During last week’s regular meeting of the Big Spring ISD's Board of Trustees, Dr. Raemi Thompson, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment at BSISD, advised the board that, according to their most current assessments, one-third of students from Kindergarten through 8th grade are reading at or above current grade levels. This is the same percentage as it was at the beginning of the school year. It was also noted that one thing that can assist in raising this percentage is students reading with parents outside of school, which research has shown, has positive effects on school success.
Dr. Thompson told KBest News, "We would love to appeal to our parents in our community to help us out with our kids reading skills. If they would ask their child to read at home with them or read to their child so that the child can, not only hear how the words flow together, but then let the child read to them as well." She also noted that parents are encouraged to take advantage of Parent Read Night, which is an open night library that allows parents to check out books and read with their child.
During the Action Items portion of the meeting, BSISD’s Interim Superintendent Johnny Tubb explained to the school board that even though there a lot of great people who are working very hard to move Goliad Elementary and Washington Elementary out of Improvement Required (IR) status, there is still a possibility that the schools may not move out of IR.
Per the Texas Education Agency (TEA), if the school district is not able to move out of IR status, TEA will be coming with one of two consequences that will take effect the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
• Campus Closures - This doesn’t necessarily mean that these schools would be boarded up and locked up forever. This could mean a reconfiguration of schools, or opening it with a different format with a different educational setting.
• Instilling a Board of Managers - This could be replacing the BSISD school board as it is now, or they could even do a campus board of managers, where that board would have a separate board of managers that would only manager those campuses.
Tubb also advised that TEA sent a letter advising on the three things that BSISD is able to do now in order to get out of this status: improve, create partnership, or closing campuses.
• Improve – The campuses and district have been working hard every day to improve.
• Partnership – In the past, this had been understood as a partnership with a charter school, but, this can include, an institution of higher education, like Howard College. BSISD is currently exploring this option with Howard College and a meeting with Dr. Cheryl Sparks, President of Howard College, would be set up to explore the possibility further. The benefit of this partnership, if accepted, is that TEA would give the district 2 additional years to accomplish what they’re trying to accomplish, which is getting the two schools out of IR status.
• Closing Campuses – BSISD could determine on their own to close the campuses on their own. Tubb noted that this was something that, most likely, was not an option that the district would pursue.
The school board approved the action of sending a non-binding letter of intent to advise TEA that BSISD is exploring the possibility of a partnership with Howard College.
Discussion was also held concerning new school bus purchases with seat belts. Tubb noted that Senate Bill 693, that was passed recently in the Texas Legislature, requires that all buses 2018 model and newer buses to be equipped with 3-point seat belts. He advised the board that if, as a district, BSISD would not order seatbelts, a resolution would have to be made stating that due to budgetary concerns the district did not want seat belts.
Tubb made it very clear to the board that he did not recommend that safety should be jeopardized based on budgetary concerns. No action was taken, and it was advised that from now on BSISD would only purchase buses with seat belts.
During the Superintendent’s Report, Tubb spoke on the recent district closure where schools were closed in order for maintenance workers could sanitize schools in order to prevent further exposure to the flu. He noted that due to the minute schedule on the calendar, this day will most likely not need to be made up.
Closing out the meeting, it was noted that during the next special meeting of the BSISD Board of Trustees, tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20th at 5:15 PM, the board would discuss personnel for the superintendent search. Tubb advised that the board would be looking to lay out a timeline and path to move forward, as far of the superintendent position is concerned.
Tony Kennedy, President of the BSISD Board of Trustees, noted that there are great candidates for the position within the school district and they plan to search within before looking outward.
(Photo - BSISD Superintendent Interim Johnny Tubb at Thursday's School Board Meeting.)