School Times Now!
 
 
TOP STORIES
Legislative Update from
Dr. Waggoner
Two RISD Teachers Honored
for Innovation in STEM
RISD Unique in World After
RHS AVID Earns Highest
Distinction
Board Discusses RISD
Salaries, More Teachers,
Campus Survey
Spotlight on Special
Student Services
Uruguayan Teacher Visits
RISD – Departs With
Knowledge, Memories
RISD Construction at Forest
Lane, Skyview to Create
More Capacity
RHS Students Gear Up
for Envirothon

Younger and Older RISD
Students Connect Through
Science

Texas Health Dallas
Partnering with RISD School
Nurses to Provide Advanced
Training

RISD's All-State Musicians
High School Highlights
Nurses' Notes
Greenwood Hills
Patriot Parade

Northlake Book Fair &
Reading Night

Rosemary Cheney
Elementary Art Show

Prestonwood's Musical
"BUGZ"

Two RISD Alums Being
Considered for UNT
All-Century Team

Eagle-Mustang 5K and
Food Truck Festival -
Saturday, March 2

LINKS TO REMEMBER
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RISD on Facebook
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Legislative Update from Dr. Waggoner
With less than two weeks left to file new bills, Texas legislators have been very busy. As always, certain bills affect public education more than others.

Instruction:
Bills filed last week in the House address the revision of graduation plans (HB 1423) and the creation of a new workforce diploma program (HB 1500). Other bills call for reporting on the rates at which district graduates need developmental education on entry into higher education institutions (HB 1410).

In the Senate, bills address topics such as the creation of a workforce diploma program (SB 788) to reduction of the student/counselor ratio (SB 713).

SB 3 would change the current structure by creating a single diploma, the foundation program, with endorsements in business and industry, academic achievement in arts and humanities or STEM, and distinguished. Each endorsement would allow students to focus on their personal academic goals to prepare them for higher education and/or the workforce. SB 3 was voted out of committee after multiple amendments including the following:
  • Allowing districts to develop programs and courses, by partnering with local leaders in higher education and the business community, to specifically tailor courses to community needs
  • Including 2 credits of foreign language
  • Exempting certain students with disabilities from the foreign language requirement
  • Striking the cumulative score requirement
  • Offering career exploration in 7th or 8th grade
  • Striking the 15% grade requirement
  • Requiring all students take at least 1 fine arts course and a 3rd science credit in the foundation program
Charter Schools
SB 2 is still under discussion. Senator Patrick amended his bill from the initial requirement that school districts sell underutilized facilities to charter schools for $1 to the requirement that districts sell at market value. Senator Patrick has promised further amendments but has not been ready to unveil them as of this date.

Teacher Retirement System:
Representative Jim Keffer filed HB 1383 which calls on the Legislature to increase the state contribution to the TRS pension fund from 6.4% per biennium by 0.5% in each year of the coming biennium. This proposal would result in the current FY 2014 biennium contribution increasing to 6.9% (about a $125 million increase) and to 7.4% in FY 2015 (a $250 million increase).

Sequestration
Sequestration, the term for a series of mandatory budget cuts to federal programs of approximately $1.2 trillion, is a major topic. Sequestration is scheduled to go into effect on March 1 with cuts to federal programs of approximately 5.3% unless Congress finds a way to cut that same amount. In Texas, this cut would mean a minimum loss that could range from 5.3 to 9.2 percent of approximately $517.6 million to public education. To Richardson ISD, the cuts would mean a minimum loss of almost $1 million in federal grant funds which would have significant impact on our federal programs. We will be closely watching Congress as Friday approaches.



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Two RISD Teachers Honored for Innovation in STEM

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Cameras were rolling as Dr. Waggoner and representatives of the Texas Instruments and RISD Excellence in Education foundations surprised two RISD high school teachers with the news that they were being recognized for their commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education as winners of the Texas Instruments Foundation Innovations in STEM Teaching Award.

Students in both classes cheered as Berkner H.S. math teacher Clark Good and Richardson H.S. math teacher Chad Gilliland received congratulations, balloons, a plaque and an oversized check for $10,000.

Both exceptional educators will be formally recognized in the fall at the TI Foundation Innovations in STEM Banquet.

Congratulations to Mr. Gilliland and Mr. Good, and thanks to the Texas Instruments Foundation and the RISD Excellence in Education Foundation for making this recognition possible. >Top

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RISD UNIQUE IN WORLD AFTER RHS AVID EARNS HIGHEST DISTINCTION

After a comprehensive evaluation and site visit by national AVID practitioners, Richardson High School has earned the prestigious designation as a National AVID Demonstration Site for the next three years, the highest honor available for a school through AVID. Richardson joins Berkner High School as an RISD national demonstration site, and will serve as a model teaching and research facility for other AVID systems around the state, country and world. This designation is earned by approximately two percent of AVID schools worldwide, and RISD is now the only district or school organization in the world with multiple high school national AVID demonstration sites.

Congratulations to Richardson High School and RISD AVID! >Top

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BOARD DISCUSSES RISD SALARIES, MORE TEACHERS, CAMPUS SURVEY

At the last meeting of the RISD Board, several topics were discussed, including potential compensation increases for RISD staff for the 2013-14 school year and increasing the number of teaching allocations across the district to reduce class sizes and reduce the number of students unable to attend their neighborhood school due to space.

The Board also heard results of the recent campus climate survey open to school professional and paraprofessional staff.

For details, please read the February 18 edition of Board Brief. >Top

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Spotlight on Special Student Services
     
  Experiencing Dyslexia
Teachers and Staff from MST Magnet and Dartmouth Elementary recently participated in "Experience Dyslexia - A Learning Disabilities Simulation" presented by the Dyslexia Department during RISD's staff development day on February 18th.

Staff members from both campuses rotated through six stations designed to increase awareness of the difficulties and frustrations that people with dyslexia encounter daily. These activities help provide insight into working more effectively with students with dyslexia and lead to greater empathy and understanding. >Top

     
Want To Learn More About the State Tests?
The Department of Special Student Services is hosting a general information session to help RISD parents understand aspects of the different state-required assessments, including the new STAAR tests.

RISD Director of State Assessment Kathy Milton will walk parents through the Confidential Student Report (CSR) sent by the state to explain STAAR results for each tested student, and answer any questions parents have.

This meeting is suitable for any RISD parent interested in learning more about the tests students are required to take by the state of Texas.

Tuesday, March 5 at the Professional Development Center Auditorium.

For more information, please see the flyer.  >Top

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Uruguayan Teacher Visits RISD – Departs With Knowledge, Memories
Pearce High School teacher Sarah Thompson recently hosted a fascinating houseguest for two weeks. Ms. Maria Cecelia Souto, an English teacher from Uruguay, was matched with Sarah through a United States Department of State educator exchange program that involves each teacher visiting the other's school district to share best practices and issues of mutual interest in education. Uruguay is a South American country on the Atlantic Ocean south of Brazil, and Ms. Thompson and Ms. Souto were among just ten sets of educators across the U.S. and Uruguay selected to participate in the program.

Ms. Souto's itinerary was extremely full, and included visits to schools and venues across RISD to gain information about the district's curriculum, methodology and practices. Other visits were planned across the region as opportunities to expose Ms. Souto to American culture.

Speaking to the Pearce freshman class on the final day of her visit, Ms. Souto explained some similarities and differences between education in Uruguay and the United States, and also answered some questions from students:
  • Kids are kids, regardless of what part of the world they're from.
  • Students, not teachers, have classrooms in Uruguay. Teachers work in two shifts and move from classroom to classroom while students stay in the same room.
  • There are no school-sponsored extra-curricular activities in Uruguay, and Ms. Souto's school is very small with no gymnasium or other areas to accommodate fine arts or athletics.
  • High school can last up to six years in Uruguay, but just the first three are compulsory. Starting in the fourth year, school is voluntary (most students choose to go), and students choose specialized tracks of classes that help prepare them for their career area.
  • English classes are required in Uruguay, and most students in Ms. Souto's school can read English but fewer can speak it.
  • Her favorite part of her visit was getting to know Ms. Thompson.
  • She learned English as a child because she enjoyed it and wanted to understand Hollywood movies without reading subtitles.
Given its location in the southern hemisphere, the Uruguayan summer break is from December-February, and Ms. Souto will begin a new school year in March. This summer, Sarah will complete her segment of the exchange to Uruguay and be hosted by Ms. Souto for two weeks. >Top
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RISD Construction at Forest Lane, Skyview to Create More Capacity
For the second consecutive year, RISD will be increasing classroom space through construction in response to increased enrollment. Preparations are underway to begin construction at Forest Lane Academy and Skyview Elementary to create additional classroom space in time for the 2013-14 school year. In addition to classrooms, the work at Forest Lane Academy will also enlarge the cafeteria and create more restrooms, both necessary infrastructure projects so the school can accommodate more students.

The work at Skyview Elementary involves converting the former RISD Planetarium into classroom space for the district's Gifted & Talented Program, REACH. The REACH classrooms currently inside Skyview will then be used to increase Skyview's capacity for attendance area students.

Along with the increased physical capacity, recent budget planning discussions have resulted in a recommendation to add 73 teacher allocations across the district for 2013-14.

The goal of the additional capacity is to reduce class sizes and increase the number of students able to attend their neighborhood school but currently cannot due to lack of space. The campuses were selected as part of an updated facility capacity study conducted earlier this school year, and represent two schools that currently, must send a significant number of students to neighboring campuses.

This year's efforts follow last summer's construction to add classrooms to Aikin Elementary and Stults Road Elementary as part of the initial capacity study that resulted in additional classrooms at those schools and other campuses that utilized existing space differently to add capacity. RISD added 24 classroom teachers for the current school year.

RISD enrollment has grown approximately 10 percent since 2009-2010, with much of the growth at the early elementary level and in the Lake Highlands attendance area. Other areas of the district are also experiencing growth. According to the January 2013 update to RISD's demographic study, recent enrollment growth ranks RISD as the fourth fastest growing district in Region 10, and is primarily due to turnover in single family homes and increased occupancy in multi-family housing units. RISD is projecting enrollment growth to continue, but at a slower rate than in recent years. For more information regarding the recent demographic study and RISD enrollment projections, please see the Board Meeting Agenda Page for January 14 on the RISD website. >Top
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RHS Students Gear Up for Envirothon
Students from Richardson High School recently got some "boots on the ground" experience and put their text book research to use on a field trip to the Dixon Water Foundation's Pittman Ranch near Gainesville, Texas.

Thirteen students, led by environmental science teachers Tony Strohmeyer and Aurora Everett, are training for the 2013 Envirothon to be held in McAllen. The topic this year is 'Sustainable Rangeland Management: Achieving a balance between Traditional Agricultural Uses with Non-Agricultural Uses.' Envirothon is North America's largest high school environmental education competition.

"We are so excited to be a part of the training for this event," said Janet Samford, outreach director for The Dixon Water Foundation.

The training day was coordinated by Nathan Haile, regional agronomist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) based in Weatherford, Texas.

Training was provided by professional NRCS staff members Charles Kneuper, John Sackett and Rickey Linex.

"I have worked with the Envirothon through the years, both conducting the contest and helping to train students attending the contest and I feel it is good opportunity for students to learn about resource management and the environment around them." Haile said.

"The students have been studying hard, but there is no substitute for getting out on the land and getting to experience and see all the things they have been reading about," Everett said.

The NRCS specialists helped Strohmeyer accomplish his goals for the students, which included identifying some of the main grasses found in Texas, understanding a soil profile and how to analyze it, as well as various agriculture practices and their relation to water systems.

Strohmeyer explained the students compete in the Envirothon in teams of five, with two test phases over the course of two days. The first day the students are lectured on the main topics of soils, aquatics, wildlife, and forestry. The next day they are field tested the next day. They are timed as they move from station to station within the outdoor habitat.

Later that night they have a short lecture by a visiting professor over the current topic again. Then the teams are sequestered in a room to set up a presentation using background information from all the categories and some sustainable practices to solve a problem. They have three hours to create a 20 minute presentation and deliver it to the guest lecturers. The guests are typically from NRCS, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Forest Service, Texas Forest Service, Colleges, and local officials.

Richardson High School is one of only two public schools competing in the competition and the only one from the north Texas area. Strohmeyer's team has finished as high as fourth, but is hoping for a win this year, which will qualify them for the national Envirothon competition, held in Montana in August. >Top
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Younger and Older RISD Students Connect Through Science
First graders from the Math, Science & Technology Magnet (MST) were recently the very special guests of the science students and teachers of Richardson High School for a morning of engaging, interactive science fun.

Excited and thoroughly engaged, the first graders rotated through Biology, Chemistry, Ecology and Physics labs with assistance and instruction from their high school counterparts, who appreciated the chance to work with the small ones.

For most of the MST students, it was their first exposure to high school-level science labs and equipment. From physics and chemistry experiments to hands on learning opportunities with animals, rocks, worms and bones, one first grader spoke for her peers when she declared it the "best day ever!" >Top
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Texas Health Dallas Partnering with RISD School Nurses to Provide Advanced Training
With more and more children who require advanced medical care being mainstreamed into schools, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas has partnered with RISD to provide advanced care training to school nurses.

The full day session conducted earlier this month, brought together direct care nurses from Texas Health Dallas and RISD school nurses to provide training for the more complex level of care some students may need, including students on ventilators, tracheostomy tubes, feeding tubes and diabetic pumps, among others.

"Though they may not use all the skills on a daily basis, this training is helpful in the event they come across complex care needs in the future," said Sara Moody, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, manager for Texas Health Resources University, a career school located on the campus of Texas Health Dallas.

RISD nurses, along with counterparts from Frisco ISD, spent the day in groups rotating through ten different stations and networking with more than two dozen Texas Health Dallas clinical experts to help refresh what they already know and learn new skills.

"It was a very productive day for all the nurses who take care of medically fragile students that require all types of medical care," said Gloria Canham, MSN, RN, RISD Director of Health Services. "It's wonderful for us to be able to have this facility and their clinical expertise to provide this kind of staff development for us. We really appreciated the staff for the great opportunity."

One element of the training included helping school nurses better understand and recognize the signs of diabetes and receive deeper training on how to treat their condition. In Texas, Type I diabetes — a condition where the pancreas does not produce insulin — is the most prevalent chronic disease affecting school-aged children, next to asthma. >Top
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High School Highlights
     
  Lake Highlands High School
LHHS Breakfast of Champions
The LHHS Student Council recently hosted their Annual Breakfast of Champions. This breakfast honors students who have received a grade average of 90 or above in all classes first semester. Mr. Michael McMahan, 1998 LHHS graduate was the guest speaker. He is currently Director of Institute Operations at the George W. Bush Institute. >Top
     

LHHS Peanut Butter Drive
After the holidays, donations to food banks falls sharply. The North Texas Food Bank sent out a request specifically for jars of peanut butter, so Ms. Boland's Academic Decathlon team and Peer Helpers class took action. With the help of LHHS students and staff and elementary schools including Stults Road, Merriman Park, and Hamilton Park, 600 pounds of peanut butter was collected, enough to make more than 8,400 sandwiches. >Top

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Nurses' Notes

The Spring edition of the Nurses' Notes Newsletter is here! Click here to read this quarter's articles on common medical myths, complied by RISD's outstanding school nurses. >Top

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Greenwood Hills Patriot Parade
Greenwood Hills Kindergarten, first and second grades held an indoor Patriot Parade in honor of George Washington's birthday. Led by music teacher Pat Johnson, they paraded down the halls singing You're a Grand Old Flag, waving flags and wearing Red, White, and Blue. Learning about patriotic music is an important part of the elementary music curriculum. >Top
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Northlake Book Fair & Reading Night
Northlake enjoyed a spectacular turnout for their Annual Family Reading Night, Scholastic Book Fair and Character Dress-Up Day. Students and staff enjoyed dressing up as their favorite characters by day, only to return later that evening to enjoy cookies and milk, a scavenger hunt around their school which included interactive reading adventures, pantomime, oral literature readings, complimentary books, pencils, bookmarks, and reading tips for students and parents. >Top
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Rosemary Cheney Elementary Art Show
Twelve artists from Northlake Elementary have been selected to appear in the Rosemary Cheney Elementary Children's Art Show at the Richardson Public Library through March 19.

Northlake is very excited that so many students' artworks were chosen to represent at the show.

The Richardson Public Library is located at 900 Civic Center Drive in Richardson. Gallery hours are 10:00 am – 9:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm Friday & Saturday, and 2:00 – 6:00 pm on Sunday. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

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Prestonwood's Musical "BUGZ"
The song, "Be A Lady" sung by the Lady Bugs was a big hit!"
Prestonwood Elementary's first and second graders, recently presented the musical BUGZ to rave reviews. There's going to be a picnic and everyone is pitchin' in….the Lady Bugs are in charge of proper etiquette, the Army Ants will handle security, the Fireflies are in charge of lighting, and entertainment will be provided by the Bumble Bees. >Top
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Two RISD Alums Being Considered for UNT All-Century Team

The University of North Texas is celebrating 100 years of football by selecting their All-Century Team, and two RISD alumni are under consideration.

Scott Davis, a 1986 graduate from Berkner High School and Roderick Manning, a 1985 graduate from Richardson HS are under consideration.

For more information and to vote, please visit the UNT All Century Team page here. >Top

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Eagle-Mustang 5K and Food Truck Festival - Saturday, March 2

TaskinRegistration is still open for the first annual Eagle-Mustang 5K and Food Truck Festival benefitting Richardson High School's Eagle Fund and the Pearce Excellence in Education Fund (PEEF). The two schools have joined forces this year to present this community-wide event on Saturday, March 2 at Eagle-Mustang Stadium. Runners and families are invited to enjoy the great outdoors and a lively morning of entertainment and fabulous food and beverages for sale from some of the city's top gourmet mobile kitchens: Hypnotic Donuts, Rockstar Bakery, Taco Party, Ruthie's Rolling Café, Little Greek and The Mobile Stand.

Our certified 5K course winds through tree-lined streets near Richardson High School, and finishes inside the stadium for awards and live music. In addition to nine age categories, we also have a barefoot runner division. The food trucks are open from 8:30 until 11:30. The race starts at 9:00 a.m.

Registration fees are $15 for students and $30 for adults. You can register in person at Run On! Richardson now through February 28th, and on race day beginning at 7:30am. We encourage you to register early to guarantee a race t-shirt in your size.

Entry into the food truck area is free with your race bib, or $2.00 for non-runners.

See you on Saturday! Click here to download event brochure. >Top

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SCHOOL TIMES NOW! ARCHIVE
Did you miss an issue of School Times Now!? Click here to view the archives. >Top
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