Most mornings I go for either a run or walk before getting ready and heading to work. During the summer months, it often gets really hot (even at 5:30 am) and it can be hard to get motivated to get outside each morning. I find it funny that as August begins, I actually start looking forward to getting out there each morning, and this morning I figured out why...School is starting back again. On my run this morning, I was able to see a couple of our JISD buses making their dry run. Earlier this week, I was able to see the lights on at our football field as JHS Football practiced early in the morning. Last week, my run overlapped our HS cross country runners as they changed their running location to the neighborhood rather than the JHS complex. Those sights and sounds, in addition to the band practicing in the August heat, volleyball gearing up, and the teachers returning to campus always make this an exciting time for me, and I truly appreciate the extra motivation it gives me to get up each morning and exercise!
It has been hard this summer to ignore the construction zones that exist all over Jarrell ISD. Almost every facility had some sort of active construction or remodeling. At Jarrell Middle School, they are finishing up a twelve room expansion that should wrap up in the next month. This addition will have eight classrooms and four science labs for our students to utilize as we meet the growing needs of that campus. Jarrell High School has been a MAJOR Construction Zone this summer - we even had to limit access to the building as there was no way to enter the building except from the back. The addition that is being constructed in the rear of JHS is a classroom addition that will house four science labs and eight classrooms (just like JMS). This project should be completed by March of 2020. In front of the school is where the auditorium is being constructed. When completed it will be a 752 seat state of the art performance complex. This part of construction is very intricate, and will take longer as it will not be ready until about November of 2020.
The largest construction project we had this year was probably also the most anticipated project- and that was Igo Elementary. Igo is a Pre K-5 elementary campus with a capacity of over 800 students. Igo will join Jarrell Elementary School in serving JISD Elementary aged students. I was positively overwhelmed by the number of people who came out Saturday to the Grand Opening and Dedication of Igo Elementary. We were so happy that surviving members of the Igo family were able to be on hand as we celebrated the opening of the newest member of our JISD family.
In addition to our buildings, we have lots of changes involving people! Our school board has added over 15 new staff members for the 2019-2020 school year, with almost all of those teacher units. They are striving to meet the needs of our ever growing school community. The other people change that we encounter each year is student growth. We will not have good numbers until we start school, but I believe that JISD will exceed 2100 students before September 1st. Our demographic projections have us hitting 2114 by the end of October which would be an 11.4% growth over the previous year, but in actuality I am pretty certain we will easily exceed that number. With all that said, we have poised ourselves to welcome all new and returning students to Jarrell ISD and help them reach their academic potential.
All of our Jarrell ISD staff are here to assist our students and their families. If you have a question or concern, please reach out to our teachers, principals, or directors. A phone call or an email may be all you need to get whatever information for which you are searching. We are in the people business - and we do want to help each and every one of you. That is part of the Jarrell Way. It takes good positive relationships between our staff, our students, and our parents. as we all want to reach the same goal of allowing our JISD students achieve their goals and dreams.
As we approach this weekend, we welcomed our first big cold front since our students have returned to school from their winter break. As we look at the upcoming weather forecasts - as we often do in the school business, I wanted to remind our community of how we communicate school delays or closings in Jarrell ISD.
Whenever the decision is made, we will advertise a two hour delay or a school cancellation in a variety of ways:
Local Media Outlets will be notified (Local Television, News, and Radio)
We will post to our Jarrell ISD Facebook Page - Click here to follow us if you have not already done so
We will post to our Jarrell ISD Twitter Page - Click here to follow us in Twitter
We will send our push notifications on the JISD Schoolway App - Click here to install the SchoolWay app for Apple, Android, or Google Devices
We work very hard to keep you informed in the event that weather is severe enough to impact our JISD. To let you know a little more about how we come to these decisions, the following is an excerpt from a blog post from two years back:
I can tell you that probably the absolute most difficult decision that I have to make is a weather call. Ultimately the decision as to whether or not to cancel school, delay the start time of school, or proceed as normal comes down to me. I do not take this decision lightly, nor do I randomly make the decision myself.
I consult a number of people. This starts with our district staff, continues with fellow superintendents in the area, and also includes Williamson County and Travis County Emergency Operations personnel along with National Weather Service Meteorologists.
The first thing we do is listen in on the county weather calls, where Wilco or Travis County Emergency Personnel moderate a call between all available parties including schools, cities, and county agencies as well as TXDOT and the National Weather Service. We are given weather probabilities and best/worst case scenarios. The road service agencies detail current conditions and precautions they are taking.
I then participate in conversations with area superintendents about the weather, the situation, and the probabilities. We try to work in unison and share information as much as possible so that we can get as clear a picture as we can,
Additionally, district staff start driving the roads in our district. For JISD, this usually means that our transportation director always goes, and I sometimes accompany her or drive to different areas. We compare information and share notes on current conditions in JISD. In addition, our district staff communicate with other districts and other entities, or just coordinate messages between district staff. This could include very simple data - for example yesterday afternoon, our drivers reported back to the transportation director that the afternoon drive was much easier than the morning route for one simple reason - they could see the roads, especially where we had potholes on our rural county roads that often had ice patches. This information was critical in our announcement of a late start today.
As I stated above, I take this decision very seriously - our ultimate decision comes down to can we guarantee safety in getting to school.
As I stated back then, the number one focus is the safety and security of our students. One of the reason that we put so much thought, time, and energy into this decision is that we know that our schools are one of the safest places for our students. If we were to cancel school due to inclement weather and then the weather is not as bad as thought, many of our students would be home alone. Furthermore, over 55% of JISD students qualify for free or reduced lunch. If those students are not in school, they may not be eating breakfast or lunch that day.
So I can always promise you that we take decisions like these with the utmost importance. We want to ensure the safety and security of our students at school and at home. Be safe and stay warm this weekend.
As I have written in the past, I always love back to school time. From the time I was in school all the way up to the present, I truly love this time of the year. Don't get me wrong, I am still glad school is here and I am truly looking forward to the 2017-2018 school year. I can't wait for Friday, which is our big District Convocation. I will have trouble sleeping on Sunday, August 20th, since the first day of school is on that Monday. I loves seeing all of the students enter the school doors and locate their classrooms. I love walking the halls in all of our campuses and hearing teachers and students get to know each other. I love seeing the teachers and students excited about the new school year. These feelings will never go away.
It is a little bittersweet due to the circumstances that our district finds itself in with the Texas Legislature. You may or may not know, but Jarrell ISD lost over $840,000 in state funding for the 2017-2018 school year. In 2005, the Texas Legislature reduced property tax rates. When they did this, they guaranteed school districts would be able to generate the same level of per-student funding as they received in the 2005-2006 school year. This funding was referred to as Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR). In 2011, when the state reduced public education funding, the legislature also enacted a repeal of ASATR effective September 1, 2017. The idea was that schools would be gradually eased off ASATR funding, and many schools since 2006 did ease themselves off of ASATR. Jarrell ISD had been an odd ASATR district. Due to our rapid student growth, rapid construction in our district, and rapid property growth values, we have been on a roller coaster with ASATR. We are never sure if or how much ASATR we are going to receive. A few years ago, we were down to only $500,000 in ASATR revenue, and then last year we received over $1 million. This year the budget template shows that we would have received $841,292. As a matter of fact, the top of the state funding template shows the ASATR money that we lost for the 2017-2018 school year.
For the 2017-2018 budget, we predicted a student growth rate of 6%. Even with the additional income from these new students, we had to trim over $400,000 from the 2016-2017 budget. We had to find ways to cut expenses and still offer our students the best education. This budget year, we have cut eight positions from our district, including teachers, paraprofessionals, and even central administration positions. We are no longer feeding our students who travel out of town on extracurricular trips - and approximately 60% of our students are on free/reduced lunch. Our teachers are not receiving a raise this year, and in fact, all of our staff members will see a cut in overall pay with the increase in health insurance.
This is the bittersweet part. We know we will still provide for our Jarrell ISD students, it is what we strive and love to do. We have great staff members who will keep working hard. it is disappointing that our state legislators have put teachers into this position. I challenge each of you inform yourself about the external factors that affect your child and Jarrell ISD. This 2017 Legislative Session and the current Special Session have been very difficult for educators, and personally, I do not feel that all of our elected representatives want all children to succeed. You need to know what impact the actions of those in Austin have on Jarrell ISD and your child.
There are several parent groups who can keep you informed and also can use help from parents who want their voices heard.
Friends of Texas Public Schools
Pastors for Texas Children
Save Texas Schools
Texas Parent PAC
Texans Advocating Meaningful Student Assessment
We hope that this will be another great year for Jarrell ISD, as we have many wonderful things taking shape. Right now we are planning for the new Elementary School, which is slated to open in August of 2019. This is the first of the projects approved in the May 2017 Bond. We will begin planning the other main projects (JMS Additions and JHS Additions with Auditorium) in the coming months. We are anticipating a health growth of students this year, as predicted by our June 2017 Demographic Report, which can be accessed here.
Like I said, it is a bitter sweet start to the school year, but we are going to keep working to make it the best school year!
Whenever July turns to August, and we get closer to school beginning, I am asked by various people all the time, "Are you ready for school to begin". I have been asked this question the majority of my life, both when I was a student and now as a adult working in schools. As a student, my answer was always yes, since I loved going back to school. Seeing all of my old friends, seeing those that would become my new friends, and meeting new and different teachers each year. As an adult my answer is also yes, because I truly love the start of school. I love the early August football practices, volleyball practices, band rehearsals. I love the look of the freshly waxed floors. I love that the classrooms are all neatly organized and ready for the kids to come into their doors. But the truth is, whether we adults in the school business (the teachers, bus drivers, administrators, and clerical staff) admit it or not; those kids are coming on August 22nd whether we are ready or not! Those school buses and parents car doors are going to swing open, and we will get four campuses full of students eager for the first day. This is an exciting time, and Jarrell ISD is ready, willing, and able to receive these students with open arms!
As we get ready to begin the 2016-2017 School Year, we have new changes and new challenges in front of us. First and foremost, our third graders have been moved to Jarrell Intermediate School. This creates our new district grade configuration:
Jarrell Elementary School - Grades PreK-2
Jarrell Intermediate School - Grades 3-5
Jarrell Middle School - Grades 6-8
Jarrell High School - Grades 9-12
In addition, Jarrell ISD is still growing. As of today, we have had over 190 students new to Jarrell ISD enroll. Now that is not a net gain, as we have lost some students, and will have more withdraw, but we know that we will have a large net gain of new students again this year. Jarrell ISD is working to stay abreast of our growth and working diligently to meet the space and instructional needs for our students, however many that may be!
Our staff has worked all summer to prepare our grounds and buildings, our instructional staff has been here for two weeks preparing classrooms and lessons. Jarrell ISD is ready for the 2016-2017 School Year. Are You?
Have a great year!
We are closing in on the end of the 2015-2016 School Year. It seems like just yesterday that the roar of the crowd at Cougar Stadium was in my ears along with the JHS Band playing our fight song! This year has flown by! As the school year winds down - it does so with a flurry of important events - we have field days and field trips for our elementary and intermediate students, reward trips for our middle school students, and even activities for Jarrell High School Students. But just since we are getting closer to May 27th does not mean that we do not have important things going on inside the classrooms. This week our JHS students are taking the STAAR EOC exams, next week our 3-8 students will also face their STAAR exams, and let's not forget about final exams coming up for our JMS and JHS students the last week of school. In addition, we are still in both the Softball and Baseball Playoffs, with our teams playing Friday and Saturday at Lehman HS.
Here is a listing of May Events on our JISD Campuses:
Just since the 2015-2016 school year is wrapping up, does not mean JISD is slowing down. We are currently planning for Summer Programs for 2016, as well as planning for the 2016-2017 School Year.
Please watch our district webpage as well as our Facebook page for exciting activities such as athletic summer camps and our JISD Summer Library Program.
I hope to see you at some of our events before school wraps up. And as alway, Go Coogs!
I wanted to take a minute to share with you how Jarrell ISD makes the decision to act during periods of inclement weather and what goes on behind the scenes in those situations.
As you know, today we had a Tornado Warning issued around 9:20. At that time, dangerous storms were located west of us and rotations occurred in the Andice area. Like most of you, several JISD staff members (especially district and campus administrators) have warning alerts set on their phones from a variety of weather apps. In addition, when we know that there is inclement weather, we begin monitoring via computers and television. When those alerts went off this morning, we sprang into action, seeing what was occurring and determining our course of action. When it was determined that there was a good chance that tornado activity was possible, we called out to our campuses and had them go ahead and activate their tornado plan. Each campus has its own plan and campus staff is instructed to take cover accordingly. At the same time, central office staff is coordinating with our other departments (Transportation, Maintenance, Custodial, and Technology) to make sure those employees are notified and take the necessary precautions. At JISD, we are concerned about not only the safety of our students, but also our staff.
As the campuses were taking their precautions, we also started communicating with both the Jarrell Police Department and the Jarrell Fire Department. We recently worked with these two agencies to make sure that we could communicate with them on our radio system. This allows us greater flexibility and also allows us to get up to date information from them if something was to occur. During today’s incident, I was in communication with both the Fire Chief and Police Chief at different points during the situation, each of us giving updates to each other. This type of assistance is paramount to ensuring the safety of our students and staff.
As the warnings came to a close, we informed our staff that they could return to normal. Our staff and students did a great job. All of them are commended. In particular, if you are a parent of a student, please commend them – as the word I kept hearing from our staff was that our students were very well behaved. That is sometimes difficult in situations like these.
During the situation, we try to post announcements on our district Facebook page as well as the district SchoolWay notification system. We want to keep our parents informed as much as possible. If you or any of your friends do not use these tools, please share this with them. Our JISD Facebook page can be located at https://www.facebook.com/JarrellIndependentSchoolDistrict/ and you can sign up for the SchoolWay message system by going to http://myschoolway.com/jarrellisd.
In addition, I wanted to let parents know, in situations like these, once we have entered the lockdown portion of our drill, we do not release students to parents until the situation is over. We are working to protect all parties involved – and in a storm situation like today, oftentimes our school structures are one of the best places in which our children can be located. Releasing your child means having staff members out of the safe zones as well as possibly endangering you and your child while in the vehicle.
Our number one priority is the safety of our students. We appreciate you helping keep them safe, and understanding that all JISD staff members are dedicated to keeping your children safe so that we can return them to you.
If you have any questions about any of these procedures, please feel free to contact us and ask.
One of the great things about working in schools is having that two week winter break. It is very valuable for teachers and staff to have that time to refresh and recharge. This new year brings us to a new semester, with many activities: Basketball is in full swing, Soccer is starting, and Softball, Baseball, and Track & Field will start up soon; UIL One Act is already rehearsing for their middle school and high school competitions; UIL Academics are practicing on all four campuses; Choir and Band are gearing up for Concert & Sightreading;
Before I move on, I wanted to give a plug to our Girls and Boys Varsity Basketball Teams. Both are state ranked and undefeated in district play. Please make plans to come out and support these outstanding teams during their regular season in the JHS Gym. They play on Tuesdays and Fridays and check our district web page or our facebook page for game times and locations. we are proud of both of them and wish them well as they complete district and move on into the playoffs.
The spring semester will also bring other important activities, some of which we need your assistance with. We will be posting our annual District Calendar Survey soon. We want as much feedback as possible from our parents and community as we formulate our academic calendar for the 2016-2017 school year. This will be followed by a District Calendar Team comprised of staff and parents who will finalize the calendar before it is presented to the board. Another activity where we can use assistance is our campus and district parent surveys. We hope to get these surveys out around the Spring Break time, so be looking for those as we value your feedback and input. Students will begin scheduling for courses at JMS and JHS during this spring. Please be on the lookout for informational meetings and deadlines to assist your students in this important activity.
There will be other opportunities for volunteering, input, and assistance throughout this second semester. Please be watching (JISD facebook page is a great source) for these as they arise. We truly look forward to having people from our JISD community take part in our schools. It is important and necessary!
Here is to a great 2016!
It is Homecoming Week!
That is always a special time in a school district. All of our kids are prepped and ready to wear their mums, watch the game, and cheer on the homecoming court. To me it is a time to reflect on all of the good things we have going on in our school district. Part of that is the display of school pride that we see during this week - along with the game, the band, the homecoming court, and the mums...but to me that school pride and spirit is what sets a school apart.
Jarrell ISD is a school in transition - we are growing from the sleepy small town school into a larger school district - but we want to keep our small town soul - we care about each and every one of our kids and what and how they do things.
In regards to the growth, Jarrell ISD now has over 1415 students. To give you a perspective, seven years ago, JISD had an enrollment of 915. We have grown almost 500 students in five years - the bulk of that has been in the last two years (276). We are currently getting an update to our district demographic report, but all signs point to that number continuing to grow. Growth is great in many ways as it allows us to offer more options and opportunities to our students, but we want to keep our small school soul as we grow. That is important to me as well as our district and campus leadership.
The growth has also allowed us to build new schools and facilities. Over the last 5 years, we have opened JES and JMS in beautiful new structures, and we have just finished adding on to JHS (which was only built in 2007). In addition we are nearing completion of our upgraded and expanded football stadium - We have been told that the restrooms and concessions should be ready by Friday's Homecoming game. These facilities were necessary to meet the growth of our district, and as we grow we will need additional facilities.
As we move forward, we will be asking for volunteers from the community to assist us in planning our future - if you wish to serve on this planning and facilities committee, please let me know.
Remember, we will keep striving to keep that small school soul.
When I was younger, I was one of those kids who really was ready for school to begin. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVED summer vacation and all that it represented - playing all day, staying up late, sleeping late, summer trips and of course NO SCHOOL, but come August, I was ready. I wanted to see my friends, I wanted to meet my new teachers, I wanted to climb back on that yellow school and go to class! I would always have a hard time getting to sleep that night. Not because I wanted to stay up, but because I was excited to see what that new school year would hold for me and my friends.
After all of these years working in education, I still get that same feeling. It usually starts hitting pretty hard on that Monday when Football, Volleyball, and Band can begin practice because you can start to feel, hear, smell, and see school. A clock inside me tells me that it is getting closer. It gets more real on the day we host new staff orientation. Seeing all the new employees to JISD coming in those doors always gets my blood pumping a little more. The next big day is when all of the staff returns. I love when that happens. Ii truly look forward to our big JISD Beginning of the Year Convocation because that is the first time we get EVERY employee back in one place at one time. You cannot help but get excited. But to me, nothing will ever compare to the first day of school each and every year. I still get those same butterflies of excitement that makes it hard to go to sleep.
August 24th is coming soon, and I am excited for that day. I look forward to seeing all of our JISD students coming back into the classroom and meeting their new classmates, some new to JISD. I truly feel that our administration, faculty, and staff have prepared for every student's arrival and they have worked diligently to make themselves, our campuses, and our district better for 2015. Great things are going on in JISD and we cannot wait.
It is with open arms that I welcome all of our faculty, staff, students, and community to the 2015-2016 school year. I look forward to being out and about and seeing all of the great things that our JISD students will do, create, learn, and enjoy this school year. I want to offer a big welcome to all of our families who are new to JISD. Welcome to the Cougar family!
No if we can just get some sleep on Sunday, August 23rd!
Although the students, teachers, and most of the district staff is gone, summer is a very busy time in JISD. to give you a little info as to what has been going on, here is a little list:
Summer is a busy time in JISD, but we are truly looking forward to all of our staff returning on either August 3rd or August 13th. We will be hosting our new staff in their orientation meetings beginning August 11th.
Registration for ALL students returning to JISD will be held from 4-8 pm August 6th, August 10th, and August 11th at JHS.
Registration for students NEW to JISD will be held at each campus from 9am-Noon on August 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, and 20. Jarrell Elementary is for PreK-3rd grade; Jarrell Intermediate hosts students in grades 4 and 5, Jarrell Middle School is for 6th, 7th, and 8th Graders, and Jarrell High School houses grades 9-12.
We look forward to seeing our students, new and old, at our registration days.
Parents, students, and community...please follow us on facebook for up to the minute JISD info !
Or on Twitter...
And make sure to sign up for our SchoolWay Account for push notifications from JISD or individual campuses!