PISD Board table action on grade-school configuration

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The Pampa Independent School District Board of Trustees met on Monday evening for a regularly-scheduled meeting.

During the meeting, the hot topic of grade-school configuration was discussed in front of parents and staff in attendance.

“We talked about the benefit to the kids,” PISD Superintendent Hugh Piatt said. “We were able to address that and things we talked about that would be beneficial.”

Piatt presented the Board with a power-point detailing the last year of discussions.

The idea of grade-level schools have been brought up off-and-on since 1995, although no action has ever officially been taken.

It was approached again last year in July at the request of the school board.

In September 2020, a pre-survey video was developed to watch before completing a survey distributed to staff, community, parents, etc. through e-mail, Remind and social media. It asked for individuals interested in serving on a focus group to notify PISD.

On Oct. 20, the Grade Level Task Force met to synthesize the Focus Group and survey data, which broke down as follows:

• 47 percent in favor of configuring schools to grade-level campuses.

• 32 percent said one early childhood campus and three elementary campuses.

• 21 percent, we should keep campuses as they currently are.

This data was then presented on Oct. 26, 2020 and later discussed again on Dec. 7, 2020.

Throughout early 2021, strategic planning surveys and reports were sent to the community, parents and staff, inviting them to participate. This Strategic Planning group arrived at three goals:

• Design aligned PK-12 programs to creative a competitive, successful and unified educational experience for all.

• Invest in innovative schools.

• Foster an actively engaged, unified community culture in the relentless pursuit of our vision.

The grade-level school configuration was brought up again on Oct. 25, 2021 with no action taken and on Nov. 9 District administrators request if grade-level schools are approved, it won’t be in a “phase in approach” but to do it all at once.

Piatt said that one of the benefits to having a grade-level configuration is a consolidation and possible expansion of programs.

“We talked about how the consolidation of resources, in other words if all of the fifth graders are on one campus we can make a pre-band, pre-athletics or pre-AP advanced classes at the younger grades because all of that grade level is at one campus,” Piatt said. “The ‘why?’ is the unity of all of the Harvesters. We are all starting school together and have the same experiences through school.”

While the Board didn’t take any action on the item, Piatt said it was a good discussion for those in attendance.

“It settled the discussion down,” Piatt said. “People were able to talk about it and it was a good ending.”

The proposed grade-level configuration is as follows:

• Wilson becomes the Early Childhood Center for Bright Beginnings, Head Start and Pre-K.

• Lamar becomes the primary school for Kindergarten and First Grade.

• Austin becomes the second and third grade campus.

• Travis becomes the fourth and fifth grade campus.

“We’re looking at consolidating resources and having more K-12 aligned programs without having to pick one for four different places,” Piatt said. “We can provide more opportunities for kids with resources in one place.”

Piatt noted that this will allow for top-level students to be offered better opportunities for higher learning.

“Now that I’ve got 12 classes of third graders at one location, I can pull those top kids and have an advanced reading or math group,” Piatt said. “So we can actually have better learning for our upper-level kids because we have more of them in one place.”

Again, this item was tabled until January.

Earlier in the school board meeting, the Board received their Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST).

“We had a perfect score of 100,” Piatt said. “There was no negative findings at all.”

The Board approved the PISD District of Innovation Plan, which had five items on it:

• Pampa can start school the third Monday of August (State regularly does fourth Monday).

• Teacher Days from 187 (State) to 182.

• Keeping teachers from outside the District on probationary contract

• Local District Teaching Certificates

• Half-day student minutes count for a full day.

The Board also approved the following items on the consent agenda:

• Approve monthly financial reports

• Approve Board minutes:  October 25, 2021, November 11, 2021, and November 30, 2021

• Submission of class size waiver request to the Texas Education Agency

• Approve a contract with ACR Commercial Roofing for roofing projects at Wilson Elementary and McNeely Field House

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