Gilmer ISD's academic performance lauded in report
by PHILLIP WILLIAMS
Dec 22, 2013 | 1418 views | 0 0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although 62 percent of its student body qualifies for free or reduced-price school lunches, Gilmer ISD had no deficiencies on its Texas Academic Performance Report, and received more “distinctions” than any comparable school of its size, School Supt. Rick Albritton told the School Board on Tuesday night.

The board approved the report after Albritton noted he had discussed it with trustees in July and August, and that “we met all criteria. We had no deficiencies.”

GISD received two distinctions each at the high school and elementary campuses for being in the top 25 percent in student progress, and for academic achievement in mathematics. Bruce Junior High School received the distinction for the top 25 percent in student progress, while the intermediate campus received the honor for academic achievement in mathematics.

“We did perform very, very well,” Albritton summed up.

Sigrid Yates, GISD Executive Director for Curriculum and Instruction, noted the only two rankings the state now gives for academic performance are “met standard” or “improvement required.” She said GISD met standard “across the board,” and that the high school, junior high and elementary campuses were in the top 25 percent in performance.

“I think we’re moving along quite well with our students,” Ms. Yates observed.

She also noted that “we’re looking for students to be college ready.” Some 519 high school pupils are enrolled in career and technology education, so the district is “on the right path,” Ms. Yates asserted.

Albritton, turning to information other than the academic performance, said 1,479 GISD students qualify for the free or reduced-price lunches.

He also said the percentage of Hispanics in the student body has swelled from six percent to 13, and that many of them have not even “mastered their own language (Spanish) yet.”

Blacks comprise 15 percent of the total student body, he said.

Albritton also said that about 10 percent of GISD teachers are brand-new to the profession, and that turnover rate this year had increased, but had done so at other schools, too.

He also said GISD maximizes its money on class size.

After a brief public hearing on the report, the board voted 5-0 to accept it, with Mike Tackett (who arrived late) abstaining and Mark Skinner absent. Trustees Jeff Rash, Kenny Southwell, Diedra Camp, Gloria King and Todd Tefteller voted approval.

In other business Tuesday night, the board approved a $110,000 contract with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office to continue providing three school resource officers.

During its public comment section of the meeting, the board heard onetime school employee Jim Petty offer his assistance in improving school facilities.

Petty, a retired salesman, said he had some experience in construction and “I’m here to help.” The 1963 Gilmer High graduate said he wanted to make the board “heroes (and) people of the community proud.”

Mentioning the school bond issue proposal which voters recently rejected, Petty also said GISD will “need to spend lots of money” to meet the high school’s needs, and “there’s a lot of misinformation—gossip” circulating regarding the school. “I’ve been doing a lot of source checking,” said Petty.

Saying he had walked into Albritton’s office and ended up getting to talk to him for two hours, Petty said he had also had a “nice tour of the high school” and two visits in all with the superintendent.

Also Monday night, said Albritton, the board hired two new first-grade teachers after meeting in closed session. Leesa E. Vineyard and Tabitha Lair will replace Lisa Becerra and Megan Wellborn, who both resigned, he said.

In addition, the superintendent reported that four board members so far have achieved all their required continuing education requirements—Tefteller, Tackett, Mrs. King and Skinner.

In other action Tuesday, the board announced three GISD “Pride” awards. The recipients of two of them were not present.

The one who was, high school student Colby Gipson, discussed his participation in the Future Farmers of America National Science Fair. He detailed his project of doing a 3-year study of the Sabine River.

The other awards were for Roberta Jones, the school’s food service director, because all campuses’ cafeterias have received a 100 grade on all inspections since April; and for Brandon Ritter, first graduate of GISD’s new “Point Program.” His mother accepted his award.
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