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District talks plans for next year changes

District talks plans for next year changes
NANCY PAVLICH La Vernia Independent School District Primary School Parent Teacher Organization members Amy De Leon (second from left) Kim Domke, and Debbie Royal present a $5,000 donation to school board President Mike Jendrusch (far left), Primary School Principal Sheri Boos, and Superintendent Tom Harvey during the April 19 La Vernia ISD board meeting.

LA VERNIA La Vernia Independent School District (ISD) board members are making plans for upcoming changes in district finances, technology, and academics.

During the April 20 regular board meeting, District Math and Science Coordinator Dana Grubb and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Personnel Diane Fisher presented the board with information on the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests being implemented by the state. The STAAR test will replace the current Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test, starting with next year’s high school freshmen.

According to Grubb and Fisher, the STAAR test is more rigorous than the TAKS and has a greater emphasis on alignment to college- and career- readiness.

Students will not be required to retake a course if they fail the exam; they must only retake the exam. The assessment will count as 15 percent of the student’s final grade for that course.

To prepare for the change, staff will attend STAAR and end-of-course (EOC) sessions at Education Service Center, Region 20 in San Antonio. They will also revise the curriculum scope and sequence and re-evaluate their grading system.

According to Superintendent Tom Harvey, the district does not know what passing standards for the STAAR test are yet.

“You will be shocked at what passing is at first,” he said. “They’re going to phase in.”

Harvey also expressed his concern with the number of days required by the state to be set aside for testing.

“Sixty days of testing!” Harvey said. “How many days are you going to teach?”

These tests are also unfunded mandates Harvey said, which means that schools will not receive money from the state for training required for the new tests.

Also at the meeting, the board approved the purchase of a Storage Area Network (SAN) system to expand the district’s “cloud” technology services.

Director of Technology and Grants Allen Bordelon explained to the board that because the district’s cloud is growing, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which provides computing power and storage, must expand to keep pace with increasing user demands.

The cost of the storage system is $44, 516.

According to Bordelon, funding has been allotted in La Vernia ISD’s technology funds and must be used this year, since technology funds cannot be carried over. Since the school will not receive any technology funds from the state next year, Bordelon suggested that the district “spend it wisely and plan ahead.”

Bordelon also updated staff on the new district website that will be up and running July 1.

According to Bordelon, the new website will be easier to use and provide better customer service. It will also integrate social networks, such as wikis and blogs, and have links to Facebook and Twitter.

Bordelon also reported that the district’s Network Operations Center, or “server room” will be enlarged significantly, insulated better, and have more power and air conditioning. This was appropriately funded with reimbursements from construction projects, he said.

In other action:

¢The board approved a $5,000 donation from the La Vernia Primary School Parent Teacher Organization.

¢The board approved the cancellation of school board elections, due to the lack of opposition. Incumbents David Watson, Janice Gimbel, and James Barnett will each serve another 2-year term.

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