Superintendent’s Letter to Plano ISD parents

July 1, 2020

Dear Plano ISD Parents,

As a school district, we want nothing more than to welcome our students back into our schools on August 12. Despite the challenges with COVID-19, our district plan is to continue to provide the excellent education that our community expects, which will include both in-person and virtual learning environments. As the public health crisis continues, we have been planning for the opening of the 2020-21 school year with a focus on the health, safety and well-being of our staff, students and community.

While Plano ISD is planning for two different instructional environments, please know that we will follow recommendations for school opening and operations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local health officials. We are also awaiting further guidance from the Texas Education Agency.

The situation with COVID-19 is continuously changing, as are the protocols and measures needed to keep our students safe. Therefore, we will adjust our plans accordingly, so please understand the need for flexibility and potential modifications to the plans we have outlined below. As adjustments may be necessary throughout the coming school year, it will be our priority to keep our community informed of those changes and updates. Our District website will provide you with the most up-to-date information.

Plano ISD families will be able to choose from two different learning environments:

  • Face-to-face: Students and teachers will attend class in-person, five days a week, with additional safety measures in alignment with state and federal guidelines and recommendations.
    • In this setting, teachers will provide face-to-face instruction, learning resources and support utilizing Google Classroom.
    • Teachers will plan instruction that is easily transferable from face-to-face to remote in the event of a temporary school closure due to COVID spread.
    • Social distancing requirements will be implemented to the greatest degree possible.
    • District-directed and campus-designed safety procedures will be implemented.
    • All staff and students will receive training on safety and health protocols consistent with TEA, the District and CDC guidance in the areas of:
      • Health screenings and use of personal protective equipment
      • Classroom and campus social-distancing including the plans for the design and layout of classrooms, grouping of students, use of common areas such as bathrooms, water fountains, lockers, clinics, playgrounds, cafeterias, gyms, library, art room, music room, etc., as well as classroom transitions and use of hallways
      • Reducing touch points and increased cleaning
      • Cleaning and disinfecting of classrooms and other areas
      • Arrival and dismissal procedures
      • Campus visitor policies and school events
  • PISD School@Home Program: Parents will have the choice to select this program which is virtual (remote) learning consisting of both synchronous (live) and asynchronous instruction.
    • Teachers will teach School@Home students from their classrooms or other assigned PISD facilities.
    • In this setting, teachers will provide instruction, learning resources and support through the use of Google Classroom.
    • Parents will support their students to ensure they have access to a device, a place to work and are engaged in virtual learning activities.
    • We will utilize the same curriculum as students who attend face-to-face instruction and will design strategies for learning in the remote environment.
    • Students enrolled in School@Home will be assigned a virtual class schedule and must be available for live, synchronous instruction during each school day.
    • Attendance will be taken based on synchronous participation and completion/progress toward class expectations.
    • Grading will be consistent with the guidelines and practices used in all face-to-face instruction.
    • Students in grades 6-12 choosing School@Home may be able to participate in on-campus classes for extracurricular activities (in accordance with UIL requirements) and/or electives that cannot be offered in the School@Home setting.
  • Additional Considerations for Secondary Students (Grades 6-12) : 
    • Students who attend face-to-face instruction will be scheduled into the courses they selected last spring during course selection.
    • All courses will be offered in both settings.
    • Some elective courses for students who select PISD School@Home may require the student to complete a required assignment or project at the campus if the course requires assignments that cannot be reasonably completed remotely, e.g., automotive technology, welding, a/v production, etc.
      • We are working to finalize which elective courses will require in-person assignments; later in July, more information will be made available to better assist families with their elective choices
      • Students who select PISD School@Home will be contacted at the end of July regarding their schedule if the elective courses requested require an in-person component

As a family, you will select which environment you feel is best for your student(s). If you determine that your student(s) will attend face-to-face, at school, there is no action needed. If you wish to select the School@Home program (fully remote), you can do so through Plano ISD’s Parent Portal beginning July 6.

In order to plan appropriately, we are asking all parents who are selecting School@Home to submit this request in Parent Portal by Monday, July 13. Receiving this information early will help Plano ISD plan for student schedules, staffing and preventative health and safety measures.

Your School@Home selection for your student will be in effect for the first nine-week grading period. Further guidance beyond the first grading period will be provided after the start of the school year.

If you do not select School@Home (remote) learning by Monday, July 13, your child’s campus will automatically schedule your student in face-to-face classes for the fall semester. We recognize that situations may develop warranting a potential change in your original choice. After July 13, please contact your child’s campus directly if you need to make changes to your selection.

We value each of our students and families and appreciate the trust you have placed in our school system. We look forward to seeing you for the 2020-21 school year.

Visit the Plano ISD website at www.pisd.edu/2021planning for regular updates regarding our 2020-2021 back-to-school plans, which includes frequently asked questions.  If you have any questions, please direct them to askPISD@pisd.edu.

Sincerely,

Sara Bonser
Plano ISD Superintendent

Frisco ISD budget expands Pre-K, supports 1:1 classroom technology, boosts online learning opportunities

FRISCO ISD News: The Frisco ISD Board of Trustees approved the District’s 2020-21 budget Monday, prioritizing several items identified in recent years by the community.

The $605 million operating budget accommodates the expansion of Pre-Kindergarten to a full-day program for eligible students, supports the implementation of 1:1 classroom technology and provides additional support to help students navigate new academic opportunities in online learningdual credit and more.

The budget also provides funding to maintain small class sizes and continue to offer competitive compensation, both key in recruiting and retaining effective teachers to work with students everyday.

Frisco ISD Chief Financial Officer Kimberly Smith said: “It is hard to predict what financial resources may be necessary moving forward as we continue to respond to COVID-19. The depth of the economic downturn and what it will mean for the state’s finances is also unclear. With the likelihood of funding cuts on the horizon, we’re moving cautiously while making sure we meet the needs of our students in this unprecedented environment.”

Additional investments will be made to evaluate and support students with special needs as well as support student services such as social-emotional learning and behavioral interventions.

In all, the budget adds 246 new campus staff and 62 new support staff to meet the needs of growth and support students and campuses with additional programs and services.

It also increases secondary fine arts spending as a result of an in-depth study of student fees. An operational fee previously charged to support participation in middle and high school athletics has been indefinitely suspended.

Employee Compensation & Benefits

Eighty-two percent of the budget will be allocated for payroll, including a $1,000 raise for all employees on the teacher pay scale and a 1.5% of midpoint raise for all other staff. T

he annual starting teacher salary will increase from $54,500 to $54,900, and the District will boost the minimum hourly wage for hard-to-fill positions such as bus drivers, custodians and special education paraprofessionals.

Although no change will be made to the District’s monthly contribution to employee health care premiums, FISD will offer new health care options through the Texas Schools Health Benefits Program (TSHBP). This includes both a high-deductible plan and co-pay plan with significantly reduced out-of-pocket maximums for staff. The high-deductible TSHBP plan will be completely free to those with employee-only plans after the District’s $350 monthly contribution.

Tax Rate Adoption

All of this will be funded at a lower property tax rate. Once taxable values are certified later this summer, FISD anticipates a combined 2020 tax rate of $1.3158, a 2.25-cent drop from 2019. The maintenance and operations (M&O) portion of the tax rate is dependent on statewide tax compression mandated by House Bill 3. Passed by the 86th Legislature in 2019, HB 3 requires the state to compress school districts’ tax rates based on property value growth. The Board is expected to adopt the tax rate in September.

Sustainable Spending

Given the uncertainty related to the coronavirus and potential for future cuts in state funding, FISD took a conservative approach to development of the 2020-21 budget. All spending is designed to be sustainable, and the budget includes a cushion should revenue come in lower than expected. Frisco ISD is also fortunate to have maintained a healthy fund balance that can be leveraged as needed to address urgent needs or temporarily close funding gaps.

Plano baseball coach retiring

Coach Rick Robertson
Plano coach Rick Robertson

Longtime Plano baseball coach and U.S. History teacher Rick Robertson is leaving the diamond behind. The Wildcats coach has produced five district champions, 10 playoff teams, and he produced more than 50 college players at Plano Senior High. He has been coach for 13 seasons at Plano, and 2020 was his 37th season as a head coach. He has won 583 times as a coach.

Plano Senior High School advanced to the Regional semifinals in 2011 and Regional finals in 2014.

We first met the East Texas Baptist grad when he was coach at Sulphur Springs, Texas. He also coached baseball in Winnsboro and Canton, Texas. Longtime Garland ISD Athletic Director Homer B. Johnson hired Robertson to coach baseball at South Garland, where he led the Colonels for 18 seasons. Ten of his South Garland teams made the playoffs, and he Colonels made regional quarterfinals twice. His 2005 South Garland team won 32 games and only lost five.

Then Plano Coach Gerald Brence said this in June 2007 when he hired Robertson: “Rick had a tremendous record during his 18 years at South Garland, and he is also an outstanding history teacher.”

Keep up him Coach Robertson on Twitter @coach__rob

Frisco ISD: Congrats on scholarship #tcu #crosscountry #running

Karan Padda has earned the cross country booster club FEF scholarship. Next, the Frisco Centennial honoree will be running at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.

CollinCountyMagazine shares local news and success stories. Plus, our managing editor ran cross country in high school and college.

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