MISD Superintendent Speaks Out On School Year, Record Enrollment and Bond 10/22/12
October 22, 2012
(Midland)- MISD News
I hope last week was positive for everyone. In the school district, no one can really fathom we are already in our second six-weeks’ grading period. Though the year has already started to go by too fast, I still have the time to see the efforts of our children and our staff members, and I am very proud of their efforts. About a month ago, I made a comment in my article that we were off to one of the best school year starts that I had ever experienced in my 23-year career, and we are still there. The work and cooperation we are seeing between our students, staff members, and parents/caregivers has been extraordinary, and I cannot express how pleased I am of everyone’s efforts.
Over the last couple of months, I have had the opportunity to speak to many community groups and individual community members concerning the improvement initiative currently underway for the school district. Most have been complimentary with the four-point plan our school board has developed to guide our school district to excellence. As I have reported in the past, this plan consists of the following: (1) retaining and recruiting the very best teachers our state has to offer to put in front of our kids in Midland; (2) maintaining current programs of excellence and creating other academic programs that will provide the very best support for our classroom teachers as they strive to positively change our children’s lives every day; (3) having a “Midland voice” in Austin during the next legislative session that will initiate real changes in the directions Texas public education is going – from today’s system dealing with testing, accountability, and funding; and (4) creating a long-range plan for MISD’s facilities that will provide the environments our students and school staff members will work in for decades.
For the last goal, many Midlanders know of the impending bond election for facilities. One thing I always explain in my discussions with community members is that, as the superintendent of schools, I am prohibited from being a “cheerleader” for the bond. I am able to provide the data and the rationale behind the referendum, but I cannot advocate. To this end of providing data, I would like to address a few questions that have been posed by community members during the last couple of months. In order to appropriately inform the community regarding the issues of the bond, I would like to bring these questions to everyone’s attention, because I know many community members have these same inquiries. Some of the questions I am getting from community groups and community members are as follows:
1. “Concerning MISD’s growth – what are the numbers really?”: As of Friday, October 12th, the enrollment for MISD (PreK through 12th grade) was 23,269. To put this into context for everyone, this number puts our count at 1,800 more students than the first day of school during the 2011-12 school year, and it puts our student count at 1,123 more than the end of the 2011-12 school year this last May.
2. “Much has been said and reported about the elementary school projects, from school renovations to school additions to new campuses, but on a sample ballot that can be obtained at the county’s elections’ office, the referendum lists school buses as possible purchases. Is the school district really going to use bond money to purchase new school buses?”: The answer is NO. The ballot referendum lists the generic list of projects that can legally be purchased with bond money, and school buses are a part of that list of legal purchases according to the State of Texas, but the MISD school board has never approved, nor I have ever reported in any of my discussions with the community, that bond funds would be used for buses. That is not a part of this project, and no funds (if approved in November) would be used to purchase school buses.
3. “There is a lot of information to digest concerning the bond referendum. Where is the best place to go to research the bond request?”: From the school district’s point of view, the best place to see information about the bond request is the MISD website (www.midlandisd.net). At the top of the website is a button labeled “Bond.” By clicking this button, community members may pull up information concerning the present bond question, which contains data about tax implications and specific work that is proposed for each of our elementary campuses, or community members may pull up historical information about all of MISD’s bond elections in the past.
4. “Midland ISD may be growing now because we are in an economic boom period, but if we build new campuses, what happens during our next bust period which will render those schools empty?”: This is a question I get every time I speak, and it is a great question for us to consider in Midland. If you look back over the last 30 to 40 years, our economic lines definitely show the booms and the busts; however, looking at that same timeframe, our population patterns have always been on a positive line. Whether community members consider city or Midland county populations, the pattern of growth has always been there. There were definite years during the bust cycles that the population line went flat, but it has always returned to a positive direction. Many people assume that during bust periods, MISD loses thousands of students, but this has never been the case in our history.
I hope the questions that have been posed to me over the last couple of months and the answers I have provided help disseminate a little more information to all who are researching this bond initiative. This is a very important question for our community, and I very much appreciate the serious research our community members are conducting on it.
If anyone has questions concerning the issues in this article or about anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Ryder Warren, Superintendent of Schools
Midland Independent School District