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TOP STORIES
Spring Break
Wallace Teacher Wins 2013
Fujitsu Trailblazer Award
Berkner Makes UIL
State Final Four
Legislative Update from
Dr. Waggoner
2012 NCLB School Report
Cards Now Available
Board Brief
Elementary Science Fair
Avery Johnson Visits the
Freshman Center
The Eiland Collins Foundation
Continues Support of
Hamilton Park

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!
Destination Imagination
Teams are Advancing to the
State Competition
Stop For The Arm!
Texas Public Schools Rock!
Student Video Contest

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Spring Break
Richardson ISD will be on Spring Break Monday, March 11, through Friday, March 15. Students and staff will return on Monday, March 18. Have a safe and restful break! >Top
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Wallace Teacher Wins 2013 Fujitsu Trailblazer Award

Ashley Nick (Center) - 2013 Fujitsu Teacher Trailblazer Award Winner

Wallace Elementary fifth grade math teacher Ashley Nick has been selected as the 2013 Fujitsu Teacher Trailblazer Award recipient. She was surprised by Dr. Waggoner and members of the selection committee in her classroom, to the applause of students and colleagues.

This award, administered by the RISD Excellence in Education Foundation, honors a special elementary teacher who is engaging students in the learning process, helping them acquire technological skills for the 21st Century, to think creatively, to apply acquired academic skills effectively, and most of all, to love learning. The award includes a prize of $5,000, courtesy of Fujitsu Corp.

"Ashley is an exceptional educator and couldn't be more deserving," said Wallace Principal Debbie Yarger. "We're thankful that our friends at Fujitsu and the RISD Excellence in Education Foundation agree." >Top

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Berkner makes UIL State FInal Four
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Legislative Update from Dr. Waggoner
You may have seen the study by the National Education Association (NEA) that found Texas spends approximately $3,000 per student below the national average, which amounts to about $66,000 less per elementary classroom. This funding level places Texas 49th in per-pupil spending in the United States with only Arizona and Nevada spending less. According to the NEA, Texas schools are now spending approximately $8,400 per student, well under the national average of $11,455. In NEA's prior ranking, Texas was 41st, with per-student expenditures of $9,466.

During the February 18 Board meeting, Deputy Superintendent Tony Harkleroad provided an update on budget planning for the 2013-2014 school year. The district's Budget Review Team (BRT), which consists of community members, met on February 15 to review RISD's current financial situation. The BRT was supportive of the recommendations that I will make to the Board in June.

Our top priorities include compensation for staff to be competitive with neighboring districts and hiring additional teachers at both the elementary and secondary levels to meet the demands of enrollment growth. This should enable the district to reduce class sizes and increase the number of students able to attend their neighborhood schools. We will be able to make these recommendations due to additional funding from various sources:
  • RISD has experienced higher than projected enrollment growth which will result in more funding for the district.
  • RISD has experienced greater than projected increases in weighted student populations. (The state recognizes that certain student groups, such as low income and students who struggle with English, are more expensive to educate and, therefore, provide some additional "weight" to those students in the funding formulas.)
  • The district has had higher than projected attendance rates, which will result in additional funding.
  • In addition, the Comptroller reduced property tax determinations as a culmination of a lengthy process by the district to appeal certain independently determined property values to better align with actual taxable values. This reduction resulted in greater available monies for the district.
Historically, RISD has taken a conservative approach to budget planning. As a result, the district has been able to preserve jobs and maintain programs and services for students. These additional funds will enable us the opportunity to meet the needs of students and staff. We will continue to be conservative, while valuing our students and our staff. My recommendation will be for increased teacher and staff compensation to remain competitive, more positions to meet the needs created by enrollment growth, and facility projects to allow more students to attend their neighborhood schools.

Legislative
Our legislature continues to meet. Today, March 8th, is the final deadline to file bills. We will keep you informed on the progress of the various bills through their respective legislative branches.

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 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) and the reduction of the student/counselor ratio (SB 713).

We continue to watch both HB 5 and SB 3 closely. As you remember, SB 3 was voted out of committee after multiple amendments that included 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 their 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
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 the workforce.

Sequestration
We are waiting to learn details about how the federal sequestration will affect RISD. Sequestration, the term for a series of mandatory budget cuts to federal programs of approximately $1.2 trillion, went into effect on March 1 with cuts to federal programs. In Texas, this cut could mean a loss that could range from 5.3 to 9.2% of approximately $517.6 million to public education. To RISD, the cuts would mean a minimum loss of almost $1 million in federal grant funds which would have a significant impact on our federal programs. We will be closely watching to see the final amounts and if Congress takes steps to mitigate the funding losses.



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2012 NCLB School Report Cards Now Available
The federal No Child Left Behind law requires school districts to make information about the district and each school available to the parents of all enrolled students.

Known as NCLB Report Cards, the information is now available for viewing on the district website on the Schools page.

Paper copies of the NCLB school report cards are available for viewing at your child's school. >Top
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BOARD HEARS GIFTED & TALENTED REPORT

At its March 4, 2013 meeting, the Board heard a presentation regarding RISD's Gifted & Talented Program and Services. For details, please read the March 4 edition of Board Brief. >Top

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Elementary science fair
Sixth grade science fair winners from Wallace represented their school at the regional level.
Congratulations to the more than 125 RISD elementary students who received Grand Prize honors for science fair projects entered at their school. These students went on to the Elementary Regional Science Fair where they competed with students from surrounding districts.

Among the top RISD finishers at the regional level were:
  • Kate Dawson –Prairie Creek Elementary, for the entry "Blubber Bear"
  • Grace Sedberry, Vanessa Thomas, and Arya Coinages Prairie Creek Elementary, for the entry "How Clean is our Creek?"
  • Natalie Collins, Prairie Creek Elementary, for the entry "Can Shoes Cause ACL Injuries?"
  • Bennett Limbaga, Moss Haven Elementary, for the entry "Chips and Signals"
  • Audry Dejong and Ellie Hawkins, Richardson Heights Elementary, for the entry "Why did the Chicken Cross the Maze?"
  • Timothy Leonez, Forestridge Elementary, for the entry "Light for Life"
  • Emiily Morrison, Arapaho Classical Magnet, for the entry "Jump"
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Avery Johnson Visits the Freshman Center
Former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson spoke to Lake Highlands Freshman Center students last week about the importance of working hard to compete globally.

Coach Johnson also talked about saying no to drugs and anything that runs counter to being a success in your chosen field. He also spoke about the importance of choosing good friends. >Top
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The Eiland Collins Foundation Continues support of Hamilton Park
The Eiland Collins Foundation, named for one of the late community leaders in the Hamilton Park community and a former member of Hamilton Park United Methodist Church, recently continued its support of the Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet School. Board Chairman, Dwight Harry, along with Dr. R. Jeremiah Booker, Pastor of the Hamilton Park United Methodist Church, presented a check to HPPM Principal Kellee Murrell for $1,925.00 to sponsor 6th grade students on their trip to the National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA). This brings the total donations from the Eiland Collins Foundation to Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet School to more than $10,000.00 more than the last eight years.

Thanks! >Top
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Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss
This week Dobie Primary was one of many RISD schools celebrating Dr. Seuss Week. Pre-K teachers Mrs. Roller, Ms. Vasquez and Ms. Rabel read the book and made "Green Eggs and Ham" for their students. The children colored their hats and graphed if they liked or disliked their "Green Eggs & Ham." >Top

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Destination Imagination Teams are Advancing to the State Competition
Destination Imagination held its Dal-Rich Regional Tournament recently. Sixty-four teams from RISD, HPISD and Private Schools in the area competed in seven different challenges during this one day event.

More than 40 RISD teams worked for months on creatively solving a team challenge. They also learned and honed skills that help them think on their feet and work as a member of a team. When the dust settled, seven RISD teams advanced to the state tournament. Team members are from Richardson West Junior High, Forest Meadow Junior High, Brentfield Elementary, Moss Haven Elementary, and Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet.

Congratulations to the students for all of their hard work in preparing for their challenges. Good luck at the state competition April 12-13 in Katy, Texas. >Top
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Stop For The Arm!

It is state law for vehicles to stop for a school bus that has red lights flashing and its stop sign "arm" extended. Whether the bus is on the street or in a school drive, if the red lights are flashing and the stop sign arm is extended, you must stop. Despite this, almost one third of school buses are passed illegally in Texas each day.

Many school bus stop sign arms are now equipped with a camera that records the license plate number of vehicles that pass it while the bus is loading or unloading students and the arm is extended. This results in a fine of up to $300.

Be safe, save money and stop for the arm!

For more information, please visit the DCS website. >Top

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Texas Public Schools Rock! Student Video Contest
A number of students from different RISD schools are competing in the "Texas Public Schools Rock!" student video contest sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). RISD submissions are among the more than 100 videos posted on the TASB Web Site at www.tasb.org that illustrate the value of Texas' public education and emphasize the many positive things happening in our local schools.

The contest is open to all Texas elementary and secondary public school students, and winners will be selected in three categories: elementary school, middle/junior high school, and high school. First prize of $5,000 and a second prize of $2,500 in each category will be awarded this month for use in the students' classroom or campus.

In addition, today is the final day for public voting on the Class Favorite in each of the three categories. The winners will be selected based on the videos most viewed by visitors to TASB's Web Site during that week. Viewers must watch the entire video to completion to cast their votes. These winners will receive no monetary prize but may be included among the videos displayed statewide at various TASB events.

Community members are encouraged to view all of the entries, click here to watch the entries. >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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