2014-05-22 / Youth

Reflecting on a good year

Education notes
Wayne Johnson

As the school year quickly comes to a close, it is a great time to reflect on what has happened this year and look forward to what the future might hold. Like any school year, there have been a few “bumps” in the road, but overall this has been an excellent year.

First and foremost we need to salute our graduating class, whose members have accomplished much in the classroom as well as excelling in their extra-curricular activities. This class has met their challenges head on and has never shied away from a task, even those that may have looked insurmountable to others. This willingness to accept challenges makes these students exceptional people, and will provide us all a better world to live in someday. I would be remiss not to mention the families, friends and community who have stood behind these graduating seniors, in good times, and times that perhaps were not so good. It is that kind of continuous encouragement that always makes a difference in the end. We, and they, are so blessed to have that support.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Port Aransas Education Foundation, which presented Port Aransas ISD a check this year totaling $113,995.25. These funds will be used to advance and promote excellence in our schools. This year ev- ery teacher who submitted a grant received the requested funding. It is unprecedented what this group of community volunteers does every year to promote a positive learning environment for our students and staff. This is a group that makes dreams come true in so many ways. I commend the effort of PAEF and look forward to working with them and for them as they continue to promote our schools through their tireless efforts.

Budget constraints will continue to present challenges to our schools as we face rising costs and declining enrollment. It will become extremely important that we closely scrutinize all expenditures and become more innovative in our approach to budgeting. We continually look at our staffing patterns to determine if there are better ways to utilize our staff to serve the students that we educate.

As our society has rapidly changed, so have the students that we serve. Meeting ever-changing student needs is an ongoing challenge that takes constant reflection, re- viewing and analyzing.

Student enrollment will play a major role in how we address the future of our schools and the role our schools play in our community. Every 15 students add about $100,000 of revenue to our budget. The best part of this equation is that we have the space and staff to accommodate student growth without putting a strain on our system. This summer and next school year we will be looking at ways to attract quality students to our district. One way our community can help is to spread the word about our exceptional school district. PAISD has a long-standing reputation in preparing students to succeed, not only in the classroom and on the athletic field, but in higher education and the real world as well.

In closing, I have taken some time to reflect why in the world I would accept this position, at this stage in my life and considering some of the issues our district faces. Like any job, it has its good days and those that are not so smooth, but overall we have many more smooth days than not. When you look at the role of superintendent, it is to take all of the divergent ideas of students, parents and community and create and implement a common vision for the future of our district. As a country we have lost the ability to reach compromise, have compassion for one another and freely communicate our feelings. I learned early on in my career that “My way or the highway” just doesn’t work. So together, we will create a roadmap to the future that we all can believe in, with one vision, one goal: doing what’s best for all kids.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the students, staff and community for giving me this rare opportunity to do the thing that l love most, serve kids.

Johnson was appointed as PAISD superintendent in March.

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