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Seen and Heard at the August 2023 School Board Meeting

Posted Date: 08/21/2023

Seen and Heard at the August 2023 School Board Meeting

August 14, 2023 —The August Board meeting began with remarks from West Texas A&M University President Walter Wendler, who provided data on how many Amarillo ISD graduates go on to college at WTAMU.  Dr. Wendler also said WT wants to do more to encourage students to pursue careers in education. The Board also heard a report from parents and staff on Kinderbridge, a program of the birth-to-five initiative Storybridge, that uses guided playgroups to introduce literacy to small children and their parents. AISD partners with Storybridge to provide these programs to families with young children. Superintendent Loomis said the District would like to find community partners to help fund Kinderbridge at more locations across Amarillo.

Trustees also recognized Maintenance Department staff members who have worked tirelessly over the summer to complete the installation of air-conditioning units in all elementary school gyms. Chief Operations Officer Kirk Self said not only have the crews saved the District almost a million dollars by doing the installation in-house, but this project adds security to elementary schools by eliminating the need for gym doors to be propped open for ventilation purposes. 

The meeting continued with an update from assistant superintendents on academic activities across the District, including summer staff development. Elementary School Academics Director Samantha Holder gave an overview of the four-step process AISD has used to vet the Amplify instructional resource.  She said any component, lesson or reading passage that is not age- or grade-level appropriate has been reworked, rephrased or removed.  Parents have access to all AISD curriculum guides and instructional resources on the District website.  Assistant Superintendents briefly went over STAAR and end-of-course test scores from last spring. At elementary and high school, AISD students outperformed the state in every area, and middle schoolers outperformed the state in several areas. Mr. Loomis pointed out that, with changes in the accountability rating system for Texas districts, Amarillo ISD will likely see a drop in its rating, or letter grade, this year despite test scores that are in many cases better than pre-pandemic results. 

In other business, Trustees adopted a revised 2023-2024 Student Code of Conduct, which reflects some of the changes in education-related laws brought about by the 88th Texas Legislature.

The Board also approved the implementation of the School Guardian Plan in response to the new House Bill 3 which requires all public schools to have at least one armed officer at each school campus during regular school hours, but provides for alternatives such as arming school staff.  AISD’s plan will utilize the School Defender Program to train and arm school district employees who volunteer and qualify for the Defender role. The District also plans to add eight officers to the Amarillo ISD Police Department, more than doubling the size of its police force.  The District also continues to partner with the City to provide 13 police liaison officers (school resource officers) who are assigned to AISD campuses to provide security. 

Finally, Trustees thanked those who generously gave gifts and donations to AISD and its schools this month.  A total of $56,559.67 was given to various schools from Education Credit Union, Craig Gualtiere, Waste Management Symposia Conference, Cacique Cheese, Amarillo Sod Poodles, and Woodlands PTO.