GISD to improve access to Honor Society criteria
Gonzales school trustees on Monday reviewed the district’s policies and guidelines for membership in the National Honor Society and also took steps to get ahead of the planning for expected growth.
Trustees were told the district has heard concerns raised by both parents and students over the way members of the honor society are selected, with some confusion over the criteria involved in selections and what benchmarks potential members have to reach.
Clarissa Guerra said she was asked to apply for membership three times and was denied membership all three times. “When I asked (why), the response was very blunt,” she said.
“The kids don’t understand why they didn’t get it,” parent Luce Guerrero said. “She had a baby, she volunteered with her church and she held a 3.0 (grade-point average) taking AP/honors courses. Kids need to know if they meet the criteria they’re going to get it.”
Trustees Sue Gottwald and Josie Smith-Wright echoed the concerns.
“One student I got a call from was in the top ten percent and was initially rejected,” she said. “They need to know that if I meet the criteria, I’m in.”
“A lot of these kids were fighting for what they believe is their right (to be members),” Smith-Wright said. “If you have kids that have a full-time job that carry a 3.0, that should carry weight.”
In addition to grades, membership in the organization requires other characteristics such as volunteer service. Board president Glenn Menking said it would be helpful if the criteria were made more accessible to both students and parents, perhaps by posting on the GISD website.
“Sometimes there’s no way to get there if you don’t know what to do,” he said.
The Board also selected TSG Architects, AIA to perform a district-wide facilities assessment and begin the process of planning for future growth expected with the economic boom associated with the Eagle Ford Shale oilfield.
“We’ve tried to work out a plan to maximize space at each campus,” deputy superintendent Larry Wehde said. “We need to do preliminary planning (on future needs). We need to put a dollar amount on this to decide what will our future costs be? These are issues that are going to come up that we will have to answer (immediately).”
Trustees also reviewd preliminary results of GISD students’ performance on the TAKS exit-level exams, as well as the new STARR and end-of-course exams.
Ron Bragg, GISD supervisor of curriculum, told the board that it’s hard to guage STARR results for grades 3-8 because the state education agency has not set a standard and there is little information to compare GISD results to.
He said GISD ninth- and 10th-graders performed well overall on the end-of-course and TAKS exams, although a weakness in the writing portion of the tests was seen.
“Our reading is above state average,” he said. “On science and math we saw some improvement, so we’re pretty pleased.”
The Board also:
• Reviewed constructoin projects in the district. Wehde told trustees that a chunk of asbestos was found during demolition at North Avenue Intermediate which will have to be abated;
• Declined to add any new resolutions to the Texas Association of School Boards annual advocacy program;
• Raised meal prices for next year according to Texas Department of Agriculture guidelines;
• Approved a new salary schedule for teachers, nurses and librarians which will raise the pay of first-year teachers by about $1,400 in order to help keep the district competitive salary-wise.