STATE OF THE DISTRICT
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Wednesday, the Copperas Cove Independent School District held its annual State of the District luncheon, in which the district reflected on its achievements along with challenges.
The event included a catered lunch and was open to the public. However, those who missed the event will be able to access it online, said Wendy Sledd, the district’s public information officer.
Lining the walls of the Copperas Cove Civic Center was evidence of students’ accomplishments, campus by campus, and club by club. In keeping with the theme “Every Child Deserves A Champion”, the displays also included trophies and plaques won by district students. Trophies also graced each of the tables throughout the room.
Prior to the address by superintendent Joseph Burns, the audience heard from Cpt. Armando L. Diaz, Commander of Headquarters Company, 62nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, who gave the military partnership address. This unit has had a partnership with S.C. Lee Junior High School since September 2009.
Diaz said one of the enduring principles for the 62nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion is team and family.
“That team and family extends to this community. Many of our service members have students that attend school in Copperas Cove, and many of our family members work in the district,” he said. Overall, the battalion has partnerships with nine districts, 115 schools, 20 participating units and 75 participating subunits.
He talked about several of the ways the soldiers help at the campus, like during the first few days of school, when they assist sixth graders open their lockers and help them find their classes. Battalion members have provided support to the cross-country team, and helped with things like art projects and schoolwork.
“(The students) also remind us how connected we are,” he said, adding that for Valentine’s day, S.C. Lee students made over 150 Valentine’s Day cards which were delivered to the soldiers during their field training exercises.
“One student wrote of his relative that served in combat but did not make it home. He wrote about how brave he was, he wrote about how proud he was, and that he will always be remembered. It’s those moments that remind us that we have a natural bond with the community, that we are connected and invested in each other,” Diaz said.
Burns later took the podium to speak about the accomplishments of CCISD—its students, the staff and the community. He said that CCISD has been named a District of Distinction by the Girl Scouts.
He lauded the academic achievements of the CCISD campuses, and said that the district is about “not just growing mandated test takers.” Even so, every campus in the district has received the Texas Education Agency’s highest accountability rating and six out of nine have received TEA “gold stars.”
“There are very few kids that we don’t catch in our safety net,” Burns said, where graduation is concerned, and that the district sets the standard, not just in the state, but in the central Texas area.
However, Burns agreed there is always room for improvement and that the campus principals would agree with him on that.
In the area of college and career readiness, Burns said the district is focusing on vocational opportunities for students, citing the value of HVAC technicians and mechanics. He also said there are 843 students taking pre-advanced placement classes, 258 enrolled in advanced placement classes, and 101 taking dual-credit classes, and that in 2016, CCISD had its first graduate who completed her associate’s degree while taking dual credit courses, walking the stage at Central Texas College prior to receiving her high school diploma.
Burns also addressed the challenges of declining Impact Aid, of which the district lost $16 million over a period of three years. He said also that funding is decreasing, due to the troop drawdowns at Fort Hood.
“It hurts, but we’re going to make it,” Burns said.
Despite the drop-off in Impact Aid, the district continues to have a “very healthy” fund balance and it is also exploring “all kinds of alternative funding.”
He also forecast the need for facilities around the year 2020, and the possible bond election that may occur as a result.
Representatives from the City of Copperas Cove attended the event, as did mayor Frank Seffrood, and councilmen David Morris and Jay manning; Gary Kafer, district director for Rep. J.D. Sheffield; and Region 12 Education Service Center director Jerry Maze.
Mistress of Ceremonies was Brittany Colbath, a senior at Copperas Cove High School and a candidate for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, with the JROTC Color Guard presenting the colors and the Copperas Cove High School choir singing the national anthem. Luncheon entertainment was a repeat performance from the Williams/Ledger Elementary Sunrise Singers.
Three CCHS alumni also made a virtual appearance with the showing of a brief video, in which members of the classes of 2007 and 2009, who now live in places like New York City, Seattle and Dallas, who each talked about Copperas Cove and the teachers who helped them get where they are today.
Wednesday’s event was held as part of Texas Public Schools Week.
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