Superintendent

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  • Superintendent's Message

     

    The state accountability ratings from the 2015-2016 school year provided a starting point to begin discussions about improving academic performance within Natalia ISD. The 2016 State Accountability report provided some insights into our strengths while also defining opportunities for improvement. Our high school earned distinctions in several areas: 1) Academic Achievement in English Language Arts, 2) Academic Achievement in Science, and 3) Closing Performance Gaps. In addition, our elementary campus earned a distinction for Student Progress. All four of our campuses earned an Accountability Rating of “Met Standard”.

    As a School District, however, we did not “Meet Standard” in the area of Postsecondary Readiness by 1 point. While Postsecondary Readiness is measured by many subcomponents, we are focusing on three areas: 1) Supporting students to pass STAAR with a score that equates to being college ready; 2) Planning for and enrolling our Career and Technology program students in a coherent sequence of classes; 3) Offering the PSAT test to all 8th, 10th, and 11th grade students; 4) Offering the SAT with essay to all 11th grade students; and 5) Implementing a districtwide college and career readiness program like AVID (Achieving Via Individual Determination).

    We believe that every kid matters every day. Whether it is the military, trade school, college, or work, every Natalia ISD student should be prepared to do whatever that choose when they graduate. This Spring, we will be embarking upon a collaborative process with our staff, students, parents, and community to create a comprehensive 5-year plan to transform Natalia ISD into the best school district in Texas.

Superintendent Publications

  • Newspaper Article 2018 10 07

    Posted by HENSLEY CONE on 11/6/2018

    Dr. Cone’s Perspective November 6, 2018

    Attendance is important. If either students or teachers are not at school, learning is significantly impacted.  Every school day missed is a missed opportunity for student learning. Chronic absenteeism puts a student academically at risk of failure and falling behind their peers. Therefore, it is important that students and teachers are at school for every minute possible of the school year to maximize learning.

    The legislature recently changed the long-standing requirements of how many days and how long each school day must be within a school year. Schools are now required to have a minimum of 75,600 minutes of instruction each school year. Knowing the importance of every minute of the 75,600 minutes, we have been working diligently to improve our attendance of both students and teachers. Our administrators attended the E3 Alliance’s Attendance Summit this summer and created both campus and district plans to help improve attendance. Campuses are working closely with parents.

    Our student attendance rate averaged 94.60% for last school year. This year, our student attendance is averaging 96.45%. This increase of 1.85 percentage points is significant. This means that there are an additional 20 students present in school each day as compared to last year. This equates to 20 more students receiving an additional 75,600 minutes of instruction. Furthermore, this means that an additional 1.5 million minutes of instruction are being received by individual students in the district.

    We are very appreciative of the extra efforts of our parents this year to get their students to school every day. At our last home football game this Friday night, our ECC/Elementary is celebrating 232 students that have maintained perfect attendance this year to date. The 232 students have been given free admission to the game and will be leading our Natalia Mustangs out of the tunnel to begin the game.

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  • Newspaper Article 2018 10 31

    Posted by HENSLEY CONE on 11/2/2018 6:00:00 AM

    Dr. Cone’s Perspective October 31, 2018

    Over the past weeks, I have discussed the many things we are doing academically in our district to increase student success as well as the facts of our Bond election that is on the November 6, 2018 election ballot. In most all bond programs, there exist more needs than can be met at any given time. Natalia ISD is not an exception to that phenomenon. After a year of planning, we recently approved a project worth 1.9 million dollars to make additional facilities improvements beyond the capability of the bond. These improvements are paid by increased energy savings that are guaranteed by law and impose no additional cost on our budget nor an increase in taxes.

    So, what are these improvements? The improvements include lighting upgrades, HVAC replacements, solar energy, sealing of building envelopes as well as security upgrades. Of the 131 HVAC units in the district, nearly 50% are beyond 15 years old. Many are inefficient and are in need of frequent repairs. The district will be replacing 48 HVAC units to provide significant energy savings and a comfortable learning environment for our students. 1963 lights will be upgraded to LED lights for increased energy savings and better quality lighting for learning. Leaking building envelopes will be sealed to reduce energy consumption and stabilize temperature fluctuations.

    In light of the school shooting scenarios around the country over the past several years, school safety has become an important consideration. Fortunately, the energy savings provides funding for a few security measures to be implemented as well. All buildings will have card access systems installed. In addition, the High School will have a security vestibule installed in the main entrance to control traffic flow and entrance into the building. Additional in-depth information can be found posted as an attachment with our last regularly posted board meeting agenda.

    School district budgets have become increasingly tighter over the past several years. We are still funded at a level lower than that of the 2011 year when the State of Texas made major funding cuts.  We will continue to think “outside of the box” about ways to fund the improvement of our schools, analyze ways to save and seek grants to supplement funding.

    Your continued support of our children and school is recognized and deeply appreciated.

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  • Newspaper Article 2018 10 24

    Posted by HENSLEY CONE on 10/26/2018

    Dr. Cone’s Perspective  October 24, 2018

    Strong parental and community engagement is key for an educational system to be great. Parents, Students, Community, and the School are all critical partners in the process of proving a quality education. I want to open up a conversation of how we can move beyond the traditional activities that are customarily done to something that creates a better partnership with increased student achievement.

    Parent and Community engagement operates from a needs assessment process.  Basically, we seek to identify the needs of our community and find ways to mobilize resources to share.  Marisa Saldana, the Natalia ISD Community Liaison, has enlisted several parents and community members to assist in improving our student academic outcomes through a comprehensive engagement parent committee.  Through this committee, we have been able to provide over 2000 meals to the community, increase parental awareness of the curriculum and instruction through a parent resource site, gained parental input in the planning and advertisement of campus events and implemented the Watch Dogs’ program which increases student safety on campus.  Last year we hosted our first annual Parent Symposium that aligned resources from several vendors based on information shared by our community. The event centered around the needs of Natalia and improving Student Academic Outcomes. This event was a success and we look forward to hosting it again this school year. Our focus is to include parents and guardians into the academic aspects of the District.  By doing so, our students have a better opportunity to succeed academically because we are all one team. We encourage any parents/guardians or community members who wish to volunteer or get more information to please contact Mrs. Saldana at marisa.saldana@nataliaisd.net or 830-663-4416 ext. 7007.

    While typical “open houses” serve a purpose and are needed, they don’t provide the opportunity for a stronger connection. We also want to provide dedicated time to dive deeper and focus on what your student is doing at their grade level with their specific teachers. We want you to know what they are learning, how they are learning, and what you might be able to do at home to assist. To begin this process, the Early Childhood Center along with the Elementary will begin this process by hosting nights by grade level. These nights have been tentatively set and will be coming out from campus administration soon: Kindergarten, November 12th; 1st Grade, November 15th; 2nd Grade, December 10th; 3rd Grade, November 27th; 4th Grade, November 29th; 5th Grade, November 14th. We hope these nights are well attended and look forward to making then better in subsequent years.

    We are also increasing our communication to parents and the community in several ways. Our Natalia ISD webpage is undergoing a refresh behind the scenes to be a better resource for parents and the community and should be live soon. We will be fully pushing out our Natalia ISD application in both android and ios platforms soon. The application will allow parents to follow student grades, school calendars, lunch menus and district social media feeds (without needing to have a twitter or facebook account). Knowing that online postings do not reach all of our stakeholders, we started publishing the District Newsletter again this past year and mailing it out. In addition, we also began this weekly article in the newspaper from the Superintendent.

    To wrap it up, the old saying that “It takes a village to raise a kid” holds true when describing what needs to happen in a community for students to be successful. We must be supportive of our students, teachers, administrators and board of trustees if we want to be great. I see this happening more with each passing day.

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  • Newspaper Article 2018 10 17

    Posted by HENSLEY CONE on 10/17/2018

    Dr. Cone’s Perspective. October 17, 2018

    Having already talked about college, career, and military readiness as well as numeracy, the final component is Literacy. The ability to read is foundational to success in all other subject areas. The average adult in our country reads on a 7th or 8th Grade Level. We expect our graduates to be more than average. We focused our district goal on 3rd Grade because research has clearly stated that students that are reading on grade level at the end of the 3rd Grade have a significantly increased chance of graduating and being successful in whatever endeavor they choose to pursue: The percentage of 3rd Grade students at or above the college and career readiness level (Meets) on STAAR Reading will increase from 31% to 50% by the end of the 2021 school year. There are incremental improvements for each year leading to 2021: 2019- 37% 2020- 44% 2021- 50%.

    We had an in-depth discussion of Literacy and its importance at our monthly Board Meeting last night. I would like to elaborate on a few of the things that we are doing across the district to increase Literacy. Foundationally, we have strived to align the English Language Arts Curriculum from K-12. In this process, we have focused on a Balanced Literacy Approach, Gradual Release Model, Use of Mentor Text, and a significant increase in access to reading materials. Reading materials available in our classrooms and libraries have been greatly increased. Through a partnership with Scholastic Books, we continue to offer free books to our youngest readers over Winter and Summer Breaks. In addition, we started a Summer Reading Bus that travels around the school district to give students summer access to reading materials.

    We have focused on individual students in need of literacy intervention with time built into the daily schedule. Our teachers have been provided a Literacy Series Professional Learning by our Academic Services Department to improve the implementation of research-based best practices.

    Next week, I will discuss Parental Involvement. Specifically, I want to open up a conversation of how we can move beyond the traditional activities that have been customarily done in almost all districts to something that creates a true partnership to help our students achieve beyond our wildest expectations.

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  • Newspaper Article 2018 10 10

    Posted by HENSLEY CONE on 10/12/2018

    Dr. Cone’s Perspective   October 10, 2018

    Math (numeracy) has always been a cornerstone in receiving a quality education. Natalia has set one of its three student outcome goals to focus on numeracy: The percentage of 7th-grade students at or above the college and career readiness level (Meets) on STAAR Mathematics will increase from 17% to 32% by the end of the 2021 school year. There are incremental improvements for each year leading to 2021: 2019- 22% 2020- 27% 2021- 32%.

    The first observation that someone might make is that the percentage of students referred to in the goal is low. Yes, it is low, compared to the percentages we have looked at in the past. Why is there a difference: the state no longer classifies a student’s score into just two categories: 1) meeting expectation or 2) not meet expectation. The state now classifies each student’s score into one of four categories: 1) does not meet grade level, 2) approaches grade level, 3) meets grade level and 4) masters grade level. While the approaches grade level is still passing, a student is not deemed to be performing at the college and career readiness level. Wanting our students to be college and career ready, we set our goals around the “meets grade level” performance level.

    So, what are we doing to reach our new student outcome goal in numeracy? We have provided new resources and extensive professional learning for our teachers. First, we have updated many resources: 1) a new aligned math curriculum (GoMath) in grades K-5, 2) adopted a vertically aligned resource (SpringBoard Math) in grades 6-8, and 3) implemented a new adaptive intervention software (Imagine Math) in grades 3-12. Second, we have provided extensive professional learning for our teachers: 1) research-based problem-solving model, 2) deep dive into mathematics strands and 3) Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID).

    Furthermore, we have provided processes for preparing high-quality research-based instruction and utilized specific protocols to timely review/act upon student data throughout the year.

    Next week, I will discuss our Literacy (reading and writing) goal and what we are doing to address Literacy.

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  • Newspaper Article 2018 10 03

    Posted by HENSLEY CONE on 10/4/2018

    Dr. Cone’s Perspective    October 3, 2018

    Last week, I said that I would begin to discuss one of Natalia ISD’s three Student Outcome Goals: College, Career, and Military Readiness (CCMR). I must applaud TEA for broadening its scope and recognizing the importance of Career and Military. For many years, the focus has primarily been on College Readiness. Natalia ISD’s CCMR goal is that the percentage of high school graduates classified as College, Career, or Military Ready will increase from 32% to 50% by the end of the 2021 school year. There are incremental expectations for each year leading to 2021: 2019- 38% 2020- 44%.

    College, Career, or Military Readiness is a measure of a graduates’ preparedness for college, the workforce, or the military. There are many indicators that are used to determine how well a school district is performing on CCMR.

    Natalia has recently implemented a multitude of activities and programs to increase the number of students that graduate being College, Career, or Military Ready. We began by auditing what was available for students and then began to align our programs to better prepare our students. We have already begun implementation of many programs and activities with many more to come soon that will manifest in higher CCMR performance:

        • Began to offer Pre-AP Courses again at the Junior High.
        • Began to offer Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 at the Junior High so that students could have access to AP Spanish courses in High School.
        • Began to administer and pay for Pre-SAT (PSAT) at the 8th,10th, and 11th grades for all students.
        • Began to administer and pay for SAT with the essay at the 11th grade for all students.
        • Began to administer and pay for the Texas Success Initiative(TSI) test for all students. The TSI test is a state mandate required for all entering college students to be assessed in the areas of reading, writing and math.
        • Began to administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test to all high school students.
        • Began an Early College Academy (ECA) with incoming 9th Grade students. Our first cohort began this year with 17 students. All tuition and books are free for students. Students are able to earn up to 42 college hours that are all transferable to any public university in the state of Texas. Each of these students is supported with a Chromebook and will soon have hotspots to work at home paid for through a grant.
        • Increased daily support of all other Dual Credit enrolled students not enrolled in the ECA cohort.
        • Began to offer college transition courses in Math and English.
        • Began the UTSA Health Careers Pathway program.
        • Increased the amount of students attending the summer Pre-Freshman Engineering Program (PREP) at UTSA.
        • Began implementation of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at the Elementary, Junior High and High School. AVID prepares students how to set goals and learn. It helps students prepare for college, careers, and life.  
        • Began sending students on all campuses on college campus visits.
        • Aligned the 8th Grade Algebra 1 curriculum.
        • Began to make sure that all students interested in the military are offered the opportunity to interact with recruiters.
        • Aligned career, technology education programs to industry certification or a practicum giving students employability skills upon graduation.
        • Began National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) Certifications in the 2nd Level of Ag Mechanics Courses (Core 1) as well as Welding 1.
        • Began certifications through Business Information Technology classes using Certiport in the areas of Adobe, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.
        • Began an Education Strand within Career and Technology with a practicum in Human Services while pursuing the ability of students to be certified through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
        • We are examining possibilities of Diesel Mechanics, HVAC, Certified Nurse’s Assistant through agreements with other organizations.
        • We are also looking at implementing Phlebotomy and EKG through our Sports Medicine program.

    We hope to exceed the expectations and set a new standard for small rural schools of poverty in our graduates being College, Career, or Military Ready. We are not there yet, but we are laying a foundation for our future graduates. It has not been easy to implement such a vast set of programs, courses and initiatives in such a short period, but it is necessary for our students. We have had to refocus our priorities and finances to what matters most, student achievement.

    Next week, I will discuss numeracy (math) development.

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  • Newspaper Article 2018 09 26

    Posted by HENSLEY CONE on 9/28/2018

    Dr. Cone’s Perspective      September 26, 2018

    What is the real story of Natalia ISD? Where are we at and where are we going? What are we doing for our kids? The story is more than a headline of “Natalia ISD receives an F” under the new accountability system. It is more than what can be told in one article. While we addressed the accountability ratings in an open letter to the community, there is much more to the Natalia ISD story.

    Today, I want to start the conversation by discussing the progress and growth of board governance through  TEA’s in-depth Lonestar Governance (LSG) training over the last several months and then focus on each of our Student Outcome Goals (SOG’s) individually over the upcoming weeks. Our Board of Trustees committed to over 28 hours of training and collaboration over the last several months. They have many more hours of training and collaboration over the next several months. Thus far, they have reviewed and adopted new Board Operating Procedures, Vision and Mission. For the first time, Student Outcome Goals, Theory of Action and Goal Progress Measures were created and adopted. The training provides a foundation of focus on student learning that is specific, measurable and holds the system accountable for continuous improvement for now and in the future.  

    After a deep review of the data in collaboration with administration, our school board adopted Student Outcome Goals to address foundational improvement in reading (literacy), math(numeracy) and College, Career, and Military Readiness (CCMR). These components form a significant foundation for TEA’s new A-F Accountability System.

    Over the upcoming weeks, campuses will be hosting parent meetings to let parents know about all of the positive changes that are happening for Natalia ISD’s students. Each Principal will be communicating their specific dates and times. We will also be hosting three meetings to discuss our November Bond election. The Meetings will be held on October 1st, 9th and 22nd at 6:30 PM in the Junior High Cafeteria.

    Next week, I will specifically address the Student Outcome Goal that focuses on College, Career, and Military Readiness (CCMR).

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