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: Behlau, Martin, 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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
- 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 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.
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.
Other highlights of 2013:
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.
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
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.
The 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.
Other highlights of 2014:
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:
There are so many reasons why Northside ISD is a strong school district. In 2016, Northside hit an all-time high in enrollment, added more than 700 new teachers, opened two new schools, and more than 6,700 students received diplomas in 12 commencement ceremonies. The Class of 2016 earned more than $118 million in college scholarships and the District’s graduation rate reached an all-time high. For the Class of 2015, the most recent data available, the graduation rate was 94.3 percent.
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 wonderful district that it is.
The challenges of school finance and public education funding remain in Texas. The Texas Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that the current system “satisfies minimum constitutional requirements” and placed responsibility for addressing school funding on Texas lawmakers. With the 2017 Legislative session on the horizon, the past year in Northside ISD serves as testament to the opportunities, choices, and successes found in public education.
NISD continues to grow
The official enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year is 105,550 students. To accommodate the growth, two new schools opened in August- Randall Fields Elementary School and Bennie Cole Elementary School.
The Board of Trustees named the elementary school that will open in 2017 – Kallison Elementary School. Also opening in 2017 is Northside’s 11th comprehensive high school Harlan High School. In 2016, the Harlan attendance zone was approved by the Board; future students selected the Hawks mascot and Columbia blue, black, and silver school colors; and Robert Harris was named the school’s first principal.
- Eva Longoria, a special education teacher at Cody ES, was named the 2017 Region 20 Elementary Teacher of the Year. It was the eighth consecutive year that a Northside teacher was recognized by Region 20.
- Carol Hudson, a kindergarten teacher at Brauchle ES, was named a winner of the 2016 Trinity Prize for Excellence in Teaching.
- Three teachers and one principal were named finalists in the 2016 HEB Excellence in Education Awards.
- Stan Laing, Executive Director of Athletics, received the 2016 Grant Teaff Coaching Beyond the Game Award from the Texas High School Coaches Association (THSCA).
Other highlights of 2016:
- Colonies North ES celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 and Fernandez and Leon Springs elementary school celebrated their 25th anniversaries. In addition, the library at Rhodes ES was named after longtime and retired principal Robert Lehr.
- More than 7,800 iPads were issued to teachers, counselors, librarians, administrators, and other professional staff. The initiative provided an added digital tool to theestablished curriculum and was designed to enhance student learning.
- In July, the Northside Swim Center hosted training camp for the United States Olympic Swim Team before they competed in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Though most of the camp was closed to the public, thousands of people attended a free Observation Day event to see eventual Rio gold medalists like Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky.
- The Northside Sports Gym opened in time for basketball season with a Texas-sized pep rally dedication featuring hundreds of students. The new facility is located in the Farris Athletic Complex and more than 1,300 volleyball and basketball players from ten high schools will compete there annually. The District’s original gym, Paul Taylor Field House, was built in 1973 when there were only three high schools.
- 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the Marshall HS basketball team winning the state championship. The players, coaches, and their families returned to NISD for special recognition at a game and a reception.
- More than 1,000 students from 72 NISD elementary schools participated in the 20th Solar Car Races at GusStadium.The races are a culminating event for fourth and fifth graders who build cars in an afterschool science program.
- The national nonprofit Propane Education and Research Council (PERC)recognized Northside for leading the path to eco-friendly propane fueled school buses. A ceremony was held at Passmore ES with special guest, former first daughter and PERC spokesperson Jenna Bush Hager who surprised teachers by presenting them with a $10,000 donation.
- When a recording of the national anthem didn’t work at a volleyball game,Holmes HS volleyball player Marina Garcia stepped up to the microphone. Cell phone video of her impromptu performance went viral garnering national news attention and opportunities for Garcia to perform at events across San Antonio.
- In April, 7,000 juniors took the SAT for free during the school day at their home campus. It was the second time the Board-funded initiative was offered to students.
- Warren High School and Northwest Crossing Elementary School each won $20,000 as champions in the 2016 Spurs Team Up Challenge, sponsored by the Silver and Black Give Back.
- Two Northside ISD PTAs were named 2016-18 National PTA Schools of Excellence. Folks Middle School and Ellison Elementary School were among 173 schools from across the country to receive the special designation.
- Northside continued to support the Go Public campaign which raises awareness of the wonderful things happening in Bexar County public schools.
- The District’s use of social media continued to grow reaching 41,000 followers on Twitter, 30,000 “likes” on Facebook, 304,000 views on YouTube, and 8,000 Friends of Northside e-mail subscribers.