Gatesville ISD Department Update

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This week's Academic Minute reverts to department updates. As in the past, please take a moment to read what various departments are up too. There is a ton of great activity in Gatesville ISD. Have a great weekend Gatesville ISD!

Assistant Superintendent of Administration - Mrs. Worthington

The second semester is winding down, and STAAR has begun! As a district, we have just completed testing our Grade 2-12 ELL students with the online TELPAS reading test delivered through Pearson. Every grade level had perfect attendance for their assigned TELPAS test, and the students worked diligently. The testing window for TELPAS closed as of April 6th. This test is used to measure language acquisition from one year to the next.

We have several teachers across the district that are just finishing the STAAR ALT 2 assessment for our students with significant disabilities. This assessment is done in a one on one setting with the student and takes hours to administer and for which to prepare. Thanks to all of the teachers that have worked hard to get this completed!

Last week, we tested our first administration with ETS as the testing contractor. Due to the care in the monitoring of our test administrators and our technology department, our students were able to complete the online testing with limited issues. We had approximately 15 students across the district that had to logout and logged back in when we received an error message. A few of them had to go back and enter some answers previously entered, but didn’t lose much. Our district chose a pro-active approach and students were able to complete the test in the time allotted and cleared all of the system alerts!

Shipments for the next round of STAAR have begun to arrive…

As is typical for spring, there is a shortage of subs. More subs are being added each week. Please be cognizant of the fact that we have multiple UIL events and training each week when using discretionary leave.

The SHAC committee meets on April 20th at 3:45 in the board room at Admin. Students from Intermediate that are competing in Future Chef will be at this meeting for a short program. These students will give a trial run of the recipe that they will use in competition on April 27th. This will be the final meeting for SHAC this year. The committee will submit a report to the board in May or June summarizing what they have accomplished this year. Once again, SHAC discussed the sex ed program, Worth the Wait, that they had reviewed in previous years. Members of the SHAC committee reviewed the Wellness Policy and made a Wellness Plan that was adopted by our board and provided their input. It is SHACs recommendation and a district guideline that all students will have recess each day. The committee would like recesses extended on some campuses. It has been reiterated by the committee that a student should never be kept out of recess to complete an assignment or as punishment for not doing their work. Recess is an integral part of each student’s social and physical development.

On May 11th, Dr. Pollard, Regina Pruitt, and I will meet with District Site-Based and Technology members, parents, and students to evaluate the different state and federal programs and plan for them in 16-17. If you are part of this committee, we hope to see you there. If you have children, bring them because we need student participation too.

We appreciate the jobs that each of you does to insure that we continue our focus on teaching and learning. We also appreciate our custodial staff for the upkeep of our buildings. Our cafeteria staff has just completed a rigorous audit and came through with a perfect score. Kudos to our bus drivers and transportation department for transporting our students safely throughout the school year. Our maintenance department has had many projects this year and still continues to do more. Thanks for your efforts. I would also like to thank the employees at the Administration Office that have pulled together to help out when needed. The anchor holds…

The springtime is full of activities… I feel blessed to be able to work with each of you and to work with students in this district and this community!

Assistant Superintendent of Academics - Dr. Barrett Pollard

From a curriculum and instruction standpoint, groups of teachers at all five campuses have begun creating or revising Year-at-a-Glance documents for their respective grade and subject areas. Our goal is to have YAAGs for all four core subject areas in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th grade by June 1st. Although these documents are brief, the YAAG provides a roadmap for our teachers to ensure that we cover all of the TEKS and provide common assessments at key intervals. Teams of teachers in the primary grades have also begun reviewing our current report cards to potentially streamline those documents. For the first time in GISD, our kindergarten through third grade teachers implemented the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (BAS), which gave our teachers accurate and reliable reading levels for each student. Also, our kindergarten through second-grade teachers administered the Texas -Early Mathematics Inventory (TEMI), which provided valuable information on our students’ ability concerning understanding number, operations, and quantitative reasoning. Our goal is to have end-of-year BAS reading levels on all students in grades K-6 and end-of-year TEMI scores on all students in grades K-2.

Our elementary reading specialists also implemented the Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) program to provide targeted, small group remediation for our most struggling readers. Our goal is to provide LLI training to our reading specialists at the Primary and Intermediate campuses shortly. At the secondary level, we have worked collaboratively with Central Texas College to provide even more dual credit course offerings and opportunities for articulation for our students in the coming school year. Also, our Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers have worked diligently to create a more coherent sequence of coursework that culminates in certifications for our students as well as internships with local businesses. Finally, in addition to the high-quality professional development sessions offered this summer, our faculty and staff will receive embedded professional development throughout the coming school year. Best of all, these sessions will not only be led by outside consultants, but many of our teachers and administrators will be conducting these professional development opportunities.

Finance Department – Mr. Frazier

Like every other business in America, we navigated our way through the new complexities of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or better known as ObamaCare) in meeting the first year reporting requirements administered by the Internal Revenue Service. The required 2015 IRS forms were provided to all employees by the March 31 deadline.

Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Budget packets were delivered to District campuses and departments in February, and as they are completed and returned to the Business Office, we will begin reviewing them shortly. The goal is to have all campus and department budgets completed by the end of May. The 2016-2017 budget process will culminate in late August when the School Board approves a final budget.

The Financial Audit Report for the year ended August 31, 2015 was submitted to the Texas Education Agency and other entities as required by law or covenants in January. The same report was reported to TEA as a PEIMS submission known as the Mid-Year submission. The audit report can be viewed either from our District’s website, or the TEA website.

This Spring we had the joy of rebidding the District’s Food Service Management Company Services. Washington decided that the Texas Department of Agriculture erred in the manner in which bids were reviewed and scored. Consequently many districts all over Texas like ours which bid out Food Service Management in the past couple of years were required to go through the process again all over again. Bids are due April 8, and only two companies are expected to present proposals: Sodexo and Aramark.

The Business Office in cooperation with the Technology Department has also been involved in requesting and reviewing a variety of service proposals under the Federal Program known as E-Rate. This process involves two separate groups of services known as Category 1 and 2. Category 1 includes telephone lines, cellular services, long distance phone services and internet access. The District again this year chose CenturyLink for local lines, AT&T Wireless for cellular, AT&T for long distance, and EdLink 12 for internet access. This past year was the first time our District qualified for Category 2 services, which pertain primarily to equipping schools with WIFI access to the internet. The technology enterprise, TFE, was the winning bidder for our projected WIFI expansion during the upcoming year.

Our District began a couple of years ago filing for reimbursements under the Medicaid Program for services rendered to eligible students and their families. This spring the Business Office worked with the Transportation Department and Special Education to include reimbursements for transportation services, which will significantly augment our District’s revenues under this program. Reimbursements are expected to reach the $200-$300 thousand range. When received, these funds are deposited into the District’s General Fund.

Thanks to the collection work performed by Coryell Tax Collector Justin Carothers and his staff, our current year tax levy has already reached the 98% mark through March. By the end of the fiscal year, that number should top out at around 100%. As always, we thank our community for its excellent tax remittance practice.

The Business Office over the past several months has been working on a comprehensive teacher compensation study, and presented its findings to the School Board at its February meeting. Based upon this study, Mr. Penrod is recommending to the Board that the District double its above-base supplement to the States’ minimum teacher salary schedule over a 3-year period. Currently, that amount is $3,000. This will represent the most significant increase ever approved by the school district. Our teachers are among the lowest paid in our region, and it’s time that we address this shortfall.

We could not end this report without mentioning some real fun we’ve been having in the midst of all this hard work. Our Admin. office has had the joy this past week of serving up hamburgers to all campuses, to the great delight of teachers and staff. This provided us a unique opportunity to show each campus how much all of us here at Admin appreciate their tireless efforts and contributions to the success of our District. With Mr. Penrod as our lead cook, we were able to turn out some of the best burgers in town!

Student Support Services Department - Mrs. Regina Pruitt

This school year is flying by, and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with all of the various departments. As the year has progressed, I have come to the realization that the Gatesville ISD Special Programs department is a very unique group because it truly represents all employees of GISD working together to provide support and enrichment to all students in need. Each day, I witness teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors and administrators striving to help the students of GISD achieve their highest level of success by providing enrichment through GT, intervention through RtI and dyslexia, and academic support through ESL, 504 and SPED.

SPED and 504 began using a new web-based management program, Success Ed, this year. The program is a major upgrade for these departments and allows all student records to be stored in a centralized location. The implementation of a new program is always a challenge; however, the GISD SPED department and 504 coordinators turned this challenge into a great celebration by incorporating the new program into their daily routines with relative ease. They have worked hard throughout the year to enter every student’s information into the program, so they can easily run various reports as needed for their campuses. Plans are also in the works to create a District 504 Handbook for next school year.

Teachers throughout the district are sharing many great milestones achieved by their students in the various programs, such as mastering the steps of self-care (always important with our little ones), learning to communicate appropriately with others, and moving from a non-reader to an emergent reader. Mrs. Dowdy, ESL coordinator and teacher, reports witnessing more “ah ha” moments this year than ever before, including a significant growth by her 3rd grade students on the recent Mock STAAR. She is appreciative of the hard work shown by the students and is excited to be witnessing the benefits of having a balanced literacy model in the classroom.

The dyslexia teachers began holding department meetings this year, and teachers are excited to have this time available to come together and collaborate! At the forefront of the conversation is a dyslexia intervention program, in order to align the district in the area of dyslexia curriculum. The teachers chose the Dyslexia Intervention Program (DIP), and they will all receive training on the program this summer at Region 12 ESC. Also, they are currently working on developing a District Dyslexia Plan and plan on attending training to create a District Dysgraphia Plan.

In GT news, Mrs. Tatum’s students have been busy conducting research to complete their Texas Performance Standards Projects (TSPS). These projects are designed by TEA specifically for gifted students. The final project includes a finished paper, complete with bibliography, a student presentation and a creative final project. This is a very big undertaking for the students, and Mrs. Tatum is very pleased with their progress. It is rewarding to see the growth the older students show in completing the project over the years, in addition to improving their note taking and research skills. The following is a list of projects for this year:

1st Grade – Animal Nation

2nd Grade – Medieval Times

3rd Grade – Building a Business

4th Grade – Innovative Celebration

5th Grade – Pursuit of Passion

6th Grade – Culture Shock

In addition to the TSPS projects, Mrs. Tatum is excited to have recently enrolled (7) new kindergarten students into the GT program. They will soon be going on an educational field trip to Raby Park where they will participate in geocaching and enjoy a picnic with their parents. The older students will be taking their field trip in May to Mother Neff Park.

Maintenance Department – Mr. Toby Williams

Good morning Gatesville ISD, it’s time for another newsletter. Let’s start with Intermediate. We got the walls painted in the Gym over the Thanksgiving break, and it looks great. I hope everyone is happy with that; now we need to do something about the rest of the school hallways. I’m not sure how we came up with the color scheme for the hallways over there, but it’s on the fix it list. I’m not sure how soon, but we will get to it. We also have a new rubber gym floor at Intermediate. It turned out nice; Mother Nature gave us a run for our money with the rain, but it turned out okay. I have the cove base to go to the gym, just have not had time to get it put in yet. It too is on the list; did I mention the list? It’s long so that you know.

My hope is this summer when we are caught up, ha ha he said caught up. Sorry inside joke. Anyway, my hope is to make some improvements landscaping wise to the front of each of the campuses. Which brings us across the street to Primary, we’re going to move your front plumb to the north side of the building. Moving the office to that end as well. There will be some construction involved in enlarging the current circle out front of the building to accommodate the bus loading being moved to that area. I think this switch-a-roo as I’m calling it will prove to be a more inviting entrance. The paneling will be going bye as well this summer. I know you all are fond of it, but the 70’s are over, time to move on. We will be floating out the walls and painting. We are also creating some PD rooms; I had to ask what the acronym meant, though. I’m still learning all those. Mr. Pollard will have a great area to set up professional development classes for you all to attend. I’m calling it the PPDW, Pollard professional development wing. All in all, the primary will have the pretty different look next year.

Let’s take a look at Junior High. The new Junior High Library will be open for business at the start of school next year. It’s going to be a major undertaking, but I’m confident we can pull it off. The other change will be the beginning of the end for the existing light fixtures. I’m not sure how many classrooms we will get changed, but I hope to replace quite a few of the fixtures with the drop in fixtures that will be flush with the ceiling. If there is the time, we plan to re-carpet the offices at Junior high. It’s on the list too, remember the list?

Hello High School, I hope everyone has had a chance to take a look at the new auditorium. It turned out nice. I’m very proud to have been part of that project. High School received paint this year and will soon receive some much-needed landscape attention. The carpet is kind of on- going project at every campus, but it is also needed at High School. When I say carpet, I am referring to the entrances; the entryway is carpeted with a type of carpet made for entry ways. In the long run, it is longer lasting than floor mats and much easier to maintain not to mention it just looks better. So look for that to appear around the campuses.

Now to Elementary, we have purchased a baler and will begin selling hay off the back of the bus circle, just kidding. The hydro mulch will most likely take place closer to school being out, but will end up being much more manageable on our end. I know you all may be getting tired of the constant mowing. The dead trees are under warranty and will be replaced soon. I hope you all are as happy with the new school as we are. I know we have had a few issues with it but all in all, it’s a great school.

Well, that’s all I have folks, I hope your remaining year goes well. I know summer is just around the corner. I hope if there is anything you all need don’t hesitate to email me and let me know. I’ll add it to the list, lol you remember the list right?

Transportation Department – Mr. Steve Davis

Spring is here, and the transportation department is rocking and rolling. The spring semester is always extremely busy for us due to the numerous UIL events. We have six different sports participating in the spring, and three of those have a boys and girls team. There are UIL contests, FFA contests, Student Council trips and Senior trips just to name a few. This requires more bus drivers than available at times, and I appreciate the extra drivers that are willing to help out when called on. These extracurricular trips have rolled over 70,000 miles since the start of school.

We have purchased new software to assist in route planning and organization. This software will build routes that are efficient and save the routes to ensure easy access for administrators when needed. This should be in place for the 2016-17 school year.

Technology Department – Mrs. Shelly Harper

This spring 2016 is packed with exciting updates including various technology projects and accomplishments. While some achievements may be evident, many are behind the scenes and not as apparent. These less visible projects lay the foundation that brings us closer to opportunities for growth and a more efficient infrastructure.

The Technology Department is excited to announce that we have acquired a new location. The Technology Services building (previous ISS building across from the High School) has been renovated and includes new technology department offices and collaborative workspaces. We will continue to service needs district-wide and increase efficiency with technology work requests. Some project completions and current successes we are celebrating include:

● Wireless network saturation in all classrooms is completed for all campuses.

● The High School auditorium renovation is completed and includes mounted projectors and wireless access.

● Technology equipment for round four of the Education Foundation Grant shipments are arriving and installation is in progress to include new Chromebooks, iPads and accessories.

● Imagine Learning implementation and installations are complete which includes innovative language and literacy software programs for ELLs, struggling readers, early childhood education and special education students.

● Successful implementation of the Texas Student Data System (TSDS), a major initiative by the Texas Education Agency. TSDS is a new statewide system that modernizes and improves the quality of data collection, management, and reporting in Texas education.

● We survived the completion of the first round of online testing with the new ETS system.

● The Technology Department is in the first phase of the Global Apps for Education (GAFE) migration which includes obtaining district-wide accounts for

● Continuing to implement tech support which includes attention to detail and timely responses is our goal.

As we move into the summer, our technology initiatives and all that it encompasses brings further progress and innovation. Along with regular summer maintenance, equipment storage, upgrades and summer training support, we are preparing to launch these new initiatives:

● Assisting with network and technology needs for the Primary campus office renovation and the new professional development wing

● Completing the Junior High Library construction which includes Chrome devices, wireless access and a mounted projector

● Implementing and upgrading computers and labs per the rotation cycle to include a transition to Chromebox systems and Chromebooks in selected locations

● Upgrading the Lightspeed Internet filter to the new 3.0 version

● Progressing to phase two of the Global Apps for Education (GAFE) migration, which includes obtaining e-mail accounts for for all district staff and students

● Upgrading campus network equipment closets to increase speed and efficiency

● Continuing to be mindful of Doing What’s Best for Kids!

Child Nutrition Services – Mrs. Gail Shelton

The past couple of weeks has been very busy for all the cafeterias. We had a third party audit in February and received all gold scores. A third party auditor looks for food safety and employee safety. On each campus audited, the auditor was impressed in how clean our kitchens are, how well our staff worked together to prevent accidents, and all the procedures we follow to ensure our food stays safe. We are very blessed to have such a caring group of employees in our kitchens.

In March, we had Fine Dining at the Junior High. Mrs. Venable selected 20 students to enjoy an elegant meal in the library. Chef Henry for Huntsville came to help us set up and prepared the main course. Tammy Brown from our Primary prepared a wonderful chocolate cake with the strawberry garnish. The students had a great time, and I look forward to hosting this event again next year.

Also, in March, we had our state AR (Administrative Review) at the Elementary. The AR was a little different this year. Before the on-site visit, we had to upload much stuff for their review. McKenzie Newman had to upload every free and reduced application for that campus; Mr. Frazier had to upload, and financials about food service on that campus, and Mrs. Cooper had to upload all production records and menus for the month of February. Once the monitor was on-site, she focused on watching to make sure each student received the correct food items on their tray. She also looked through all a la carte items and made sure they passed the smart snack policy. At the end of the day, our district had no findings with the state. That is quite an accomplishment. Most districts have a least one finding.

This past week, I have had the pleasure to assist Mr. Penrod with his staff cook-out. It has been wonderful to get to visit with all the teachers that I do not normally see. Also, the foods pretty good too. I look forward to the remaining campuses this week.

In April, we will be doing Future Chef with four students from the Intermediate school. This event has been rescheduled several times due to conflicts with University High and all the audits and rebids with the Waco schools, but we have finally settled for April 27th. We had a great time with this event last year, and one of our students won the “Fusion Award”.