We are now just one week away from the end of the school year, and I know our students and teachers are making every day count!
I’m coming to you today with a few updates from Monday’s Board meeting, which included important conversations and the swearing in of our newest Board member.
Like always, it began with special recognitions, including the contributions of former FBISD Board Member Sonal Bhuchar, who recently passed away after many years of service to Fort Bend ISD and other organizations that support our teachers and students. Our loss prevention specialist was also honored for receiving the 2019 TASB Risk Management Fund Excellence Award… and Hightower High School’s Girls Basketball Coach was honored for being selected as the Houston Chronicle’s Greater Houston Area and VYPE Magazine Coach of the Year. The team was also recognized for participating in the State 5A championship. Students recognized also included those who successfully completed the Board’s Student Leadership 101 and 102 programs, and who are exemplars of servant leadership.
While our year is wrapping up, you can trust that our Board and administrative team will continue to work throughout the summer to plan for next year and beyond. This includes the important consideration of a possible tax ratification election, which we will ask the Board to call next month. This was discussed at length during Monday’s meeting, and we believe it is necessary because of legislative uncertainty. The fact is, both of the current school funding bills do not look promising for Fort Bend ISD. It is critical that we have funding to attract and retain the very best teachers, who are the heart of everything we do, and unlike some neighboring districts, we are not set to receive a windfall in state revenues that could be used to fund significant salary increases.
We also know that our Board – and our community – share our expectations about providing an educational system that allows all students to reach their full potential. Among the priorities that could be funded by a TRE would be teacher and staff compensation, and resources that are needed to support our increasing special education student population, which has increased by 64 percent since the 2016-17 school year. And, we want to make sure we have funding to support teachers who are dealing with Tier 3 behaviors – the most severe cases that require immediate attention.
Our community can expect to hear more about the possible TRE in the coming weeks… as the board will hold a public hearing and vote on the proposed tax rate on June 3. In the meantime, I encourage you to watch the video of Monday’s meeting to learn more about how we are working as a District to ensure long-term funding flexibility amid budget uncertainty. We are proud of our strong fiscal stewardship of taxpayer funds, as demonstrated by our 4.5 star Texas Smart School Rating, and the 15th consecutive superior rating in the TEA’s Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, or FIRST rating. We are also held accountable through our annual internal audits, which are all posted on the board’s website.
We continue to take steps to ensure that we are improving instruction… Monday’s board actions included the approval of a locally developed social studies standard related to the local history associated with the Sugar Land 95 and convict leasing. On that note, I want to let you know that we continue to work with Fort Bend County to determine how we are going to reinter and memorialize the individuals discovered on the site as we wait together for legislative action that will allow us to move forward.
On Monday, the Board also approved new staffing and stipends for 2019-20 and the expansion of the Master/Mentor teacher model at nine FBISD campuses in the Marshall and Willowridge feeder pattern. We are proud to celebrate the success of the EDGE program at Briargate Elementary and Ridgemont Elementary…. And we are excited to expand the use of Master/Mentor teachers and Action-Based learning labs at other campuses.
Monday evening ended with the swearing in of Jim Rice, who was recently re-elected to the Board, and Allison Drew, who is our newest Board member. Dave Rosenthal was unable to be physically present at the meeting and will be sworn in at a later time.
I want to thank all who voted in the recent Board election, as well as the candidates, as we are committed to working with our community to help our students achieve success.
And, before I go, I want to congratulate the Marshall Boys Track Team – which won its fourth State title in five years last weekend. We are proud of the team and all they have done together, and we are proud of all of our students and teachers in Fort Bend ISD.
Let’s have a strong finish to the 2018-19 school year!