The 2011-12 school year has been full of challenges and successes and has definitely put Sweetwater ISD on a New Course and a New Direction. Each of these challenges has been met and success achieved by putting students first.
The new STAAR and EOC tests have really revamped the instructional process within SISD and across the State. The upgraded rigor that is expected comes from rewritten standards that the State of Texas is now requiring. These expectations are in the form of much more difficult tests for our students. For example, a third grade math question is no longer completed in one step; they are 2 and sometimes 3 step problems. The questions being asked of these students are probably ones that previously we did not see until the 5th grade or later. These are not just Sweetwater ISD’s expectations, they are requirements from the State of Texas.
We would never consider not preparing our students for these new, more rigorous standards, because it is the only way they will be ready to compete in this new global society. The rules and requirements that go along with the new standards are ever changing. New tutoring and remediation is now required. Our Country, our State, and our community are ever diversifying. Our students need to embrace this diversity and master the vital skills of communication, tolerance, and working well with others. SISD wants our students to be successful in all areas and will go above and beyond what is required to insure success. Our biggest need in this area is the cooperation, understanding, and helping attitude of our parents. We realize it takes all of us to prepare our children for success and for becoming lifelong learners.
We understand the frustrations of some students and we do whatever we can to meet the needs of ALL of our students. We feel that a frustration among some of the parents within the District is that their child is being held back while they wait for others to “catch up.” Quite the contrary, teachers are trained to differentiate instruction, work with counselors, other teachers, and administrators to analyze data on each student and form an individual plan for each student. There are numerous areas where students can soar beyond the normal curriculum and quench their thirsts for advanced studies: SEEK, UIL academics, drama, art, band, choir, Robotics, Math/Science competitions, DECA, AG judging, Certified Learning and many others that SISD can offer due to its size and its resources, that other districts cannot. The class size within SISD is no larger than neighboring districts and even with the tough budget times these past couple of years, no programs were cut and student needs were always the first priority.
Even with tough financial times, SISD will see many facility improvements this summer. A comprehensive energy management project has been undertaken that includes: upgraded HVAC systems, HVAC controls, energy efficient lighting, and upgraded efficient water fixtures. The high school exterior will also see a major face lift with hew paint and outdoor LED lighting. These upgrades are being paid for by the savings that they produce. All of these upgrades will have a positive impact on instruction by improving comfort and convenience for our students and staff.
In another win-win situation, at the end of this summer the voters will have an opportunity to LOWER their SISD tax rate. Yes, lower their rate. The Community will be brought a TRE or Tax Ratification Election in which the shifting of the tax rate from the Debt service (Bond payment) to the Maintenance and Operations side will allow the total rate to go from $1.225 to $1.215. This moving the tax rate from one fund to the other does actually allow for the reduction of .01 of tax. We understand in a time of skyrocketing values, any reduction will be welcomed. The benefit to SISD will be an additional $393,000 in funding to the District. What a great opportunity for our finances, both SISD and the local tax payer. This sounds crazy we know, but school finance is extremely complicated and when a chance like this comes along, we want our community to seize it and benefit our staff and students. SISD already has a lower tax rate than other Districts in the County and this election will allow a chance to make it even lower.
SISD is committed to serving the needs of all students and we truly feel an exciting attitude is bubbling within the District. Some changes have been made in the Athletic staff and within the Administration that will definitely generate enthusiasm for our students and the Community.
Please know that we want to hear from you and any concerns or questions you may have about the District or its workings.
Stay the Course