Devine ISD discusses Guardian Program more, 35 staff members volunteer

The Devine ISD School Board moved back to the DSAC for their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday April 18, at 6:30pm.  Meeting back in the center for an in-person meeting was an additional sign that business as usual is creeping back as government entities and businesses all over the state have moved to less stringent Covid-19 procedures and policies

Board President, Nancy Pepper, presided over the meeting along with board members, Chris Davis, Henry Moreno and Keri James along with Superintendent Todd Grandjean.

It was also live streamed.

Guardian Program, 35 would like to volunteer

The second action item was to consider and take possible action to direct superintendent Grandjean to develop a plan for implementing a guardian program for the district.  Grandjean reported that in the poll that was conducted for district interest in the program 89.4% of participants were in favor of having a Guardian program.  Because of this positive response, the district created a staff survey that asked for potential guardian volunteers.  Out of 72 responses to the survey ,35 employees responded that they would like to be a volunteer with the program.  Grandjean shared that he is also working with the district lawyer to determine what TASB policies need to change with implementation of the program. He also said that the board of trustees would be eligible to participate in the long as they are acting in the capacity as a board member for the district. The board moved unanimously to direct Grandjean to develop a plan for the program.

“This does not mean complete approval of the program,” Grandjean pointed out, “It means that we are moving ahead to put together the plans for a possible program that could be approved.”

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Public Hearing on Accelerated Instruction Program

JodiAnn Dzierzanowski, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, presented an open hearing on Accelerated Instruction for the board and those present.  Her presentation included details of what was being done within each subject area to help students in their learning.  She highlighted implementation of policies to aide students ranging from struggling to advanced learning levels. These learning strategies included review and remediation classes, benchmarks, online activities and applications, and workshops for learning.   To ensure college and career readiness of students the district offers dual credit, concurrent enrollment, and advanced placement classes for students.  She reported that the students of Devine ISD had successfully obtained 967 college credit hours through CLEP, AP Exams and Dual Credit Classes.

Superintendent’s Report on Board Priorities

Superintendent Todd Grandjean gave his monthly report on board priorities.  The district continues to work to increase student success and achievement with a variety of new policies and procedures that have been brought in by the Covid-19 Pandemic.  He reported that dealing with this crisis has helped to create strong partnerships with the community, teachers, parents and students all working together in support for success.  Grandjean commended all the campuses, the administration office and all administrators for their hard work to communicate and keep information flowing. District wide, all staff have come together to coordinate and help the new distance learning environment be the success that it has been.

“I am amazed at the quality information that is going out each and every day to our students and parents as well as internally.” Grandjean said.

Education Improvement Committee

He reported that the district Education Improvement Committee has been working on a comprehensive needs assessment that is required for the District Improvement Plan.  He recognized special programs director, Abigail Beadle for her hard work in coordinating input from parents, teachers and community leaders. She facilitated an organized schedule of digital online meetings and chat rooms on google where they were able to discuss and define the needs of the district.

“It was complicated, but everyone took a very active role in the process,” Grandjean said.

Enhanced Technology resources

The district is continuing to align facilities and technology improvements with needs and career opportunities.   Grandjean pointed out how fortunate it was that the district had the right technology staff in place when the overflow of technology needs was brought on by COVID-19.

“We have been flooded with technology needs during this COVID period.  The adaptation that our students, parents and district staff have had to deal with has been intense at times.  We have been so lucky in how well we have done amid this crisis.”

COVID-19 has helped the district in necessitating an increase and continued development of enhanced technology resources for all students.

“We have all the hot spots going at the elementary, intermediate and DSAC,” Grandjean said, “These hot spots have not only helped current students, but it has benefitted many of our former students who are now in college.”

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College students using hot spots too

College campuses have closed due to COVID and many students would not be able to complete their work without the district hot spots.

The Board Action Items

Budget rate public hearing June 15

The board moved on to the first action item for the night, to consider and take possible action to set a date for the public hearing to adopt the budget and to set the tax rate for the district.  District Financial advisor, Shannon Ramirez, was recommending they set  June 15th as the date for the public hearing.  The board agreed and approved the action item as presented unanimously.

Graduation and Around the World

Other open discussion for the night was the mention by board president, Nancy Pepper, of the plans for Graduation and how glad she was that this was being handled and would take place.  She also had some concern about an upcoming “Around the World Party” for the seniors.  Grandjean pointed out that the school is aware of the party, but not involved with it at all.

“The party is completely being put together by the parents,” said Grandjean.

For those of you who are interested in the planned graduation ceremony for the 2020 Seniors there is a letter that details the requirements for the event on the district website.  The ceremony will take place at 8PM on June 12, 2020 at Devine ISD Warhorse Stadium.  Anyone who is planning on attending the ceremony must read the letter in order to determine if they will be able to take part in the event and attend.  The requirements are state mandated.  There will only be 5 reserved seats for each student and the location of the seats will be determined by a lottery drawing of each student name.

Closed Session- 5 hired

After the action items the board went into closed session.  Upon returning an action item was moved by Chris Davis and seconded by Henry Moreno to hire Kara Stacey as an elementary PE teacher/coach, Traci Carroll as elementary teacher , Lauren Garrison as headstart teacher, Brittany Briscoe as elementary teacher, and Shelly Crist as an intermediate special education teacher.  All hires are for next year and as recommended by Superintendent Grandjean.  Motion carried unanimously, 4-0. June 15 next meeting

The next scheduled regular meeting will be June 15, 2020.

A recording of the May 18 meeting is available on the school You Tube channel.

By Candace DeJesus

Staff Writer