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WATCH or READ: Checking In with Charles (1/12/2021)

Welcome back. This is the first Check In of 2021, and we are looking forward to a great year in Fort Bend ISD.

I'm here with an update following the first Board meeting of the year in a new temporary venue. This week’s Board meeting was held at the James Reese Career and Technical Center while renovations are made to the Board Room at the FBISD Administration Building.

The Board Workshop began with an update on the District’s ongoing efforts to support student learning during COVID. During the Winter Break, our FBISD team worked diligently in preparation for our return for Term 3. Our campus leadership, counseling and IT team members did an outstanding job ensuring a smooth transition, and because of their work and the work of many others, our students have returned to learning for the new semester.

In the new year, our COVID mitigation and contact tracing efforts have continued to protect the health of our students and staff while allowing us to successfully continue with face-to-face instruction. We are thankful for everyone’s continued diligence to adhering to the protocols we have in place to prevent the spread of illness... and we will continue to reinforce the importance of these efforts as we navigate through this extraordinary time.

During the break, news of the arrival of FDA-authorized COVID vaccines prompted questions from many staff members and others in our community. The State has structured a phased distribution of the COVID vaccinations, and the qualifications for each phase have also been determined by the State, and, unfortunately, the distribution does not include a phase that is dedicated to teachers and other campus staff who work in direct contact with students each day. Currently, the vaccine is only being distributed to Phase 1A and Phase 1B, but the availability of the vaccine is very limited. Fort Bend ISD is actively solidifying partnerships with vaccine providers and making plans to give employees vaccination options as soon as possible in accordance with the State’s phased distribution. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to carefully determine if you qualify to receive the vaccine under Phase 1A and 1B and take steps to get vaccinated by a provider with available vaccines. FBISD will continue to work with the county and vaccination providers to provide updates as soon as possible.  For more information and links to vaccination resources, please check the FBISD website.

During the meeting, Fort Bend ISD staff also presented an update for the 2018 Bond with many projects at or very near completion. We also heard from the chair of the Bond Oversight Committee, which serves in an advisory capacity with the District and meets quarterly to review the status of bond projects and ensure accountability for all bond funds.

All good bond programs are made great with sound fiscal stewardship, and Fort Bend ISD exemplifies strong financial responsibility as evident by a superior rating in the Texas Education Agency’s Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas or FIRST rating, and the AA+ rating from both Fitch and Standard and Poor’s bond rating agencies. These recognitions are greatly due to the District’s Debt Management Program. During Monday’s meeting, FBISD staff, the District’s financial advisor and bond counsel detailed how several debt-management tools such as variable-rate debt and the Commercial Paper Program save our taxpayers money. I encourage you to watch the video of the presentation so you can see how your tax dollars are being used responsibly.

You can also listen to several thoughtful discussions with our Board of Trustees regarding the improvement planning going on in Fort Bend ISD. We are a District committed to continuous improvement, and during the month of February, we will update on our Board on student performance during Term 2 and what we are doing to ensure that our students continue to learn and grow. This is a time of much uncertainty, but we are staying the course to ensure that our students receive the best learning experiences possible whether they are online or face to face.

Before I go, I want to remind you that we will continue to hold all Board Meetings at the Reese Center until the renovation of our Board Room is complete. And as always, you can watch the live stream of all Board Meetings on the District website. Our Board of Trustees spends countless hours supporting the students and staff of Fort Bend ISD, and so I ask that you join me in thanking them for their efforts during Board Appreciation Month. We’ll formally recognize them during next week’s meeting, and we’ll have more on that during the next Check In.

Until then, be safe, be healthy and have a great week!