Sutherland for Schools blog
As teachers are administering SCAs again today, I have advice from our IT department:
I am hopeful that our 140 schools will have more freedom to operate in ways they think will work better than some of the strictures imposed by our division of Leadership, Learning and Student Support in the coming months.
At a recent meeting the FWISD board voted to amend the bond plan as it relates to a provision allocating $1 million to each high school for improved field houses.
We have an enrollment of approximately 86,200 children, an increase over the previous year, according to the latest data. We are funded for 94.7% of these children which is pretty respectable (that's why teachers get hounded about attendance). Funding for each of these is about $7800 after all the weights are added for extra needs. (It was an error in the weightings that caused the need to return the $37 million to TEA).
|Grade span||Dropouts||Students||Rate (%)|
I received the report on promethean board and laptop refresh and install yesterday afternoon after my fourth request.
I have asked for an opinion from our attorneys on the legality of these short cycle assessments. Our attorneys usually support the administration (and the 8-1 board vote . . . ) on these tests but I am hopeful.
“Short cycle assessments are intended to be formative assessments. Formative assessments “inform” teachers about the effectiveness of the teaching of the TEKS of a particular grade level.”—M. Sorum
Here is the update on student desks. Principals should request the number they need pursuant to a secondary principal's memo. If elementary schools also need desks please let me know. Thanks again to Mr. Cavazos for the prompt response.
I received a copy of the testing schedule today--fifth grade has 48 tests in English and 38 in Spanish--and on some days the teachers have to do BOTH tests. (I didn't count the other grades.)
Reflections on the first SCA: What was supposed to be a 30 minute test ended up taking an hour and a half. (This was for the 3rd grade math test.) Because of the reordering of the curriculum, we taught Origo Module 7 which covers graphing first, our students had not been exposed to many of the topics embedded in the test yet this year. For example, all ten questions required the students to add and subtract two digit numbers. Although this was taught in 2nd grade, there has been no refresher on this in 3rd, because we taught the Origo Modules out of order. 6 out of the 10 questions were “How many more questions.” This made it a test less of graphing and more about subtraction comparison questions which has not been reviewed this year and is one of the most difficult concepts for students to understand.
There has been some community concern about the FWISD board's vote to change the plans for the high school field house money contained in the bond. As approved by the voters, the nearly $500 million proposal contained $1 million for each campus to construct a field house of some 5,000 square feet, a total of $14 million.
We all have our suspicions that the district doesn't always tell us all the facts on a given issue. But even board members who had been in office decades seemingly have been kept in the dark about this one: generally, our deliberations in executive session are available for public knowledge.
This meeting is to confer with our superintendent search firm, Ray & Associates, and to make decisions regarding the process of selecting a new superintendent. Public comment will be available.
A reader asked, "How is it that high schools like Paschal, can sell pizza from Mama's pizza at lunch when the federal standards do not allow it? Kids will choose this instead of the cafeteria lunch. Can you please research this and get back to us before we come before the entire board. Thank you."
Dr. Sutherland thank you for alerting us to this concern – the issue is complex and is changing as we speak – In this particular case the campus did reach out to our food service department prior to the sale of the items to ensure that the items were in compliance. The nutritional data provided by the campus at the time, was incomplete, but it seems the booster club started the sales prior to final review. Mr. Glenn Headlee, CNS (child nutrition services) director has already visited with this campus principal and will work with them to correct the problems.
Changes are coming:
We are reviewing new rules just published on the August 29, 2014 Texas Register (pg 63), effective September 1, 2014 so we can determine how they impact our current operation, particularly at high schools. The new rules create a “time and place” restriction for high schools– (unless the local policy overrides the state standard). Prior to this, high schools had to comply with a “place” rule only; middle schools and elementary schools had “time and place” requirements. The old rules allowed high schools to sell these items as long as it did not occur at the same “place” as the cafeteria meals – primarily the cafeteria. Below is a brief summary of the issue – please advise if you have questions or concerns.
1. Texas Department of Agriculture rules and board policy FFA spell out what is acceptable at our schools
2. CNS in collaboration with school administration monitor campus sales of competitive foods (pizza and others in question)
3. The CNS department was alerted to the desire to sell this pizza and other items by this campus
4. Using a calculator (available to the public at www.squaremeals.org) and other tools CNS determined that the information provided on the items was incomplete
5. The campus believing since the pizza is “whole wheat” meant it met standards began selling the pizza
6. You notified us of this concern
7. Mr. Headlee has visiting with the campus administration and together they will be addressing the issue
8. Due to changes in the rules – the district is in the process of either implementing the new state standards or bring forth board policy recommendations (TASB has notified our offices)
I hope this helps…
Some months ago, trustees approved a controversial contract with TNTP to help us locate and train teachers, especially bilingual teachers, and to reorganize our Human Capital Management program. This contract will now be suspended pending the wishes of our new superintendent. This change will save $1 million per year.