Student achievement, climate and culture, safety, attracting and retaining quality staff, and staying on top of the budget will be just some of the priorities focused on by new Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Christie Whitbeck as she looks to the district’s future.
Whitbeck outlined those priorities in her 100-day report she delivered to the public during a Jan. 24 board of trustees meeting.
“We talked about what are our main priorities, and of course, these are very large categories that have a lot of details underneath them,” Whitbeck said during the Jan. 24 meeting.
Whitbeck took charge of FBISD in September and comes to the district having served 4 1/2 years as superintendent of 16,000-student Bryan ISD, deputy superintendent of Fort Bend ISD for four years, assistant superintendent of academics in Alvin ISD and as a principal in Katy ISD.
Chief among her challenges within her first 100 days, Whitbeck has looked to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic by transitioning away from the district’s virtual learning program as case counts declined.
Acknowledging that the district’s responses to the number of positive cases have ebbed and flowed, Whitbeck clarified that the district’s percentage of positive COVID-19 cases was 0.44% as of Jan. 24.
In addition, the district has hosted 43 vaccination clinics, expanded COVID-19 testing sites for staff, began offering testing for families during winter break, and adjusted visitors to campuses, Whitbeck said.
This comes as enrollment at FBISD hovers around 78,151 students, Whitbeck said; 11,254 of those in fall 2021 were first-time students, up from 8,319 the year prior, according to district data.
“We know that kids are coming to Fort Bend ISD and that they are choosing us,” Whitbeck said. “We’re excited about that, and we welcome that opportunity.”
However, while enrollment has gone up since late October when enrollment was 77,554, those enrollment figures do remain under projections from the district’s demographer, who projected enrollment of 79,701 for the 2021-22 school year.
Within Whitbeck’s first 100 days, the district has also completed reading and math diagnostics for pre-K through 10th grade to find out where any learning losses are due to the pandemic, Whitbeck said.
To support those students who have to stay home because of exposure, the district has not only launched remote conferencing but also added support for those struggling on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness exam as well as additional programming, Whitbeck said.
Over the course of her first 100 days, Whitbeck visited 17 campuses and held one-on-one meetings with principals as well as held 23 meetings with elected officials and attended more than 25 FBISD events.
However, looking into the future, Whitbeck said that celebrating students and staff remains a big priority.
“My philosophy is about us bringing out the best in our students, and our teachers, and each other,” Whitbeck said during the meeting. “That will be where we go going forward.”
Student achievement, culture, safety and more: Whitbeck describes goals for FBISD after 100 days at district helm
Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Christie Whitbeck outlined several priorities for the district after her first 100 days. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)