March 19, 2013

Tina Veal-Gooch
Director of Public Relations
903.794.3651 ext. 1013

TISD Board of Trustees Meeting includes Reports on Elementary Realignment REACH Program and Tiger Bookmobile

Texarkana, TX – During their Tuesday, March 19, 2013 regular session, Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees were updated on informational meetings for the 2013-14 elementary realignment, the REACH program and the Tiger Bookmobile.

With the State of Texas continuing to increase the standards and rigor expected of students, TISD is considering an elementary realignment to provide the best possible instructional environment for students at Dunbar Intermediate Center, Theron Jones Early Literacy Center and Westlawn Elementary School. Additionally, a new attendance zone will be created to include all three campuses. Suggested changes for the campuses and students in the new attendance zone are: Dunbar Intermediate School to serve all Pre-Kindergarten students (currently home to 3rd through 5th grades); Theron Jones Early Literacy Center to serve Kindergarten through 2nd Grade (currently serving Pre-K through 2nd Grade); Westlawn Elementary School to serve 3rd through 5th Grade (currently Pre-K through 5th Grade).

According to Paul Norton, Superintendent of Schools, TISD will host a series of Parent/Guardian/Community Informational Meetings on the proposed change. Meeting dates, time and locations will be:

Thursday, March 21 – 6:00 p.m. – Westlawn Elementary School, 410 Westlawn Drive;
Monday, March 25 – 6:00 p.m. – Theron Jones Early Literacy Center, 2600 West 15th Street;
Tuesday, March 26 – 5:30 p.m. – Pecan Ridge at Rosehill, 2210 West 15th Street;
Thursday, March 28 – 6:00 p.m. – Dunbar Intermediate Center, 2315 West 10th Street.

In other business, Jo Ann Rice, Assistant Superintendent for Student & Community Development, updated members on the Rigor Encourages Academic & Career Heights (REACH) Program which is a college preparatory elective class offered to staff nominated and selected Texas Middle School and Texas High School students in grades 6-12. The program began in 2007.
Participating students receive academic and motivational support in a rigorous course of study. This support includes in-class tutoring and coaching, collaborative learning, campus visits, college recruiter and alumni visits and mentoring by area business and community leaders. The REACH curriculum is designed to introduce, practice and master the skills outlined in the TEKS, but also includes character education and college & career readiness components. 

Enrollment for the program is up by 31% over previous year and academic performance results indicate that the key elements of the program, tutoring and coaching, give participating students an increased boost in assisting them to excel beyond their non-reach counterparts.

The final program update on the Tiger Bookmobile was given by Tina Veal-Gooch, Executive Director of Public Relations. As a signature project of the Texarkana Public Schools Foundation, the Tiger Bookmobile was unveiled in the summer of 2011 with a vision to help prevent summer learning loss by allowing children the opportunity to continue their education during the summer through reading.

Veal-Gooch stated that, “research shows 50-67% of the achievement gap for children living in poverty is a direct result of summer learning loss.” “Fortunately, research also shows that having elementary-aged children read just four to five books during the summer can prevent this loss and help to close the educational gap,” she continued.

Summer reading loss is cumulative. Children who are not encouraged to read during the summer don’t catch up in the fall because children that are reading during the summer are moving ahead with their skills. By the time the start of school begins, a child not encouraged to read has fallen behind. Further, by the time that same child has reached the end of the sixth grade, and assuming they were not encouraged to read during the summers of their Kindergarten through sixth grade years, he or she is up to two years behind their classmates in reading ability and comprehension.

Now with two summer tours completed, the Tiger Bookmobile was visited by an average of 1,300 students during the annual 9-week outing. Summer tour sites included 11-13 neighborhood locations that could accommodate a 48’ foot trailer, was clearly accessible by children and their families and provided a safe environment for all during the day. Hours of operation were Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and story hour opportunities were held at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. daily. Moving into the 2012-13 school year, efforts for the Tiger Bookmobile have been expanded to include elementary campus visits as a resource for existing literacy/library programs and for family night activities.

The unique, one-of-a-kind mobile unit has a brightly colored exterior featuring children and animals enjoying reading. It has been outfitted with mobile satellite technology, thousands of books, iPads, Kindles, reading benches and seats, flat screen television, Wii gaming, bean bag chairs and colorful rugs. The look is complete with an additional exterior seating area featuring canopy, bean bag chairs and more fun rugs.

Funding for the bookmobile was in part through the Texarkana Public Schools Foundation and the Tiger Family of TISD employees during their annual “All-In-One” campaign. Additional donors and in-kind providers were: AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company; Altech, Inc.; Arkansas Community Foundation and the Texarkana Area Community Foundation; The Bobbie A. Atkinson Foundation; Mr. Jack Bruner; Capital One; Mrs. Donna Chatman; FastSigns; Mayo Manufacturing Corp; Mr. & Mrs. Joe A. Norwood, Jr.; SHW Group; Texas Pioneer Foundation; THS Class of 1949; THS Class of 1999; Mr. & Mrs. Kelly Tidwell; and, The Washington Post Company.

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