Addressing one challenge at a time

Published 7:00 pm Saturday, January 19, 2019

By Dr. Rickie R. Harris

We are excited to welcome the second semester of the 2018-2019 school year; and, it is very, very busy. Spring is full of student activities, events, and additional challenges. Solutions have been implemented for these challenges in the form of online instruction and the forward movement of bond projects.

As you know, we are currently experiencing a teacher shortage. The number of students who are graduating from college to become educators has decreased tremendously. As a result, it is becoming more and more difficult to fill classrooms with certified teachers. In response, West Orange-Cove is incorporating an old idea with a new spin, Distance Learning. It was popular in the early 2000s and is still utilized in areas where it is hard to find certified teachers, especially in rural environments.

WOCCISD has implemented a project using online certified teachers to deliver direct instruction in classrooms in which we do not have a certified teacher. We understand the importance of having a physical adult present to supervise students; therefore, in these classes, we additionally provide a classroom management facilitator and any other necessary assistance to ensure that the instruction is high quality and meets the needs of all students. I appreciate our staff members, students, parents, and Board of Trustees for supporting this endeavor. Our goal is to provide an exceptional educational environment for our students.

We realize that technology is not the answer to every problem, but we believe we should incorporate technology in situations where it can alleviate a challenge that we have been unable to resolve otherwise. At some point, we must engage an action to overcome an obstacle.

The bond is another action that will address challenges within West Orange-Cove CISD.

We very much appreciate the community for their support of our bond. This will provide the needed resources to improve our service to students, as well as our facilities. Our bond project timeline provides for the least disruption possible for our students and programs.

Here is a brief status update:

  1. The first of two bond sales occurred Monday. The first issuance was comprised of $16.05 million. The remaining $9.7 million will be sold in 2020.
  2. Our Board of Trustees approved the bond sale Monday night. The bond interest rate was lower than projected. We had planned for an interest rate of 4.25 percent; and, the rate on the first $16.05 million is 3.29 percent. This will benefit our taxpayers.
  3. We are currently working through the design phase of new furniture for core subject area classrooms and preparing for the bid process. Classroom furniture designs for non-core areas will follow.
  4. The design phase of the turf for the West Orange-Stark High School football field is 95 percent complete. We will open bids on football field turf Feb. 12; and, plan to approve a bid Feb. 18.
  5. Designs are near completion for the Events Center and the High School Stadium Press Box. We are also currently working on the design of the new Transportation Center.
  6. The design phase for turf on the baseball and softball fields will begin Feb. 1.
  7. A Bond Groundbreaking Ceremony will be held Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. on the Leroy D. Breedlove Field at Dan R. Hooks Stadium. Turf work will begin immediately thereafter.

This is a very exciting time for our district and community.

We believe in John Maxwell’s philosophy that “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”

Go Mustangs!

Dr. Rickie R. Harris is the Superintendent at West Orange-Cove CISD