Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly

Woods' Weekly is written by Superintendent Brian T. Woods and is sent to Northside ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.

August 31, 2015     

Good morning and welcome to week two of the year for our students.  We’re off and running in many ways.  Last week saw the start of the football season and volleyball and cross country have been going for some time.  It was great to see our teams as well as marching bands, spirit squads and so many other groups perform. 

Last week our Board gave final approval to the 2015-16 budget.  It allows for additional positions, a compensation increase for us all and sets aside additional dollars for health care costs.  Speaking of health care, in 2016 we will have a new company providing our insurance coverage.  In May of this year we issued an RFP and had two proposals – from Blue Cross Blue Shield (our current provider) and United HealthCare.  Both proposals came with large increases over our current rates.  After negotiations this summer we believe that the United proposal will serve us best.  The network of doctors is quite large.  The United plan also allows each employee more choice in the way they will access the network.  This can translate to premium savings.  However, the overall plan will come with additional cost.  While the district will continue to pay the lion’s share of the total cost, many of us will see increases in our premiums.  I know this is not great news, but I wanted you to know it as far ahead of the new coverage taking effect in January 2016 as possible.  Please know that we realize how important this issue is to you and your family and we will always make every effort to balance quality coverage with cost.  Please see the Human Resources newsletter for more information.

At convocation we talked about the importance of not only being Northside (and public education) Proud, but telling people why that is the case.  I appreciate all of the messages I have received about the theme and how people are supporting our efforts.  Recently, John Keller, an economics teacher at Marshall, sent me something he wrote to express his pride and appreciation for the work he does.  This makes me Northside Proud.  Here is a portion of what John wrote:

I am a public school teacher in Texas, and the political winds do not seem to look kindly on what I do.  There are some things I want to let everyone know about public schools.   The first thing I want you to realize is that the public school system is the most essential foundation in our democracy.  It is at the heart of our Great American Experiment.  It is the essential element to building a “more perfect union.”  Why do I make such a grand claim?  It really is quite simple.  You see, if you move in to my school district, and if you have school age children, we WILL accept them.  No ifs, ands or buts. 

Is your child autistic?  We will educate him, and provide specialists and individual plans for him.  Is your child paraplegic?  We will educate her and do everything we can to mitigate her disability.  Is your child immune-deficient?  We will let them stay at home, yet send a highly sophisticated robot to our school so the child can get a high quality education from teachers and interact with other students, not simply read from a book.  Is your child good at athletics?  We have programs for them.  Is your child musically inclined?  We have orchestras, choirs, jazz bands, marching bands and more.  Is your child deaf?  We will hire interpreters for every one of their classes to make sure they miss nothing of their instruction.

I could go on and on.  You see, I know of no country on earth where the above, and so much more, is true.  We don’t turn students away.  We don’t have admission standards.  We are at the heart of making this country more equal and perfect.   Incidentally, even though very few of my students are like me, many of them love me dearly.  And you know what?  I love them.  It is why I continue to do it, year after year.  It is for them.   I am by no means naïve about our public school system.  There are lots of areas of improvement needed.  Please, though, don’t cut off this foundation of our democracy when we need it.  Don’t tell us to do a better job and then not give us the tools to be successful with all the different situations that come in to my classroom every day.

Have a great week!