FIRST Meeting - September 8, 2015


Chief Operations Officer Paula Barbaroux kicked off the meeting calling attention the various classroom furniture items Team members were able to sample that night. She encouraged members to test out the furniture items and provide feedback on the forms provided.


Introduction: 21st Century Learning Environments

Chief Learning Officer Dr. Rick Westfall asked Team members to recall the five elements of Portrait of a Graduate: Effective Communicators, Collaborative Workers, Self Regulated Learners, Problem Solvers and Global Citizens.

Next he asked groups to discuss the TCU article they were assigned to read. Group remarks included:

  • It’s not just about the resources, it’s what the teacher/professor does with the resources.

  • It described an environment that enables creativity.

  • The learning is happening moment to moment -- bringing together resources from a whole team shows the excitement (collaborative work) that can develop.

  • Appreciated they had a boot camp for teachers to know how to use the resources because it doesn’t help if they don’t know how to use the tools.

Dr. Westfall wrapped up this exercise by reminding the Team that education is changing and we need to stay on top of it and train our teachers how to instruct differently.

Next, Team members heard about the vision and constraints for various departments and programs in the district.


Education Services & Fine Arts

Executive Director of Learning John Doughney began the discussion by explaining how the district educational services team is transforming the GCISD education environment as a result of LEAD 2021.

He explained that, as a district, we want to avoid a lack of evolution in our classrooms and so his team works to provide a 21st century learning environment for our students. His team works to make sure that all students are prepared now and for the future.

Director of Science and Instructional Technology Tony Zahn and Director of Math Jennifer Hylemon discussed the STEM program, which is currently at Cannon Elementary: A GCISD STEM School and Grapevine Middle School. At Cannon, the entire school takes part in STEM. At GMS, the program takes an academy approach--school within a school--for students interested in this program. The vision for STEM is to grow and serve students K-12. STEM must be flexible, personalized, inviting for small groups and quiet spaces, accessible to experts through technology, and more. Current constraints include classroom space due to the growth and interest of the program at Cannon. As a result of this growth, staffing is also becoming a concern. Scheduling for STEM students is different and the district is currently unable to provide transportation to students outside the attendance area. This 21century program is trying to operate in a 20th century classroom. Possible routes to these constraints include renovating and adding on to Cannon and GMS or instead building a complete K-8 STEM campus.

Jodi Cox, director for world languages, discussed the Pre-K program for GCISD, which is currently at three elementary schools -- Bear Creek Elementary School, Silver Lake Elementary School and Timberline Elementary School. The vision is to offer full day early childhood for any child, not just those that are eligible, to instill the skills of the Portrait of a Graduate at the earliest age possible. This might include a tuition-based program. Constraints include available space in optimal locations, age-appropriate furniture, as well as transportation--GCISD is unable to provide transportation due to operating budget constraints. Possible routes include developing a centrally located facility to bring all 4-year-olds together and provide an opportunity to offer full day school, a tuition-based option, after-school care and transportation.

Director of Humanities Suzanne Newell discussed the library programs at GCISD. She explained how, in the last year, we’ve been redefining libraries. She added that libraries should be an information hub--they should not be quiet. Currently we have one main room (library) at each campus with varying technology accessibility. Furthermore there is varying books and e-book access, as well as outdated seating/furniture. Some of the oldest furniture in the district is in the library and is heavy or fixed. The vision is for the library to be the Hub of the school--where everyone wants to be. In order to obtain that goal, we need multiple room options, have class sets of upgraded computers, multiple options for presenting, movable furniture and print/e-book access. Constraints to this includes fixed environments/walls, location within the schools (e.g. not the center), immovable furniture, outdated or uneven distribution of technology, and our mindset of how we use this space. Possible routes to this vision include providing a consistent menu of technology access, movable/flexible furniture, restructuring of physical spaces, installing presentation/collaboration pods, and establishing collection benchmarks.

Becking Manning, director of advanced academics, discussed the ASPIRE Academy for GCISD. While the District provides GT services at all elementary schools, the ASPIRE Academy is a program that provide services to highly gifted students. The program has currently grown to grades 1 - 6, and follows the ‘school within a school’ concept at Glenhope Elementary School and Cross Timbers Middle School. The vision aims to increase collaborative work, flexible spaces and maker spaces. We want the program to continue to grow--as it grows, instruction improves--but it needs space for virtual learning and supportive technology. Currently the district is not able to offer all the transportation that has been requested. Other constraints include space and furniture. Possible routes to this vision include additional classrooms, as well as a possible wing dedicated to the program, increased collaborative space as well as funding to support financial needs of the program, such as transportation and furniture.

Pat Antinone, director of fine arts, discussed secondary level fine arts programs. Constraints include space to accommodate programs. Student performances are often held in other venues because the District does not have performance spaces that are large enough for the number of participants. Also, GCISD currently does not offer Career & Technology Education (CTE) courses for Fine Arts, nor does it have dedicated gallery spaces for art. The vision is to make GCISD a “Home for the Arts.” To make this possible, the District would like to include CTE programs (e.g. Theatre tech, audio engineering), expand programs (e.g. Secondary Orchestra), and install digital sound equipment to teach our students on equipment used in today’s world. Constraints include funding, existing spaces, fine arts CTE curriculum (lack there of), enrollment based staffing, and enrollment access at the point of entry into the program. In other words, being able to offer more than one beginner class so students engaged in multiple activities can participate in band and choir. Possible routes to solutions include renovating existing spaces (e.g. high school auditoriums), constructing additional rehearsal spaces/performance spaces (must be sound proof), or possibly creating a GCISD performing arts center that includes all these spaces.

Prior to the next presentation, Dr. Westfall asked Team members to think about what was discussed and how it relates to Portrait of a Graduate.

Group remarks included:

  • If we move forward with a bond, this bond may look different than previous years’ with the incorporation of LEAD 2021--provides a different focus.

  • A focus on special programs to reach all different types of learners brings people into our community.

  • A common theme is a need for different spaces, more spaces and teachers for these programs -- but we also want to make sure we don’t miss the needs of the vast majority of students who are “in the middle.”


Technology Services

Technology is always involved no matter what you do to schools. Paul Aceves, executive director of technology, discussed infrastructure needs, support systems, our wireless network and device upgrades/additions. He gave a quick description of the 2011 Bond accomplishments, such as access points and the addition of more than 16,000 devices. Considerations Mr. Aceves discussed included the need for a more robust and faster wireless network, increased security needs, moving software and services to ‘the cloud,’ keeping pace with OS and Software development, and continuing the fiber project with City of Grapevine. Infrastructure concerns included new wireless standards, data cabling, virtual servers, storage, backups, disaster recovery and more. Security concerns included identity based access, traffic monitoring, application firewall and intrusion detection/prevention. Systems concerns included Classroom AV, Device Management, inventory, virtualization, IP Telephony (outdated and needs to be replaced), power and centralized printing. Facility concerns included a need to renovate the technology Center to add a state of the art training facility, more offices and workspace, create an isolated technology testing lab, add a staging area for device deployment and add storage space. Devices currently in the district include laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, desktops, accessories and specialized instructional devices. And finally, Mr. Aceves noted that there is a great deal of interdependency on our devices and systems and infrastructure.



Executive Director of Athletics Bryan Gerlich delivered a brief presentation on the GCISD athletics vision and needs to accomplish the vision. The goal is to create a significant improvement in all extracurricular activities--this is carried out through staffing and facilities. He explained that the district has equipment and facilities that are outdated, cannot be repaired and require maintenance that isn’t possible with the state of the operating budget (e.g. scoreboards, resurfacing tennis courts and gym floors). Mr. Gerlich discussed the advantages for GCISD students if the District built Multipurpose Activity Centers (MAPS) and noted surrounding districts with  similar facilities. Benefits include multiple programs working and practicing in a facility at the same time (band, drill, cheerleading, and sports teams), addressing safety concerns (e.g. avoids practices during harsh or unsafe weather conditions, lightning, etc.), gives students in all programs a chance to be successful and competitive because these facilities ensure practices occur despite weather, when students in other districts with these facilities are able to practice. Additionally, MAPs offer elementary and senior field day opportunities.


Video: Flexible Classrooms

Ms. Barbaroux explained that a Learning Environment video would be sent to Team members for viewing outside the meeting. See below for the video.


Subcommittees Explained

Ms. Barbaroux transitioned the Team to focus on the subcommittees, which revolve around three typical reasons that school districts consider making capital improvements -- aging facilities, growth and evolution. The group will be divided into six groups to begin reviewing and considering proposed projects and requests. The six groups are described in the [EMBED the sheet here]

Each FIRST member was provided a subcommittee preference worksheet and asked to complete the preference sheet to inform of his/her preference of the group to take part in.


Chairperson Selection Process

And finally, Ms. Barbaroux explained the need to have at least two chairpersons for FIRST. Chairpersons will facilitate the large group discussions going forward and will work with the group toward a common purpose. Shea Kirkman of Grapevine and Louie Sullins of Colleyville have offered to serve as co-chairs of FIRST. Ms. Barbaroux asked for any nomination, but none were given. She invited Team members to follow the instructions for a Live Poll experiment to confirm their approval of the co-chairs.



Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robin Ryan closed the meeting by thanking Ms. Barbaroux and all presenters of the evening. He explained that all suggestions discussed tonight were brought forward by members of the community. The Team’s next step will be to prioritize. He explained that everything discussed is good for students and good for the community, but we need to prioritize. Dr. Ryan again thanked members for their participation in this Team.