletter as well as gather your input to bring to the next meeting. Be on the lookout for updates to be shared at your next faculty meeting (campuses) and or staff special call-meeting (district office). If you want to ensure your views are heard, reach out to your ACE representative. Click here to learn who represents you.

2021-2022 ACE Meeting Dates

Mark your calendar for this year’s ACE meetings! Contact your representative and look for updates on district news and key decisions throughout the year.

The next ACE meeting will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m.

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