Garland ISD has been setting a high bar of excellence for more than 100 years due to our students, staff and community. It comes as no surprise that district leaders were invited to testify on important issues affecting the education and communities of #GarlandUSA at the Texas Legislature in Austin.
Lakeview Centennial High School principal Maresa Bailey had the opportunity to speak of the importance of House Bill 3 (HB3), which would financially increase the base amount the state contributes to educate each child.
"With additional funds in the basic allotment, I'm encouraged at the opportunity to provide the resources ensuring that we evolve to meet the demands of our community and economy and powerfully serve our families," Bailey stated. "We are leading the high schools and communities of the future in Texas, and we appreciate your work to ensure we invest in our most precious resource—our students."
HB3 passed in both the House and the Senate but negotiations on what the final bill will entail are still in play.
Another hometown representative also spoke at the Capitol. North Garland High School lead counselor Kimberly Gammon voiced her support on a bill that would require all students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
"We have almost 2,800 students at our school, and approximately 650 seniors. We are blessed and honored to be a part of the Dallas County Promise [program] this year. Because of the requirement to fill out a FAFSA for Dallas County Promise eligibility, we have had a one-year growth of 21 percent in FAFSA completion," she explained. "We've experienced a lot of growth, and counselors would definitely benefit from this [bill]."
Gammon believes that students who previously wouldn't have known how to submit the FAFSA now benefit from this Promise requirement. This program feature also spurs more of a team effort, with the campus and district encouraging FAFSA submissions, helping counselors in their efforts.
Continuing GISD's presence in Austin, three district leaders spoke on the positive impact the Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE) program has had in such a short amount of time. Chief Academic Officer Jovan Wells, Area Director Janine Fields and Handley Elementary School principal Cheryl Alexander described the transformational work that has taken place since ACE's implementation. The outstanding findings are a testament to the Board of Trustees' and Superintendent Ricardo López's commitment to ensuring we provide an exceptional education to every student.
"We are seeing remarkable results in record time. We saw significant decreases in disciplinary incidents and remarkable increases in student achievement. And these are campuses that have struggled for five to six years. In four months, we saw this improvement. It was just mind-boggling," Wells expressed. "They moved from the bottom quartile in performance to the top in less than a year because of this implementation. One of the factors we still can’t get over is [that] the students didn’t change. The students are the same. We changed the adults, and we provided support, compensation [and] professional development, and we’re seeing remarkable things."