As we begin 2011, I thought it would be appropriate to update everyone on things going on at your school. I would like to begin by reflecting on what has been accomplished the first semester of the 2010-11 school year. Our district has once again received the rating of exemplary based on data from the 2009-10 school year with the elementary and high school being exemplary campuses and the junior high being a recognized campus. The high school was officially named a 2010 National Blue Ribbon School in September for showing marked and continuous improvement over a five-year period in a campus with over 40% economically disadvantaged students (our percentage district-wide is over 59%).
High School Principal Chris Habecker, High School Counselor Melany Canfield and I were fortunate to be able to travel to Washington D.C. in November to receive the Blue Ribbon School Award. The three of us had a wonderful time, toured some very interesting sites and were completely "wowed" by the Blue Ribbon Schools Award Presentation. It is difficult to convey what an accomplishment it is to receive this award and to attend this ceremony really exemplified that feeling. I am not going to spend much time on this now because we will be sharing much more information regarding the upcoming events we have planned related to our "2010 National Blue Ribbon School Celebration" in the very near future, but let me just say one more time, "It was awesome!" I hope you have had a chance to see the gorgeous plaque that has been displayed at the banks and some businesses.
In an effort to save time and space, I am going to list some of the other accomplishments of our students and staff in bullet form:
· Cross Country—Boys won district. Girls placed 2nd in district. Tomas Callejas and Shayla Estes advanced to state meet.
· Band—Puncher Band received a "1" rating at the marching contest in October. Several students competed in solo and ensemble contest in Ballinger.
· Football—Varsity record 12-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals round of the playoffs. JV record 9-1; 7th grade record 4-4; 8th grade record 8-0. The future looks as bright as the past!
· UIL Academics—Elementary won their meet by a whopping 150 point margin! Junior high placed a close 2nd behind Johnson City by 11 points. High school meet will be held in the spring.
Now I would like to change gears and share some other exciting news. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has just completed and released the data from a study designed to help identify strategies for containing the costs associated with public education without compromising academic progress. The Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST) is a timely tool to help school districts identify ways to operate more efficiently without sacrificing student academic performance. Efforts were made to compare districts to those of similar cost environments, size, demographics and financial needs. All Texas school districts received a rating from one to five stars with one being the lowest and five being the highest. Mason ISD received a "four-star rating." Meaning that our academic progress was "very high" and our spending index was "low." While we are always striving to improve in every area, we are very proud of this rating. Your locally elected school board members are to be congratulated for this accomplishment as well. (January is School Board Appreciation Month.) If you would like to view the full report, it can be accessed online at www.FASTexas.org . On this website you can conduct your own search to compare our district to surrounding districts.
With the legislative session beginning soon and the financial picture looking very grim, now would be a good time to contact your legislators to let them know that small towns and schools like Mason, cannot afford to take cuts in educational funding from the state. With very little business and industry to help share the tax burden, it would be extremely detrimental to our school system for the state to cut our funding in any manner. We are doing a good job of keeping expenditures down as is indicated by the FAST report, but a large portion of that is by necessity.
We are well into the basketball season with tennis, baseball and track coming up soon. TAKS testing will also begin very soon. Before we know it, it will be the end of May and we will be graduating another group of fine young men and women. Regardless of how the records look at the end of the year, I can say with confidence that the students, staff, parents and community members of Mason ISD have put forth our best efforts to make this another "exemplary" year! Thanks for all you do for our kids!