|Vol. 32 No. 4/November 2022
The Spring ISD Board of Trustees met at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, in person, and streamed via video conferencing, to address items on the agenda. President Justine Durant called the meeting to order. The Dekaney High School Navy JROTC led the presentation of colors, with Cadet Petty Officer 1st Class Savannah Ellis leading the pledges to the flags. Carrying the U.S. Flag was Cadet Cmdr. Andrea Villarreal. Carrying the Texas Flag was Cadet Petty Officer 1st Class Deisy Alcocer. The left rifle guard was Cadet Lt. Ruth Delgado. The right rifle guard was Cadet Lt. Vivian Hernandez. The Dekaney Wildcat Navy JROTC Battalion is led by Chief Victor Adams and Chief Robert Dunn.
Since January 1984, the Board has recognized students and staff for major accomplishments beyond the District with Points of Pride awards. ABCD awards are presented to individuals or groups that go Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.
Points of Pride – College Board 2022 National Recognition Program Scholars
The Board recognized a select group of 32 Spring ISD juniors and seniors representing all five of the district’s high schools, who were named among this year's National Recognition Program Scholars by the College Board – including National African American Recognition Program Scholars, National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholars, and National Indigenous Recognition Program Scholars.
Students are evaluated for the award by the College Board based on eligibility criteria that include students’ GPAs, together with PSAT and AP exam scores. To be eligible for the national award, students must have a 3.5 GPA or higher, and identify as African American or Black, Hispanic or Latinx, Indigenous, or attend school in a rural area or small town. They must also meet one of the following requirements: Take the PSAT and score in the top 10% in the state, or earn a score of 3 or higher on two or more AP exams by their junior year.
Spring ISD College and Career Readiness Coordinator Carlos Gonzalez was on-hand to help introduce the students during the meeting. During his remarks, he explained that the College Board had recognized just 62,000 students nationwide through the program in 2022, putting recipients in a group of high-achieving scholars made up of just a tiny fraction of high school upperclassmen across the country.
Gonzalez took the opportunity to thank the college counselors at all of the district’s high schools, as well as principals and others who had encouraged students to excel. That sentiment was echoed by Board President Justine Durant, who added her thanks to parents, and reiterated to the students how impressive their achievement was.
“I’m so proud of you guys!” Durant told the group before she and her fellow trustees gathered with the student winners for a group photo.
In addition to honoring the students’ accomplishments, the program also helps create additional pathways to college. Students can include the award on college and scholarship applications, and colleges around the country use the list of College Board honorees to identify high-potential students from underrepresented groups and communities – a trend that was noted by College Board Senior Vice President Tarlin Ray in a media release announcing this year’s awards.
“We want to honor the hard work of these students through the College Board National Recognition Programs,” Ray said in that announcement. “This program creates a way for colleges and scholarship programs to connect directly with underrepresented students who they are hoping to reach. We hope the award winners and their families celebrate this prestigious honor and it helps them plan for their big future.”
The Spring ISD students named College Board National Recognition Program Scholars for 2022 are listed below by their home campus.
Carl Wunsche Sr. High School
- Ugonna Chidi-Ubani - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar
- Matthew Flowers - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar and National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Dean Ford - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar
- Candida Herrera - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Jonathan Lazo - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Daniel Quilantan - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Thomas Saenz - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Alison Sanchez - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
Dekaney High School
- Diego Chapela-Perez - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
Spring Early College Academy
- Kristin Botley - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar and National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Darwin Candelario - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Devin Dugas - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Jessica Hernandez - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Mason Marquez - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Natalie Ortiz - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Sofia Ortiz - College BoardNational Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Percy Palacios - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar and National Indigenous Recognition Program Scholar
- Burton Scott - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar
- Aniyah Shorter-Adams - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar
- Alaina Silva - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar
- Henry Tejada - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Moises Woods - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
Spring High School
- Edgar Islas - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Aliyah Nora - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Diego Rosales - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Inari Solarie - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar
- Zaniah Wheeler - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar
Westfield High School
- R'Anna Donastorg - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar
- Michael Izulu - College Board National African American Recognition Program Scholar
- Valery Rojas - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Daniellah Torres - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
- Crystal Vazquez - College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
Spotlight – Indigenous Peoples Writing Contest Winners
The Board also recognized the winners of the district’s 2022-23 Indigenous Peoples Writing Contest.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was established to honor the sovereignty, resilience and immense contributions that Native Americans have made to the world. The Indigenous Peoples Writing Contest offers an opportunity for students in kindergarten through high school to study and reflect on these important elements of North American history and culture.
“We are super excited to be able to spotlight three of our students for their amazing work,” said Kevin Holiday, the district’s director of instructional technology, whose team helped oversee this year’s contest.
Students’ projects were judged on the facts presented in their compositions, their central thesis and use of supporting evidence, their personal reflection, and overall project organization. The three students recognized for achieving the highest total scores, respectively, in the elementary, middle school and high school levels of the contest, were:
- Genesis Mayo, Beneke Elementary School (Grade 4)
- Carlo Parada, Claughton Middle School (Grade 8)
- Pablo Calderon, Carl Wunsche Sr. High School (Grade 11)
Instructional Technology Specialist Jessica Jackson helped introduce the students. Jackson praised the work participants had done, and also noted the support students received from campus staff and their families.
“I’d like to take a moment to thank our parents and our staff,” Jackson said, “our administrators, our library-media specialists, all of the people that came together to support our students.”
Jackson also thanked the Board for supporting the Indigenous Peoples Writing Contest and other programs that encourage Spring ISD students to grow both academically and in their understanding of other people and cultures.
“I want to thank you for your stance and your commitment on equity, and your commitment in celebrating all the cultural diversity here in Spring ISD,” Jackson told the trustees.
Board Vice President Winford Adams Jr. added his thanks to the superintendent, her team, and Spring ISD campus leaders for implementing the writing contest and helping support it.
“As we talk about equity and diversity and inclusion in the district,” Adams said, “I just think that it’s a really good example of the opportunities that we’re providing for every student.”
Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa began her remarks by discussing the successful passage of all three propositions of the 2022 Spring ISD Bond.
“We're so grateful to our parents, to our community, to the students, to everyone that got out there to vote,” Dr. Hinojosa said. “We know that we are on the cusp of continuing the greatness here in Spring ISD, and this bond definitely is part of the impetus for us to ensure the success of our students.”
She went on to thank the staff, volunteers, Bond Steering Committee members, and Political Action Committee members who worked to get the community informed on the Bond and its proposals.
“This bond was created by our community for our community,” Dr. Hinojosa said. “That meant everyone rolling up their sleeves to get the word out. It has been, I have to say, a complete team effort of ensuring that we continue the work. Because each one of us, number one and first and foremost, believe in our students and believe in Spring.”
She also recognized the work done at the campus level, from principals sending emails out to parents to posting signage on campus to holding community meetings for parents and other stakeholders.
She went on to thank others involved with informing the community and voters.
“I have to say we have an amazing Communications team. [They] helped us get the word out, whether it was through social media [or] all those meetings that we had at the middle schools. We even had a Facebook Live event! That was the first time that we've done something like that,” Dr. Hinojosa said. “And our Board of Trustees have supported us and have seen the vision. We're so very fortunate in Spring to have a Board that supports our vision. When we say we believe in Spring, we believe in Spring!”
She continued her remarks with a few reminders. First, she reminded everyone of the ongoing Holiday Toy Drive, which continues through December 1. In partnership with Northwest Assistance Ministries, Spring ISD community members are asked to drop off new, unwrapped toys at any district facility or campus. The toys, along with holiday meals, will be distributed in December to community members in need.
She then discussed the return of Winter Wonderland, an annual event that focuses on literacy for elementary students. Scheduled for Friday, December 2, the event will take place at Planet Ford Stadium and is free for all Spring ISD students through the 5th grade.
Dr. Hinojosa ended her remarks with a reminder about the upcoming holiday season, including Thanksgiving Break on November 21 - 25.
“We are very grateful for your support, your continued commitment to our district,” she said. “I hope that this upcoming holiday will be a time for everyone to have the opportunity to rest and renew, to get charged up. We want to continue to work on behalf of our students throughout this holiday season and into the New Year. It is a great time to look back, reflect, and be grateful for all that we have here in Spring ISD.”
At each regular board meeting, during Opening Remarks, each board member is given the opportunity to share information with those present.
President Justine Durant began the remarks by expressing her appreciation of the voters and her fellow Board members.
“I am still on cloud nine after receiving the news that Spring ISD approved all three of our bond propositions,” Durant said. “My fellow Board members and I had a busy, exhausting day at the polls on Tuesday, sharing information with the community and having conversations with Spring ISD voters as they approached the polls. As a Board, it is so important that we represent every student and teacher in this district, every day. We don’t serve particular neighborhoods or communities. We serve Spring ISD as one.”
Durant then went on to thank those who worked behind the scenes of the bond proposal.
“Our Bond Steering Committee worked all summer to create an equitable, innovative, and forward-looking proposal that sets up Spring ISD for success. Thank you so much for your persistence and your commitment,” she said. “Thank you to our principals for all of the hard work and amplifying the message to their individual communities. And of course I would like to give a shout-out to our Spring ISD Bond Political Action Committee, who took the job of advocating for the bond and ran with it. They were raising funds and logging plenty of volunteer hours to post signs, sending out letters and do the hard work of informing the voters of the very real needs in Spring ISD.”
She ended her remarks by thanking her colleagues on the Board of Trustees.
“I can't wait to see the projects get off the ground. I can't wait to be a part of what's to come right here in Spring ISD,” she said. “I'm honored to be working with each and every one of you. We have a really strong Board. We don't always agree on everything, but we always focus on the kids, and that's how we continue to move forward.”
Trustee Natasha McDaniel then discussed the kickoff event for this year’s Vine Mentoring Program. She mentioned that she is a part of the program as a mentor, and encouraged others to take part in the program.
“I just want to encourage any community members who may have a little extra time or your hands each week [to join],” McDaniel said. “Those thirty minutes to an hour can really make a huge impact in our kids' lives.”
She then discussed the Grand Slam Literacy Event, which took place last month at Planet Ford Stadium for the top readers from across the district.
“I just want to congratulate the kids again because literacy is fundamental,” she said. “It is going to really just take you anywhere you want to go. Literacy is the foundation. Even though that contest is over, I just want to continue encouraging our kids to keep reading and writing, and for our leaders and our teachers to keep encouraging that love of literacy.”
Vice President Winford Adams Jr. continued the Trustees Remarks by thanking his colleagues for their efforts in working together as a Board. He mentioned that not all school boards are as cohesive and collaborative as the Spring ISD Board of Trustees, and thanked his colleagues for keeping the shared goal in mind. He mentioned he will be attending a national conference for school board members soon, and that he would be spreading the work of Spring ISD while in attendance.
“I'm going to brag about what we just did, because this is not happening everywhere,” he said. “Public schools have been under attack the last several years. Something feels different in Spring. It's not just us, the district. It's this community. It feels different, and I just really look forward to seeing what that's going to mean for our children.”
President Durant then interjected to offer her agreement, and to further thank not only the Board members but Superintendent Hinojosa and the district’s Senior Leadership Team. She mentioned the Career and Technical Education department specifically, including Director Cynthia Williams, for their collaboration, including the recent National Technical Honor Society induction ceremony.
‘It was an amazing event. It was so exciting to see those kids receive their induction and their recognition,” Durant said. “I just wanted to let everyone know that we are doing great things here in Spring.”
Dr. Deborah Jensen ended the Trustees Remarks by mentioning the Transportation Appreciation Luncheon that happened earlier in the month. She expressed her appreciation of the bus drivers across the district, and also recognized the newly appointed Transportation Director Christina Riojas.
“She is taking on the reins,” Dr. Jensen said. “In just talking about that culture and the cohesion, I think the Transportation Department really has it.”
Board Governance Committee provides update
Trustee Dr. Deborah Jensen delivered an update from the committee, where she noted that in the last committee meeting they decided that their overview of the safety plan would not be needed since the Board’s Safety Committee (consisting of President Durant, Secretary Hodges, and Assistant Secretary Newhouse) would be handling that overview.
She went on to mention that the committee is reviewing legislators’ voting records and looking to develop relationships with local representatives in order to provide them information from Spring ISD that might help inform their vote on pertinent issues.
She then handed the update over to Trustee Natasha McDaniel, who recently attended the Delegate Assembly of the Texas Association of School Boards.
At the meeting in September, they discussed the Advocacy Agenda Priorities, which are decided upon every two years. The priorities for 2022-2024 were approved by that delegate assembly on September 24. They include teacher recruitment and retention, student and staff mental health, vouchers, and other issues. The full list and explanations can be found online.
These advocacy priority issues will be used as a guide for Spring ISD’s own priorities, which will include some of the state issues as well as some catered to the local community’s needs.
Equity Committee provides update
Vice President Winford Adams Jr. reported for the committee. He mentioned that the committee is continuing to look at the district budget, as the Board goes through the budgeting process, through an equity lens. He reported that Trustee McDaniel recently attended a virtual seminar presented by the Economics Lab at Georgetown University. The members of the committee are gathering resources to share with other board members that provide insight into keeping equity top of mind when it comes to budgeting.
Adams also discussed some questions that might help with those discussions. Those questions included: What is the strategy for what schools get what in the budget; How could we restructure spending based on outcomes; and How can we learn from schools with higher performance?
Community Engagement Committee provides update
Board Secretary Kelly P. Hodges gave the committee report.
“Last Saturday we hosted a community outreach day and volunteered at [Northwest Assistance Ministries],” Hodges said. “Staff, students, parents and community members donated hours of their time and talents by working in various duties.”
Hodges also mentioned that the district is partnering with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated to adopt 50 families in the Spring community and provide them Thanksgiving meals.
Hodges ended her remarks by reminding everyone of the Veterans Day Breakfast at Randall Reed Center, hosted by the district’s Ministerial Alliance.
*The Audit Committee did not have updates at the time of the meeting.
Action Items and Presentations
Board approves Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for the Year Ended June 30, 2022 and Independent Auditor's Report
Following a presentation from Chief Financial Officer Ann Westbrooks, the Board approved Spring ISD’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for the Year Ended June 30, 2022 together with the accompanying Independent Auditor's Report.
The Annual Comprehensive Financial Report serves as the district’s report of its financial operations to the Board of Trustees, taxpayers, grantor agencies, employees, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and other interested parties and stakeholders. The report is prepared annually by Spring ISD’s Office of Financial Services in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and reporting standards as promulgated by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
The Independent Auditor's Report, conducted by accounting firm Whitley Penn, is designed to help guarantee the reliability of the district’s financial statements, and to assure stakeholders that they can rely upon the district’s official financial statements to make informed decisions.
Previous years’ financial reports, together with a range of other materials related to the district’s commitment to transparency and accountability, can be found at Spring ISD’s Financial Transparency webpage.
In other action, the Board approved:
- The minutes from the Oct. 5, 2022 work session and the Oct. 11, 2022 regular meeting;
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Sam Houston State University;
- Acceptance of the Strong Foundations Math Framework Grant;
- Second reading of proposed revisions to Board Policy DEC(LOCAL) - COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS/LEAVES AND ABSENCES;
- Second reading of proposed revisions to Board Policy DP(LOCAL) - PERSONNEL POSITIONS;
- 2022-23 First Budget Review (Recurring Item); and
- Taxpayer refunds (Recurring item).
Winford Adams Jr., J.D.
Kelly P. Hodges
Rhonda Newhouse, M.Ed.
Deborah Jensen, Ph.D.
Natasha McDaniel, M.Ed.
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The next regular Board Meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at the Gordon M. Anderson Leadership Center, 16717 Ella Blvd.