Here are the top issues for Austin ISD and Dripping Springs ISD, according to the superintendents

The 2016-17 Austin ISD board of trustees, from left: Edmund T. Gordon, Distict 1; Ann Teich, District 3; Amber Elenz, District 5; Julie Cowan, District 4; Kendall Pace, At large 9; Paul Saldaña, District 6; Cindy Anderson, At large 8; Yasmin Wagner, District 7; Jayme Mathias, District 2 The 2016-17 Austin ISD board of trustees, from left: Edmund T. Gordon, Distict 1; Ann Teich, District 3; Amber Elenz, District 5; Julie Cowan, District 4; Kendall Pace, At large 9; Paul Saldaña, District 6; Cindy Anderson, At large 8; Yasmin Wagner, District 7; Jayme Mathias, District 2[/caption]

AUSTIN ISD

Achievements in 2016


Graduation rate
AISD hit its highest graduation rate of 89.7 percent, up by 3.4 percent over the prior year and by more than 15 percent since 2008.


Competitive SAT scores
AISD’s average SAT composite score again exceeded state and national averages—a trend since 2013.


All-time high average ACT score
AISD students again earned higher overall scores on the ACT exam in 2015-16 compared with their counterparts across the state and nation. The average ACT composite score of 22.5 was an all-time high for the district.


AP District Honor Roll
For the first time ever, AISD was honored by the College Board with placement on the AP District Honor Roll through AISD’s success in increasing the number of students in Advanced Placement courses while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of 3 or higher for three consecutive years.



Top issues for 2017


Facilities master plan
AISD will work with the Facility and Bond Planning Advisory Committee and the Austin community to update the facilities master plan—a road map to modernize all district schools and facilities over the next 15 to 20 years.


Social-emotional learning
AISD will continue the integration of social-emotional learning at all AISD schools, supported by four Austin donors.


Dual-language and early-college high schools
AISD will continue its commitment to providing choices to students and families, whether they are interested in dual-language programs or early-college high schools.


Finances
AISD will continue to work with state legislators to improve Texas’ school finance system. AISD is the single largest payer of recapture in the state—AISD’s payment alone comprises 13 percent of all state collections.



A question for Paul Cruz, superintendent


How does the district plan to address the issue of state recapture in 2017?
We will continue to work with our legislators on this issue. Despite sending millions of dollars back to the state each year, AISD has maintained a balanced budget. However, to retain teachers, we need to be more competitive. Currently, more than 35 cents of every AISD maintenance and operation tax dollar collected is kept by the state because AISD is considered property-wealthy under the state’s recapture law, also known as Robin Hood.







The 2016-17 Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees, from left: Shannon O’Connor, Ron Jones, Carrie Fontana Kroll, Barbara Stroud, Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Shelly Reeves, Jon Thompson, Mary Jane Hetrick The 2016-17 Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees, from left: Shannon O’Connor, Ron Jones, Carrie Fontana Kroll, Barbara Stroud, Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Shelly Reeves, Jon Thompson, Mary Jane Hetrick[/caption]

DRIPPING SPRINGS ISD



Big decisions made in 2016


2016-21 strategic plan
The  plan clarified DSISD’s commitment to personalized learning and efforts to meet the district’s mission every day.


Shift in instructional approach
DSISD moved away from the traditional “sit-and-get” mentality to a focus on personalized learning, or an environment that allows students to be involved in creating their educational goals.


Rebranding of district
DSISD promoted a “signature education” approach that connects each student with his or her passions.


Tax ratification election
Voters approved a restructuring of the district’s tax rate to better accommodate the district’s need of serving students.


Progress in construction
DSISD built new schools, a multipurpose stadium, a baseball and softball complex, and a Network Operations Center—all relatively on schedule and on budget.



Top Issues for 2017


Growth
As student enrollment continues to grow at a fast pace, the district must plan for future facilities and campuses.


Opening new schools
There are many logistical challenges involved in opening DSISD’s new middle and elementary schools. Drawing new attendance zones, movement of furniture and equipment, and many other tasks all must be completed before students can enter.


State funding and recapture
According to DSISD, the state’s school funding system continues to be inadequate in meeting the needs of Texas students, especially since DSISD has moved back into recapture status.


Staffing of support positions
As property value continues to escalate, difficulty in locating a qualified pool of applicants for support positions has the potential to become much more critical unless affordable housing solutions are found.



A question for Bruce Gearing, superintendent


How will the district address challenges associated with the state’s reliance on standardized test scores as the primary measurement of student and school success in 2017?
Dripping Springs ISD will define student success in meaningful ways and support student learning. We will never allow a number or letter to define who we are as a learning community.



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