As another school year has come to a close, we can reflect on the accomplishments during 2008-2009. We started the year being awarded "Recognized" status by the TEA, reclaiming a rating that we last held in 2002. Now, with most of the TAKs results in, it looks like the district will again be "Recognized" for student performance this year.
Education Resource Group has announced their ranking of Texas school districts, and for the third consecutive year, HEB ISD has received the first place award. Keep in mind that ERG rates school districts on the basis of student performance and financial efficiency. We can proudly state that HEB ISD continues to give our taxpayers the "most bang for the buck".
In mid June, I will have the honor of representing the school district at the annual school district of the year awards event sponsored by HEB food stores. HEB ISD is one of four nominees for the large school district of the year. During March, a team of education consultants representing the corporation visited each nominated school district prior to making the final selection, which will be announced in Austin June 14. Even as we enjoy these honors, we are keeping up with legislative changes that will affect all of us.
The state legislature approved 113 education-related bills during this session. The two most important are the new accountability system, HB 3, and the school finance law, HB 3646. Combined, these two bills will have a major impact on educators.
The important aspects of HB 3 are as follows:
- Legislation regarding end‐of‐course (EOC) examinations will now include specific requirements that students pass Algebra II and English Language Arts (ELA) III end-of-course exams to graduate on the recommended or advanced high school programs. These requirements apply to students entering 9th grade in 2011‐12 (those who just completed sixth grade).
- The Recommended graduation plan requirements include four credits in each of the four core subject areas (4 X 4), 2 credits in the same foreign language, 1 credit in physical education, 1 credit in fine arts, and 6 electives. Students completing the advanced high school program must complete 3 credits in the same foreign language and only five electives. Students who wish to substitute an applied Career and Technical Education course for their 4th credit in mathematics or science cannot do so until after they have completed Algebra II and physics. Also, students in middle school must complete 1 course in fine arts while in grades 6, 7, or 8.
The important aspects of HB 3646 are as follows:
- HEB ISD will receive $120 per weighted average daily attendance (WADA) in new state funding. This equates to $2.9 million new dollars. School districts currently having less than $5,000 per child in target revenue (HEB ISD has target revenue of $5084) will be eligible for up to $350 per WADA. Area districts that fall into this category are Arlington, Birdville, and Fort Worth.
- School districts must give teachers, librarians, counselors, and nurses a salary increase of $800 or an amount requiring half of the new state money, whichever is more. Keep in mind that the amount of new money we will get from the state will not fund a 3 percent salary increase.
While new legislation will continue to provide more challenges, our students and staff have proven that they can rise to any occasion and meet those challenges head on. I have no doubt next fall will bring another successful year in HEB ISD.