RRISD superintendent addresses academic achievement, boundary changes at State of the District

Round Rock ISD Superintendent Steve Flores served as keynote speaker at the Round Rock Chamber's March 12 power lunch. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Round Rock ISD Superintendent Steve Flores served as keynote speaker at the Round Rock Chamber's March 12 power lunch. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Round Rock ISD Superintendent Steve Flores served as keynote speaker at the Round Rock Chamber's March 12 power lunch. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Round Rock ISD Superintendent Steve Flores began his State of the District address March 12 by saying he woke up with a "little cough" that morning. He said his first thought was concern on whether he would be able to deliver this year's address.

"Then I realized, a little cough is nothing—and the mayor, he battled for his life and won," Flores said. "What he said is really a good predication of what this is about today: Round Rock is well-positioned for the future. Round Rock ISD is well-prepared for the future, as well."

Following his opening remarks, Flores addressed the rising public awareness surrounding the novel coronavirus, adding he and his staff are not looking to be alarmists surrounding the situation. If he were an alarmist, Flores said he would have already canceled school and sent students home.

"The world has changed so drastically, so fast," Flores said. "We work together in conjunction with others and with health authorities, and we are not going to react just so swiftly that we are more of an alarmist than anything else."

He added that the district's cancelation of school-sponsored, out-of-state travel for students and staff was done due to the fact these trips were to areas with high concentrations of COVID-19, such as Seattle.


Transitioning from coronavirus news to the district's board of trustees, Flores said he has been proud to serve as superintendent of RRISD since October 2013, adding the district's success has been achieved largely in part to its board. This November, Flores said, Round Rock residents have the opportunity to keep that momentum going when casting their ballots on the three trustee seats up for election.

"It’s critical to the success of the future of this district," Flores added.

The future of the district, Flores said, is determinedly presently by both the work of the board and the achievements of the district's students, staff and teachers. From 2018 to 2019, Flores cited the following statistics on Texas Education rating metrics: Student Performance went up from 91% to 92%; School Progress increased from 89% to 91%; and Closing the Gaps ratings jumped from 89% to 94%.

But Flores also addressed the two D and one F campuses within RRISD, which decreased the district's overall rating from an A to a B. In response, Flores said his responsibility and primary goal as superintendent is to increase those scores—not for the district's image, but for the well-being of its students.

"We know that with that, we've got work to do," Flores said. "I'd rather be a B district working on the totality of the system, rather than an A district, letting others slide."

Toward the end of his address, he also addressed the boundary changes decided on in February, which will affect Herrington Elementary, Caraway Elementary, Elsa England Elementary, Teravista Elementary, C.D. Fulkes Middle and Joe Lee Johnson Elementary schools' communities. With growth, he said, comes the need for these more difficult conversations. But growth, Flores added, leads to opportunities.

"Boundaries are a fact of life," he said.

In the same vein with coming changes on the district's horizon, Flores highlighted the board's establishment of a district police department, with a concentration on behavioral health. Amy Grosso was named as RRISD's director of behavioral health, and she addressed the importance of student safety also encompassing mental health component.

"If our students don't feel emotionally safe, they're not going to be able to learn," Grosso said. "I come to work every day, excited and very thankful for this opportunity."

Closing out his hourlong address, Flores directed community members' attention to two screens, each displaying a video compiled of the class of 2019's graduation.

"If you're wondering how we can be better together, this is why this video's here," Flores said. "Because in the end, we're all better together here as one family and one future."


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