Clear Creek ISD officials reviewed internal efforts to improve both student and staff experiences amid the pandemic during a Nov. 16 board meeting and also looked forward to next school year, approving five new secondary courses for 2021-22.
In terms of student populations, enrollment trends have remained negative year over year mostly due to the pandemic. The largest decrease is at the elementary level, with nearly 1,500 fewer students compared to last year, although enrollment is also down about 300 students at both the middle and high school levels, officials said at the meeting. Overall, nearly 2,000 less students are attending CCISD compared to this time last year.
The district and its staff aim to provide virtual educational experiences designed to promote social and emotional health for both its remote and in-person learners. One of these efforts is the monthly HealthyU podcast, where staff incorporate expert insight into conversations meant to provide context about relevant public health and safety issues. The first episode had 2,700 views, which was more than expected, officials said. Teachers also receive a weekly Mindful Moments email with mental health check-ins.
With remote learning opportunities becoming increasingly prevalent, the district is reviewing its flexible learning options—such as Cyber Cafe and the Clear Connections program—and examining current Texas Education Agency guidelines to determine if changes are needed to any of these programs and policies, Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Steven Ebell said. An internal review of homework was scheduled for this year also, which Ebell said will be delayed until the spring given current circumstances.
The transportation department is working to increase its efficiency based on a set of 45 recommendations, said Paul McLarty, deputy superintendent of business and support services, on Nov. 16. Of the recommendations, 30 are complete; 10 will be completed by the end of the year; four will be completed by mid- to late spring; and one is not being pursued, he said. One upcoming change includes retiring about 20 buses, as the district has too many that require extensive maintenance to keep on the road, McLarty said.
The department has not had a single parent complaint this year, and drivers have performed at 99.4% on-time rates over the last six weeks, McLarty said.
For in-person high school students at three of the district’s facilities, an hourlong lunch was imposed starting this year. Data collected by CCISD via surveys shows overwhelmingly positive results, with both students and staff seeing significant stress reduction as a result of the extended lunch period, officials said Nov. 16.
New secondary courses
Ebell and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Susan Silva proposed new courses mainly related to health and computer sciences at the Nov. 16 meeting. All five were approved and will be included in the CCISD Secondary Educational Planning Guide for 2021-22.
The approval process was on track this year despite COVID-19, and it began in September; teachers or department heads brought forth proposals to a campus principal or department director, which were approved or denied, then courses moved through relevant district administrative channels until they were ready for presentation to the board, Ebell and Silva said. State standards are always the basis for approving new courses, and teaching practices with new courses must align with the district’s philosophy, the officials said.
The five new courses are as follows:
- Peer Assistance for Students with Disabilities II, a one-semester course for juniors and seniors continuing material from Peer Assistance for Students with Disabilities I;
- Patient Care Technician, a course in the health science career cluster that provides students with an alternate pathway for a clinical opportunity;
- an advanced cybersecurity course;
- Game Programming and Design, a course replacing the video game design course in the science, technology, engineering and math career cluster; and
- Fundamentals of Computer Science, a course replacing the computer science programming course.
“Every year as we add courses and electives and different opportunities for students, it just widens options,” Silva said. “Is [one] course right for everybody? No, none of these courses are, but it gives all of our students different choices.”