The school business, like many other things in the world today, can be very challenging at times. At WISD, we strive to make decisions based on the needs and wants of our students and community while complying with the ever-changing mandates from state and federal entities. All the while, the Board of Trustees and I are always mindful of the fiscal responsibility to keep our district financially sound. This year, we have been able to enhance our Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs by adding Robotics and Financial Mathematics to our curriculum. The graduation requirements in Texas were changed a few years ago to emphasize the importance for students to gain CTE Endorsements while in high school. We were fortunate that WISD already had strong CTE programs in place in Agricultural Science and Family and Consumer Science, along with class offerings in Technology Education and Communication Applications to allow our students a variety of CTE Endorsements to choose from. Our work in this area is far from over. In the future, we would like to expand our curriculum to include classes related to Health Science, which is a fast-growing field in need of a variety of health care specializations. The goal is for students to leave high school with a foundation of study that will lead to a life-wage earning job. There are improvements and academic additions going on at Winnsboro Elementary School and Memorial Middle School, as well.
Our Trustees just allotted $60,000 for playground equipment that will enhance psychomotor growth and development for our students. It will be located at the back of WES on the northwest side. Our goal is to have everything installed before April 1, 2017. The kids are going to love it! Both WES and MMS have been allotted $7,500 in additional funding to expand their literacy libraries and reading material. New lighting will also be installed at MMS, in and around the building.
In the midst of ever-changing curriculum needs at all levels of public education, we also must address other social, emotional and physical needs to adequately educate the ‘whole child’ as our Focus Goals developed by our Board of Trustees require. And in doing all of this, we are forever mindful of our facility needs and constraints that we plan to address in the near future.
As of late, there has been some talk and publicity in our community about adding volleyball back to our list of UIL sports. To be well informed, I did some research about our past experience to see what our history was with volleyball, and this is what I found. On July 20, 1987 at a regular meeting of the Board of Trustees for WISD, there was an agenda item presented to the board by Bobby Anderson, the Athletic Director at the time, to drop the volleyball program for “lack of participation”. The motion carried 6-0. After researching further through yearbooks and such, I found that the volleyball team did not complete the season that year due to many players quitting the team. Knowing that some feel we should add volleyball back to our sports’ choices today, Coach Pinnell will examine the logistics and financial considerations that would need to be addressed. He will make recommendations based on the facts at the appropriate time. Earlier this semester, a community member came to meet with administration to discuss the possibilities of adding wrestling to our athletic UIL program. He had done a lot of research and gave great information in a very professional manner about forming a team. These, and many others, are examples of the decisions that must be made often to insure that all additions are treated fairly and considered with an open mind.
In 2015-16, major dirt work and additional sod were added to the football field. Improvements were made to the boys’ dressing area, common areas and restrooms at the gymnasium. This year, major improvements are being made at the baseball field. At the softball field, we are partnering with the city to add new dugouts. I am proud of these much needed upgrades.
I have been asked about our facility planning, so I would like to share some updates. This week, I had a Region 8 consultant with vast experience in school building projects come and tour all of our facilities. He watched traffic flow from classes, observed class sizes, and discussed with me the options for facility expansion or a new school complex. I will be traveling to Austin tomorrow for my annual Mid-Winter Conference where Texas Association of School Board consultants and school architects will be available to discuss all aspects of school facility needs. I have two appointments to interview architects that were recommended by other superintendents who had worked with them on building projects. As everyone is aware, our campuses are overcrowded and portable buildings are used as classrooms on every campus. We are growing and adding students each year, which is a positive for our district. It also is a testament to the outstanding job our educators are doing with our children. People want their children in Winnsboro Independent School District!
I hope to have meetings with the Board of Trustees and the Facilities Planning Committee in the next couple of months to discuss my findings and recommendations for proceeding with a facilities’ plan. In the meantime, I will continue to gather and assess information, as well as remain informed about legislative changes that will impact education.
I want all of you to know that my philosophy is, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I am mindful and respectful of all of the children, school staff and community members that I serve. I have always felt that the school should be a reflection of the community it serves. Therefore, my door is always open. I want to hear your suggestions to make WISD the best it can be. One Superintendent or one Board of Trustees cannot do it all. We need to all work together for the betterment and success of this outstanding district.