Action Items and Presentations
Presentation on the Wunsche High School Green Phoenix Environmental Club's Tree-Plenish Project
Student leaders from the Green Phoenix Environmental Club at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School attended the meeting to give the trustees a presentation on the group’s tree-planting project, undertaken in partnership with the nonprofit group Tree-Plenish.
Originally founded by a small group of Wunsche students in 2019, the Green Phoenix Environmental Club engages in projects and activities aimed at raising environmental awareness and building a sustainable future. Despite setbacks during the pandemic, the group has grown to more than 230 student members and has completed several projects, including a disaster relief drive after Hurricane Ida and other events to help raise money toward environmental causes and sustainability programs.
This school year, the group launched its partnership with Tree-Plenish, a national volunteer-run nonprofit originally founded during the 2018-19 school year by students in Massachusetts. The group now works with students and schools across the country, providing organizational and financial support for tree-planting events specifically designed to replenish the number of trees used to satisfy each school’s annual paper requirements.
In 2021, Tree-Plenish worked with students at 85 different schools in more than a dozen states to plant close to 20,000 trees.
After spending time in the fall semester learning about Tree-Plenish and how the initiative worked, members of the Wunsche environmental club partnered with campus administrators and support staff to determine the school’s annual paper needs. Based on that, they then set their initial goal of planting 100 saplings in and around the community in order to offset the school’s paper usage.
Specifically, the Wunsche students selected three different types of trees especially well-suited to the local environment – Pin Oaks, American Sycamores, and the Bald Cypress.
“All three of these tree species were thoroughly researched by our officers and club members, and they fit well in the Spring area and the climate and habitat and soil types we have,” said Wunsche senior Sarah Taylor, the environmental club’s Vice President and co-founder. “All of them grow around 50 to 100 feet, and they take quite a while to get fully mature.”
Collectively, Taylor said these new trees will not only offset Wunsche’s paper usage, but also help make the local ecosystem healthier, providing microclimates that will support environmental diversity and sustainability, while at the same time providing beauty, shade and inspiration for students and other members of the community.
The group surpassed its initial goal, and is now set to plant 120 saplings this year.
“People don't understand how important green spaces are,” said Trustee Carmen Correa, “so it's exciting to see this happening in our district.”
The saplings will be planted along the Spring Creek Greenway and at select Spring ISD campuses. The student group is collaborating with the district’s Operations Department to identify good planting sites, including at elementary and middle school campuses.
“We do have our overall planting date as April 22, on Earth Day,” said the environmental club’s President and co-founder, Wunsche senior Lauren Jugon. “We plan to make it a big event, with lots of awareness, and this will be where we plant at the local park.”
In addition to ongoing care for the trees provided by members of the Green Phoenix Environmental Club, the group is also partnering with Laura Medick, a local arborist currently with the Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner's Office, who will be assisting with the short- and long-term maintenance of the trees.
Following the presentation by the Wunsche students, the Board voted to approve the project and any necessary contracts with Harris County related to ongoing care of the trees. The trustees also noted the fact that – because of the students’ fundraising efforts, combined with funding provided through Tree-Plenish – the project would have no impact on the district’s budget.
All three students thanked the Board for its support, along with the club’s faculty sponsors, Stephanie Galloway and Courtney Johnson, and Wunsche Principal Dr. Alfred James. Several of the trustees commended the Wunsche students for their efforts, including Trustee Winford Adams Jr.
“I wanted to comment on the leadership skills that I just saw demonstrated by these students,” said Adams following the presentation. “I want to congratulate all three of you for seeing a challenge, working collaboratively to develop a solution to the challenge, and then not being stopped the first time you ran into some obstacles, and persisting and persevering to be here.”
Wunsche senior Devin Morgan, who currently serves as Secretary for the club, said the group’s current leaders were all focused on empowering younger students to continue the project and carry the initiative forward into the future.
“We want to make this thing something that lasts for a really, really long time,” Morgan told the trustees, “and with that, we want to transform Spring ISD into a sustainability-driven school district.”
Board votes to name Spring High School softball field after longtime coach Julie Wyrick
The Board voted unanimously to name Spring High School’s softball field in honor of Coach Julie Wyrick, who recently celebrated her 600th career win as a softball coach.
“We've received a request from a lot of our community members, our school namesakes, former teachers and principals in support of naming that [softball] field after Julie Wyrick,” said Board President Justine Durant.
Wyrick has been at Spring High School for 22 years, and is much beloved by current and former students and their families. During that time, Durant explained, Wyrick has led her teams to 19 playoff appearances and 10 district championships, as well as one regional final appearance and one state tournament appearance. With 600 total wins and counting, she has also been named the district’s Coach of the Year four times, and is a two-time Board of Trustees Point of Pride recipient.
Trustees discussed a recent event at the school – honoring Wyrick’s 600-win milestone – that brought a number of former students out for a surprise recognition of the school’s longtime softball coach.
“It was so much fun seeing that surprise recognition of her at the softball field and having her past players come,” said Trustee Deborah Jensen, “and seeing what amazing young women they are and what they've done with their lives.”
She also emphasized the importance of sports and other extracurricular activities as vital elements of a well-rounded education.
“I love, love, love the strong extracurricular activities Spring ISD offers all our students,” Jensen continued. “I really think that it helps them become an all-around wonderful person.”
The trustees also praised Wyrick’s commitment to the Spring ISD community and her dedicated example as an educator.
“Whatever we can do to get more of our teachers and our people to stick around with us for 20 years and have that impact on our students, we have to figure out a way to do that,” said Trustee Winford Adams Jr.
Trustee Rhonda Newhouse added that the naming of the field was a way of honoring Wyrick’s legacy as a coach, teacher, and mentor to her players.
“I tell you her girls really show the love that they have for their coach and the relationships that she has built over the years,” Newhouse said. “I think we have a jewel in Coach Julie.”
2022-23 Budget Discussion
Spring ISD Chief Financial Officer Ann Westbrooks helped facilitate continuing discussion regarding the development of the district’s 2022-23 budget.
During the April 7 board work session, trustees and administrators reviewed three separate recruitment and retention incentives for all current core content teachers, and for new teachers joining Spring ISD. Based on feedback, trustees were asked to vote on a resolution for the upcoming 2022-23 school year.
“We’re trying to actively recruit as well as hold on to the teachers that we have, so we do want the opportunity to let them know what it is that the district wants to do in order to keep them here — as well as bring new teachers in,” said Dr. Julie Hill, Chief of Human Resources and Human Capital Accountability.
In the end, the Board voted to approve a 2022-23 recruitment and retention incentive package for new and current teachers, including a one-time retention stipend that includes $2,000 and two wellness days.
“Our primary focus is to ensure that we recruit the best in education,” said Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa. “We also want to let our teachers know that we value them and appreciate their commitment to our students. We want them to stay in Spring ISD. Not only are we offering a retention stipend to all of our teachers, but also additional wellness days to use at their discretion. I want to thank our Board of Trustees for their continuous support in these efforts to reward our own, and for their support of our Human Resources team in recruiting the very best.”
In other action, the Board approved:
- The minutes from the March 8, 2022 work session; and the March 22, 2022 regular meeting;
- Approval of awarding a contract for team and club shirts;
- Approval of awarding a contract for art supplies, furniture and equipment;
- Approval of awarding a contract for a warehouse management system for Distribution Services;
- Approval of the TASB Risk Management Fund Interlocal Participation Agreement (IPA); and
- Taxpayer Refunds.