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Seen and Heard at the September 2019 School Board Meeting

Posted Date: 06/03/2020

Seen and Heard at the September 2019 School Board Meeting

September 16, 2019 - Superintendent Loomis started the Sept. 16 Board meeting with a report about the 2019 State Accountability ratings, which is based largely on student performance on STAAR tests.  Amarillo ISD received an overall grade of 87.  Mr. Loomis said, though improving student achievement is an ongoing challenge, he is pleased with accountability results, especially compared to other Texas school districts with similar demographics.  Deputy Superintendent Pati Buchenau also reported the District received a ‘Superior’ rating on the recently released 2019 Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) report, based on 15 criteria of financial data.

In the ‘Spotlight on Students and Staff’ portion of the meeting, trustees learned about three programs the District is implementing to address student mental health and behavior.  They also heard about an AISD-developed professional development opportunity in which elementary teachers have the chance to dialogue with top performing colleagues about tips and best practices to help students in their own classrooms.

After discussion, the Board voted to ask Administration to continue researching the possibility of installing synthetic turf on high school baseball and softball fields and make a presentation to the Board no later than March 2020 regarding findings.  The cost to purchase and install turf on all high school softball fields and baseball fields, both infield and outfield, would be approximately $6.2 million.  Alternatively, the cost for turf on softball fields and infield only on baseball fields would be about $3 million.  Acknowledging the benefits of turf, but citing other District safety and capital needs priorities, limited funds, and the desire for a full cost-benefit analysis for the project, the Board voted to postpone a decision on this issue.  

Trustees approved moving forward with the implementation of a new accelerated compensatory academic pilot program which Administration has named ‘Crossroads’.  The program will be under the umbrella of North Heights Alternative School and will target high school students in grades 9 – 12 who are at high risk of dropping out of school.  Superintendent Loomis said research indicates AISD students in the target group are not generally failing courses and they’re not typically behavior problems.  “We find many times these students just don’t come to class, often because they’re not engaged, not involved in school activities or clubs, and/or don’t have connections with teachers and other adults,” Mr. Loomis said.  “With Crossroads, we want to provide strong academics, but also give these students opportunities to be involved and build relationships at school and in the community.”  The District plans to pilot the Crossroads concept starting with 50 – 100 students from Tascosa High School beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, and then expand the program to accept students from all four high schools. 

The Board acknowledged gifts and donations totaling $32,615.67, given to various schools this month from Amarillo Downtown Lions Club; Amarillo High School Basketball Booster Club and Soccer Booster Club; Mr. and Mrs. Rico Soto; Mr. and Mrs. James Allman; Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Williamson; TJ and Marie Fowler; Steven and Meg Davis; Cry Baby Ink; and Josten’s Inc.  Other gifts were given by Tradewind Community Church/South Georgia Baptist Church; Mullin Hoard & Brown, LLP; Cody and Lezly Welch; Mark and Ashley Logsdon; Amarillo Association of Realtors; Bill & Sandra Gilliland and the Gilliland Family Foundation; Coronado Elementary PTA; Johnson Land & Cattle, LLC, Mrs. Leroy Johnson; and Grant Adams.