San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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August 29th, 2008
District tax rate reflects no change

The Hays CISD Board of Trustees on Thursday, after hearing a State of the District report on instruction and budget initiatives, unanimously adopted a $104.4 million budget and a tax rate of $1.4613, which reflects no change from last year’s tax rate. The district’s fourth-day enrollment of 13,722 students is “right at our budget target,” said Carter Scherff, Hays CISD Deputy Superintendent. Enrollment is up 906 students from the same day last year.

Scherff reported that currently one of the district’s 19 campuses, Science Hall Elementary School, is at capacity at kindergarten and 1st Grade (English speaking). Students in those grades, who live in the Science Hall attendance zone and register for school from now on, will be transferred to Tom Green Elementary School. Science Hall is also at capacity in 4th Grade bilingual classes. Because the Tom Green 4th Grade bilingual classes are full, those “cap” students from Science Hall will be transferred to Blanco Vista Elementary School. Transportation will be provided for these students to Tom Green and Blanco Vista. All “cap” students may transfer to any other elementary school that has room, but must provide their own transportation.

Dr. Kirk London, Hays CISD Superintendent of Schools, told the School Board that he would be gathering the Growth Impact Committee soon to formulate recommendations for attendance zones for the new middle school (which is expected to open for the 2009-10 school year), and for modifications to the Science Hall Elementary and Tom Green Elementary attendance zones for the 2009-10 school year.

As part of the State of the District report, Dr. Kimbroly Pool, Hays CISD Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, began the work of clearing up some confusion regarding the district’s standards based curriculum.

At the May School Board meeting, Dr. Pool reported on the district’s implementation of CSCOPE, a curriculum subscription cooperative through the Region XIII Education Service Center. She said that CSCOPE provides a roadmap for the district to carry out the curriculum, providing vertical articulation and specificity across all grade levels in the foundational areas.

At the May meeting, Dr. Pool gave the district’s implementation schedule for the 2008-09 school year, which includes: elementary and secondary teachers following the CSCOPE curriculum for social studies, science and math, while using Hays CISD instructional resources and activities and integrating Hays CISD instructional resources and activities into CSCOPE.

On Thursday, Dr. Pool responded to questions and comments from Board members and teachers regarding the implementation plan.

“I agree, communication was not very good,” she said. “We are going to continue our philosophy that teachers use a conceptual lens to teach students. And CSCOPE is aligned to that instructional philosophy in our district. This is what we have got to do and our math scores tell us that we’re not getting our students to that level of expectation as tested on TAKS.”

“The School Board and I are committed to making sure our teachers have all of the training and resources they need to deliver the program,” said Dr. Kirk London, Hays CISD Superintendent of Schools. “We will be working very hard to provide this to our teachers. To increase our scores, we’ve got to do things differently than we’ve done in the past.”

Dr. Pool reported that by the spring semester, 16 “dual credit” courses should be available to secondary students.

Through a partnership with Austin Community College (ACC), qualified high school students are able to enroll in college classes taught in their local high schools during normal high school hours. They receive “dual credit,” both high school and college credit for their work.

“ACC has staffed those classes with college professors,” she said. “So, Hays CISD students could earn up to 24 and possibly 30 (if on-line opportunities are involved) hours of college credit before they graduate from high school.”

Dr. Pool reported that “great strides” have occurred regarding the student information system’s parent portal, where parents will be able to get information online such as attendance and eventually grades about their child(ren). Step one, however is a standardized grading system.

“Over the summer, teachers worked to determine district-wide grading standards,” she said. “That’s some feat. Strong assessment practices vary greatly from teacher to teacher in many areas.”

She expects the parent portal to be ready for rollout by January.

John Thornell, Hays CISD Executive Director of Assessment, gave the School Board a full report of TAKS results from the 2007-08 school year. He noted a “pretty huge increase in science performance for all students,” over the past five years and a “steady climb” in math scores. He said this was the first year that Hays CISD math TAKS scores surpassed the state average.

“We’ve come a long way in science,” Thornell said. “Science is a real success story at both the middle school and elementary school levels.”

The School Board approved a guaranteed maximum price of $1.3 million for improvement work at Hays High School, Dahlstrom Middle School (DMS) and Elm Grove (EGES) and Fuentes elementary schools.

“All four of these projects are part of the 2008 bond,” Scherff said. “We had hoped to have most of them completed by the end of the summer, but the permitting process delayed us.”

He said that within the next week, equipment will show up at the schools to complete improvements to the parent drop-off at DMS and EGES, drainage in front of Fuentes Elementary and additional parking at Hays High School.

By JULIE JEROME
Chief Information Officer – Hays CISD

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