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The Scoop from the Supe! (1/13/2022)

Happy 2022! In this first “Scoop from the Supe” letter of the new year, I want to reflect on my initial 100 days as your superintendent. I had the pleasure of speaking to the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce yesterday about the joy I have experienced while getting out and about in our community.

So far, I have visited numerous campuses and held one-on-one sessions with the principals as part of my “walk and talk” efforts, engaged in 14 meetings with elected officials and community members, and attended over 20 events - such as band night, student choir holiday performances, and playoff games.

Just the other day, I spent some time with the Dulles Academic Decathlon team which finished first at the recent Pearland Invitational Meet. It was their best finish ever at this meet and they outperformed three other former state champions, beating them by a mile!

Supporting our students and campuses is one of the things I enjoy most about my job. I look forward to attending more events and celebrating our outstanding students and teachers.

BOND/TAX RATE

At the Board’s meeting Monday night, our financial team gave an in-depth presentation that included the need for a continuation of the 2018 Bond. That bond was designed with the intention of holding the Phase 2 election in November 2021, but the pandemic interfered. I want to assure you that as discussions continue, I will be very intentional about keeping you informed and being extremely transparent about “the why” behind any actions our Administration recommends to our Board of Trustees for consideration.

CALENDAR SELECTION

Monday evening the Board also reviewed the proposed 2022-23 calendar. Quite a bit of feedback has been gathered in order to gain consensus about the version most key stakeholders prefer, especially our teachers. Calendar options were revised based on feedback to reflect the newly proposed calendar:

·         Does not require an additional five minutes added to the school day

·         Provides a start date for students on August 10, 2022

·         Ensures adequate summer breaks for teachers and students

·         Concludes the school year prior to Memorial Day

·         Maintains a traditional holiday schedule

The Board is scheduled to vote on the calendar at the January 24 meeting.

REFINING CLIMATE, CULTURE, MORALE

One of the first things I noticed when I became superintendent and began visiting campuses is the extraordinary dedication and commitment of Fort Bend ISD teachers to the well-being and success of our students. As we all know, the pandemic has taken a toll on educators in every corner of the globe and in many cases impacted the morale of teachers. I want to address this issue here in FBISD by first doing the most important thing I believe leaders should do - listen.

To that end, this week the District will launch a ThoughtExchange survey to gather input from teachers on their current working conditions and how the District can better support them. We will also conduct focus groups with teachers and use the feedback to determine key actions and communicate next steps.

I am committed to refining the climate, culture and morale in our District so that we can retain and recruit the best and brightest educators. Our children deserve nothing less.

UPDATE ON SUGAR LAND 95 MEMORIALIZATION PROJECT

As we approach the fourth anniversary of the discovery of the Sugar Land 95, we have now completed an exhibit inside the Reese Career and Technical Center that educates the public and further memorializes the victims of the state-sanctioned convict leasing program.

The exhibit opens with a preview tour for invited guests on February 17, with public tours to follow after that date. Phase 2 of the memorialization project commences in March when the MASS Design Group begins drafting plans to enhance the cemetery and create an outdoor learning and reflection area dedicated to the individuals who died while imprisoned there.

NEW CHIEF OF SCHOOLS

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Kwabena Mensah who the Board has appointed as Fort Bend ISD’s new Chief of Schools. Dr. Mensah currently serves as the assistant superintendent supporting elementary schools. He has also served as a campus administrator at all levels in Austin ISD, Aldine ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Spring ISD, and Katy ISD. Dr. Mensah has done a tremendous job and I am confident he will continue to do great work in support of our students and staff.

APPRECIATING OUR POLICE OFFICERS

Sunday, January 9, was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. In Fort Bend ISD, we are fortunate to have a dedicated police department that not only keeps our schools safe, but also goes beyond the call of duty to build positive relationships and educate our community.

Their support is essential in helping our District facilitate food distributions, ensuring vaccination and testing efforts run smoothly, and supporting athletic and other extracurricular events. Our officers are truly servant-leaders and we thank them for their daily sacrifice and commitment.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr. HOLIDAY

I wish each of you a restful three-day weekend as we observe the holiday in honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday. His contributions to our nation have made a lasting impact and set the tone for our future.

Sincerely,

Dr. Christie Whitbeck
Fort Bend ISD Superintendent