DISD School Board presents check to Dollars for Scholars

All board members and a handful of district employees were present for the March 22 meeting, which opened the presentation of a check for $3003.68 to Dollars for Scholars from DISD. Dollars for Scholars President Bob Bendele accepted the donation, saying “We get this money and we never spend it—donations get invested and the returns go to students.” This model is highly effective as it ensures that local scholarships will be available to DHS graduates in perpetuity, without the need to fundraise from scratch each year. “This community is proud of our school district,” Bendele expressed, “The scholarships get students kicked off & ready to go and tells them the community is proud of them.”
Superintendent Todd Grandjean presented on the state of COVID-19 measures; the entire district has been completely in-person all semester except for students who obtained medical waivers and now, parents are even rescinding those waivers. The effect of this is a more regular school environment and hopefully better learning outcomes for students. He went on to explain the “undeniably weird” UIL environment, where Devine is lumped in with San Antonio ISD schools and those SAISD schools are not doing live contests/events. Many schools do not want the added sanitation burden and potential liability of hosting in-person contests where widespread students would gather, and other options are being explored. First Baptist Church- Devine offered up their facilities to allow contests to continue, specifically Journalism events. Devine, Somerset, and the Young Women’s Leadership Academy are the only participating schools in that arena this year. Unrelated to the events of the last 12 months, redistricting over the last years has separated Devine from longstanding local rivals like Lytle, Hondo and others and the academic districts do not align with the varying districts for each sport.
With Governor Abbott’s executive order to remove all requirements for masks, many people find themselves unsure of what to expect when visiting stores, sporting events or school campuses. The TEA advised districts to retain mask requirements and our school board agrees (unanimously passed a motion to leave existing protocols in place). Board president Nancy Pepper had this to say: “We don’t have much longer and I’d like to see our seniors be able to have their Spring events… if we remove masks it may put them in a position where we cannot do those.”
Technology integration is constantly improving on each campus with DHS & DMS having 1:1 distribution of Chromebooks to students and the Intermediate & Elementary campuses having shared classroom sets that stay on campus. It will be interesting to see what advances and improvements in education will stick after at-home learning is no longer a necessity. One change that is staying for next school year is the rollout of online STAAR testing, proctored on campus on school computers. When the finalized academic calendar is released, you will see that there is a large increase in the time allotted for STAAR testing; not all of those days are testing days. Due to the flexibility of online testing, a window is given for districts to do their tests rather than specific days.
Further investment in connectivity on campus is being explored with contracts being proposed for improving the district’s networking and Wi-Fi capabilities. These contracts were of differing scope and ranged from $30k to $190k, the more expensive options presented include more work and equipment. No action was taken at this time.
Bus and vehicle fuel contracting was presented and the district is poised to protect themselves from any volatility in the market by locking in volume discounts through the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) which negotiates with suppliers on behalf of member ISDs. Per quarter, DISD uses 7,500 gallons of gasoline at a rate of $2.00/gal and 18,000 gallons of diesel at $2.15/gal.
The April meeting will be 4/26/21 at 6:30 PM in the DSAC. All presented materials and documents from the meeting are available at https://meetings.boardbook.org/Public/Organization/955
By Kyle G. Saathoff
Staff Writer