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WATCH or READ: Checking In with Charles (4/18/19)

 

 

It’s a short week in Fort Bend ISD – but also a busy one.

 

On Monday, we held our monthly board meeting, and updated our Board on two very important topics: the development of the annual budget, and the planned expansion of pre-kindergarten programming for our earliest learners.

 

I’ll have more on that in just a few minutes, but first, I want to spotlight the students and staff members recognized by the Board for their achievements…

 

These recognitions include a spelling bee champion from Walker Station Elementary who will compete in the national spelling bee this May.

 

Members of the Bowie Middle School National Junior Honor Society were also honored, after receiving an award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals and NJHS for a service project to help animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

 

Also recognized were members of the Ridge Point High School Academic Decathlon team for their individual achievements at the 2019 Academic Decathlon Texas Championship meet.

 

The Hightower High School Future Business Leaders of America team also won big at a recent state leadership conference, and will be competing at a national conference this summer.

 

And, the Fort Settlement Middle School Science Bowl team is headed to a national competition, representing our District after going undefeated at the Texas A&M Junior Science Bowl!

 

Rounding out the night’s recognitions -- a Meadows Elementary teacher who placed as the third runner up for the Houston Area Alliance of Black School Educators Teacher of the Year award.

 

Congratulations to all of our fine students and the staff members who were recognized!

 

Following the recognitions, staff presented an update on the District’s future plans to expand programming for our youngest learners. Most of our Pre-K students are currently served in half-day prekindergarten programs, but in the 2017-18 school year, Fort Bend ISD began offering its first full-day Pre-K program. We now offer additional full-day programs, including programs at the Early Literacy Center and the Early Intervention Academy. The results so far show that these research-based early education efforts are working, and staff plans to spend the next year planning for the expansion of these programs district-wide for implementation during the 2020-21 school year.

 

We are also diligently working to offer full-day Pre-K programs for eligible students sooner – as early as the upcoming school year, should state lawmakers pass legislation that makes full-day Pre-K mandatory for all eligible students.

 

As you may be aware, funding for Pre-K is included in both the senate and house school funding bills currently under consideration, but it may be several months before we know if new legislation is passed that changes the way our district is funded.

 

Because our Board is required to pass a budget by the end of June each year, we are budgeting for the upcoming year based on current formulas – while also projecting what the future may look like, if the proposed bills are passed into law.

 

As we continue the budget development process, we will be considering FBISD’s priorities that will support achievement of our District Mission and Vision, which include funding for instructional resources, special education, safety and security and salary increases for all staff, but we will not be able to finalize these plans until we have direction from the legislature, and we have a clear picture of what future state funding looks like for Fort Bend ISD.

 

Our Board members have had many conversations with our lawmakers regarding the proposed funding formulas – because, as they stand, Fort Bend ISD would not see the significant funding increases that many other districts would.

 

I’ve also made many trips to Austin – because it’s important that lawmakers understand that at a time when they are talking about tax compression and property value caps, the ability to fund pay increases and our strategic priorities may actually require a local tax rate increase through a tax ratification election.

 

We are continuing to advocate for a comprehensive funding solution, and at the same time, we are engaging in conversations about the ‘what-if’ scenarios with our Board of Trustees.

 

Thursday, April 18 marks six decades since the establishment of Fort Bend ISD. We’ve come a long way in that time, from four schools to 80, and we’ll be celebrating this milestone throughout the next year, as we prepare to open two new schools. 

 

Before I go – I want to encourage you to visit the District’s website where you can learn more about what’s going on in Fort Bend ISD, including a drug take back event on April 27, a new drop box where you can dispose of your medications safely year-round, and your chance to vote for Fort Bend ISD in the Cool Schools challenge! I also want to remind you that early voting for the May 4 Board of Trustees election begins on Monday, April 22. 

 

There’s a lot going on in FBISD, and we’re glad to have you on the team! 

 

Charles Dupre