It's Time to Plan! Thanks for providing your input.Posted by Dr. Roosevelt Nivens on 2/11/2020
Greetings Brave Nation,
I can hardly believe we are already two months into the new year! I guess the saying “time flies when you are having fun” is true because we are having a blast here in Community ISD!
There is always work to be done as we continue to be laser-focused on providing the very best learning opportunities and experiences for our Braves. Springtime is an especially busy season for our teachers and staff. STAAR testing season is near, and there’s no shortage of special events, awards and field trips to plan and implement. Graduation will be here before we know it! And, believe it or not, we are already planning for the 2020-21 academic year.
One of the most important things we do each year is evaluate our programs and departments, as well as the funding that is assigned to them. We want to make sure that what we are doing is working, and we want to evaluate what we might need to do new or differently. Ultimately, we must ensure that we are being wise stewards of tax-payer dollars.
Part of this process is to seek input from our stakeholders. So, a couple of weeks ago our Financial Services Department launched the 2020 Budget Survey aimed at learning what our parents, staff and community members view as funding priorities. Each department was able to submit items that are part of their 3-5 year plan to improve and grow the programs and services they provide. The input provided helps us understand what is important to our stakeholders. By ranking the items, you let us know how you feel about our department plans and sometimes, through the comments submitted, you give us new ideas or suggestions about how we can better utilize our resources.
I wanted to take a few moments to respond to some of these ideas and suggestions submitted through the comment section of the survey. We had over 400 people complete the survey and a about 10% of you took the opportunity to share your thoughts and suggestions at the end of the survey. I want you to know I have read every single comment and your opinions have been heard. While we can’t fund everything that was suggested, I do want to address three specific topics that were mentioned more than a few times:
“We need to do more to respond to our student’s individual, social and emotional needs”
Most of you know I am the parent of two Community Braves. I have a daughter who is a senior. She is outgoing, determined and strong-willed. My son, a sophomore, is more laid-back, quiet and easy-going. Two very different kids but with the same need: to be socially supported and feel emotionally safe at school. I know this is a priority for every parent and we are being intentional about putting programs and people in place to ensure we are able to meet the individual needs of our Braves.
Just this month, we hired three new school counselors. As our enrollment has grown it became evident that we needed additional staff to ensure that we are monitoring not only our students’ educational progress, but addressing their social and emotional needs as well. With a smaller case load, our trained school counselors are able to better provide our students and families with the support and resources they need to be successful and overcome challenges.
Another result of our intentional focus on creating a safe and secure environment for our Braves is my recent decision to hire two licensed school social workers. We hope to have these individuals in place next month. They will specifically work with families to support physical and emotional needs as well as provide counseling and support to students in crisis situations. Their main responsibility is to support our Braves and their families outside of school by connecting them with external resources and programs to help them succeed in life.
“Our main focus should be to prepare kids for their adult career and life”
Outside of keeping our Braves safe, I could not agree with you more that this is our top priority: preparing our students to be successful in whatever future they choose. Over the past two years, our College and Career Readiness department has implemented several new career pathways. Students at CHS now have the opportunity to take classes and earn industry certifications in cosmetology, automotive technology, criminal justice, floral design, health sciences, audio/video production, education and training, and animal science.
Next year we are very excited to be launching a P-TECH early college pathway at CHS. Students will be able to earn an associates degree in construction technology or cyber security while they are still in high school. We actually have 12 juniors who are on track to graduate with their associates degree next year! This is because we are intentional about providing opportunities for our Braves. We have 5 higher education partners and offer 33 college classes at CHS.
“The student chromebooks seem to break often/not be charged”
Our 1-to-1 technology initiative ensures that every secondary student has access to a chromebook, which we believe is a necessary tool for learning. We are always looking for ways to improve how our teachers teach and how our students learn with technology.
As far as broken chromebooks go, our technology team is working directly with HP to ensure that we are keeping updated and trouble-free models in our student’s hands. If a student’s device has a hardware or software issue, it typically takes just two school days to have it fixed and returned. Unfortunately, we do have some machines that are damaged by carelessness or even intentionally. In these rare circumstances there is usually a conversation between student, parent and principal. For those students who may have a device being repaired, or happened to leave theirs at home, we provide each secondary classroom with two loaner Chromebooks for students to use during class.
Another way we are helping to keep chromebooks up and running is with the student tech shop located at CHS. The Tech Shop is run and operated by CHS students and their peers can bring their device for assistance on any day from 7:45 - 8:15 AM or at Mega Lunch. The CISD Technology department hopes to expand the tech shop services next year.
In closing, I thank each of you who took the time to participate in the 2020 Budget Survey. There were several suggestions on how we might improve the budget survey in the future, and we will certainly take those into consideration as we constantly look to improve the ways we communicate with you. As you all know by now: if you want to have a voice in Community ISD, there is a “seat at the table!” You know the saying, “We will establish a committee and if you want to be part of the conversation, then come be part of the conversation." We plan to use our survey tool more frequently in the future as a way for you to provide us with input and ideas. So please, when you see a survey from us, take a few moments to complete it. We value your opinions and need you to partner with us as we work together to provide the very best for our Braves!