Northside ISD: History

District History

Texas law provides for public education

Before school buses, students in Texas had to find other types of transporation.

Laws enacted in 1854 in the state legislature provided for the foundation of local school districts and made public education a reality in the state of Texas. Education in Texas suffered during the Civil War and the Reconstruction which followed. Efforts were made to improve the status of public education during the latter part of the 19th century, and the growth and development of Texas' public schools increased with the coming of the 20th century.

The first school in Helotes, Texas. It was  built around 1880.

Local taxation for rural schools increased in the 20th century, and small rural schools began consolidating into districts. In 1915, Texas passed a compulsory attendance law, and in 1918, the legislature approved the use of free textbooks in public schools.

In the early 1900s, Bexar County was still primarily in rural area, and many of the districts in the northwest county consisted of just one school. This situation would persist, with little change, for the first half of the 20th century.

1949: The birth of Northside ISD

First graduation at Northside High School, 1951

In 1949, 12 rural schools joined together to form Northside Consolidated School District. Those schools were Leon Springs, Los Reyes, Helotes, Locke Hill, Leon Valley, San Antonio Heights, Lockhart, Mackey, Clifton, Evers, Hoffman, and Culebra. Enrollment in that first year was 823 students. H.M. Biggers was named superintendent of the new district, and construction began on Northside High School (Northside High School was renamed John Marshall High School in 1960). In 1955, the district became Northside Independent School District.

The year 1955 is also the year in which the school board approved the integration of Northside High School, allowing African American students to attend. One year later, in 1956, Northside began a program of building which has continued to this day, with Northside Junior High (renamed Sul Ross Middle School in 1960) and Northside Elementary (now Colby Glass Elementary).

During the 1950s, enrollment at Northside reached 3,309. Superintendent Biggers resigned and was replaced by Murray Boone. During the decade, the school board began a bus transportation program and secured federal funding for the district. They also opened the first school cafeterias and instituted the first discipline policy and dress code.

The 1960s saw explosive growth. Northside enrollment doubled in the first three years of the decade, and doubled again by 1967. By the end of the 60s, Northside enrolled over 20,000 students and had opened 12 new elementary schools, two new middle schools, and two new high schools. In 1964, Murray Boone retired as superintendent, and the school board selected Edmund Cody.


In 1966, Northside fully embraced integration with the closing of West San Antonio Heights and the transfer of African American students to ten elementary schools. The board also started Northside's bilingual education program with summer school classes for non-English speaking children. They began Northside's special education program by approving the education of all children, regardless of their handicaps.

The 1970s were a time of modernization and development for Northside. The District began using computers for issuing payroll checks, 11 new schools opened, and enrollment grew by more than 10,000 students. In 1974 Nellie M. Reddix became the first African American and the second woman on the Northside school board.

In the 1980s, Northside was named the fastest growing school district in Texas. By the decade's end, enrollment was up to nearly 50,000 students. The District opened 23 new schools and facilities, including Taft High School, Health Careers High School, two middle schools and 11 elementary schools. Edmund Cody retired as superintendent, and was replaced by Jack Jordan. At the state level, the 1980s brought teacher accountability: the Texas Examinations of Current Administrators and Teachers (TECAT) exam. The Texas Assessment of Basic Skills (TABS) was instituted to measure student performance.

NEF LogoIn 1994, Northside adopted a strategic plan under Superintendent Dr. Agustin Orci, who was chosen to lead the District when Jack Jordan retired in 1993. The Northside Strategic Plan was a collaborative effort, involving the input of parents, students, teacher, employees and community members. The Northside Education Foundation was created as part of the Strategic Plan. The NEF is a non-profit foundation which generates and disburses funds and other resources to provide enrichment to Northside students. Dr. Orci resigned in 1995 to enter corporate America.

In 1995, veteran educator Ed Rawlinson was named Northside Superintendent. Under his leadership, the District grew to over 60,000 students during the 1990s, yet providing a quality education remained the focus. Also in 1995, NISD voters approved a $98 million bond issue: $94 million for school construction, and for the first time, $4 million for technology. In 1998, as a result of exploding enrollment growth, Northside voters approved more school construction bonds: this time $198 million for construction and $26 million for technology. Voters also approved raising the tax cap to $1.50, the maximum allowed by the state.

In 1996, Mary Hull Elementary became the first Northside elementary school to earn National Blue Ribbon Status. Other schools followed, and in 2000 Northside became a Texas Recognized District, the largest Recognized District in Texas. Rawlinson led the development of Communications Arts High School as well as two successful bond issues: $224 million in 1998, and $495 million in 2001.

The new century : San Antonio's premier school district

The new century opened with new challenges for Northside, as the district grew to more than 67,000 students in 2002, with 8 high schools, 12 middle schools, and 47 elementary schools, with several more schools in planning or under construction. In summer 2002, Bexar County's newest high school, Warren HS, opened, along with Nichols and Rhodes elementary schools.

Artist's rendering of Warren High School

The $495 million bond package approved by voters in 2001 is the largest construction package for schools ever in Bexar County and the 3rd largest in Texas. Funds are being used to build nine schools and to renovate or make additions at all others. In 2002, Ed Rawlinson retired, and Dr. John M. Folks became Northside Superintendent. John M. Folks joined Northside from Spring ISD in Houston, where he also served as superintendent. He is a former university education department dean, and was the chief school leader for the state of Oklahoma.

Northside's status as the "school district of choice" in San Antonio has brought greater and greater numbers of students and families to the District. New enrollment for the 2002-03 school year was 3,369 students, far exceeding all growth expectations. In fact, it represents the greatest enrollment increase in one year in the history of Northside School District.

New Schools, New Faces

The 2003-04 starting enrollment was 71,507. This steady growth came at the same time that the State of Texas is facing a funding crisis in its public schools, with state funding shrinking as school districts reach the legal limit of what they can provide for themselves through local taxes. The enthusiastic support of the community in a series of bond issues has been critical to Northside's response to the influx of students. The District started the new school year with three new elementary schools and a new middle school. Six more new schools are scheduled to be opened in the next two years. Northside's dedicated teachers, staff and administrators work to maintain the same high quality education that brought so many new students and their families to live in the Northside School District.

Progress for NISD, Progress for Texas Education

The year 2004 will always be remembered as the year that Northside successfully sued the State of Texas for the way the state funds public education. Judge John Dietz ruled in favor of the plaintiff school districts, of which Northside was one, that the state funding system was unconstitutional. The Judge gave the State one year to design a plan that will adequately and equitably fund Texas schools.

In 2004, three more schools opened: Gregory Luna MS, Paul Ott ES, and Thomas L. Hatchett, Sr. ES. NISD experienced a record enrollment when 74,018 students enrolled in Northside Schools. The additional 2,500 new students over the previous year continued to stretch the school district’s resources in spite of a massive classroom construction program.

Bond Issue 2004 was supported by the voters and provided $439 million for more classrooms in 11 new schools, additions and renovations to countless others, the funding to purchase 9 more school sites to try and stay ahead of the building boom. With this successful bond issue, NISD voters have approved $1.25 Billion in school building bonds.

In 2004, the District’s Library Media Centers were recognized as the Best in the United States. Business Careers HS alum Darold Williamson won a Gold Medal at the Athens Olympics in track and field, becoming the first San Antonian to capture gold in field and track. Jay HS alum Wallace Jefferson captured state wide headlines when he was appointed the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. In addition, 2004 marks the year that “No Shots-No School” was enforced sending hundreds on unvaccinated students to their doctors before they could enroll in NISD schools. NISD hosted the Texas State Academic Decathlon in 2004 at Clark HS. That same year, NISD was named a Texas Recognized District for the fifth year in a row, no small feat considering the size and diversity of this school district.

NISD named the Best School District in Texas by H-E-B

The highlight of 2005 was being named the Best School District in Texas by H-E-B. The grocery giant and "power partner" selected NISD as the most outstanding school district in Texas and presented a check for $100,000 to Superintendent John Folks. In addition, H-E-B selected Linda Garcia as the state's best middle school principal.

This is the year also that the Northside Education Foundation embarked on their $2 million fund campaign having surpassed the original $1 million mark. Each year, the NEF Gala and other fundraising efforts draw big names and large numbers of people who want to be counted among the Friends of the Foundation, a mark of prestige.

Friends of Northside was also launched in 2005. This sprawling effort which employs the e-mail contacts of NISD's 10,000 employees hopes to eventually draw another 10,000 citizens into the Friends fold. This electronic communication initiative will prove that the more information you provide to people who are interested, the more they will support you, or at least understand the challenges we face.

And support this community does well. With Bond 2004 fresh in our minds, attention turns to Bond 2007. Over the years, the NISD community has supported over $1.25 billion in bonds to build new schools, renovate older ones and add technology.

Just this year alone, over 4,000 new students enrolled in NISD schools, shattering all records. This is the most number of new students ever to enroll in NISD schools in one year. Current enrollment projections put over 100,000 students in Northside Schools with in the next 8 years. Hundreds and hundreds of additional classrooms are needed to manage the growth.

In spite of crushing numbers of students, NISD did its part to help the victims of the worst hurricanes to hit the Gulf Coast region. When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi, thousands of refugees came to San Antonio. When Hurricane Rita hit the Texas coast, more refugees came to San Antonio to escape the threat. NISD enrolled over 500 students, affectionately named Katrina and Rita kids. Many are expected to stay here permanently.

Two more schools opened their doors this year: John Paul Stevens High School in the bustling Westover Hills area and Dean Krueger Elementary School in the outer Loop1604/Braun Road corridor. A highlight of the high school dedication was the special visit of Justice John Paul Stevens, who the day after the dedication was shown on worldwide television newscasts swearing in the new Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Roberts. Stevens said that the highlight of his life was having the school named in his honor.

2005 also marks the year that the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that the state must revamp the way it funds schools. While the ruling was mixed, it did provide another impetus to the Governor and Legislature to do the right thing for kids and adequately and equitably fund education. It is expected that the Governor will call another Special Session, the fifth one under his watch, to deal with school finance.

State elected officials will continue to hear from Northside ISD about the issues and challenges facing Texas public schools from two powerful advocates.

Katie Reed, NISD Trustee, also represented the Texas Association of School Boards as its president during 2006; and Superintendent John Folks now also speaks for the Texas School Alliance. It is unusual that two state leaders emerge from the same school district, but it is a testament as to the leadership within the school district.

A year of continued growth, continued success

NISD na​med "Largest Recognized School District in Texas!"

As unprecedented enrollment growth showed no signs of slowing down, Northside continued to garner achievements and accolades in 2006. Northside moved from the sixth to fifth largest school district in the state with a total enrollment of 81,811 students. And, when the Texas Education Agency announced accountability ratings, Northside became the largest district in the state to earn a Recognized rating. Considering the great diversity and challenges NISD faces, this singular accomplishment is huge.

New schools and facilities are investments in community

In 2006, Northside opened four new elementary schools—Fisher, Mead, Murnin and Wanke—all named for beloved and long-time educators in the District. The state-of-the-art Northside Natatorium, the District's second aquatics facility, also opened in the Dub Farris Athletic Complex on Loop 1604, and Gustafson Stadium, located in the Hardin Athletic Complex on Loop 410, was rededicated after a massive renovation.

Next multi-million dollar bond issue takes shape

To keep up with the deluge of new students, preparations for School Bond 2007 took shape. A Citizens' Bond Committee was appointed to study the needs of the District—now growing by roughly 4,000 students a year—and to make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees for a May 2007 bond election. The School Board is expected to take action in January 2007.

Northside leaders honored at state level

Northside leaders and educators continued to make a statewide impact in 2006. Superintendent John Folks was named the Region 20 Superintendent of the Year by an Education Service Center selection committee. He went on to be named one of five finalists in the state for Superintendent of the Year in the annual competition sponsored by the Texas Association of School Boards.

In addition, Erika Foerster at Jones Middle School was named Middle School Principal of the Year, and Rob Fields at Stevens High School was named High School Assistant Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals.

One of the top highlights of the year came at the Texas Association of School Boards/Texas Association of School Administrators annual convention in Houston. Because longtime Northside Trustee Katie Reed was the outgoing TASB president, Northside had the opportunity to showcase itself with a 30-minute "spectacular" performed in front of thousands of school trustees and administrators from across the state. About 220 fine arts students from across the District interwove song, dance, music and the spoken word to tell the story of Northside. The high-energy, fast-paced production featured the six Pillars of Characters, the foundation of Northside's character building curriculum.

Business Careers HS becomes first wireless high school

Business Careers High School became the first high school in Bexar County to fully implement a school-wide computing initiative by putting a laptop computer in the hands of every student and teacher—and developing a curriculum to support the technology.

Other accomplishments included the launch of Inside Northside Radio, which joined Inside Northside Video Magazine and Inside Northside Weekly as yet another means to communicate with students, employees, parents and residents of the District.

NISD approves biggest property tax cut in Bexar County

Statewide, the funding of public education took center stage when the Texas Legislature, meeting in a special session, passed House Bill 1, a sweeping law that issued mandates on property taxes, curriculum and employee salaries. The law required all Texas school districts to lower property tax rates, but because of rising property appraisals, many homeowners across the state did not see a significant reduction in property taxes in 2006.

However, the Northside Board of Trustees was able to approve the largest property tax rate decrease among San Antonio area districts. Northside trustees also approved a 5 percent raise for all teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses in addition to the $2,000 pay raise funded by the state through House Bill 1.

Four years of math and science is law

The law also required all high school students, starting with ninth graders in the 2007-08 school year, to graduate with four credits of math and four credits of science. In addition, House Bill 1 earmarked funding for a "high school allotment" to help school districts improve graduation rates, increase participation in Advanced Placement courses and increase college readiness.

Northside in the national spotlight

Northside named one of top five districts in the nation

Just two years after H-E-B Grocery Co. named Northside the best school district in Texas, NISD was selected as one of five finalists in the nation for the 2007 Broad Prize for Urban Education. This very prestigious award goes to the school district that has made the greatest improvement in student academic achievement while closing achievement gaps for minority and low income students. As a finalist for the Broad Prize, Northside received $125,000 in scholarships for the Class of 2008. This is an outstanding accomplishment, especially considering the District’s diversity and fast-growing enrollment. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings called the Broad Prize the “Oscar of Education.”

Voters approve largest bond issue in District history

In May, the Northside community overwhelmingly approved a $692.67 million bond proposal to build 12 new schools and make additions and improvements to existing schools. Almost 70 percent of voters said yes to School Bond 2007, making it the fifth consecutive bond proposal Northside voters have approved since 1995. Of the past five bond issues, School Bond 2007 had the widest approval margin and also the most number of voters. Approval of the bond ensures that the District will be able to provide classroom space for the thousands of new students who come to Northside each year.

Continued growth; new schools join Northside family

The District’s phenomenal growth continued in 2007, and Northside ISD surpassed Austin ISD to move from the fifth to the fourth largest school district in Texas. Enrollment, now at 85,546, is growing by about 4,000 students per year. NISD must open at least 200 new classrooms a year to keep pace with the student growth. At the start of the 2007-08 school year, three new schools were welcomed to NISD. Julia Newton Aue Elementary and Rita Kay Driggers Elementary are both named for longtime, dedicated Northside educators. And Wallace B. Jefferson Middle School is named for a Jay High School graduate who became the first African American to serve as the Chief of the Texas Supreme Court. Construction continues at a furious pace to build 12 more schools, five of which are scheduled to open in summer 2008.

Northside prepares to go wireless

The Board of Trustees gave the go-ahead to build a wireless network, making Northside ISD the largest district in Texas to go completely wireless. When the installation is completed at the end of 2008, students, teachers, and staff will have access to the Internet anywhere and any time at all campuses. The wireless network will augment classroom instruction and increase communication between school staff, District leaders said, and in the long run, the wireless network will be more cost-efficient than installing cables and hardware every time a campus gets additional computers. Installing the network will cost about $6.7 million, which will come from funds approved by voters in School Bond 2004.

Northside energy conservation program garners statewide recognition

In December, Northside’s Energy Management Department received two statewide accolades. The District’s energy management program was selected as one of 12 innovative initiatives in the state to be featured in Texas School Business magazine’s first annual “Bragging Rights” issue. In addition, Northside was named Outstanding Government Organization in the state at the 2007 Clean Air through Energy Efficiency (CATEE) Awards. The energy management program uses innovative measures to conserve electricity, water, and paper and saves the District more than $1 million annually in utility costs.

Unfunded legislative mandates continue to challenge school districts

The 80th legislative session ended with a slew of unfunded mandates and no additional operational funding for school districts. Some of the mandates include: seatbelts on buses, defibrillators on all campuses, steroid testing of student athletes, increase in physical education requirements, and the replacement of high school TAKS exams with End-of-course tests.

Preparing for the future

Northside ISD continued to celebrate academic accomplishments in 2008:

  • Northside received a Recognized rating from the Texas Education Agency, making NISD one of the largest and most diverse districts in the state to receive the coveted rating.

  • Isabel Anaya, a fifth grade teacher at Villarreal Elementary School, was named winner of the Rising Star Award at the 2008 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards.

  • The Board of Trustees was named Regional Honor Board of the Year for its dedication and ethical service to public school children.

  • Northside ISD was ranked No. 1 in performance among eight public agencies in San Antonio by an Associated General Contractors survey of local builders and contractors.

New schools handle enrollment growth

NISD opened five new schools in 2008, making it the most schools the District has opened in one year. Joining the Northside family were Peggy Carnahan, Nora Forester, and Evelyn Scarborough elementary schools, all named for former NISD educators; Robert L. Vale Middle School named for San Antonio's former state representative and senator; and Louis D. Brandeis High School, named for the U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Also in 2008, the District broke ground for its 10th comprehensive high school, named for Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan.

Enrollment increased to 88,400, but the growth did begin to show signs of slowing down as a result of the troubled U.S. economy. While enrollment projections for the 2009-10 school year were lowered from 3,800 to 2,900 new students, the District's construction scheduled remained on pace to meet needs for new classrooms.

School leaders seek legislative relief

Northside ISD leaders were on the front lines of the education battlefield in 2008 to urge state legislators to bring equity to the school funding system. Because of the "target revenue" system the Legislature put in place, per student funding for school districts had not increased for three consecutive years to account for inflation.

Superintendent John Folks also testified before a state legislative committee in favor of a fair and flexible accountability system to acknowledge the challenges of large, diverse districts. The flexibility is needed, especially at Northside, because of the large influx of African and Asian refugee students from war-torn, third-world countries, many of whom come to the District with little formal education.

Northside continued to grapple with state mandates, including bus evacuation drills and physical fitness testing. NISD was among the first school districts in the state to fingerprint employees, as required by Senate Bill 9 from the 2007 Legislature. It took state contractors more than four months to fingerprint more than 6,000 NISD employees.

NISD sets the bar as an environmental steward

Northside continued its commitment to the environment, becoming the first district in the country to purchase a new line of buses fueled by propane, an alternative fuel that is cheaper and cleaner than gasoline. For decades, NISD had been the leader in using propane-fueled buses until 2003, when manufacturers stopped production of vehicles that could use alternative fuels. Northside ISD and CPS Energy also announced the completion of a pilot project that will help school districts across the city retrofit campuses with energy-efficient lighting to save taxpayer dollars and have less impact on the environment.

Guide for the future

In 2008, the Board of Trustees approved the Strategic Plan for 2008-13, which will guide District decision-making for the next five years. A 200-member advisory committee comprised of staff, parents, and community members met over a two-month period to look at the current priorities and objectives of the District and to decide the long-term direction of the District. Sub-committees developed priority statements and objectives in eight areas: budget and finance, communications, curriculum and instruction, facilities, human resources, safe and secure schools, school-business-family-community partnerships, and technology.

A year for milestones


Northside celebrated two big milestones in 2009: the 60th anniversary of the District and enrollment hitting 90,000 students.

From 823 students that first year in 1949 to 90,000 students in 2009, Northside has evolved from a rural school system to an urban and suburban district of 104 schools. While much has changed, the District always has prided itself on academic excellence. 2009 proved no different. Official 2009-2010 enrollment ended up at 91,578.

Recognitions and academic achievements

District, campus and staff honors included:
  • For the second year in a row, Northside was one of the largest and most diverse districts in the state to earn a Recognized rating from the Texas Education Agency.

  • Health Careers High School was named the No. 1 high school in San Antonio by Children at Risk, a Houston-based nonprofit organization. Clark High School was ranked No. 7, and O'Connor High School was No. 9 in the high school category. In addition, Thornton Elementary School was No. 6 in the elementary school category.

  • Maricela Alarcon, a fifth grade bilingual teacher at Burke Elementary School, was named one of the three finalists for the Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year Program.

  • Two NISD educators were named state winners in the 2009 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards. Brenda Farias, former principal at Cable Elementary School (now at Langley Elementary School), was the winner in the Elementary School Principal category. And Gretchen Catron, a history teacher at Jay High School and Jay Science & Engineering Academy, was the winner in the Rising Star Secondary category.

  • Karen Pumphrey, a special education teacher at Clark High School, was the 2009 winner of the Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

  • For the second consecutive year, Northside ISD was ranked No. 1 in construction among the eight largest public agencies in San Antonio by the San Antonio chapter of Associated General Contractors.

  • The Board of Trustees renamed the Aquatics Center for longtime Aquatics Director George Block and the library at O'Connor High School for retiring Principal Larry Martin.

Preparing for growth


Northside opened four new schools in 2009 to continue to meet the needs of enrollment, still growing at about 3,000 students a year despite a slowdown in the economy. The four new schools were: Hoffman, Langley, and Kuentz elementary schools and Hector Garcia Middle School.

In October, a 200-member Citizens' Bond Committee began meeting to discuss a proposal for a possible bond in May 2010. By the end of the year, the committee developed a proposal to present to the Board of Trustees.

NISD battles H1N1 pandemic

An outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus, initially called swine flu, prompted schools around the country to cancel classes. Though the flu led to high absentee rates in Northside, the District remained open throughout the pandemic.

In December, at the request of the San Antonio Metro Health District, Northside began a massive effort to vaccinate students. The vaccination clinics were expected to continue through March.

Federal stimulus funds implemented

Like school districts across Texas and the United States, Northside ISD was the recipient education funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Northside ISD established a Stimulus Funding Task Force to develop a plan for the most effective use of the federal stimulus funding, and then set up a web site to show taxpayers and community members how money is being used.

At the end of 2009, NISD had received about $29 million in stimulus funding that could be spent only in two areas. Title I funding must be used at schools where a majority of students enrolled meet the federal requirements for free or reduced lunch. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding is earmarked for special education students.

In addition, the District received $369,604 in Title II Part D funding which can be used to enhance education through the use of technology.

Deep in the Heart of Northside

The theme for the 2009-10 school year was "Deep in the Heart of Northside," which was was captured in a 25-minute fine arts production featured at the TASA/TASB annual convention in Houston. Northside was featured as the showcase district at the convention because Superintendent John Folks served as TASA President for the 2009-10 school year.

The "Deep in the Heart of Northside" production featured a multi-talented cast of fine arts students who performed musical and dance selections to honor Texas' rich and colorful heritage that is celebrated at Northside ISD. At its core, though, the performance was a tribute to the educators and school leaders who open their hearts every day to make sure public school children are on the path to success.

Positively Northside

Despite a year often dominated by dire financial prospects, Northside ISD stayed positive and never wavered from its mission to always put children first. In fact, the theme for the 2010-11 school year was “Positively Northside” and was used to inspire pride among employees and students.

H1N1 vaccinations completed

In February, the District successfully completed the daunting task of inoculating students against the H1N1 virus, administering shots to more than 37,000 students.

Voters pass $535 million bond

On May 8, 2010, Northside ISD voters passed a $535 million bond to fund new schools and renovations throughout the District. About half of the funding is earmarked for improvements to existing schools and the other half will be used to build four new elementary schools and two new middle schools.

By the end of the year, the Board of Trustees already had approved design plans for outdoor swim stadium to be built next to the Northside Natatorium. Half of the funding for that project will come from Bexar County to build a venue that will attract national-level competitions and bring tourists and their dollars to San Antonio.

Five new schools open including first ‘green’ school

Northside ISD was the only school district in Texas to open five new schools for the 2010-11 school year. The District continued its high-growth trend, with enrollment increasing by 3,124 students from the previous school year. Official enrollment for the 2010-11 school year was 94,702.

The five new schools were: BehlauMartin, and Henderson elementary schools, Briscoe Middle School, and Brennan High School. In addition, Construction Careers Academy opened its new facility on the Warren High School campus.

Martin Elementary was the first school to open inside Loop 410 since 1980 and also became the District’s first school to be certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

Dedications also were held for the Larry Martin Library at O’Connor High School and the George Block Aquatics Center.

NISD racks up recognitions and achievements

District and staff honors included:

  • Out of 330,000 teachers in the state of Texas, Daniel Leija, a fourth grade teacher at Esparza Elementary School, was named the Texas Teacher of the Year.
  • Geri Berger, Principal at Brandeis High School, was named the Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals.
  • Kent Page, a fifth grade teacher at Carnahan Elementary School, was named a finalist in the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program.
  • For the third consecutive year, Associated General Contractors named Northside ISD No. 1 in construction practices among the eight largest public agencies in San Antonio.
  • Scarborough Elementary Principal Jeannine Keairnes and John Martinez, fourth grade teacher at Elrod Elementary, were named finalists for the 2010 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards, the state's biggest recognition program of educators.

Tradition of academic success continues

For the third consecutive year, Northside ISD was rated Recognized by the Texas Education Agency. The District also had 51 Exemplary campuses – the most ever – and 39 Recognized schools and two Academically Acceptable schools.

In addition to improved state standardized test scores, the District continued to increase the percentage of students passing core courses and saw explosive growth in enrollment in Advanced Placement courses.

District prepares for tough financial times ahead

As 2010 wound to a close and the 82nd Legislature prepared to meet, school districts across the state were cautioned to prepare for drastic budget cuts because of an expected $15 to $28 billion state budget shortfall. Northside ISD responded by cutting its budget by 5 percent and implementing an immediate hiring freeze.

However, there was some positive financial news. The state comptroller released the Financial Allocation Study for Texas, and Northside ISD was the only school district in San Antonio to receive four stars. In addition, for the eighth consecutive year, the District received the highest rating of “Superior Achievement” from the state’s financial accountability rating system, a tribute to the financial stewardship of the District.

Northside Together

Northside Together

It was a roller coaster year marked by great challenges and great successes, as the District both endured a $61.2 million budget cut and celebrated the selection of Dr. John Folks as the Texas Superintendent of the Year.

The year came to an emotional end when Dr. Folks announced his retirement after a decade of leading Northside ISD.

But through the good times and the bad, the District maintained its theme for the year: “Northside Together.”

Dr. Folks named best in Texas

Dr. John Folks

After 41 years in education as a teacher and administrator, Dr. John Folks was named the 2011 Texas Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Association of School Boards in October. The award was given to Folks in part for his statewide advocacy of Texas public education as well as his respected leadership of Northside ISD.

Dr. Folks will go out on top, for in December, he announced he would retire at the end of the school year. Though his announcement was not unexpected, he will be greatly missed by employees and the community.

Other individual and District achievements in 2011 included:

  • For the fourth year in a row, Northside ISD earned a Recognized rating from the state, and the District’s completion rate rose to 94.9 percent.

  • NISD had a finalist in the Texas Teacher of the Year contest for the third year in row, an impressive feat considering there are more than 300,000 public school teachers in the state. This year’s honoree was June Shanahan, fifth grade teacher at Scobee Elementary School, who ended up being named runner-up. 

    June Shanahan

  • Linda Kelly, chemistry teacher at Marshall High School, was named winner of the2011Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

  • Bobby Blount, a Northside ISD Board of Trustee since 1999, received the 2011 Celebrationof Leadership Outstanding Alumni Award from the Texas Association of School Boards.

District endures massive budget cuts

After the state Legislature drastically reduced funding for public education, the District was forced to cut $61.2 million from the budget and eliminate almost 1,000 positions.

Fortunately, all positions were cut through attrition and no employee layoffs were required. However, in addition to the elimination of positions, a salary freeze was enacted, operating expenses for campuses, programs, and departments were reduced, and class sizes were increased.

In November, the Board of Trustees voted to join hundreds of school districts across the state in challenging the constitutionality of the current school funding system. The District will be represented by the Thompson & Horton law firm, which also represented Northside ISD in the last school funding lawsuit in 2005.

District finally staying pace with growth

New School Logos

In a departure from previous years when the District opened three to five new schools at a time, NISD opened just two new schools this past year: Judge Andy Mireles Elementary School and Edmund Lieck Elementary School.

Though the District’s construction program finally was able to keep pace with growth,enrollment continued to increase. This year’s enrollment grew by more than 2,700 students compared to last year, and the student population, now 97,439, likely will hit 100,000 in 2013.

As part of the effort to keep pace with growth, the District broke ground on the NorthsideSwim Center, which is being funded by School Bond 2010 and visitor taxes from Bexar County.

Goodbye TAKS, Hello STAAR


The 2011-12 school year marked the beginning of the transition from TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) to STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness). STAAR tests are expected to be more difficult and rigorous, and for the first time, the tests will have a four-hour time limit. In addition, exit exams will be replaced by 12 End-of-Course tests.

In order to prepare staff, students, and parents for significant changes in the state’s standardized testing system, Northside established its own STAAR website.

Other highlights of 2011

Here’s a roundup of some other newsworthy events of 2011:

  • Annie Holmes stepped down from District 2 of the Board of Trustees and longtime NISD volunteer Bennie Cole was elected to replace her.

  • Northside ISD employees and community members raised more than $90,000 for the Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes.

  • Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor visited Jefferson Middle School to introduce her online civics program to students. Her friend, school namesake and Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace Jefferson, also participated. 

    Sandra Day O'Connor Visit

The Spirit of Northside

The year 2012 was one of great change for NISD as Dr. John Folks retired after a decade as superintendent and handed over the reins to Dr. Brian T. Woods, formerly the Deputy Superintendent for Administration. The retirement of Dr. Folks served as a reminder that even though the District’s leadership may change, the “Spirit of Northside” always will endure. Since the creation of NISD more than 60 years ago, the Spirit of Northside has been driven by the thousands of people who live and work in NISD and attend NISD schools. It’s this spirit – that special something – that makes Northside ISD one of the most respected school districts in the state, and will help us continue to meet the challenges of growth, accountability, and school funding.  

The Spirit of Northside, which was the District’s theme for the school year, was evident in a number of achievements and initiatives throughout 2012:

Finalist for Teacher of the Year from NISD for fourth year in a row

For the fourth consecutive year, a finalist for Texas Teacher of the Year was from Northside ISD. Theresa Heim, reading teacher and AVID coordinator at Connally Middle School, was one of three finalists for Secondary Teacher of the Year. In addition, Barbara Purkhiser, a second grade teacher from Galm Elementary School was named a regional finalist for Elementary Teacher of the Year.

In addition:

  • Kent Page, the science academic support teacher at Carnahan Elementary School known for his hands-on lessons with students, was named a finalist for the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program.
  • Emily Swoboda, an English teacher at Communications Arts High School, won the prestigious leadership award at the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards this past weekend in Houston. Swoboda received $10,000 for herself and another $10,000 for her school.
  • The District’s completion and graduation rates continued to rise. For the class of 2011, the completion rate was 95.7 percent and the graduation rate was 91.7 percent. Statistics for the Class of 2012 won’t be available until 2013. The completion rate, which the state uses to determine a school’s accountability rating, is the percentage of students who graduate four years after entering high school plus those who come back for a fifth year of high school. The graduation rate is the percentage of students who graduate four years after entering high school.

NISD continues to keep pace with growth

The District began the 2012-13 school year with 99,372 students. Thanks to voter-approved school bonds, the District finally was able to keep pace with growth and opened just one new school: Los Reyes Elementary School. In addition, NISD opened its fifth transportation station, named for former Transportation Director Mike McClung.

In addition to two new facilities, two other facilities also got new names. Lackland City Elementary School was renamed Jerry D. Allen Elementary to honor the school’s beloved and longtime principal. And the library at Ross Middle School was dedicated in honor of John McLaughlin, retired executive of The Capital Group Companies and a longtime partner of Ross.

Though enrollment continues to grow by 2000 to 3,000 a year, and the District budget tops $1 billion, there was no tax rate increase for NISD property tax owners this year.

Students begin transition from TAKS to STAAR

Students in grades three through nine were the first students to experience STAAR, the state’s new standardized testing system. As part of the transition from TAKS, the old testing system, to STAAR, students in grades 10 and higher continued to take the TAKS exit exams.

District prepares for 83rd Legislative session

Two years after the Legislature made a $5.4 billion cut to public education funding, and with the school funding lawsuit well underway, the District’s Board of Trustees established critical legislative priorities in the areas of finance, governance, assessment, and accountability.

Other highlights of 2012:

  • For the first time in NISD history, three football teams advanced to the state quarterfinals: Brandeis, Brennan, and O’Connor high schools
  • The Northside Education Foundation Prize Patrol awarded the most grants ever when it doled at $173,000 in grants at one time.
  • Westwood Terrace Elementary, Glenoaks Elementary, and Neff Middle School all celebrated their golden anniversaries in 2012. In addition, Galm Elementary and Holmgreen celebrated their 25th anniversaries.
  • NISD launched a newly-designed website to better serve the needs of students, staff, and community members.
  • Northside ISD’s Digital Library officially went District-wide in 2012, giving students and staff the opportunity to download eBooks, audiobooks, music, and videos using their personal computers, tablets, smartphones, eBook readers, and MP3 players.
  • NISD launched its first iPad pilot to see whether the hand-held tablet computers can help engage students and make more efficient use of teachers. Advanced eighth grade students taking geometry were the first students to experiment with the iPads.
  • The District announced that by 2014-15, all NISD elementary schools will offer NISD’s award-winning, curriculum-based Learning Tree After School Program.
  • Safeline, the District’s anonymous 24-hour tip line, expanded its capabilities to begin receiving text messages in addition to phone calls.


2013: Northside Connected

2013 continued to be a time of growth and change in Northside ISD. The District hit an all-time high in enrollment, added 777 new employee positions, and opened three new schools. More than 6,000 graduates received their diplomas, including the first graduates from Construction Careers Academy. The District also looked to the future with the adoption of a new Strategic Plan and the exploration of a 2014 bond election with the establishment of a Citizens’ Bond Committee.

The challenges of school finance and public education funding remain in the state of Texas. In February, State Judge John Deitz ruled in the lawsuit brought on by school districts across the state that the state school finance system was unconstitutional, inefficient, and inadequate. The case will be reopened in 2014.

When the state budget was passed in May, $3.4 billion of the $5.4 billion in education cuts made two years prior, were restored. The District used its “Restoration Funds” to alleviate crowded classrooms, and the Board approved a return to the 22 students per teacher ratio for kindergarten through fourth grade classes, and the addition of two to ten new teachers at all secondary schools.

With the passage of House Bill 5 by the 83rd Texas Legislature, new graduation requirements are on the horizon for students that aim to provide flexibility and reduce the number of end-of-course exams.

The District’s theme serves as a reminder that no matter how large the District grows and no matter the challenges that lie ahead, Northside will always remain connected to its community, graduates, students, and history.

NISD continues to grow

The District began the 2013-2014 school year by celebrating an historical milestone- the enrollment of the 100,000th student in Northside. District officials surprised the two siblings at Scarborough Elementary School who pushed NISD over the 100,000 mark. The official enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year is 101, 477 students.

To accommodate the continuing growth, three new schools opened in August- Kay Franklin and Dr. Sara B. McAndrew elementary schools and Dr. John Folks Middle School. All three were named for beloved Northside educators.

In addition to the dedication celebrations held at each new school, the District also dedicated the Kelly Smith Technology Center, now the home of the Technology Services Division, and the Northside Swim Center and Northside Tennis Center. The state-of-the-art Swim Center, part of the Farris Athletic Complex, is already scheduled to host three prestigious national events in 2015.

The Board of Trustees named the two new schools that will open in summer 2014- Dr. Joe Bernal Middle School and Bonnie Ellison Elementary School.

Randy Fields stepped down from the Board of Trustees following 14 years of service and Dr. Carol Harle was elected to replace him. The NISD School Board continues to be one of the most highly respected and stable school boards in Bexar County and in Texas.

Finalist for Teacher of the Year from NISD for fifth year in a row

For the fifth consecutive year, a finalist for Texas Teacher of the Year was from Northside ISD. Christian DeBerry, a special education teacher at Hobby Middle School, was one of three finalists for Secondary Teacher of the Year.

In addition:

  • Isabel Anaya, a 5th grade teacher at Kuentz Elementary School, won the prestigious 2013Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Kimberly Reznicek, a Reading Specialist at Timberwilde Elementary School, and Terry Zablocki, a communication applications teacher at Warren High School, were honored as finalists in the 2013 HEB Excellence in Education Awards.

Other highlights of 2013:

  • The Brennan High School football team went undefeated in 4A competition and advanced to the Division 1 4A state finals, before falling to Denton Guyer High School 31-14. Brennan HS opened in Fall 2010, and the football team was 0 – 10 their inaugural season.
  • Alice, the District’s first K9, joined the Northside Police Department in late summer. In addition, the police department established a community policing initiative and hired its first elementary police officers who serve a cluster of elementary school campuses. The installation of digital video surveillance systems continued at elementary schools.

  • In November, Northside joined 14 other Bexar County school districts to launch Go Public, a campaign to inspire support for local public schools.
  •  Carson Elementary School won $20,000 as champions in the 2013 Spurs Team Up Challenge, sponsored by the Silver and Black Give Back. For their community service project, the Carson Student Council created Family Fitness Fridays. Other semifinalists from NISD in 2013 were Briscoe Middle School and the Holmgreen Center.
  • Glenn, Valley Hi, and Powell elementary schools and Rayburn Middle School celebrated their 50th anniversaries in 2013.  Scobee Elementary School celebrated its 25th anniversary.
  • The Northside Education Foundation hosted its largest 5K in history, with almost 5,000 participants.
  • NISD launched a mobile app, available for both Apple and Android users, to provide District information at users’ fingertips through their mobile devices.
  • The District’s use of social media continued to grow reaching 10,000 “likes” on Facebook, 100,000 views on YouTube, 8,000 followers on Twitter, and 6,400 Friends of Northside subscribers.


2014: In Northside It’s Personal
Voters casting yes votes

2014 continued to be a time of growth and change in Northside ISD. In May, voters approved a $648.34 million bond issue that will allow the District to address much-needed improvements at existing campuses while continuing to keep pace with growth. With more than 65 percent of voters casting yes votes, School Bond 2014 is the seventh consecutive bond issue voters have passed since 1995.

Northside Poster

The District hit an all-time high in enrollment, added 700 new employee positions, and opened two new schools. More than 6,300 students received their diplomas in 12 commencement ceremonies.

However, the annual theme serves as a reminder that despite Northside’s size and continued growth, the goal of teachers, administrators, and support staff is to always provide personalized learning experiences for students at each of our schools.


NISD continues to grow

Dr. Joe Bernal Middle School

The official enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year is 102,953 students. To accommodate the growth, two new schools opened in August- Dr. Joe Bernal Middle School and Bonnie Ellison Elementary School. The Board of Trustees also named the new school that will open in summer 2015- Boldt Elementary School.

NISD School BoardThe NISD School Board continues to be one of the most highly respected and stable school boards in Bexar County and in Texas. The Board was one of five finalists for the best school board in Texas award in the 2014 HEB Excellence in Education Awards and was named a 2014 Region 20 Honor Board.

Award-winning educators

HEB Excellence in Education Awards

  • Mary Lagleder, a Warren HS history teacher, was named a state winner in the HEB Excellence in Education Awards. She won the Rising Star Secondary award, which came with a prize of $10,000 for Lagleder and a $10,000 grant for her school.
  • Gina Reina, a GT teacher at Wanke ES, was named the 2015 Region 20 Elementary Teacher of the Year. It was the sixth consecutive year that a Northside teacher was recognized by Region 20.

Other highlights of 2014:



  • Northside continued to support the Go Public campaign which raises awareness of the wonderful things happening in Bexar County public schools.
  • Mary Hull Elementary School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014.  Elrod and Thornton elementary school celebrated their 25th anniversaries. In addition, the library at Jay High School was renamed the Patricia Strawn Library to honor the school’s longtime librarian Patricia Strawn.
  • Northside ISD was one of only two school districts in San Antonio to be named to the prestigious annual Advanced Placement District Honor Roll by The College Board. The honor recognizes districts that have increased access to AP course work while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams.
  • Stevens High School and Zachry Middle School won $20,000 as champions in the 2014 Spurs Team Up Challenge, sponsored by the Silver and Black Give Back.

  • Seniors at Construction Careers Academy participated in the school’s first Parade of Homes building competition. Over several months, teams constructed 5micro homes, giving them hands-on construction experience. The homes were eventually sold and the Parade of Homes competition will continue in 2015.
  • The District dedicated 3 SPARK parks at Boone, Passmore, and Villarreal elementary schools. SPARK is a school park program that turns public school property into neighborhood parks to be enjoyed by the community outside of regular school hours.

  • Elementary and middle school students from 24 schools participated in Mission 6 of the Student Spaceflights Experiments Program (SSEP). An experiment designed by a team from Howsman ES and Hobby MS was selected to fly to the International Space Station. In October, the original experiment was onboard an unmanned NASA rocket that exploded at takeoff. Students created a second version of the experiment for a December launch.
  • In the first year of UIL 6A competition, all NISD high schools competed in the same classification and in two zones for football, basketball, and soccer. The Brennan High School football team went undefeated in the regular season and won the district championship.

National PTA

  • Four Northside ISD PTAs were named as 2014-16 National PTA Schools of Excellence. Leon Springs and Mireles elementary schools and Folks and Hobby middle schools were among 170 schools from across the country to receive the special designation. The awards are given to PTAs for their achievements in building strong family-school partnerships as part of the National PTA’s ongoing efforts to increase family engagement in education.
  • The Warren High School boys team was named state bowling champs after coming in first place at the Texas State High School Bowling Tournament in April, beating out 71 other teams. Seven NISD teams competed at the state tournament in the sixth year of Northside’s high school bowling league.
  • The District’s use of social media continued to grow reaching 23,000 “likes” on Facebook, 146,000 views on YouTube, 17,500 followers on Twitter, and 6,500 Friends of Northside subscribers.


2015: I Am Northside Proud

There is so much to be proud of in Northside ISD. In 2015, Northside hit an all-time high in enrollment, added 800 new employee positions, opened one new school, and more than 6,400 students received their diplomas in 12 commencement ceremonies. The Class of 2015 earned more than $93 million in college scholarships.


Despite Northside’s size and continued growth, there are numerous opportunities provided for students to succeed in academics, athletics, fine arts, and many other extracurricular pursuits. It takes everyone – students, teachers, staff, parents, business partners, community members, and the Board of Trustees – to maintain the high standards and expectations that make NISD the great district that it is.

NISD continues to grow

The official enrollment for the 2015-2016 school year is 104,539 students. To accommodate the growth, one new school opened in August- Herbert G. Boldt Elementary School. The Board of Trustees also named the two new schools that will open in 2016 – Fields and Cole elementary schools.
Trustees also named Northside’s 11th comprehensive high school – Harlan High School – and celebrated the official groundbreaking in April. The school is expected to relieve overcrowding at Brennan, O’Connor and Taft high schools. Attendance was capped at Taft until Harlan opens in 2017.
Award-winning educators



Other highlights of 2015:

  • Northside continued to support the Go Public campaign which raises awareness of the wonderful things happening in Bexar County public schools. New this year was Heroes for Health Day with local heroes stressing the importance of health and fitness to elementary students.​
  • Four Hobby MS students were honored guests at the White House Science Fair in March. Their science experiment, Crystal Formations, spent one month aboard the International Space Station in January, their second attempt to send their work to space after the original rocket exploded in October 2014. They were participants in Mission 6 of the Student Spaceflights Experiments Program (SSEP).

  • 2015 was the Year of Swim in Northside with four prestigious national and international competitions at the Northside Swim Center. In addition, it was announced that the United States Olympic Swimming Team will train at the Northside Swim Center in July 2016 before competing in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Holmes High School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 and Brauchle Elementary School celebrated its 25th anniversary. In addition, the Excel Academy celebrated its 25th anniversary and was renamed the Irene L. Chavez Excel Academy to honor the school’s longtime and founding principal.
  • In April, 6,500 juniors took the SAT for free during the school day at their home campus. It was the first time the Board-funded initiative was offered to students.
  • Two FFA teams from O’Connor High School won national championships at the National FFA Convention in Kentucky in October. The winning teams competed in Poultry Judging and Novice Parliamentary Procedure.
  • The Silver Eagles Armed Drill Team at Jay High School and the Blue Aces Unarmed Drill Team from Brandeis High School were crowned national champions at the National High School Drill Team Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla. In addition, two cadets from Jay's Snap II won the Unarmed Duel Exhibition National Championship. This competition pits the “best of the best” high school drill teams in the country from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.
  • historical marker was unveiled at Northside Alternative Middle School – North which is the original site of Locke Hill Elementary School. The marker designates the auditorium as a Texas Historical Landmark.

  • Construction on Northside Sports Gym began in the spring. The new facility, located in the Farris Athletic Complex, will open in 2016. The District’s original gym, Paul Taylor Field House, was built in 1972 when there were only three high schools.
  • Stevens High School, Construction Careers Academy, and Mead Elementary School each won $20,000 as champions in the 2015 Spurs Team Up Challenge, sponsored by the Silver and Black Give Back.

  • Two Northside ISD PTAs were named as 2015-17 National PTA Schools of Excellence. Pease Middle School and Murnin Elementary School were among 124 schools from across the country to receive the special designation. The awards are given to PTAs for their achievements in building strong family-school partnerships as part of the National PTA’s ongoing efforts to increase family engagement in education.
  • The Taft HS girls team and Charlie Reid from O’Connor HS were named state bowling champs after coming in first place at the Texas State High School Bowling Tournament. Seven NISD teams competed at the state tournament in the seventh year of Northside’s high school bowling league.
  • The District’s use of social media continued to grow reaching 25,000 “likes” on Facebook, 205,000 views on YouTube, 27,000 followers on Twitter, and 7,100 Friends of Northside subscribers.