Members of RISD community share concerns over new literacy program

RISD parent Lynn Davenport provides feedback on the WeREAD literacy program at the March 9 board meeting. (Makenzie Plusnick/Community Impact Newspaper)
RISD parent Lynn Davenport provides feedback on the WeREAD literacy program at the March 9 board meeting. (Makenzie Plusnick/Community Impact Newspaper)

RISD parent Lynn Davenport provides feedback on the WeREAD literacy program at the March 9 board meeting. (Makenzie Plusnick/Community Impact Newspaper)

Richardson ISD parents and faculty attended the March 9 board of trustees meeting to give feedback on the district’s new literacy program.



The program, called WeREAD Literacy Lab, was introduced to the board at its Feb. 24 work session, where trustees gave approval to staff to begin taking steps toward implementation.



WeREAD would initially be used at four elementary schools: Audelia Creek, Dover, Northrich and Skyview. These campuses were chosen based on location, size and student performance, according to Superintendent Jeannie Stone.



The lab would help accomplish one of the board’s goals, which is to increase the districtwide percentage of third graders who read at grade level from 47% to 60%. The goal is to see ths accomplished by June 2024, according to Stone.



“Without a strong foundation of reading, students lag in every class year after year because most curriculum is taught using the skill of reading,” Stone said at the Feb. 24 session.



Framework for similar programs also includes a year-round academic calendar and varying compensation for educators who are known to produce high achievement in students.



The RISD program would include evidence-based literacy intervention and assessment tools, trained teachers in balanced literacy, master reading coaches and individualized instruction for students, Stone said.



Despite its benefits, the program was a hot button issue among speakers at the March 9 board meeting.



“Our teachers are concerned about the effect on their day-to-day planning, their day-to-day time management and how they can effectively serve our children,” Northrich Elementary PTA President Brittany Holt said.



Richelle Stinnett, a 20-year Dover teacher and reading specialist, spoke about her concerns with hiring additional specialized literacy coaches.



“I love the idea of a literacy-based program ... but my confusion comes in the plan,” Stinnett said. “You will be spending money on literacy coaches in each school, but you already have those people in place.”



Stinnett also talked about the disadvantages of a year-round academic calendar.



“I believe our goal is the well-rounded child,” Stinnett said. “[That] means summer camps at churches, sports with their families at the local park, traveling to visit family and other countries.”



Dover Elementary Principal Jennifer Balch shared her support for the program, particularly in regards to adding literacy coaches and the extra professional development the program would provide teachers.



“[This] will give the balance our teachers need to make them have the skills they really deserve to have.” Balch said.



The board is prohibited from responding directly to speakers during public comment; however, in response to concerns raised at the board meeting, Stone announced March 10 to remove the possibility of a year-round calendar.



“I truly appreciate the feedback we’ve received so far from our WeREAD school communities,” Stone said in a statement to Community Impact Newspaper. “Based on input from the teachers and parents who would be directly impacted, I am indefinitely removing from consideration any changes to the school year calendar as we move forward with implementation of the program.”



According to the Feb. 24 briefing on the program, an additional $1.5 million would be needed to support the labs.



The district will finalize calendars and salary incentives and post job openings for the literacy program in March. Principals at the four campuses where the program is being implemented will be required to reapply for their positions. Between April and June, the district will hire new staff, finalize campus design changes and begin implementing the new program.


To learn more about WeREAD, visit RISD’s website.
By Makenzie Plusnick
Makenzie graduated from Tarleton State University in 2019 with a degree in communications. While in school, she interned at the Weatherford Democrat and was editor of Texan News Service, a news outlet at Tarleton. She enjoys true crime podcasts, riding horses, and spending time with her dog.


MOST RECENT

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas issued a call for Texans to conserve energy June 14. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT asks Texans to conserve energy with generation outages 2.5 times higher than normal

"This is unusual for this early in the summer season," said Woody Rickerson, ERCOT vice president of grid planning and operations, in a news release.

Dutch Bros Coffee expects to open later this year in Richardson. (Courtesy Dutch Bros Coffee)
Dutch Bros Coffee coming to Richardson; Plano parks earn high marks and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Dutch Bros Coffee expects to open this summer in Plano. (Courtesy Dutch Bros Coffee)
Dutch Bros Coffee coming to Plano; The Pop Parlour opens in Frisco and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Two coffee drinks.
Dutch Bros Coffee to continue North Texas expansion with Richardson location

A special permit to allow the coffee shop near the southwest corner of West Arapaho Road and West Shore Drive was approved by Richardson City Council in March.

Pizza.
Forno Pizzeria and Grill now open in Richardson for pickup or delivery

In addition to a variety of specialty pizzas, the eatery's menu includes salads, sandwiches, pasta and more.

Student in front of a computer.
Richardson ISD exploring options for virtual academy despite lack of state funding

Richardson ISD staff are exploring the financial possibility of moving forward with a virtual academy option without full state funding for students who enroll.

Child in front of a computer screen.
Plano ISD suspends plan for permanent online learning option due to lack of state funding

Students who have already completed the preliminary registration process for the planned virtual academy will now resume enrollment at their home campuses.

Gov. Greg Abbott, center signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 into law June 8 in response to the devastating winter storm last February. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Abbott signs bills to reform ERCOT and weatherize Texas power grid

The bills will go into effect Sept. 1 and aim to reform ERCOT leadership and increase accountability and communication among power agencies.

Building.
Storage 365 to open Richardson facility later this year

The facility is expected to have three to five retail spots that can be leased out for separate businesses underneath the self-storage units.

Grocery store chain H-E-B announced June 8 the company's plans to open a store in McKinney. (Matt Payne/Community Impact Newspaper)
H-E-B coming to McKinney; Fat Shack restaurant to open this week in Plano and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

train station
Richardson begins planning redevelopment around Arapaho Center Station

Richardson City Council voted unanimously during a June 7 work session meeting to start drafting a master plan to eventually renovate the area around the Arapaho Center bus and rail line station.