We put the following questions before the candidates for Salado ISD Board of Trustees. Below are their answers:
Question 1. Is Salado ISD preparing adequately for the potential growth in enrollment of the next five to 10 years? Is there anything it should be doing differently? (Limit 150 words)
Question 2. How would you rate the condition (Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor) of each of these facilities: Elementary, Intermediate, Junior High, High School, Athletic Facilities, Arts Facilities, Ag Facilities. What needs to be done? (Limit 150 words)
Question One: The greatest challenge in preparing adequately for the potential growth in enrollment of Salado ISD over the next 5 to 10 years is adequately funding the district operations. The greatest tool Salado ISD can possess operationally is quality educators teaching the students. Unfortunately, the teacher pay scale and stipends at Salado ISD are not equivalent to other districts in the area. While the media and other outlets like social media at time degrade teachers worth, we as shareholders must remember teachers are professionals with specialized certifications. To continue the academic success Salado historically enjoys, Salado ISD will need to recruit top talent as the student body population grows over the next 5 – 10 years. Additionally, as Salado ISD grows the top talent recruited should be considered for promotion to instructional support and administrative duties to allow professional growth from within a great district.
Question Two: All campuses are quickly reaching capacity with the projected growth of Salado, which Salado ISD will need more facilities erected or add on classrooms either using portable buildings, or creating new wings on existing structures. Moreover, the facilities for the Arts, Athletics, and Ag facilities are not equal to districts of the same size. For example, Salado is the only school in the currently aligned 4A district without a Fine Arts Performing Arts Center. Additionally, every “home” sporting event is equivalent to an away game, with our high school teams needing to travel to Salado Junior High to practice or compete. Last but not least, just from an aesthetical perspective when you walk by the SJH, SIS, and TAE campus the paint and trim on the building is peeling with paint missing in many areas. TAE: Fair; SIS: Good; SJH: Fair and SHS: Fair .
Question One: Every month the Salado School Board reviews the enrollment figures at each campus. At the beginning of 2015, we reviewed projected enrollment through year 2027. Dr. Novotny projected the critical year when each campus would outgrow their current facility. Being well informed about the growth of Salado is crucial for planning for Salado ISD. The SISD staff meets regularly with the Village of Salado so the School Board is well informed on growth and projected increase in enrollment. The Board recently approved a strategic planning agreement which will detail many aspects of our school district to include growth projection. Strategic planning is extremely important so we can plan for the next five to ten years in a rational, educated process. I also attend the Village of Salado Aldermen meetings when critical items affecting the school will be discussed.
Question Two: In April of 2014, SHWGroup presented a Facility Condition Assessment that evaluated each campus as well as the auxiliary buildings. While we have an excellent maintenance department at Salado ISD, the needs of each campus differ simply because of the age of the buildings. Salado High School and Intermediate School are our two newest buildings. They have been well maintained and are in good condition. The Jr. High School was built in 1979 and is in fair condition. The elementary rated poor since there are many mechanical systems that need to be upgraded to today standards. They function and have been maintained, however, the life span is reaching their limit. The Ag Facilities are in need of upgrades and since we have an award winning Ag Department, it would be wonderful to provide our students the facilities to continue on their successful path. The athletic facilities differ in condition depending on the sport.
1. The district has already begun the process of accessing the current facility conditions and capacities along with staff and curriculum reviews in order to evaluate what will be needed for upcoming requirements. The district is also retaining the services of a consultant group who will very soon begin the process of long range planning. This group is specialized in long range planning and has done so for many districts, large and small. It will be good to have an outside set of eyes and ears who will facilitate meetings with staff, parents, students, and community members over the next several weeks and months with the goal of determining the needs and wishes for the district in order to set a course of action for the superintendent and board. So, yes, I do believe the district is on the right path to adequately plan for growth.
2. Last year the district received a Facility Condition Assessment report prepared by SHW Group. Facility evaluations were based on “functional operation, age, expected life, appearance, fault and/or failure”, interviews with facility administrators, written surveys completed by staff, and site inspections. All that information was compiled along with costs and a “Facility Condition Index” score was calculated. Those scores rated the: Elementary – poor; Intermediate – good; Jr high – fair; High school – good; Football/track – fair; Baseball – good; Softball – good; Arts center – fair; Ag barn – poor; Civic center/admin – poor; Transportation/maintenance – poor
Also an “educational appropriateness” summary was provided for each facility including current enrollment and capacity, compliance with TEA standards, and facility priorities.
There are many options and scenarios to consider, but as to “what needs to be done” that will hopefully become much clearer after the long range planning is completed as discussed in the answer to question 1.