VISD drops magnet from schools' names

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

April 18, 2013 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated April 17, 2013 at 11:18 p.m.

Victoria school district is doing away with magnet titles in one middle and seven elementary schools.

The change comes in the district's effort to be more transparent about the services each campus offers.

As part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, VISD adopted the magnet school structure in September 1986.

Magnet schools, which receive federal funding, were developed to desegregate the classroom.

Previously under the north-to-south split district zoning areas, the need for magnets to equalize the classrooms was strong at VISD, said Tammy Nobles, VISD student services coordinator.

"We're so blessed that we've moved to an east-to-west split," Nobles said. "That has been our saving grace, and it totally supports what the Civil Rights Act required."

The district has 287 students attending a magnet school because of an approved magnet transfer.

Although the campuses lost their magnet program federal funding in 2007, transfers categorized as "magnet transfers" have been made up until the 2012-13 academic year.

Thursday night, after being assured parents with students enrolled in magnet programs would be informed of the change, trustee Ross Mansker made the motion to approve the name change.

Parents with students in schools under the magnet program have already been sent a transfer contract. It needs to be signed and returned to keep their students on the magnet campus, said Nobles.

Under the title changes, Mansker said he feared students may be transferred back to their neighborhood schools after attending a campus that was previously categorized as a magnet campus.

The board was reassured that students currently on magnet transfers were guaranteed that their placement would not change.

"The last thing I want to see is kids being separated or moved from their schools," Mansker said.

Of the eight original magnet elementary school campuses, only Dudley Elementary Magnet School will retain its status. The campus has had success in maintaining magnet school standards and achievements despite the lack of federal funding, said Nobles.

Dudley will be renamed Dudley Elementary G.T. Magnet School.

All VISD elementary school campuses offer gifted and talent services, said school board president Tami Keeling.

From the fiscal year 1996-1997 to 2006-2007, VISD received $20,351,499 from the Magnet School Assistance Program through the Department of Education.

The funding ended during the 2006-2007 year.

In other business, the board approved a proposed pilot teacher appraisal system to be tested at Patti Welder Middle School starting the 2013-2014 academic school year.

Framework for Teaching is an appraisal system that is being tested at campuses nationwide and utilizes four domains to help principals rate teachers in the classroom.

The campus will only be adopting two of the domain areas for the first trial-run year and will continue to use the current districtwide appraisal system in conjunction with the pilot, said Patti Welder Middle School Principal Richard Wright.

The two domains that will be accounted for during the pilot cover instruction and maintaining a good classroom environment.

"We'll be using the pilot as a learning tool for the teachers and administration," Wright said. "We'll be ahead of the curve at Patti Welder."



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