VISD Proud, VISD Strong
By BY ROBERT JAKLICH
Sept. 9, 2017 at 3:06 p.m.
In the Victoria ISD, this year's focus is "Better Together," and nothing is more evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey as we rebuild our school district and prepare for our students to return to school Monday.
Throughout the Region 3 Education Service Center which includes the Victoria ISD, all 39 school districts have been declared as state disaster areas by Governor Greg Abbott.
The total number of students affected by Hurricane Harvey in Region 3 is 50,193. The total number of school districts across the state of Texas that have been identified as existing in a disaster area is 272 and the amount of students affected by the storm across these 272 Texas school districts is 1,966,743.
Almost all of our VISD facilities received some type of damage from the storm, and many of our campuses and buildings received substantial damage.
However, with the tremendous commitment and dedication of our VISD maintenance staff, other VISD personnel, our VISD Board of Trustees, contracted business service companies and out of town and community volunteers, we were able to tackle this significant challenge and provide the opportunity of returning to school much sooner than expected. We are also extremely proud and appreciative of the exceptional efforts displayed by our tremendous faculty, staff and students who so graciously gave of themselves to serve the students and families of our community.
Throughout this entire week, these VISD family members gave of themselves by delivering or distributing food, clothing, hygiene products, diapers, water, ice and school supplies and even providing yardwork and residential clean-ups for those in need. We are so proud and inspired by the exceptional fortitude displayed by all of these "VISD Champions" during these most trying times. While we are so excited to return back to school, it is still remarkable to reflect just where we were 17 days ago and how far we have come since that time.
We also want you to know that the well-being of our staff, students, families and community members is our No. 1 concern, and we would never jeopardize their safety. We have been working in partnership with our insurance agents, contractors and building inspectors to make certain the environment is safe and structurally sound and we would never ask anyone to enter a classroom or facility if it were not safe to do so.
I would also like to take this opportunity to address questions or concerns regarding the 10 lost instruction days due to Hurricane Harvey. As per Texas Education Code 25.081, school districts in Texas must provide at least 75,600 minutes of instruction for students per school year.
The Commissioner of Education may approve fewer minutes of instruction for students if a disaster, flood, extreme weather conditions, fuel curtailment, or other calamity causes the closing of schools. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) provides applications that school districts may complete to request a waiver missed instructional days due to inclement weather or health and safety-related reasons among other causes. TEA also provides an application that a district may complete to request a waiver for instructional days with an attendance level of at least 10 percentage points below the school year's average attendance from its average daily attendance for the current school year when the low attendance is due to inclement weather.
We are very appreciative of Commissioner Mike Morath for reaching out to VISD and offering his and TEA's assistance during this challenging time. The Victoria ISD will be applying for a waiver of the 10 lost instructional days, and we will be making an adjustment to our 2017-2018 academic school calendar. Currently, Sept. 18 is a District staff development day. Sept.18 will now serve as an instructional day and all VISD students will be required to report to school.
Finally, we are excited to announce that the VISD has applied for and received a waiver from the Texas Department of Agriculture to provide "all" of our VISD students with a free breakfast and a free lunch until Sept. 30.
Robert Ingersoll once stated; "We rise by lifting others."
In VISD, we will stand together to embrace the challenges brought forth by Hurricane Harvey, and we truly appreciate your belief in our children, your commitment to excellence and your dedication to creating a future of hope and endless possibilities for "Every Child, Every Classroom, Every Day."
We are and remain "VISD Proud" and "VISD Strong."
Robert Jaklich is the superintendent for the Victoria Independent School District. Contact him at 361-788-9202 or through the VISD website, visd.com.