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.

October 17, 2016  
Good morning.  Have you made your 2017 Benefit elections?  The last day to enroll for 2017 benefits is October 21. Go to www.unum_northside.bswift.com to review your current benefits and enroll for 2017.  If you do not complete the online enrollment your 2016 benefits will rollover to 2017 except flexible health, dependent care and health savings accounts.  Those must be elected every year to continue participation.  The benefits booklet is located on the Benefits intranet page.  Remember, after October 21, 2017 benefits that you elect or were passively enrolled in cannot be changed until the next open enrollment period unless you have a qualifying life event.  Don’t wait…enroll today.
Every year National Cyber Security Awareness Month is observed during October.  Cyber security is a shared responsibility and affects us all.  In Northside, we set aside time in the curriculum specifically during this month to focus on Digital Citizenship with our students.  In addition to that, I challenge all of you to do your part this month by getting involved. You can do that by talking about the importance of staying safe and secure online to your students and your family and taking steps to secure your own online presence.  For more information and resources follow @NISDITSecurity on Twitter. Also visit the STOP.THINK.CONNECT website for ways to get involved.

I want to point out another issue that we will need to watch in the coming legislative session.  If you have been with us for a while, you know we always are concerned with conversation about reforming the Teacher Retirement System (TRS).  The system is a great benefit to school people and really rewards you for years of hard work at what we all know is not the highest paying job you could have had.  TRS is set up as a “defined benefit” program.  That means that you contribute throughout your career and you are guaranteed a certain pension amount in retirement.  Even though TRS is among the most fiscally sound pension funds in the nation, it always attracts 

attention, partly because of its size (about $135 billion).  There are people out there, most of whom are not friends to public schools, who want to change TRS and all public pensions to a defined contribution system.  This would operate more like a 401k in the corporate world where you can choose to invest and are not guaranteed any particular amount of return in retirement.

TRS is also well known to have a high return on its investments.  This year, TRS anticipated an 8% return and experienced 7% (must be nice).  That small variation has already attracted the attention of those who want to move TRS to defined contribution.  They will seize on that 1% difference and say, in effect, “See, TRS can’t meet its own goals and is in need of reform.”  I believe TRS is a key attractor for talented, young people to come to our profession and we can’t risk losing an influx of capable people.  We must advocate for TRS to remain in the form that it exists now.

Each year, the month of October is designated National Principals Month to celebrate the work of these committed campus leaders.  We all know that talented teachers most directly impact student success.  However, I know all of us agree that high quality, hard working administrators make the environment for great classroom experiences possible.  From facility management to instructional leadership; from evaluating staff to counseling troubled students our principals do it all.  To do the job well requires the willingness to advocate for teachers and students while holding everyone associated with the campus to high expectations.  Thanks to our principals for your work!  Speaking of principals, we found out recently that Brauchle ES principal Adriana Garza will receive the Brownlee Leadership Award from the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  This award is given for exemplary instructional leadership and is the highest honor given by TASCD.  Congratulations, Adriana!  We are so fortunate to have you in NISD. 


Have a great week!