FIRST Meeting - August 25, 2015


Chief Operations Officer Paula Barbaroux welcomed FIRST members to their third meeting and then gave a brief recap of the meetings thus far. Meeting No. 1 delivered the FIRST’s charge and introduced members to their administrative liaisons. The meeting closed with a look at the 2011 Bond Program and an encouragement to review the LEAD 2021 and FIRST websites. Meeting No. 2 took team members into a deeper dive into school finance.

Ms. Barbaroux asked team members to discuss and share thoughts about what they learned from the August 11 school finance presentation. Group remarks included their surprise at learning the minimal amount spent on athletics/fine arts, as well as the emphasis on technology across the district. Team members were also surprised by the lack of salary increases for employees. Another member remarked, “the state took away $14M and put back $2 and called it even.” Ms. Barbaroux reminded team members that the district cannot mix the two sources (“buckets”) of tax revenues. She also reinforced that GCISD relies on bond programs because of its Robin Hood status. Finally, FIRST members were asked if the the tax rate related to the operating budget had been increased since being decreased in 2006? All responded with no. The only tax increase in the last 10 years has been from the district’s debt service budget (3.01 cents for the 2011 Bond Program).

Ms. Barbaroux emphasized that she hopes this budget understanding help explains why the district is conducting this facility review process.

Virtual Tour of GCISD Community

Team members viewed a virtual tour of the GCISD community.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robin Ryan asked members to take a moment and chat about what they saw in the video and then asked members to share out. Team members felt “Diversity” was the key takeaway from the video--diversity among new construction, diversity among housing -- from modest to wealthy. Dr. Ryan explained that there is indeed a great deal of diversity in our district, which poses a number of challenges as the district’s staff strives to meet those needs.


GCISD Student Accomplishments, LEAD 2021 and Optional Programs

Dr. Ryan reintroduced team members on why and how the district developed LEAD 2021-- the district’s strategic plan. He also reviewed with team members the plan’s strategic objectives:

  1. No less than once annually, all students will collaboratively develop, revise, and accomplish a rigorous personalized learning plan leading to college and career readiness and culminating with all graduates possessing a postgraduate plan aligned with their individual goals.

  2. Every student (PK‐12) will responsibly and effectively use and apply the latest relevant technology and, upon graduation, all students will be able to use technology masterfully in all dimensions of their academic work.

  3. All members of the GCISD family will promote good citizenship and demonstrate mutual respect.

  4. All students will be positive participants in their local communities and our global society.

Since developing LEAD 2021, the district has built upon the traditionally strong academic program. Dr. Ryan explained that we feel every single child has potential and we need to have a good academic answer for each child, no matter where they come from.

Dr. Ryan discussed six academic pathways for students, which have grown from LEAD 2021:

  1. Two-Way Dual Language -- This program has expanded from one school to three (and there is now a continuation of the program at the middle school level). Dr. Ryan explained how this program is developing the type of student that will be career-ready when they leave GCISD.

  2. iUniversity Prep -- an opportunity for all types of students to have a rigorous learning environment. Students come from a variety of backgrounds and reasons for needing a virtual education opportunity. Some of the students have a special skill that requires them to travel or not attend school in a brick and mortar facility. And some students have medical or other reasons why a traditional setting is not the best for them. A significant skill needed by students to be successful in the virtual setting is self-discipline.

  3. STEM -- This program began at Cannon Elementary School and has now grown into Grapevine Middle School. Every class/subject is built around science, technology, engineering and math. This has revitalized the Cannon community and school. For example there were seven parents in the PTA before this program started. Now, a science night event, can easily bring 400-500 parents and families in attendance.

  4. TECC -- a direct result from the 2011 bond which renovated the south end of the GHS building to turn it into a state-of-the-art career and technology education facility, which includes a myriad of career development pathways. Some of these pathways are: veterinary certification, criminal law enforcement, culinary studies and health science technology certification. These programs also include a variety of local partnerships, such as with Gaylord and Baylor.

  5. ASPIRE Academy -- This academy provides an optional environment for students who are highly gifted. The program started at Glenhope Elementary School and has grown into Cross Timbers Middle School.

  6. Collegiate Academy -- This is an early college school. The model student for this school is first-generation college graduates. Students attending the Collegiate Academy begin taking college courses in addition to their high school courses. Students have the opportunity to  graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

Team members were reminded that the reason they were taken on the ‘virtual tour’ is to help them understand that our district has a great variety of students and challenges and these programs were developed to meet student’s needs and interests.

Dr. Ryan then began discussing many great accolades of the district in academics, teaching, activities and community service, such as:

  • 18 National Merit Finalists

  • State Champions in Math and Journalism

  • Administrator of the Year - Career and Technology Education

  • National Speech and Debate Hall of Famer

  • State Champions in wrestling, pole vaulting

  • Best Communities for Music Education

  • GHS finished 3rd for Lone Star Cup

  • Veterans Day celebrations

In the last five years, the district has worked to put the LEAD 2021 plan in action--to take what the community wanted and put it into action into our classrooms.

Introduction to the GCISD Portrait of a Graduate

Dr. Rick Westfall, Chief Learning Officer, referred back to the LEAD 2021 Strategic Objectives to explain that these are drivers to change a culture--they have not been a checklist. The programs Dr. Ryan covered are a direct reflection of that work. Also born from the LEAD 2021 objectives is the GCISD Portrait of a Graduate.

The five characteristics of the GCISD Portrait of a Graduate (POG) are the five skills that the district felt (in collaboration with parents, students, business leaders and community members) were vital for our students to develop and learn.

Team members were engaged in an activity to review the ‘Have You Heard’ (accolade) slides and identify 10-15 items to connect to a single characteristic from the POG. Team members then discussed how the skills and characteristics in the POG directly support district/student achievements. Team members wrote their notes and posted them on Skill Posters displayed across the room.

Dr. Westfall then asked team members to think about how these skills and characteristics play a role in what they do professionally each day. He instructed team members pick the single most important skill they would look for in a future employee and then to go stand next to that Skill Poster.

Each Skill Poster group then briefly shared out about one or two reasons why they were drawn to that skill:

  • Global Citizens - Team members believed that they need someone who can work with students in an ever-globally-changing society--they need people who will be opened-minded to different cultures.

  • Collaborative Workers - (They explained that they all worked very well together to come up with their list.) They felt that employees need to ‘play nice to be effective,’ and they must possess at least a little of every POG skill to be a collaborative worker. These skills will make the ‘village’ (team) stronger.

  • Self-Regulated Learners - Team members feel this skill is needed for the ever-changing landscape work environment. In today’s world, newly hired employees are given the end goal, not a road map. Employees need to be able to learn by themselves, to navigate toward success.

  • Effective Communicator - Team members believe this skill ties into all other skills, and that communication is critical in everything. Employees need to provide open communication, be able to digest information and come up with a way to put it into action.

  • Skilled Problem Solver - Employers need leaders and thinkers who are innovative, creative, critical, driven and can make connections.

Dr. Westfall closed by encouraging team members to continue reviewing the Portrait of a Graduate handout and keep these skills in mind as the FIRST continues its learning process during the next session.

Subcommittees Proposed

Ms. Barbaroux referred team members to the subcommittee handout. At this time, this item is a draft of how the team may be divided. She then gave a brief explanation of each proposed subcommittee.



Ms. Barbaroux explained that a couple handouts will be sent to Team members:

  • Structural assessment of Cannon Elementary School, which includes preliminary and “ballpark” construction costs to complete renovation ideas to the campus.

  • Article from TCU describing how they’ve been engaged in an ‘educational evolution’ focusing on student learning outcomes rather than teacher objectives. This is very similar to the GCISD journey. As a result of TCU’s work, their facilities have been going through a change as well.

Team members are encouraged to review these additional handouts prior to the next meeting.

Since the last meeting, district staff have only received one question and statement from community members through Let’s Talk, which have been shared with Team members.