• 52°

Sabine Pass starting school year strong

By Lorenzo Salinas

l.v.salinas@panews.com

 

As Sabine Pass Independent School District gears up for another school year, it can do so with the knowledge that it has earned an “A” from the state.

 

Making the grade

The Texas Education Agency has released the 2018 accountability ratings with its first ever letter grade ratings in three areas: student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps. Sabine Pass received a “Met Standard” rating in all categories, earning them an unofficial “A” letter grade from the state.

“We were very excited about our ‘A,’” superintendent Kristi Heid said.

Due to state guidelines, single district campuses like Sabine Pass are only allowed to receive a Met Standard or Improvement Required rating within the first year of TEA’s letter grades.

“Overall our score was an ‘A,’ but if you look us up our letter grade is not listed,” Heid said.

However, she did confer with a TEA official to inquire about it and was told that the district’s letter grade was nevertheless public and could be published as an “A.”

“We were extremely pleased,” she said. “Especially with Harvey on the tail end of that (grading) period. Our teachers and students have been amazing.”

 

Return to normal

Heid said the district is now getting back on track to something that could be construed as normal.

“Everyone needed a routine, and so we’re drawing on our experience from previous storms to help return us to normal,” she said.

The district has approximately 380 to 390 students enrolled for the 2018-2019 school year. Heid said the number is comparable to last year’s projections.

“We did lose some students to Harvey but the thing is, with Sabine Pass, we have a waiting list,” Heid said. “We accept transfers from all over Region 5. We have them coming from lots of different school districts.”

Approximately 40 percent of the district’s staff was adversely affected by Harvey, though, Heid said all faculty and staff ended up returning to work.

“We have a full staff, and the beautiful thing about working at a small school is that we’re like a second family,” Heid said. “People here helped each other get back to their homes.”

 

More tech learning

Among new programs, the district is expanding its computer and tech-oriented offerings.

“We have a new program, a nationwide program sponsored through Microsoft, called TEALS. And we were chosen by the commissioner as one of the districts to apply,” Heid said.

TEALS is a program that highlights computer science in the classroom. It pairs classroom teachers with tech industry volunteers to ensure students receive a quality education in the field.

“We were accepted by TEALS and we are very excited about that,” Heid said.

Last year, the district incorporated dual certification plans within its curriculum.

“We’ve become Microsoft and Cisco certified,” Heid said. “We’ve got a full range of AP classes.”

In order to better accommodate the growing number of tech students, more space will be built for them.

“We’re working hard to create a brand new lab for our TEALS group and computer science students,” Heid said. “We still have a full range of computer science courses available to our students.”

The district also has 3D printing and robotics available to its students.

“We’re trying to stay on the cutting edge of technology,” Heid said. “It’s a moving target for us because technology doesn’t sit still.”

In addition to science and technology classes, Heid said there would be a continued emphasis on the school’s shop and welding classes and its cosmetology courses.

“We’re having more kids join,” Heid said. “And we’re pleased with the pace the (classes) are growing at.”