During Monday’s regular meeting of the Kingsville Independent School District Board of Trustees, Superintendent Elida Bera addressed preliminary STAAR scores, the upcoming interview schedule for personnel vacancies and new curriculum that will be implemented at all campuses beginning in the 2019-20 academic year.
Bera said based on preliminary STAAR scores, which she suggested that board members not share with the public “just yet,” fourth grade had taken the “greatest hit” compared to prior years’ scores.
She said one of the reasons was that there is currently no curriculum alignment between the grade levels on the campuses, nor between the campuses at an intra-district level.
“The area that we really need to focus on is reading and math with, of course, a lot of attention being given to writing,” Bera said.
To help with alignment, Bera said she would be recommending the purchase of the TEKS Resource System or TRS, a K-12 curriculum model developed and offered by the Texas Education Agency’s 20 regional Educational Service Centers that aligns to the state’s standard, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.
Bera said the TRS would follow a similar system to Sharon Wells Mathematics, which she said the district’s teachers used and liked, that would allow faculty to meet by grade level and plan lessons every six weeks.
Board president Brian Coufal asked when the board should expect “firmer” STAAR scores. Bera said there will be fifth and eighth grade STAAR retesting, along with high school End-of-Course retesting, coming up later this month.
“We’re still providing instruction to our students in summer school, and it’s going to be critical that (…) we provide the best instruction so when they take the test, they’ll be able to improve our scores,” she said.
Trustee Cory Garza asked Bera about the district working with an ESC Region 2 specialist, based out of Corpus Christi, in the TRS curriculum when it had historically worked with ESC Region 1, which operates out of the Rio Grande Valley.
“So you’re telling us that we’re going to push away from ESC 1 and go strictly (ESC) 2,” he asked.
“We could go with either one,” Bera replied.
Garza said he felt the board needed to “state firmly” which regional center they would work with, “because if there’s a glitch, who do we come after?”
“The superintendent,” she replied. “Because I will be sitting in with the consultants that come in, and I take full responsibility for the scores for next year.”
Garza said Bera had been with the district for a while and should take responsibility for this year’s STAAR results as well. Bera said she arrived just two months prior to the first test.
“And you asked me earlier what (the district) would be rated, and I told you that more than likely it would be an ‘F,’” she said. “The first semester, there was no support from central office to the schools.
“And when I came in, we did go out and we did try, but we also had a lot of work to do here at the central office, with emails from the board who also wanted to know what was going on.”
“This is the foundation,” she added. “And next year at this time, if my scores are low, you can ask me to walk out that door.”
Bera also addressed personnel vacancies that the KISD is working to fill this summer. She said they have “a very ambitious schedule for these next two or three weeks” where they will be conducting interviews for several administrative positions.
“And I do want to tell the board, and the public, that we have had a lot of very successful applicants that have expressed an interest in coming to Kingsville and being a part of the change,” she said.
Bera said right now, she is focusing on central office administrators, but her goal is to start the 2019-20 school year “fully staffed.”
“(Assistant Superintendent Kamara) Adams and I have committed, including (CFO Peter) Pitts, to interview even if it’s on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening,” she said.
Later in the meeting, the board approved the purchase of TRS for about $68,700 along with other purchases over $10,000 in a 7-0 unanimous vote.
Also approved on Monday was renewing a one-year contract for Memorial Middle School principal Alys Williams in a 4-3 split vote. Cory and Corando Garza, along with Nicolas Prado, voted against the renewal.
Williams had resigned from the Kingsville ISD in May, along with several other district principals and administrators, but later requested to rescind her resignation. She has been with the KISD since 2015.
The board approved rescinding the resignation during their June 6 special meeting in a 5-1 split, with Coufal voting against and Cory Garza abstaining. The resignation of H.M. King High School counselor Raul Ramos was also rescinded during the same meeting.
Prior to Monday’s vote, Cory Garza told the board that he wanted to state for the record that he would “continue to forge ahead making decisions in the best interest of students and staff alike.”
“And while some of the decisions I make in my capacity as a board member are not welcomed by my colleagues or appear to be the most popular, rest assured that they are made with the intent of holding all stakeholders accountable for their actions,” he said. “Maintaining us all aware of the impacts these decisions will have on the overall outcomes of our district while adhering to board policy and code.”
Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (361) 221-0251.