School Times Now!

Dear Friends,

It gives me great pleasure to report that Richardson ISD’s 2005-06 TAKS results are some of the highest in our history. Through diligent planning, focused allocation of resources, and extremely hard work, student scores have experienced dramatic gains in some areas and continued steady improvement in others. My personal thanks go out to our teachers, students, and administrators for pulling together and truly working as a team.

Some of you may have read an article in last weekend’s Dallas Morning News citing a consultant’s report which raises potential questions about “irregular” test results at hundreds of schools across Texas. The report, based on statistical analysis of the 2004-2005 test results, was prepared on behalf of the Texas Education Agency, and included some RISD campuses. The assertion appears to be that these campuses showed higher student test score gains than prior years’ results would have predicted. 

In a letter to districts explaining the report, Texas Commissioner of Education Shirley Neeley cautioned that schools mentioned in the report have not necessarily done anything improper, but that the report could serve as a catalyst for districts to take a closer look at the testing procedures used at those campuses. I have asked commissioner Neeley to provide us with information on how the conclusions were drawn so that we can understand their results.

Regarding the report, let me state unequivocally that RISD is comfortable, beyond any reasonable doubt, that our scores are the result of strong instructional leadership, highly effective teaching, and students who came to school motivated to learn. We as a district have no reason whatsoever to believe anything otherwise. We have stringent testing security in place at all times, and thoroughly examine any perceived irregularities that may arise.

The manner in which the report is being perceived or presented by some in the Metroplex is frankly irresponsible, and is dismissive of the year-long work and dedication of hundreds of teachers and thousands of students. We are asked to find better ways to teach, we do, and then we are criticized for doing such a good job. This makes no sense. 

Our work as a district is by no means complete, nor have we achieved everything we hope to achieve. Much work remains, especially in the areas of reducing current gaps in achievement levels of specific student populations. That stated, I am proud of our professional educators, paraprofessionals, volunteers and community partners for their supreme efforts in working towards a common goal. We are on track to be Recognized as a district for the first time. Official ratings are released by TEA on August 1.

Let me again congratulate everyone in our community for creating an environment for student improvement or achievement. As a district, we will never stop striving for excellence so that every student can know success.

Jim Nelson
Superintendent of Schools

In the face of the ongoing drought in north Texas, many municipalities, including the cities of Richardson and Dallas, have implemented watering guidelines for residents and businesses designed to conserve this important resource.

With 55 campuses, 65 total buildings and more than 750 acres of grounds, Richardson Independent School District has been employing water conservation efforts since 1999.

While city residents are asked to water only on specific days & times, RISD has worked closely with both cities to develop a different, yet compliant, watering schedule for RISD facilities. This schedule meets or exceeds the watering limitations imposed on residents.
Some additional facts about H2O & RISD:

Schoolyards and fields are watered twice a week, and grass is cut every two weeks, instead of weekly, to discourage the new growth, that consumes more water.

Because of their size, RISD grounds often require more than one day to complete a watering cycle, as different areas are watered on different days.  For this reason, it may present the misconception that the same areas are being watered on consecutive days.  In addition, RISD watering is often scheduled on different days than the surrounding neighborhood schedule, which helps maintain adequate water pressure for residents on their scheduled days.

Because of the nature of RISD’s athletic field surfaces, more frequent watering is needed to stimulate deeper root growth and ensure a safe surface for student activities.

The recently-approved 2006 bond will allow the district to implement an even more efficient water control system, expected to be online next summer.

If RISD residents have questions about the watering schedule for a facility in their neighborhood, they are encouraged to contact RISD’s Grounds Maintenance Office at 469-593-0061. >Top
On May 27, approximately 2,000 seniors walked across the stage at the Special Events Center in Garland, to receive their diplomas as the newest graduates of RISD. >Top
Graduation for 2007 is set for Saturday, May 19.
RISD recently participated in bond credit rating meetings with Moody's and Standard & Poor's rating agencies for the first installment of the recently authorized 2006 bond program. Accordingly, the district has received notice that Moody's affirmed RISD's "stand alone" credit rating of Aa1 and Standard & Poor's affirmed their rating of AA for the new bonds to be issued.

These are exceptional ratings for a school district, as there are currently just three districts in Texas that have as high or higher of a combined stand alone rating.

When affirming the ratings, "both agencies recognized the RISD Board of Trustees for their prudent financial stewardship over the last five years," said RISD Assistant Superintendent for Business Tony Harkleroad.

"What these ratings mean for RISD are lower interest rate costs on the bonds issued, and ultimately a lower tax burden for our taxpayers." >Top
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