November 20, 2013
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TISD Board of Trustees Updated on STEM Programming Approval, Annual Audit and High School Curriculum for 2014-15
Texarkana, TX – During their Tuesday, November 19, 2013 regular session, the Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees heard a STEM program update and approved the Audit Report for 2012-13 as well as the Texas High School Program of Studies & Course Description Guide.
Ronda Jameson, TISD Director of STEM Education, reported that TISD has seen an overall enrollment growth of 447% in the STEM program for grades 6-12. The secondary program began during the 2009-10 school year with only participation at two grade levels (7th & 9th). Today, TISD’s secondary program offers a continuous STEM education opportunity for grades 6-12. The elementary STEM program began with the opening of the Martha and Josh Morriss Mathematics & Engineering Elementary School in 2007.
In May 2013, Texas High School had their first STEM graduating class of 98 students. Sixty-four percent of those graduates were Honor Graduates and made up 30% of the graduating class receiving an estimated 60% of total scholarship offers for Texas High School.
“I am so pleased with the success that we have seen in our STEM program,” shared Jameson. “We continue to have STEM staff and students highlighted at the regional, state and national levels and our robotics program has truly made a name for itself within both the TCEA and the FIRST Robotics programs at the elementary and secondary levels.”
TISD’s STEM professional development program has been designated as an Exemplar model by the Texas Education Agency and Educate Texas. The district’s STEM Academy has earned the Texas Education Agency T-STEM Designation since 2009 serving as a demonstration school and learning lab in the development of innovative methods to improve science and math instruction. Since the inception of the STEM program at TISD, over 80 school districts, STEM-related programs and assorted organizations have visited the District to see first-hand the opportunities that are being offered to students and the professional development programs implemented. Additionally, an estimated $2 million in STEM grant funding has been received.
“Next steps for our STEM program include the development of STEM Career Pathways, more career exposure for students at Texas Middle School, STEM internships and the development of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) programming on the Westlawn Elementary campus,” continued Jameson.
In other business, Auditors from the firm of Thomas & Thomas, LLP gave a clean opinion with no findings on the District’s accounting procedures and determined that the District continues to maintain sound financial practices.
For the 2012-13 fiscal year, TISD ended with a fund balance of $13.3 million, an increase of $227,140 over the previous year. The fund balance at the end of 2012-13 was 27% of expenditures.
“A strong fund balance is a significant indicator of the financial strength of an entity and one of the lead indicators that financial credit rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, review each time they issue a rating on the district,” commented Deidra Reeves, Chief Financial Officer. “TISD is very proud of the level that we have achieved and continues to work hard to ensure that we maintain a strong financial record.”
Trustees also approved the Texas High School program of studies for the 2014-15 school year presented by Wes Kirkham, Executive Director of Instructional Services.
“TISD and Texas High School continues to be the place to be due in part to academic offerings that offer a broad range of opportunities for our students,” stated Kirkham. “With the approval of our new program of studies, Texas High School will now offer 455 courses in 26 program areas. Our goal is to provide a relevant, challenging curriculum that directly responds to the diverse needs of our students, our community and the global workforce.”
A few of the 36 new courses to be added to the Texas High School curriculum for 2014-15 include: College Preparatory English DC; Advanced Journalism; College Preparatory Math DC; Math for Liberal Arts DC; AP Computer Science A; AP Physics II; Advanced Biotechnology DC; Special Topics in Social Studies including Contemporary Issues, The Cold War and American Outlaws; Orchestra II, III, IV; Instrumental Music III, IV DC; Technical Theatre II, III, IV DC; Dance I, II, III, IV; Practicum in STEM I, Graphic Design & Illustration II, Audio Video Production II DC, Culinary Arts II, Agricultural Facilities Design & Fabrication.