Midland ISD Continues to Look at Secondary Campus Improvements, Seeking Public Input 12/2/13
CBS 7 News
December 2, 2013
The following is part of a letter released from Midland ISD Superintendent Dr. Ryder Warren:
Most of us who have been in Midland a while know that a little more than a year ago, the community’s voters approved the $163 million bond to address the needs of MISD’s elementary schools, and I am very proud to report all projects are going great.
Maintenance work and technology upgrades have either begun at all 24 elementary schools or have been scheduled to begin within the coming months.
Our Board of Trustees has also approved two design phases for our three new elementary schools, and these campuses are going to be amazing.
During the same time frame we were discussing the needs of our elementary schools, we also discussed the impending needs of our secondary program as well.
We are to a point in Midland when the need exists to bring our community a true long-range plan for improving MISD across the board.
There are issues to be resolved that will rest entirely on the shoulders of the school district’s leadership (i.e., school board, myself, administration, and faculty), but there will also be issues for this improvement plan upon which the community again will need to decide the direction for the district – as it did for the elementary question.
For this school year, we began the process to analyze MISD’s secondary program and our eleven secondary schools in October. During that month, the MISD Board of Trustees held seven town hall meetings to present the needs of these campuses to the community and take comments from citizens as to their opinions about our schools. During those meetings, we discussed four parameters that framed the discussion.
Those parameters were as follows:
1. Academic Excellence: In both the elementary and secondary discussions over the last few years, this has been the driving force behind the efforts. There are two main drivers we have identified to obtain academic excellence for our children which are (1) recruiting and retaining the very best classroom teachers we can get into Midland, and (2) supporting those teachers with the best programs – from academics to student discipline – in order to give our teachers the very best chances for success with our kids.
2. Student Enrollment Growth: As of last week, MISD schools contained 23,500 students. This represents about 400 more students than we had this time last year, and that number has been increasing for the last four years. To bring a long-range facility plan to the community in order to extend our campuses as far as we can into the future, dealing with these numbers (and future enrollment numbers) must be a part of that planning and decision-making process.
3. Building Maintenance Needs: Over the last 60 to 70 years, Midland has built outstanding facilities for our students. We now need to answer the questions that arise when looking at the next several decades. Every facility in our community has a life span, and it is our belief that our school buildings have a lot of life left in them, but we do need to address issues that come from buildings being used over five to six decades. Again, the overarching goal is to extend our buildings for as long as we possibly can.
4. Classroom Technology: We are very excited to see the technological upgrades we are and/or will be making to our elementary classrooms. Our elementary teachers will now have the ability to truly teach at a 21st Century level – using the tools that our students live with and use every day in their lives. Part of the conversation for our secondary campuses will be doing the same to our junior high and high school classrooms. Our students live in an information-based society and being able to instruct them using the tools of the modern age will truly impact instructional success in Midland.
The MISD Board of Trustees and I will continue to seek input from MISD parents and caregivers, community leaders, and members of our community who have already stepped in to give input on these very important decisions.
I am very much looking forward to seeing the direction Midland deems appropriate for our school district and for our kids.
Whatever the decision, the most important aspect is that it is a choice made by as many Midlanders as will come to the table, because these series of decisions will be the most important we make for our community for decades to come.