Ready, Set, and GO!
West Orange-Cove CISD is eagerly preparing for a new school year. It already includes excitement, challenge, and celebration. I am confident that our staff and students will meet each situation with a deep burning Mustang Pride.
We are very pleased to share that our district is moving forward with the establishment of a police department. In July, we hired Darryl Hunt as our Police Chief. He is a 16-year law enforcement veteran who has served within public school and university police systems. These include Humble and Beaumont ISD, as well as Prairie View A&M University. Police Chief Hunt also holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. He has served in the United States Army and as a juvenile probation officer. We look forward to his leadership in growing our department over the next several years. In the meantime, please join us in welcoming him and additional law enforcement to our campuses and school events.
In other areas, it has been an extremely busy summer of implementing bond projects approved in the November 2018 election. The most visible of the projects involve athletics: the completion of the turf on our football field and the beginning of turf projects at our baseball and softball fields. Additionally, we have given the stadium an update by painting the stands and installing a new scoreboard. However, there is so much more bond work that has and will take place.
Chromebooks and interactive flat panels are in all of our classrooms, as well as new student furniture in all of our core classrooms. We have made infrastructure upgrades that include new air conditioning chillers, new parking lots, and repairs to roofing. In the area of safety and security, we have added more video surveillance cameras along with updated technological locking systems on some of our campus doors. Many more projects are in their early stages of development and will be addressed in future columns. Ironically, we have been able to make these upgrades without any additional burden to taxpayers. During the bond proposal phase, we told taxpayers that the bond would come with a maximum eight-cent tax increase. I am proud to say that the Board of Trustees did not raise bond (or interest and sinking fund) taxes this school year. In fact, as a result of House Bill 3, the taxpayers of WOCCISD will experience a tax decrease of more than 10 cents per $100 valuation.
In regards to Hurricane recovery, WOCCISD recently received a Rebuild Texas grant award. I would like to extend our appreciation to Rick Dearing, Dearing Enterprises, for assisting us in applying for and receiving $578,565 for losses incurred from Hurricane Harvey.
As it pertains to accountability, the district experienced a 20-point increase in its state rating. This moved the district from an “F” to “C” grade. We are not where we want to be, but we are working hard every day emphasizing greater performance. In particular, our focus this year is to move our elementary and middle schools to a “C” minimum status alongside the high school and district.
I want to thank all of our stakeholders who continue to assist us in our efforts to transform the lives of our children through excellence every day. We believe in John Maxwell’s philosophy that “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”
Dr. Rickie R. Harris is the Superintendent at West Orange – Cove CISD
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