Northwest ISD Superintendent Ryder Warren updated the district during a Facebook Live on Dec. 15, highlighting NISD’s accomplishments, growth, superintendent search, COVID-19 protocols and Virtual Angel Tree program.

Warren gave kudos to the district for its accomplishments, including the completion of Berkshire Elementary School and the Northwest ISD Aquatic Center. The superintendent also noted that 63 NISD students earned National College board recognition, and three were named National Merit semifinalists.

“We have had a phenomenal first half of our year of our kids being recognized for their academic journeys through the school year,” Warren said.

In addition, Warren said 358 middle and high school students were selected to all-region band, choir and orchestra, and multiple high school sports teams advanced to state playoffs. Samuel Beck Elementary School was also recognized as one of the best elementary schools by U.S. News, and the district was awarded the Texas comptroller’s Transparency Stars Award for its financial transparency.

As for growth, Warren said the district’s board of trustees was surprised to learn at its Dec. 13 meeting that NISD is now the fastest-growing district in North Texas. In his presentation, the superintendent said that projected student growth has doubled for the next five years.

The district had balanced its budget to account for over 26,000 students when school started in August as NISD typically sees an increase of 1,000 to 1,100 kids each year. However, as of Dec. 10, Warren said the district has 27,733 students enrolled.

“Financially, we are in very strong shape to handle this surge in student enrollment because we made some really good decisions over the last couple of years,” Warren said.

With Warren’s announcement Sept. 27 that he will retire from his position June 30, he gave an update on the search timeline for his replacement. In early spring 2022, applicants will be identified, and interviews will be completed, Warren said.

A finalist will be named in late spring, and the new superintendent will be named for the start of the 2022-23 school year, Warren said. NISD is also hosting two community input events about the superintendent search. The first will be held in person Jan. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at a location that will be announced later. The second will take place Jan. 7 at 9 a.m. via Zoom.

Warren said there were 37 active COVID-19 cases in the district as of Dec. 15, and one classroom is closed. With the decrease in cases, the superintendent announced that the district will allow proms and school dances in the spring, which were on hold as part of NISD’s COVID-19 protocols during the fall semester. The district is also planning to hold “normal” graduation ceremonies.

“We've gotta make decisions on what our numbers are now, and because they're so good, we need the kids to experience more normalcy this second semester,” Warren said. “We're very excited to be able to do that. And, again, we always reserve the right to go back to stricter measures if need be.”

Warren also thanked all of the volunteers and donors who were part of Northwest ISD’s Virtual Angel Tree project, which supports students in need and provides them with gifts during the holiday season. He said the project had 50 volunteers and 716 donors who served 1,229 students with an estimated $185,000 value of donations.

“That's just the specialness of who we are,” Warren said. “That's just the specialness of our district. And it goes back to our very first belief ... that we're gonna keep kids first. And ... I appreciate that more than you'll ever know.”