Alvarado Independent School District

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For the Record

For the Record

Welcome to 'For the Record' where your questions can be answered by administrators, common misconceptions can be cleared up and any erroneous information can be corrected with the facts!
To ask a question, click here to get to the appropriate form. Please limit questions to 100 words or less. We also want to remind you this is a question and answer forum and that if you have a specific concern we encourage you to also contact a campus or district administrator so the concern can be handled appropriately.
*Note: Questions asking for information about a specific situation involving employees or students will NOT be answered here.
 
Tuesday, August 29
Question: My child rides bus 24, and it is so packed that the kids are made to sit on the floor in the aisles. When I first found out I called the transportation department and they told me they didn't realize that was happening and they would contact the supervisor and make sure it doesn't happen again. It's a week later and it is still happening.. the bus driver is telling children they have to sit on the floor in the aisle. I don't feel like this is safe AT ALL... and it's only going to get more crowded as they are currently building lots of homes in our neighborhood. Why hasn't this been addressed? I am not sure who else to contact other than the news station.
Answer: We have had an increase in ridership on this route, and we have been monitoring it. The driver came to us after the first day of school, and we had him begin stopping at junior high twice to avoid being over crowded in the morning, and we're dropping between campuses in the afternoon. We have also been sending another bus to meet him in the morning at his last stop to take any overflow that he may have so that we will not have students standing or sitting on the floor.

These are stop gap measures until we can get routes adjusted.  Ridership changes considerably at the start of school.  Some parents take their child to school the first day, others the first week, etc.  We're trying to get a stable count before adjusting routes to avoid unnecessarily inconveniencing parents by changing their routes and pickup times multiple time unnecessarily.

It is our policy for our buses not to begin motion until all students are seated.  We checked video and did not find any students sitting on the floor.  We did see two students standing while the bus was in motion.  They were standing between one stop and the next, and this situation has been addressed.  

We are doing head counts today and are working on adjusting routes.  

There was a small section of video missing, but I do not believe we had any students sitting in the floor. - Mark Ratcliff, Assistant Superintendent of Operations

 
Wednesday, April 27
Question: What is the dress code for Alvarado High School?
Answer: You can find the dress code on page 34 of the Secondary Handbook here. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer
 
Friday, April 15
Question: What class does my 6th grader have to take in 7th grade. So we know how to make up her schedule for next year?
Answer: Students are required to take five core subjects that include math, reading, language arts, social studies and science along with three electives. - Melodye Brooks, AJHS Principal
 
Tuesday, February 9
Question: Will there be a daddy/daughter dance this year. My daughter looks forward to this every year. She started intermediate this year and we haven't seen any flyers.
Answer: Yes, it will be Thursday, Feb. 11. There should have been flyers at each campus and one was emailed out as well. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer
 
Thursday, November 12
Question: When students aren't shaved and the school provides razor blades, do y'all clean the razors?
Answer: The razors are disposable and thrown away after each use. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer
 
Wednesday, November 4
Question: Does Alvarado ISD carry insurance on their athletes who participate in sporting events. I have a child who ended up having two major surgeries and was assured all is well and taken care of. His last surgeries occurred after he turned 18 and he now has a 35,000.00 debt looming over his head. That so called insurance wasn't worth the forms it was wrote on!
Answer: Insurance for athletes is to be used as a supplement to the primary insurance of the parents. It does not cover all costs. If you have questions concerning the insurance, please contact Athletic Director Jeff Dixon at (817) 783-6940. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer
 
Wednesday, October 20
Question: Policy for cell phones on campus?
Answer: (From Secondary Handbook) 
Students are responsible for following the technology Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) when using all school electronic devices. Refer to the AUP on-line at www.alvaradoisd.net.

High school students have the opportunity to access the high school’s wireless network using their own technology tools (Laptops, Smart Phones, Ipads, etc) during the learning day. With classroom teacher approval, students may use their devices in the classroom to access and save information from the Internet, communicate with other learners via district tools (student email) and use productivity tools that may be currently loaded on the device (Microsoft Word, Power point, calculator, etc.)
Students may bring their own technology tools to the high school campus. Users will be prompted to accept the following terms of use prior to each attempt to connect to the AISD BYOD network:
AISD is providing wireless connectivity as a guest service and offers no guarantees that any use of the wireless connection is in any way secure, or that any privacy can be protected when using this wireless connection. Use of the AISD wireless network is entirely at the risk of the user, and Alvarado ISD is not responsible for any loss of any information that may arise from the use of the wireless connection, or for any loss, injury or damages resulting from the use of the wireless connection. All users of the Alvarado ISD network are bound by the district’s Acceptable Use Policy for Technology usage. By entering “ Accept” below, you are agreeing to all of the above cautions and policies as they pertain to non-district devices.
Students or visitors that do not accept the terms of service will not be able to access the AISD network. The terms of service prompt will post each time an outside user attempts to use the network. Once on the wireless network, all users will have filtered Internet access just as they would on district owned devices. All visitors or staff will be filtered at the student level when using personal technology devices.
Capturing images is strictly prohibited in locker rooms or restroom areas while at school or at a school-related or school-sponsored event.
(At Alvarado Junior High, if a student uses a telecommunications device without authorization during the school day, the device will be confiscated. The parent may pick up the confiscated telecommunications device from the principal’s office for a fee of $15.)
Confiscated telecommunications devices that are not retrieved by the student or the student’s parents will be disposed of after the notice required by law. [See policy FNCE.]
In limited circumstances and in accordance with law, a student’s personal telecommunications device may be searched by authorized personnel. [See Searches on page 70 and policy FNF.]
Any disciplinary action will be in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct. The district will not be responsible for damaged, lost, or stolen telecommunications devices.

Monday, October 19
Question: My kids are currently enrolled in Alvarado and have been their whole lives but we are moving to Burleson, do they have to transfer schools?
Answer: A resident student who becomes a non-resident during the course of a semester shall be permitted to continue in attendance for the remainder of the semester. A non-resident students wishing to transfer into the district shall file an application for transfer each school year with the Superintendent or designee. Transfers shall be granted for one regular school year at a time. Please contact the Superintendent's office for the transfer paperwork. - Dr. Kenneth Estes, Alvarado ISD Superintendent
  
Wednesday, October 14
Question: I'm a new parent to the district and I was wondering if there is a dress code for technology stuff, more specifically those who hand the office business because I was shocked by one of the outfits I saw on one of the employees. Her top was very revealing and when she stood I saw that her dress was not an appropriate length. I don't think its appropriate for a professional atmosphere or one that's around kids.
Answer: We do not have an official employee dress code, just expectations that our staff and employees are dressed professionally. We will remind all of our campuses and departments of the expectation of professional dress and what that means. - Tommy Brown, Alvarado ISD Public Information Officer
 
Monday, October 12
Question: I need to get official transcripts. How do I get them?
Answer: You can get them from the high school by calling (817) 783-6940 and asking for the school registrar, Wanda Scott. - Tommy Brown, Alvarado ISD Public Information Officer
 
Sunday, October 4
Question: I have a student at Alvarado Intermediate that recently got in trouble because of dress code. I have been waiting since the summer for the dress code to come out, and it STILL says online that it is coming soon. How can my child get in trouble at school for something that we don't even know the rules on. We have no idea what they can and cannot wear.
Answer: The 'Dress Code' page was something that was inadvertently added to the new website over the summer. It has since been deleted. All dress code information is in the student handbook, which is posted online under the 'Parents' tab. No changes were made to the elementary dress code from last year so any information in the handbook that was posted online during the summer (before the School Board approved the 15-16 handbook in late August) would have had the correct information. If you would like a printed copy of the handbook you can contact the campus or the Public Information Office and one will be provided for you. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer
 
Wednesday, September 30
Question: I was under the impression that the learning center was for AISD employees only. I know for a fact that there are children enrolled there because extended family are employees, family the children do not live with. If that is possible then why was I turned away?
Answer: All children who are currently enrolled at the Learning Center live with an employee of the district. We do have a few children whose parents are not employees of the district but the grandparent is AND they live with the grandparent. The policy is it must be a parent or legal guardian who work for the district OR if they currently live with a grandparent who works for the district. All children enrolled at the Learning Center meet this criteria. - Paula Walraven, Learning Center Director
 
Wednesday, May 5
Question: Wondering what forms a student transferring from another district will need who will be living with a family member not the parents. Is there specific forms required for those scenarios?
Answer: No special forms needed. You would just need to fill out the regular transfer paperwork at our central administration building. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer

Wednesday, May 5
Question: I'm wanting to know why my child had to give up athletics, rather than an elective, to be put into a tutoring class to prepare for the re take of the staar. If every single kid who's in Athletics who did not pass the first test doesn't have to miss out, why does mine? I will be honest I was okay until I heard they cannot even return after the re test. Keeping a kid from not doing any physical activity for the rest of the year just doesn't seem right to me.
Answer: Athletics is an elective. The state says we have to remediate after a failed test and we won't have results back until time for summer school. The junior high has 10 or fewer in each remediation class so the students are assigned to the classes when they could workout the best. The reason it is until the end of the year is because the results of the second test will not be back until just before summer school. If remediation stopped, students who also failed the second time would lose two to three weeks of remediation. - Tommy Brown, Alvarado ISD Public Information Officer

Tuesday, Feb. 3
Question: I want to know why the sewage problem has not been fixed yet at the Intermediate school. All the time I drop my child off and it smells so awful. We are hosting UIL events and our campus smells horrible! Can this not be fixed? If not during school hours how about summer or spring breaks? It has been this way for years and for a newer school it is just not acceptable at all.
Answer: AIS does not have a sewer problem. The campus is located out in the country, and occasionally the wind brings in smells that are not so pleasant. The HVAC units which have to bring certain amounts of fresh air bring these smells in with the fresh air on occasion. We have investigated complaints in the past and found situations where some of our neighbors had recently fertilized with natural fertilizers. We have also found a situation where an aerobic system belonging to one of our neighbors was generating a smell, and we have found a situation where a neighboring creek had gone stagnant. There are many blessings that come along with having a school located in the country, but sometimes the fresh air is not one of those blessings. - Mark Ratcliff, AISD Assistant Superintendent of Operations

Friday, Nov. 21
Question: What day is graduation on this year? I know that there has been some confusion surrounding this topic and I was hoping to get a correct answer so I can begin planning my kid's graduation invitations/party.
Answer: Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Wednesday, Nov. 19
Question: A letter was sent home with all the children at the learning center regarding hand foot and mouth disease. The letter stated that deep cleaning was being done (which I know to be completely true) and also that children's temperatures would be taken every morning when arriving at school. I know for a fact this is not being done and was never done and I am wondering why. Not only is it not being done, when a child starts running fever (a fever being 101 degrees) learning center staff are being told to take the child's temperature later to see if they are still running fever instead of notifying parents immediately. Why are these simple measures to prevent illness from spreading not being enforced? Especially since there have been a handful of new HF&M cases in the last week. Cleaning only does so much if sick children are allowed to stay at the learning center.
Answer: We take the wellness of all our children very seriously at our AISD Learning Center and we will be documenting in writing the times we take the temperature of all our children. It will be something accessible to parents as proof that we are following our efforts to ensure that all children are fever-free while they are in the AISD Learning Center. - Maribel Diaz, Executive Director of Instruction

Thursday, Nov. 13
Question: What is it that the district/elementary schools have in place for children with multiple homes? Do you make duplicate things for both homes? When a report card goes home do you make sure that there are two one for each household? When a child has multiple homes it would help out a lot for things to be duplicated so that both homes can have the same information and some things would like to be kept for the future as well. I know you cannot do everything duplicate but if you know the child has more than one home I think more of an effort should be made by the district. Unfortunately a lot of kids have multiple homes.
Answer: Each school should be making an effort to satisfy educational record requests by parents of students who may share custody. Because each student's situation may be different, all communication is initially sent to a student's primary guardian. If a second guardian, who has educational rights, would also like information directly from the school, please contact that campus and make that request. If the requestor does have educational rights to the student then all efforts will be made to satisfy the request. - Tommy Brown, Alvarado ISD Public Information Officer

Tuesday, Nov. 11
Question: Can we get some recognition for the AHS Golden Warrior Band? They are dedicated and disciplined to follow the schedule that they do. They have spent every weekend for the last month in competitions. They beat out 15 other bands this weekend when they were selected at Area for Finals. They supposedly made Alvarado history. Let's face it football games, pep rallys and parades are boring without them. Can we put them on our website, congratulate them on the sign out side the high school? Anything to let them know we appreciate their talent? Some recognition in the yearbook would be nice too! Thanks!
Answer: We do have an outstanding band that we are very proud of! We make our very best attempt to recognize each one of our students or groups that accomplish exceptional things inside and outside the classrrom, and the band is no different. It was mentioned on the district and high school websites, and received a lot of attention on our district and high school social media accounts. I hope, by all the standing ovations the band received (at home games, away games and each competition) the band members and directors know how much they are appreciated. We look forward to another great run through contests this spring during the concert season! - Tommy Brown, Alvarado ISD Public Information Officer

Monday, Nov. 3
Question: I have been an Indian, and MANY people in my family before me. I take PRIDE in the fact that our mascot is the "Alvarado Indians!! So you can imagine just how confused I was to see that my grand child's school now has a "new" mascot. An owljQuery18309015236718114465_1435615262563 If "We are Alvarado", and "We bleed purple pride"...then why are we Owls at one school? And where on earth did that come from? Signed : PROUD Native American Indian from Alvarado.
Answer: AIS celebrates student achievement and the owl represents wisdom. He wears a purple cap and gown to remind our students of the purple pride and the mission of graduating from AHS! We call him the "know it owl" . His purpose is to stand at the end of the spirit line and high-five and congratulate student achievement. We are still the Alvarado Indians.  The owl is used to represent an academic focus and has never been presented as a replacement for our beloved purple and gold Indians! - Dr. Kenneth Estes, Alvarado ISD Assistant Superintendent of Administration

Wednesday, Oct. 29
Question: What makes the schools think it's ok to give my kid sac because he/she forgot the student id. My kid has taken his id everyday except for the one, and he had the opportunity to pay $1 to get a new one or get sac which had counted as unexcused for all the classes. And most of all missed all lectures and assignments. Maybe our family don't have a dollar to give each of our children to carry each day. Why should you punish my child for that. I was one hot mom. When I called to speak with someone well what you know never got a call or email back as usual when dealing with issues at AISD at least give a chance for first time especially if first offense. Have u ever considered what the morning at home was like for the kid. Not everyone has a picket fence lifestyle. My kid got his younger siblings up and dressed walked them to bus came home got himself ready before running all the way to school so he wouldn't be late while his mom finished up a evening and graveyard shift (a double), for the third day in a row. So what if he forgot his id big whoop, but oh must be punished. If you really knew id be patting him on back for being a awesome son and big brother and all he does to help his family.
Answer: Alvarado ISD strives to create the most safe and secure environment possible for all our students. Student Identification (ID) badges support that effort. All AISD secondary students receive a free ID badge at the start of the school year and should wear it each day. If students do not have their ID they are given the option of purchasing a new ID badge or go to in school suspension. The cost of the ID is to cover the expenses of printing the badges. At the junior high, students are given two free badges and a free lanyard. At the high school, the students are given a free ID, ID holder and lanyard. The first two times they lose or misplace their badge it is a $1. If you have a concern about a specific situation please contact the one of the campus administrators. - Dr. Kenneth Estes, Alvarado ISD Assistant Superintendent of Administration

Thursday, Oct. 23
Question: What are our schools doing for sanitation and precaution with the Ebola outbreak? I see nothing being done. Buses still over crowded and dirty. No close the school for a day or two for 100% cleaning like other schools. Parents should have the option to teach kids at home while the outbreak is going on.
Answer: The health and safety of our children is one of our highest priorities. We thoroughly and routinely clean our school buildings. We outsource our custodial services to Member's Building Maintenance. Member’s has been in business for 31 years and has 45 active accounts accounting for over 10 million square feet. They clean for other school districts, colleges, cities, and businesses such as American Airlines. They came highly recommended, and they received an overall proficient rating from administrators in the district who evaluated their performance. When we are aware of a health issue affecting one of our facilities we take additional steps toward disinfecting contact surfaces above and beyond the routine thorough cleaning that they already receive. We also make hand sanitizer available in every classroom to further assist in the prevention of the spread of illnesses. To our knowledge the schools that closed for a day or two were schools who had students who were either exposed through primary or secondary contact with a patient who had Ebola. We have not been made aware of any of our students having either primary or secondary contact with a patient with Ebola. In regards to our buses, our buses are crowded as our most forms of public transportation whether you are riding a city bus or an airplane. It is the nature of public transportation. Our buses, however, are not overcrowded. Each bus has a capacity, and we monitor our ridership to ensure our buses stay under capacity. We provide our bus drivers with disinfectants to clean their buses, and they clean their buses regularly. When we are made aware of a student having a potential infectious condition, we take additional steps to disinfect the bus. - Mark Ratcliff, AISD Assistant Superintendent of Operations

Wednesday, Oct. 22

Question:
 I would like to know why several students at junior high were refused lunch trays because their charges weren't paid up. This was not my child but he witnessed it. Don't deny it. Then, of course when you asked the staff in office about it no one knows about it. Unacceptable to refuse kids lunches. Maybe they don't have money to pay. Didn't you post an article about this on web how grades fall when a child is hungry.
Answer: We do not want students to go hungry either. We, therefore, take the following steps to help students and parents maintain money in their accounts.
  1. Alvarado ISD Cafeteria Staff tell each student the balance in their account as they go through the line each day.
  2. We provide parents the ability to check their child’s balance online using Family Access.
  3. Our point of sale software automatically calls parents each Thursday if their child has a balance of zero or less.
  4. Parents are able to call their child's cafeteria or the CN Office at 817.783.6807 to check their child's balance.
We have also tried to make it convenient for parents to make payments on their child's account. Parents may make payments via credit card using Skyward Family Access. We also accept cash or check payments at both the school cafeterias and the Operation’s office. We have free and reduced lunch applications available for parents. We passed them out at many school events including the Back to School Bash where we assisted families who needed assistance in completing the applications. We also sent an application home with each child and have made the applications available online through Family Access. We have set it up so that principals may purchase a student an alternative meal, if a child does not have money in their account, and the principal feels that there is a special circumstance that warrants the purchase of an alternative meal. However, the principal can not do that if the student does not request it. We do allow charging of meals up to five dollars at our elementary schools, and we have set the lines up at our elementary campuses where the students will go by the cashier first to find out their balance before going through the line so that we do not have to pull a tray at the elementary level. We have taken all of these steps to ensure that students do not go hungry.  We, however, need parent support as well. We need parents who need assistance to complete a free and reduced application each year, and we need parents who do not qualify for benefits to help us by making sure that their child has money in their account so that they may eat. By each of us working together, we can ensure that our students receive healthy nutritious meals while at school. - Mark Ratcliff, AISD Assistant Superintendent of Operations

Friday, Oct. 17

Question: Why is North making parents pay $10 for the zoo field trip? The field trips are paid for by the cookie dough fundraiser and always have been. Each grade takes 2 a year. 1 that cost money that is paid from the fundraiser and the other is to a free place that cost the school nothing. Why is it changed this year? Was told parents pay for 1 and not the other but that's not how it's ever been.
What about the kids who can't afford that? So now they stay at school? And what's the money from the fundraiser being used for now if the parents are paying and the second trip doesn't cost a thing? Also on the Zoo website the cost for a child is $9 but my letter is asking for $10?
Answer: 
Each grade level does take two field trips.  One that is completely paid for by the school, and one that may have a small cost involved for admission, however all transportation costs are paid by the school. This year first grade teachers wanted to purchase t-shirts for the students to wear that day so they'd all look the same. This is a good idea for safety as well as for class spirit. This shirt can be worn to school at other times such as spirit days, field day, or any day for that matter. The $10 requested pays for the shirt, admission, and a snack provided for eachs tudent. First grade will take an additional field trip in the spring that does involve cost for admission as well as transportation costs and it will be completely paid for by proceeds of our fundraise. We do our very best to ensure that every student has an opportunity to participate in field trips unless parents withhold permission for their child to attend. - LouAnne Stevens, AEN Principal

Thursday, Oct. 16
Question: Why is the school policy of being fever free for 24 hours not enforced at our schools and the Learning Center? Teachers do not appreciate parents sending sick children to school but yet they bring their own children to the Learning Center sick. Currently Hand Foot and Mouth is running rampant in the Learning Center and getting the teachers to keep their sick child home is impossible. The policy need to be strictly enforced to protect the health of our children and care providers.
Answer: 
The Learning Center fever free policy is enforced as it is at all our schools. Sometimes the Learning Center is accused of being overly cautious when it comes to sending children home due to fever. The Learning Center requires that all children who have been diagnosed with Hand Foot and Mouth disease bring a doctor's note with permission to return. We are finding that not all doctors are giving the same advice to families. Some will request that the child stay home for a week, while others are giving the ok to return after the child is fever free for 24 hours. We have consulted with Cooks Children's Infection Control Director and the Epidemiologist with the  Texas Department of State Health Services and have established more stringent precautions. This past Saturday, October 11th, a professional company was called in to come and disinfect the entire Learning Center. We have also limited the toys the children are using in each class and have established a procedure to wash the toys at the end of the day to prevent further spread of this virus. Hand washing with soap is a protocol all our teachers are strictly following. Our first and foremost concern is to provide all our Learning Center children the best place to grow and learn. - Maribel Diaz, Executive Director of Instruction

Monday, Oct. 12
Question: Why did my child not receive a report card from the Intermediate school? We have usually received them by now...but we have not seen grades. Several parents said that access would be "online only" , but we have not been told that.
Answer: 
We sent out a letter about all of the ways that AIS connects with our families. We gave each parent the option of having paperless communication sent out via SkyNotify (part of the Skyward Family Access). The form asked parents to choose paperless for all communication including report cards and progress reports or they had an option to choose for us to send home a paper copy of all forms, report cards and progress reports. They signed the document and sent it back with their child. We also asked if they would like the form in Spanish if they selected that option. Our students bring home responsibility folders every day. Within the folder that they sign each week, there is a notice at the bottom of the page that tells the parents when to check Skyward for their report card or progress report. There is a space on the form for the parent to sign that shows they have reviewed the grades. This was a strategic plan to address the needs and preferences of all of our families. We have had a lot of support and enthusiasm for the new process. We have maintained a copy of all of the forms and the parent preferences if needed. You should have received a paper copy if that is what you selected. We are happy to print a copy for any parents who did not receive their paper copy. - Tamara Morris, AIS Principal

Monday, Oct. 12
Question: Could we give a little more warning on school pictures next year? The Intermediate School picture forms came home the night before Picture Day. Our other school sent the form home a week early, then a reminder the day before. We run on a small budget and really did not have enough time to decide what we could afford.
Answer: 
We did send out the picture notifications well in advanced. However, the picture packages were delayed by our representative, LifeTouch. We apologized for the delay on packages. Pictures can still be ordered and there will be a make-up picture day. - Tamara Morris, AIS Principal

Wednesday, October 8
Question: I am wondering why the playground at north is covered in gravel rocks . Can we not get this changed? The dust that cokes from that ground cover ruins every pair of shoes my kids has! We spend $70 for athletic shoes to have them ruined by the gravel and dust!
Answer: 
We use a washed screened pea gravel in several of our playgrounds as a falls material to absorb shock if a student was to fall. We tried switching to wood fiber on some of our playgrounds in the past, but we have had more complaints about the wood fiber than the pea gravel. We were actually asked to change some of the wood fiber playgrounds to pea gravel. We, therefore, stopped changing playgrounds over to the wood fiber. We have had issues with the wood fiber getting in and on their child's shoes, but we also have reports of wood fiber getting in students eyes, being eaten and staying damp. In 10 years we have only received two concerns brought to our attention about the pea gravel, and they were both concerns about not having enough of it. We have also had problems with the mulch washing away during heavy rains and staying damp for long periods of time. We have to have some type of falls material, and for the most part we have had the best luck with the pea gravel. We especially use it on playgrounds that are at a lower elevation or that are located in an area where there are issues with runoff water. - Mark Ratcliff, AISD Assistant Superintendent of Operations

Wednesday, October 8

Question: Will we be receiving longevity this year? I haven't heard anything about it and I know we've received in October or December in the past.
Answer: Yes, we will be receiving longevity this year, as it was in the budget approved by the School Board in August. Longevity will be sent through our automatic deposit system and will be coming by the end of October. - MaryAnn Wood, AISD Director of Human Resources

Tuesday, October 7
Question: What are the plans for the old Jr. High building?
Answer: 
Most of the old junior high building will be torn down upon completion of the new building. The 'new' gym and four adjoining classrooms will be saved for school and community use, but the rest of the building will be torn down to add more parking for the new building and the home side of the football stadium. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer

Tuesday, October 7

Question: Are employees getting the SAMS club benefit this year? If so, what do we do for expired memberships from last year?
Answer:
The Sam's Club benefit was offered by Sam's Club last year to promote their new location. It was a 'one-time' membership but our employees can renew the membership at their own cost. - MaryAnn Wood, AISD Director of Human Resources

Wednesday, October 1
Question: I was wondering how come concerns that I have posted to for the record have not been posted here. not one single one. were my concerns not as important as the others? I have new ones this year but why take the time if they are just going to be ignored just as going up to the school in person. I posted before the first day of school and still nothing. I find it very difficult to get anyone to address my concerns. so who do i need to go to to get answers.
Answer: All of the questions submitted are answered unless there is a specific situation involving individual employees or students. If it was a question that named a student or identified a staff member either by name or position it probably was not answered for that reason. There are times we can 'edit' out names or positions, but in other situations we can not. It may be that the for just did not send for some reason or another. Please resubmit your question or concern and someone will answer it. If you want to address your concerns you may contact Tommy Brown at (817) 783-1190 or Dr. Kenneth Estes at (817) 783-6800 and they will be able to point you in the right direction in your search to find an answer to your concern. - Tommy Brown, Alvarado ISD Public Information Officer

Monday, Sept. 29
Question: Will we be having a college week this year? If so, when will it be? Will teachers have plenty of notice?
Answer: College Week is October 20-24 this year. Hopefully the teachers are already aware of it, but if they are not they will begin receiving information this week. - Tommy Brown, Alvarado ISD Public Information Officer

Wednesday, Sept. 24
Question: I have a student in the AISD currently. We are considering buying some land in Venus but do not want to go to Venus ISD. Is Alvarado an open district and will my child be able to continue to attend AISD?
Answer: "Open District" is a misconception.  AISD accepts transfers from other districts on a case by case basis. There are multiple factors which go into the decision. Some of these factors include numbers of students in the particular grade. We try to avoid overcrowding; past attendance and punctuality; discipline records; parental support; academic progress; and principal recommendation. A student living outside of the district should first meet with the principal and discuss the desire to transfer and then stop by the superintendent's office and pick up the forms to make application. Please note that we cannot provide transportation for out of the district residents or accept pre-kindergarten transfers. In your situation, it would be best to make the principal aware that you will be moving but would like to continue attending Alvarado ISD and they will help you through the process. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Alvarado ISD Superintendent

Thursday, Sept. 6
Question: I have been trying to contact teachers/administrators via the link on your website. Each time I do this, I get a bounce back. How are we supposed to contact anyone via email if the emails keep getting bounced back?
Answer: Without knowing which links are being tried, it will be difficult to know what the problem is. We tested several administrator and teacher email links this morning and none seemed to be broken. If you continue having problems, please contact the school district at (817) 783-1190 with specific details about which links are broken and we will work on a solution. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Tuesday, Sept. 2
Question:
 Why does it cost $30 for a student parking permit? Are the taxes i pay every year not enough? Adding my child to my auto insurance increased my monthly payment by $160, not all parents have money falling out of their pockets.
When i went to school here, it cost my parents $0 to park my car.
Answer: Alvarado High School, much like most high schools, has been charging for parking spots for 20 years. The $30 helps offset the cost of purchasing the stickers and anything above the sticker price goes into the campus activity fund for the school to use on student needs. The $30 fee is a one time fee for the entire school year. If your student gets a new car or has to use a different car for a period of time, all they need to do is ask the office for a new sticker. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Tuesday, August 26
Question: 
I have a child that just finished kindergarten at lillian elementary and is now moving on to first grade. I'm concerned that she still has yet to get a card saying what teacher she is in when her friend across the street already did. Do I have to re register her every year? Or am I just getting to nervous.
Answer:
 
No, you do not have to re-register every year. If you are ever concerned in the future, feel free to call your child's campus before school starts. It's perfectly normal to be nervous. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer

Tuesday, August 26
Question:
What is Family Access and when/how do we get access?
Answer:
 Family Access is the portal for parents to view information in the Skyward student information system. Parents are able to view grades, food service purchases and balance, discipline records, attendance, messages from teachers and campus administrators, student schedule, and immunization records. Campus office staff or the Central Registration office can set up Family Access for parents. The parent must show a photo ID so that we can verify that we only grant access to legal guardians. - Julie Holland, AISD Director of Technology

Tuesday, August 26

Question: 
How do I know if my child was approved for discounted/free lunches?
Answer: Parents need to fill out a new application for free and reduced meals each school year unless the parent has received a letter from the Alvarado ISD Child Nutrition Department this school year stating that the child qualified for free meals based on direct certification. Letters dated before July 2014 do not count toward this school year. Once an application is processed, the parent will be sent a letter letting them know if their child was approved for free or reduced priced meals. Parents can also check the status of their application online through Family Access. Students who received free or reduced meals last school year while attending Alvarado ISD will continue to receive free or reduced meals for the first 30 days of this school year unless we receive an application within the first 30 days that is denied. Parents are encouraged to fill out an application at the very beginning of the school year for on the 31st day of the school year we are required to roll any students who do not have a current approved application to paid. We are allotted ten days from the time an application is received by the child nutrition department to process a new application and an additional three days to enter the application into the computer. We, however, work very hard to process all applications as soon as possible. We handed out applications at the Back to School Bash and had people there to assist parents in completing their applications. We had over a hundred applications turned in at the Back to School Bash and all of those applications are already processed. We also handed out applications at the pre-K Roundup and other district functions. Applications will also be sent home with students on the first day of school. Parents who wish to expedite the application process may fill out an application at the Operations office located at 110 S Bill Jackson Dr prior to the start of school. - Mark Ratcliff, Assistant Superintendent of Operations

Monday, August 18
Question:
If I live with my grandma in River Oaks, and we did a power of attorney letter, to state that I live with my grandma, but my mom, who has custody over me lives in another district, even tho my grandma has second guardianship over me, and I've been attending this school my whole life, except last semester, and I havent played football for any body else but this school, would I still be eligible to play varsity, when I live in the district with my second guardian, and my mom who has custody doesnt live in the district?
Answer:
It is our understanding that if you have lived in a district for a year, you have established residency. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Alvarado ISD Superintendent

Monday, August 18

Question:I have a question about the Lice policy at school. Last school year was the first time I have ever had any problems with my children getting lice and it happened several times through out the year. I heard the school was not doing the no nit policy and children with lice we being allowed to stay at school. I was wondering how we could go about enforcing the no nit policy, it has seemed to be the best way to control the problem.
Answer: From our handbooks: "Head lice, although not an illness or a disease, is very common among children and is spread very easily through head-to-head contact during play, sports, or nap time and when children share things like brushes, combs, hats, and headphones.  If careful observation indicates that a student has head lice, the school nurse will contact the student’s parent to determine whether the child will need to be picked up from school and to discuss a plan for treatment with an FDA-approved medicated shampoo or cream rinse that may be purchased from any drug or grocery store.  After the student has undergone one treatment, the parent should check in with the school nurse to discuss the treatment used.  The nurse can also offer additional recommendations, including subsequent treatments and how best to get rid of lice and prevent their return. More information on head lice can be obtained from the TDSHS website at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/schoolhealth/lice.shtm."

Monday, June 2
Question:
Who decides where prom will be held? How do you get on the organizing committee? This year's prom received bad reviews. The venue was too small and very crowded. A small fortun is spent on preparing for this big day. Someone needs to make sure that the students get what they are paying for.
Answer: There are three faculty members and roughly 15 students that comprise the prom committee. There is no application to be apart of the committee. We make announcements and take everyone that shows up. We then discuss the main points in a meeting with all seniors. In the meeting we ask about what is important to them i.e. price, location elegance, distance from Alvarado, etc.We did not hear any bad reviews to speak of besides the air not cooling properly in the hotel. The hotel maintenance staff worked all night trying to get it working properly. We originally planned on 300 total people attending by using previous prom numbers over the last 3-5 years. However, we had a great response wanting to attend and did not want to deny any student the opportunity to attend. Our final number was around 340 students. Even though the air and large crowd, most students stayed the entire time and expressed to AHS staff that they enjoyed the prom. Every year the prom committee has a challenge to find a location that works around our busy Spring schedule, within a reasonable price range, and not already booked by other schools. Every year we all strive to make the prom a memorable experience for all students. - Chris Magee, AHS Principal

Thursday, May 29
Question: 
My question is about how the district handles bullying. What is your standard operating procedure on handling issues involving one student bullying another? My child has been having an issue this year and the administration at their campus has just met me with blank stares when I ask how it is going to be handled. When they do address it, it is in a very relaxed type of way and the children being bullied are suffering for it. I believe that maybe we should educate our teachers on exactly what bullying is and map out a consistent district wide plan on how it is handled. I am told the situation is dealt with differently at other campuses. Also, training for our teachers on how to handle this behavior or become more approachable for the student to speak out would be nice. My child was afraid it would be viewed as tattling. I am aware that there is a state wide urge to stop bullying, and I think our district should be doing a better job at teaching our students what is appropriate behavior and what is not by being consistent in our discipline of these students. Our non-action on this issue, will effect students in terrible ways in the future.
Answer: Bullying is a complex problem in our society today. Alvarado ISD is committed to educating our faculty, staff, and students about bullying and it's impact on the educational process. Alvarado ISD has a detailed plan and process for dealing with bullying. The AISD Anti-Bullying Policy & Procedures plan can be found athttp://www.alvaradoisd.net/?DivisionID=12448&ToggleSideNav=DivisionOnly.  Alvarado ISD has always been a noted leader in our bully prevention efforts and we had plans in place prior to the state making it a requirement. All AISD employees receive annual training on anti-bullying strategies and techniques. We also provide opportunities for our students to learn how to prevent bullying and how to report bullying. Although we know that bullying in a complex problem, AISD is committed to keeping our students safe and educating our schools and community about the harmful affects of bullying on children. - Dr. Kenneth Estes, AISD Asst. Superintendent of Administrative Services

Tuesday, May 27
Question:
Is it possible to donated accumulated days off to a certain person, if you are leaving the district?
Answer:
No. If you are a member of the Sick Leave Pool then those who are retiring can donate seven days, but they cannot be given to an individual person. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Tuesday, May 27
Question: 
Why can't the kids at North talk during lunchtime?
Answer: Students are allowed to talk during lunch unless the noise level grows to be too much in the cafeteria. At that time, students are asked not to talk so that a safe and orderly environment can be maintained and students can finish their lunches in a timely manner. - LouAnne Stevens, AEN Principal

Monday, May 19
Question:
 I realize we have a weather make-up day on June 5. However, it's a half day. Could we not combine that staff development and the make-up day? We could do the staff development after the students leave on June 5 for the early dismissal. I've hear of other district doing this as well. It seems much more efficient for one day instead of two.
Answer: 
Regardless of the early dismissal on Thursday, June 5, the district needs more than just a couple hours to conclude the business of closing out the school year. Friday's attendance is also required to fulfill teacher contract days. - Maribel Diaz, Executive Director of Instruction

Friday, May 16
Question: 
Why can't the kids at North talk during lunchtime?
Answer: Students are allowed to talk during lunch unless the noise level grows to be too much in the cafeteria. At that time students are asked not to talk so that a safe and orderly environment can be maintained and students can finish their lunches in a timely manner.  - LouAnne Stevens, Principal at Alvarado Elementary North

Friday, May 9
Question: 
How are you supposed to know what each school is serving for lunch when the online menus have not been updated since April 11th? I have clicked on the site http://chartwells.compass-usa.com/ALVARADO/Pages/SiteMenus.aspx for the past month trying to plan for school lunches and it doesn't have anything for the last part of April or May.
Answer:
 
The page the lunch menus are on is run by the company we contract our food services from. There were some technology issues with the page for a couple weeks, but it should be working now. We appreciate you letting us know about it. In the future, please let us know as soon as you find something like this so we can get it corrected as soon as possible. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer

Thursday, May 8
Question:
When is the official last day of school for the 2013-2014 school year?
Answer:
 
Because we missed a couple days of school due to inclement weather the last day of school for students will be Thursday, June 5 and, for teachers and staff it will be Friday, June 6. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer

Friday, April 4
Question: 
When the new junior high was first being discussed, there was a rumor that it was going to be a 6th-8th campus. Is there any truth to that rumor? Are there plans to move the sixth grade into the new building?
Answer:
 
During the planning phase for the new Junior High a suggestion was made and discussed at some length to add the 6th grade to junior high campus. The bond planning committee, which consisted of community members, parents, teachers and administrators, came to the conclusion that the cost of increasing the size of the new building would be too expensive. The new Junior High currently under construction is designed to house 7th and 8th grade students. There is no plan to move the 6th grade students to the new building at this time. - Dr. Kenneth Estes, AISD Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services

Friday, Feb. 28
Question:
Does the district still plan on using Good Friday as a make-up day?
Answer:
Yes, Good Friday will be one of the two make-up days with the other being June 5. Once a calendar is submitted to the state, it is very rare for it to be approved for change. We encourage parents and community members to join our District Site Based Managment Team that creates and submits the calendars for approval each year. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer

Thursday, Feb. 27

Question: Is the spear that we use copyrighted? I've seen small companies using it, it can be confusing thinking that companies are related to the school.
Answer: The spear is not currently copyrighted. We understand it can be confusing and are making plans to have it copyrighted soon. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer

Friday, Feb. 21
Question: 
I was just wondering if there is any certain time the community is allowed to use the track. I have been out a couple of times to see if it was open and it is always locked. I have to drive into Mansfield or Kennedale right now and use their track. I think it would be great for our healthy community challenge if we could use our track and bleachers to get in shape!!! :)
Answer: AISD is exploring a way to open the track for community use with supervision.  We currently do not open the track due to issues we have experienced with damage to the track and stadium turf. - Dr. Kenneth Estes, AISD Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services

Thursday, Jan. 30
Question: When will the school calendar for 2014-2015 be available. My family is trying to make plans for next Spring Break, and we are needing dates.
Answer:
The school calendar must be approved the School Board each year and for Alvarado ISD, that typically happens in January or February. Next year's calendar was not up for approval by the January meeting so it has not been approved yet. We are, however, currently working on a two-year calendar that would provide parents the ability to plan two years in advance. - Tommy Brown, AISD Public Information Officer

Thursday, Jan. 30
Question:
 I know that we have two days to make up due to the ice days. One of those days is Good Friday. I realize that the administration may already be anticipating several not agreeing with going to school on this day, myself included. I also realize that there are circumstances that are beyond our control. Has anyone thought about changing one of the staff development days to a make-up day? Instead of a full day, could the students come half day, and the other half staff development? Or another suggestion might be Memorial Day. Yes, I realize that it's a national holiday and people might be upset about it. What would be a better way to honor those that fought for our freedom than to exercise our right to an educationjQuery183017488354537636042_1444016541374 The schools could use it as an excellent teaching moment. Lessons and/or programs could be centered around Memorial Day, what a great teachable moment! This could also be a half day in which students could honor those that fought for our freedom.
Answer: Good Friday is a Holy Day for many people, especially those who are affiliated with liturgical tradition churches. For many people however, Good Friday is not observed. There is no good day to use as a makeup. Too many of our students simply do not come to school and our attendance suffers and a day of instruction is lost forever on those who do not attend. I do not understand why, but I suppose it is just human nature. But, we are required by law to make the day(s) up. Tacking them on at the end of the year is quite troublesome also. Some schools won't even consider the option because of the challenge in getting students to attend. The bottom line is that we will look closely at the issue and ask many people for suggestions. - Dr. Chester Juroska, AISD Superintendent

Wednesday, Jan. 15
Question: What is the date, time, and place for AHS commencement exercises?
Answer:
 Graduation will be held at 7 p.m. on June 3, 2014 at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center in Fort Worth.

Monday, Jan. 13
Question: Will there be a Daddy-Daugher Dance this coming Valentine's? I know there were some issues last year. To appease everyone (and to raise more money) you could always make it a Father/Daughter & Mother/Son Dance. I believe Burleson does a combined one like that.
Answer: There will be a Daddy/Daughter Dance on February 13th from 6:30 - 8:00 pm. - Chris Magee, AHS Principal

Wednesday, Jan. 8
Question: 
I am concerned with money that the district may be wasting... I believe that the school pays for the gas that goes into the district vehicles and I see them being abused. Having a district vehicle is a privlege and not for personal use, but I have myself witnessed three different times a district vehicle, absent of any students, with just instructors in it, going to fast food places!! I saw the head of the transportation dept (or whatever the position is called) in the district truck eating at Sonic! I saw two district SUVs at chicken express not too long ago as well! There were no students involved in these trips either, just the teachers!! This seems like a waste of our taxpayer money for them to use gas that the school provides to go eat fast food! They are probably using money that the school gave them to buy the food as well! I am wondering why this is allowed? Did the administrators just not know that this was happening! This is very concerning please respond!
Answer: The Transportation Supervisor who you may have seen eating at the Sonic does indeed use a school issued truck. He spends much of his day driving to all six campuses dealing with student discipline issues and driving routes to check on issues that have been called in by patrons. Rather than driving back to the office, he may have stopped at Sonic and then went on his way tending to his duties. The same is true with our maintenance personnel. These dedicated men drive campus to campus fulfilling repair requests. Rather than driving back to the shop, they swing by an eating establishment for their noon meal, then they are back out again working on campuses. I cannot brag on these gentlemen enough for their honesty and work ethic. I realize that they could make a much larger salary in private business. I realize that there is always the potential for abuse in any organization, so I appreciate your voicing a concern. It gave me an opportunity to investigate these concerns and to stress the importance of public appearances and not give our tax payers a reason for a lack of trust. I furthermore encourage you to call me directly anytime you feel that an abuse is occurring. I do not want you to think I am covering for AISD personnel. If we are wrong, we are wrong, and will make efforts to correct it. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Monday, Jan. 6

Question: If my son is failing the semester with a 60, can he take credit recovery for that one semester and who does he talk to at the high school if he can?
Answer: We do not offer credit recovery for semester averages. We determine final grade in a year long class by averaging the first and second semester averages. If he concludes the first semester with a 60 which concludes on January 24, 2014, he will need to earn an 80 for the second semester to pass for the year. In the meantime, we would encourage your son to go to tutoring in the particular class to raise his first semester average as high as possible for the remaining three weeks of this semester. - Chris Magee, AHS Principal

Monday, Nov. 25
Question: 
Are the schools having the abstinence program this year? I know they have a lot of academic standards and the STARR test, but, I feel this program is needed.
Answer: Our intermediate, junior high and high school campus will be participating in an abstinence program this year. The high school had its program last week while the intermediate and junior high have planned their programs for the spring. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Monday, Oct. 28
Question: 
Why is it that even with the student athlete card, my son still had to pay to get into the volleyball game last night? The students that showed their ID to the teacher on the right side of the table were let in but the students that showed it to the person on the left side of the table were not let in unless they showed their student ID card along with their Athletic ID card. I know this because I was there and I saw it happening. I guess certain individuals at the junior high have found a way to get more money from their students and some of them like taking away priveleges extended to athletes. Yes, it is only $2.00 but not all students have money. I am taking this directly off my son's card. Alvarado Junior High School Student Athlete The bearer of this card is allowed free admission to all AJHS hosted (HOME) events. Privileges will be revoked if anyone other than the card holder uses this pass. 2013-2014 No where on this card does it state that they also have to show their student ID.
Answer: One of the privileges of being an athlete at the junior high and high school is receiving a pass to get into home sporting events free. AHS athletes can go to home high school games for free and AJH athletes can attend any home junior high games for free. Because the people taking money at junior high games are not always the same and for the purpose of making sure it is a junior high student, the junior high also requires the student to show their school-issued student ID card. This is something the junior high has been doing for the last few years and there is a sign directly behind the table that states students must also show their student ID card. There is also a reminder made during the announcements on game days and there was a note on progress reports as well. No one is attempting to take away privileges; rather they are trying to make sure the students who earn those privileges are the students who are using the cards. We apologize for the confusion and hope this doesn’t keep you from supporting the junior high athletes in the future. - Jeff Dixon, Athletic Director and Melodye Brooks, AJH Principal

Friday, Oct. 25
Question: 
Was wondering why the cross country team is allowed to run in the dark without reflective vest? They are nearly impossible to see until you are right on them. I am just concerned about their safety.
Answer:
This is an issue that is faced each fall as we approach the 'time change' late in the season. The team has new workout shirts with reflective lettering on the front and back that should help drivers recognize the students in plenty of time. I appreciate your concern and bringing it to our attention. - Jeff Dixon, Athletic Director.

Wednesday, Oct. 2
Question: Two of my children...each on different campuses, have both been told their vaccines are not up to date. In each circumstance they have both in fact been up to date, it was Alvarado who messed up the records. I would not normally say anything, just make a copy and send it to school...but I have talked to an overwhelming amount of other parents who have had the exact same thing happen to them. Either their records were lost or not entered correctly at all. I know there are new nurses at different campuses but that doesn't excuse things being messed up in the system. If there are in fact kids who do not have shot records...I thought they were not allowed to enroll? What is going to be done to prevent this mess in the future?
Answer: We will be the first to admit that, although unfortunate and regrettable, human error and clerical mistakes do happen. At the beginning of each school year nurses spend much of their time updating records and occasionally a single number or letter entered incorrectly can trigger a phone call to a parent in order to verify records. As far as students whose shot records are not up to date at the time they register or begin school — there is a 30 day grace period that parents/students are given to bring all their records current. If, at the end of the 30 days the records are still not current, they will be unenrolled. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Wednesday, Sept. 25
Question: 
I am a very concerned parent of a second grader at North Elementary. My son comes home with a large amount of homework every week, much more than my older children, and he is in elementary! Every night he is expected to read for 20 minutes, do a math worksheet, do a reading fluency worksheet, study vocabulary words, and do a spelling word activity. With the new dismissal policy, by the time I am able to get home with my children it is about 4:30, and with bedtime at 8:30 and hours of homework that doesn't leave much time for family. After working all day, and the kids at school all day, when we get home we need that time to unwind and connect as a family. I believe that time should be used for family time, or playing with friends outside, or sports and clubs they may be interested in. While we do not put sports above academics in our family, we do believe they are very important, especially for little boys with a lot of energy they need to relieve. To get to go play and laugh and not worry about spelling and math for a little bit. But with the way it is now, coming home leads to more stress of trying to cook dinner while 'teaching' (because a lot of the math and spelling they evidentially don't do in class because my son never knows what to do) my son his homework for hours. Then having enough to time eat, do a couple chores, take baths and get to bed. My son hates school now (unlike my older kids) and I feel the stress of all this is the cause. He is in 2nd grade..... Is at school for 8 hrs a day.... Can we not let them have the evenings to do kid stuffjQuery18305049165834207088_1447104020448 Is there anything that can be done about this?
Answer: 
Second grade homework packets are sent home on Mondays and aren't due back until Friday, sometimes even the next Monday. Fluency homework is a one minute checkup that parents are asked to help with by counting the number of correct words a child reads in 60 seconds. Yes, students are encouraged to read for 20 minutes every evening.  The Reading Log sent home each week has suggestions for conversations with parents about the student expectations the class is working on to meet state standards. Second grade reading with comprehension is crucial to the development of a student who is ready by third grade to "read to learn" rather than "learn to read". Vocabulary and definitions are provided so that parents know and can help support their children with the words they are working on in class. No written homework is required for vocabulary or spelling homework. Spelling words are provided for review before the assessment at the end of the week. Teachers ask for three math worksheets to be done during the week. These worksheets are a review of concepts taught during the previous week in class and should not take longer than about 10 minutes, three days a week. This form of spiral review helps students retain what they've already studied. The "STAR" (Students Taking Academic Responsibility) communication notebook that comes home each day is the way our teachers at North seek to communicate with parents about what is being covered in the classroom and how they can help support learning at home. There are several pages which outline ways students can practice what they've learned. These were provided in response to parents who often ask how they can help at home.  However, those pages are not designed as homework assignments. Teachers, parents, and students need to work as a team to move forward and see success this year. You will certainly find no disagreement that family time is crucial for well-rounded children. It would be our hope that time spent on reading and math at home could be fun, valuable family time as well.  For ways to make homework more fun, please feel free to speak with your child's teacher directly. - LouAnne Stevens, AEN Principal

Friday, Sept. 6
Question: Why are the seventh grade cheerleaders required to wear makeup everyday?
Answer: First, we do not have cheerleaders per se at Alvarado Junior High. We have a Spirit Squad which includes cheer, dance, Pom, colorguard, and school spirit along with leadership and school service. Neither the seventh grade nor the eighth-grade participants have been mandated to wear make up on a regular basis. The entire team was instructed by Coach Murr though, that proper hair and makeup are indeed a part of the uniform. When in uniform, young ladies on spirit squad are expected to have their hair out of their face and off of their neck with minimal or no jewelry. They are required to wear lip gloss or lipstick along with either eyeliner or mascara. More makeup is allowed as long as it is tasteful, but is not required. At no time are any of the junior high girls required to wear foundation or blush or eyeshadow.
The young ladies are instructed to always look well groomed and manicured… to show that they take pride in their appearance when representing the school and the team in uniform. Ladylike behavior as well as responsibility, courtesy, and school service are part of being in spirit squad. While we teach and reinforce the pillars of etiquette and ladylike behavior, girls who dress the part are more likely to act the part. - Estelle Murr, AJH Spirit Squad Coach
 
Friday, Aug. 9
Question:
 
What is the address for the high school for the back to school bash?
Answer: 1301 Parkway. You can also visit the 'Schools' tab on the front of the district website and click on view map for directions. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Question: How do I get information about the free and reduced price lunch program? The link on the back to school page just redirects you back to the home page.
Answer: We hope to have that information updated this week. You can also sign up for the free and reduced price lunch program at the Back to School Bash next Friday. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer 

Thursday, Aug. 8
Question:
 
If you fail 2 classes at the end of the year, can you take credit recovery to graduate with your class on time?
Answer: 
The counselors look at each student's credits and place in classes that are needed. CRL is an option that can be used. We do whatever that it takes on our end to have all students graduate with their cohort/class. Chris Magee, AHS Principal

Question: Do i need to preregister my kids or bring anything for the back to school bash?
Answer: 
No. If you want shots or a haircut there is a small fee, but you will not have to bring anything to take advantage of the school supplies or other free resources. -Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Wednesday, Aug. 7
Question: Is there a form that must be filled out for boys JH athletics and if so, how and where do we get it before school starts?
Answer: There is a physical form. Parents can get it at the parent meeting or stop by the school and get one. - Melodye Brooks, Alvarado Junior High Principal

Tuesday, Aug. 6
Question:
 
Do you know on the jr high school supply list it says a computer bag. I just wondering what size does it need to be and if we have to get it before or during the school year?
Answer: 
Junior High students will not need a computer bag. We apologize for the late notice, but it was a late change to the school supply list and has been corrected on the list posted on the district's website. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Monday, Aug. 5
Question:
 
Will the school be giving out supplies like they did last year before school starts?
Answer: 
The Back to School Bash will be Friday, Aug. 16 from 1-4 p.m. at Alvarado High School. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Thursday, Aug. 1
Question: 
When will we be getting our school schedules on skyward?
Answer: 
Alvarado High School will be handing out schedules on Aug. 6 (seniors and juniors) and Aug. 8 (sophomores and freshmen). Alvarado Junior High will not have schedules ready until Meet the Teacher Night on Aug. 26. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Tuesday, July 30
Question: 
When does registration start?
Answer: 
Monday, Aug. 5. - Julie Holland, Director of Technology 

Monday, July 29

Question: When can high schoolers go and change make schedule changes?
Answer: The high school has schedule pick ups on the calendar for Aug. 6 (seniors and juniors) and Aug. 8 (freshmen and sophomores). - Chris Magee, AHS Principal

Monday, July 15
Question: When are you putting the school supplies and back to school stuff on your website.
Answer: The Back to School page was uploaded late last week. You can click on the big Back to School graphic on the front of the district website and it will take to the page. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer 
 
Thursday, June 20
Question: I read that the board voted to increase the health insurance contribution. I am very appreciative. I was a bit confused by the article though. According to my deductions, the district already contributes $225, the article stated that the district was raising contributions to $200 for everyone. Will I see an increase? Could you please clear up my confusion?
Answer:
Currently the district contributes $150 and the state chips in $75 for a total of $225. As of September 1 the district contribution will increase to $200 and the state's will remain at $75, therefore making a total contribution of $275 when you look at your deductions in September - a $50 increase from the year before. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Monday, June 3
Question: 
My child is currently in kindergarten. I have been very pleased with his teacher and would like to give her a gift card or gift basket as a way of thanking her for all she has done. I have heard that some school districts do not allow this. Does AISD have a policy regarding gifts for teachers?
Answer: There are absolutely no rules against showing your appreciation through gift cards or gift baskets to your child's teacher. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Friday, May 31
Question:
The recent outbreak of bad weather close to home and around the country has a lot of parents concerned about the safety of their students while at school. Are there plans to include severe weather safe rooms in the new Junior High? Do the other schools in our district have safe rooms, if not, is federal funding available through government or local agencies to assist with building safe rooms..i.e. FEMA? Praying for those who lost homes and loved ones around the nation!
Answer: 
There is nothing more important than keeping our students and staff safe while they are at school. We currently do not have any 'safe rooms' at any campus in the district and at this time there are not any plans for 'safe rooms' in the new junior high. Please be assured school district officials and architects will do whatever they can to make sure the new junior high and any other campus within AISD are and will be as safe as they can possibly make them. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Friday, May 24
Question:
 In reference to the pervious question concerning health insurance: I understand the our choice is connected with TRS, however the rates have continued to rise over the years (as has the deductibles and out of pockets, etc.) however the district's contribution to employees premiums has remained the same. Other districts do contribute more, why can't ours?  This would be a much appreciated benefit. 
Answer: A recommendation to the Board of Trustees to increase the district's contribution is slated for the June Board meeting. The Texas Association of School Boards recently surveyed 437 district's about how they plan to address the health insurance cost increases. 61.8 percent plan on having the employees pay the total increase while 27.9 percent plan on sharing the increase between employees and the district. Only 4.6 percent of the district's are planning to pay for the entire increase. - MaryAnn Wood, Director of Human Resources.
 
Friday, May 17
Question:
I can't believe how expensive and how terrible the health insurance is for school employees. I pay 70% less per month than what my wife pays per month and I am paying for myself and 3 kids. Unfortunately, my company won't allow a spouse that is eligible for coverage from her employer to be covered under our health insurance. My prescriptions are over 50% cheaper per month and through mail order, I can get 3 months for the price of 2 months copay which is $50. My wife just sent in for a 3 month supply and we paid $205.00.  I find it hard to believe that with as many employees that the school has, they can't negotiate a better insurance package.  Someone has really dropped the ball on this one. Why can't the school get better insurance?
Answer:
Yes, someone indeed dropped the ball on this one. It was the state legislature when they mandated that schools with less than 500 employee would participate in the state pool. Alvarado ISD has absolutely no control over this nor even input. A few years ago, each district negotiated its own health insurance policy and those were the "good ol' days." If a company raised the rates too much or cut benefits, we could go out for bids and find a better policy. Many schools with a high risk population were unable to negotiate acceptable policies, thus the need for the state to step in. Alvarado ISD would welcome the opportunity to be released from the state insurance and be able to seek its own policy. This will take action by the legislature, so perhaps the voters will get behind us and put pressure on our representatives. - Dr. Chester Juroska, AISD Superintendent
Answer 2: Thank you for your question because it gives me the opportunity to completely agree with you! In the late 1990's and early 2000's, educators repeatedly asked the State of Texas to provide health insurance comparable or equal to other state employees. In response, the legislature mandated TRS to oversee a self-funded trust fund from which enrollees' health care claims are paid. Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the 3rd party administrator for the plan. The legislature further mandated that schools with 500 employees or less MUST provide this as their "insurance". Additionally, the legislature denied any avenues to get out of this self-funded plan. 1,120 school districts are participants of TRS-ActiveCare. TRS-ActiveCare pools the risk for healthy and not so healthy enrollees. Last year, the plan paid 1,732 claims in excess of $100,000, and 79% of all claims dollars were paid for 10% of enrollees. Additionally, claims expense exceeded premiums collected by $142 million. To minimize future premium increases, TRS-ActiveCare encourages enrollees to shop around for their healthcare services whenever possible and to make healthy lifestyle decisions. Until the legislature sees the injustice done to the educators, we have no options regarding insurance. - MaryAnn Wood, Director of Human Resources

Thursday, May 16
Question: 
I am a student at AHS, and I would like to aware you of how bad our janitors are doing at restocking. If the janitors don't restock the restroom, who is responsible for that? There's never toilet paper, hand soap or hand towels in any of the restrooms. Sometimes I have to go to at least 3 different restrooms because of this issue, which causes me to be late for my next class. This is also very unsanitary, girls aren't able to wash their hands because there's never any soap! & it seems as the school year is coming to an end, this problem is just getting worst. I have talked to multiple girls, even staff members have complained about this problem! Something needs to be changed here.
Answer:  
We appreciate your reporting this concern to us.  We investigated your concern and found it to be quite valid. Several of the dispensers appeared to have been vandalized and/or were missing. We outsource our custodial services to a third party vendor, the Faulk Company. We made contact with them promptly this morning upon becoming aware of your concern and have asked them to order replacement dispensers. They have assured us that they will immediately let us know when dispensers have been damaged in the future and that they will do a better job of replacing damaged dispensers.  The Faulk Company also assured us that a supervisor from their company will walk the restrooms at your campus each afternoon beginning today to make sure that all dispensers are properly stocked. We are embarrassed that this situation occurred, and we apologize. - Mark Ratcliff, Asst. Superintendent of Operations

Tuesday, April 23
Question: 
I am concerned with the district's transportation discipline policy. My daughter, along with several other people's children that I know of, has been removed from the bus for eating....However, she has told me that the majority of the other kids on her bus eat also! None of them have been written up, and i feel that this is unfair, especially since even the other kids say that the bus driver is aware that they are eating. One of my daughter's friends even said that the bus driver saw her eating an apple when she entered the bus and didn't say a word, nor issue a write up. In addition, I even witnessed a bus driver drinking on her bus when i happened to be driving by! This is called insubordination, and it doesn't matter if the bus drivers are on the bus longer, rules are rules and if the bus drivers don't follow them I don't see why our kids are forced too. My daughter gets on the bus on one of the first stops so she's on the bus maybe ten minutes less than the bus driver is anyways... so she should be able to drink too! In addition, she has come home telling me that she didn't want to ride the bus anymore because her bus driver would frequently text while she was driving the bus! I have witnessed on several occasions the same bus driver on her phone while pulling up to a stop light! I am very concerned for the safety of the passengers (OUR KIDS)!! I would really like to see the flaws of this discipline system be corrected, not only for the sake of my daughter but for the other children as well.
Answer:
You have asked several good questions, and I will attempt to answer each one in turn below. The first priority of our school bus drivers is to get students to and from school safely each day. This requires them to both watch the road and attempt to watch the children. I am sure that you understand that it can be difficult to monitor both the behavior of the children and the road especially when you may be dealing with as many as fifty to sixty children. Our drivers do their best to monitor student behavior and to be fair. It is not our goal to write children up or kick them off the bus. Drivers are instructed to provide students with a verbal warning and give them a chance to correct their own behavior before writing a child up on the bus unless the infraction is a major offense. Students who have persistent misbehavior and who have ignored the instructions of the driver are written up. We are not allowed to share with the students on the bus who was written up and/or what their consequences may have been. It is, therefore, very possible and probable that other students may have been written up for the same behavior that your child was written up for. It is a common practice among school districts to ban eating and drinking on the school bus.  Students, if allowed to eat on the bus, can spill food and drink on themselves, others, or the bus. Food or drink left in the floor of the bus can become slipping and tripping hazards. Empty bottles may become projectiles, etc, and all of these behaviors become unneeded distractions for the driver who we want to pay close attention to what is happening on the highway. We try to design our routes to minimize the time that our students are on the bus. Some of our students, however, are on the bus for nearly an hour, and some of our drivers are on the bus for nearly two hours. When the weather is hot, we allow students to bring bottled water on the bus, and we announce to the students when this is allowed. We do allow our drivers to carry a drink onto the bus because they are on the buses for nearly two hours. They, however, are not allowed to drink while they are actually driving. They may take a sip at a bus stop such as a campus or other location where doing so does not present a safety risk.  We all try to be good role models for our students and children.  We try to model proper dress, speech, and behavior for our children, but it is not uncommon for adults whether they are bus drivers or others to have different rules. Our school bus drivers are absolutely prohibited from using a cell phone while driving whether they are talking or texting. If a driver has an emergency, and they cannot reach us by radio, they are instructed to pull the bus over in a safe location before calling base on their cell phone. If you notice one of our drivers texting or talking on their cell phone while driving, please contact our office at 817.783.6807. If you can get us a bus number, date, and an approximate time that would help us in investigating a reported violation of our policy. We take this policy seriously, and if a driver is caught violating this policy, the situation will be addressed. - Mark Ratcliff, Assistant Superintendent of Operations

Monday, April 22
Question: 
I think that it would be a good idea for the district to be unified on days when our Flag is flown at half staff. Today, the day after the tragedy in Boston, the flag at Jr. High is being flown at half staff but the flag at the main administration building is not. I feel that it would be nice if the entire district came together on those sad days as well as the city. Does the district have a policy on communicating flag protocol such as this?
Answer:  
We receive updates from the Governor's Office and the President of the United States when flags are to be flown at half-staff. Those updates are then emailed to each campus and upon receiving the notification, each principal will have that campus' flags lowered. There are times when one principal may see that email a couple hours before another and that may cause on campus to have its flags lowered before another. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Friday, April 12
Question:
 My Intermediate student said that she had to take her STAAR test in a different room other than her normal classroom and that she was not allowed to do her normal routine of going to her homeroom first. She said the teacher was rushing the students to try to get ready to start testing at 8:15 and it made her and her classmates more nervous. I asked her teacher about it before the second test and the teacher agreed that starting by 8:15 was a concern that teachers brought up to administration prior to the test on a question board, but administration did not ask for opinions on starting times. Is there a state law that says schools have to start the test at the exact same time throughout the building?  The teacher said she had until 9:00 last year. Why were the teachers not asked their opinion?  Shouldn't they be allowed to start when their students are ready? I'm worried all of these things are going to affect her score! And we have other tests coming up! I don't think the Intermediate is doing what is best for their students!
Answer: Teachers decide which classroom students will test in. Students who test in another classroom go with that testing administrator in the morning. STAAR testing days are not "normal," so we cannot allow students to do their "normal routine," as this is impossible. Our STAAR testing schedule states to begin testing by 8:30. At 8:15, after announcements, the principal states that teachers may begin reading testing directions. All other campuses in the district start at 8:30 as well, with the exception of Lillian, who said they would start around 8:50. There is no state law that says schools have to start the test at the exact same time throughout the building. There are many districts in the state, who do this, however, we chose not to do that. We communicate to our teachers that no teacher would start at the exact same time, and that when their group was ready to begin the test, they could. There should be no reason for a teacher to feel rushed, as students have been in the classroom since 7:45, and they may start the directions at 8:15. After viewing our records from the first administration, our teachers recorded that testing began at various times which ranged from 8:25 to 8:59. Directions can be lengthy to read depending on the subject area, and students are able to ask questions, which will extend the time before official testing time begins. Official testing time does not begin until the directions are fully read. Karla Moore, AIS Principal

Monday, April 1
Question: I am concerned with the CSCOPE Curriculum in our schools. Why on earth do we have it here? I personally witnessed "preaching" go on during a Veteran's day program at Lillan Elementary. It was from our superintendent. It was so touching to hear and made me proud to have my kids part of AISD. Now when I read about CSCOPE and that it basically strips all that away. None of that is allowed. Religious, moral, and constitutional heritage will be gone entirely. Globalism is shoved down their throats...no more "Texans, or Americans." No more, teaching is gone, thinking is gone. It's just a "teacher in a box" now. This curriculum is changing history....The Boston Tea Party is taught to be a terrorist? are you kidding me? No more American Military History? Have you guys even looked this stuff. It's teaching our kids that American is evil! It is teaching socialism! You have chosen horrible curriculum that dumbs down our students for what, to help with a budget? Please get this OUT of our schools NOW! So, why, when I know our school leaders are good Christian men, do we have this nonsense going on?
Answer: Thank you for sharing your concern regarding CScope. Our Superintendent exemplifies values that make all Alvaradoans proud. His passion and love for our country is shared by all of his staff.  So the idea that our curriculum is unAmerican is unacceptable and would not be tolerated by any educator in Alvarado ISD.
As with any public entity we try our best to get the most out of every dollar spent. Even though CScope is affordable, price was not the reason it became our curriculum. Alvarado ISD searched for a curriculum written by Texas teachers for our Texas teachers that would cover all the 6,000 Texas Essential and Knowledge Skills (TEKS) adopted by the Texas State Board of Education. What really makes CScope a great resource is that we can customize it to meet the district, campus and teacher needs. It keeps learning in the hands of teachers and it individualizes student learning.
CScope is an online curriculum management tool. Essentially, CScope is a framework that provides teachers with a timeline to ensure the TEKS are taught in a timely fashion. It also provides unit lessons, rubrics and unit tests. The use of the provided lesson plans is up to each individual district and Alvarado ISD does not mandate that its teachers use the exemplar lessons. We consider our teachers professionals to make decisions about the lessons they teach. It is a responsibility that comes with the calling to be a great teacher.
What has been circulated on the internet is a misrepresentation of a Social Studies lesson that included an introductory activity on perspective. In the lesson the students were asked how King George III and others from Great Britain might have viewed activities like dumping tea into Boston Harbor. Although the Boston Tea Party was not named, it was described and students were asked to respond how they viewed what happened.
The goal was to take a well-known incident and that was universally viewed as a patriotic event in American History and challenge students to hear about it from a differing perspective. CScope has acknowledged that a different example would have been a better choice, thus avoiding a misunderstanding of its intent. Rest assured that student were not taught that the Boston Tea Party was an act of terrorism.
CScope is open for review to any parent in Alvarado ISD, who wishes to view any part of the Social Studies documents. You can go to your child’s campus and request to view it in detail. We encourage all our parents to take an active role in their child's education, so please don't hesitate to call or come by any one of our schools so we can answer any questions you may still have. - Maribel Diaz, Executive Director of Instruction
 
Wednesday, March 20
Question: 
With the new bond for the finishing of the high school, why was the high school not completed when it was built and was it included in that original bond?
Answer: When the addition to the high school was constructed over 10 years ago, the School Board at that time had the foresight to know that at some point we were going to need more room. At that time the extra space was not needed so the decision was made to wait on finishing it out until the space was needed. If the second floor was finished out with regular classrooms that were never used or if the second floor was never added at all, it would have greatly added to the $1.7 million to house the programs that have been proposed. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Tuesday, March 19
Question: 
I have grandchildren who will be starting school in the fall and the parents had talked about moving to the Alvarado area until they were told that there were some policies in the AISD schools that they found unacceptable. I'd like to find out if there is a corporal punishment policy that totally leaves the parents out of the process. My granddaughters are well behaved little ladies but their parents are afraid that their parenting techniques could be overridden by the school policies. I hope we have been incorrectly informed about the schools.
Answer: We do have a corporal punishment policy but it does involve parents. Parents are given the opportunity to opt out of corporal punishment at the beginning of the year and if it is ever administered a second approval is required before the punishment is carried out. Principals and teachers in Alvarado ISD work very closely with parents regarding all aspects of our students education, including discipline. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Wednesday, March 6
Question:
I would like to address the discipline policy at the intermediate. If you were to ask each intermediate teacher what the discipline policy and procedures are, I do not think you would get a consistent or clear answer from each teacher. When I ask other teachers for clarification on what I should do in certain situations, I do not get consistent answers or I am answered with "I don't know."
Answer: There is a clearly defined discipline policy located in the student handbook that each campus uses as a base for creating its own discipline procedures. If there are inconsistencies in the discipline procedures on an individual campus it is our hope that the parent or teacher taking issue with the procedures would talk to the the campus administration. If the problem is not resolved at that time, parents and teachers are always welcome to discuss issues with district administrators. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Question: Seeing as we are almost at the end of February, I wanted to ask if any of the schools celebrate Black History Month? If so, which schools or is it all district wide? Thank you, in advance, for your prompt response.
Answer: After researching your question, it is evident most of our schools do recognize Black History Month through curriculum, art projects, morning announcements and things of that nature. Is it enough? No. To be honest, we could probably do more during September for Hispanic Heritage Month as well. Before next year we will take a look at what we are doing across the district and make sure we are doing the very best we can to celebrate these months. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Monday, March 4
Question: 
Why does the high school not have a track? I am a student and I believe that one is desperately needed there. The coaches have to bus us everyday to the Jr high track and I am sure it wastes a lot of gas money. With a new track the district will not only save money on gas but will also be convenient for the coaches who work very hard. With the possible bond for the construction of a new Jr high I don't see why a high school track can't be included if you guys decided to add on to the high school as well. I am not asking for a fancy track, I am asking for something the high school track kids can train on. Many people agree with a high school track and I am sure many of the coaches would be in favor. In fact I have talked to some that wish we had one! Please take this into consideration, we need it and it is beneficial to the district. 
Answer: I agree wholeheartedly with you.  We definitely need a track at the High School. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with you and me. There are many voters who Vote No in bond elections whenever any kind of improvement to athletic facilities is discussed. However, as this district grows, more and more people will see the need for upgraded athletic facilities. A track is not the only athletic need we have. The filed house at the stadium is embarrassing. There are many other things we need to improve. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Tuesday, Feb. 26
Question:
I have a 3rd grade daughter who has attended the annual Daddy Daughter dance since she was in kinder. I am sympathetic to the fact that those two girls don't have a father but they did have a grandfather to come and take them to the dance. The grandmother should not have come bottom line. Yes the world is full of kids without parents but we can be sympathetic to that without punishing the kids who do. This is for little girls and the male figure in their life not for the whole family and that's what makes it special. If people don't like it or don't agree then they do not have to attend! Honestly as a mom if my daughter had no male figure in her life I personally would. Not want to take her to a dance that is intended for that. I would choose to do another special activity with my child. I have 2 boys and I'm not calling the news because Its for daughters only! What's the difference in what that lady did? The majority of this town does not want this to change because of one lady and a grandmother clearly over reacting.
Answer: After an administrative review of the policy, and after obtaining the accurate facts rather than relying on what the sensational news broadcast reported, and after receiving input from many individuals inside and outside of the district, there are no plans to revise the dance policy other than to make the invitation more explicit as to who is being invited to the dance. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent
 
Monday, Feb. 25
Question: 
Why can't the high school have a track? This would avoid the hassle of the coaches having to drive the bus daily to the track, not to mention all the money wasted on gas. In the long run I believe the track at the high school would pay off. I am a student and I think having a track at the high school would be beneficial not just to us but to the coaches as well. 
Answer: I agree wholeheartedly with you.  We definitely need a track at the High School. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with you and me. There are many voters who Vote No in bond elections whenever any kind of improvement to athletic facilities is discussed. However, as this district grows, more and more people will see the need for upgraded athletic facilities. A track is not the only athletic need we have. The filed house at the stadium is embarrassing. There are many other things we need to improve. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent
 
Wednesday, Jan. 30
Question: 
My child attends the JH and stated that there is a man who lets them in the school from the Band Hall because the school is locked down and noticed 2 uniformed police officers walking the halls that have never been there before. Is there a concern that the parents haven't been notified about? If the school doors are locked from the outside what would happen if there was a fire would the fire department be able to get in and put it out?
Answer: First doors can not be locked where students can't get out ...just bad guys can't get in. All our outside doors are breakaway doors from the inside so every one can get out as always in case of fire. We are keeping all outside door locked as we always have attempted to. A new officer was added to APD and they walked him through to get him familiar with the campus. As a parent I would be glad that happens. We do have a volunteer to let the outside building (ie band, choir and boys athletics) students in. It is almost impossible to secure this old building but we try. We are not in lock down just doing all we can to keep people out that don't belong and as a parent I am proud to do it. - Melodye Brooks, AJH Principal

Tuesday, Jan. 8
Question(s):
(The following questions are similar in nature so we have combined them with one answer.)
I would like to see a plan in place on all campuses for an emergency lock down where the children are moved to a safe place within the room and have practice drills so they would know exactly what to do should the need arise. I do not believe we currently have such a plan in place. Is this possible?
I am a parent of a student at Alvarado Elementary North, and with all this school shooting stuff going on, I was disturbed to hear that our teachers are not trained for that sort of situation. I talked to several teachers who say they have never been told what protocol would be if something like that would happen at our school.... I know that that sort of thing is hard to have to think of, but I would feel a little safer if I knew there was a plan and that my teachers knew what that was.
Answer:
Each classroom should have a flip chart of five different emergency drills that explains what each is and what should happen in case of an Evacuation, Reverse Evacuation, Lock Down, Shelter-In-Place or a Duck and Cover. The campuses are responsible for conducting drills throughout the year to ensure the teachers and students know what to do. As for asking teachers what would happen in case of a shooter in the school, most of them may not know, but in that situation a lockdown would be issued and the teachers do know what to do in case of a lock down. The phrasing of the question could have been what prompted the unsure answers from the teachers. We take the safety and security of our students and teachers very seriously and educate them on what to do in certain situations. If teachers are unaware of our district's emergency procedures it would be our hope they would ask their campus administrators for help. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Monday, Jan. 7
Question:
Does Alvarado ISD plan to make changes to security in the district in response to the latest school shooting?
Answer:
Alvarado ISD discusses and makes changes to their security and emergency preparedness efforts throughout every school year. The very nature of this horrific tragedy that occurred in Newtown Connecticut will, in some way, influence AISD security measures. Alvarado ISD has already begun the process to address security concerns and will continue to improve our security efforts. The safety of our students, faculty, and staff are always of paramount concern to AISD. - Dr. Kenneth Estes, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services

Question:
I am a parent at north and involved with its parents group. Ever since we came to north our parents group was involved in the fundraising money and budget for extras. The principal would bring up an issue or what the school was thinking and we the parents would vote on it. Since a change in principals we are no longer involved or asked to vote or have any input. Is this just a practice from principal to principal where they are all different? As a parent of a 3rd grader who's field trip was canceled I am not happy about being under a dictatorship. Our yearly overnight trip got national recognition from schools all over the united states! Now we are being told the money isn't there when we know that it is. Lots of parents are very upset by this. The first year they went they fell short of paying for it all from fundraising efforts so the principal at that time took it to the parents and we voted yes to supplement the funds from our school fundraising budget. Why are we no longer a voice?
Answer:
First of all, I can assure you no field trips have been canceled. The goal of each campus is to use fundraising money to pay for most, if not all, field trips so parents are not left with paying a lot of money for the educational trips. The cost of the overnight trip to El Tesoro is now $95 per students and with 100 students that is $9,500 of the $10,000 the school raised for field trips for five grade levels. By doing an extended day field trip at the camp the students still benefit from the high-quality education provided by El Tesoro just without the overnight stay and for half the cost. The decision was made with the students and parents in mind. The students will still receive the education and camp experience while the parents are not being burdened with paying anyhing. Also, the decision not made solely by the principal, but rather the principal, teachers and campus leaders. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Friday, Dec. 14
Question:
I heard that the district spent $400 on five buses to paint a spear on the side of it. If this is true, how in the world is this justified? Our teachers are some of the lowest paid, personal days have been taken away, and we are told we are still in an economic crisis. Also, shouldn't this have been allocated toward something with an educational purpose? If the money was from a specific budget, I still think it could have been spent in a way that would better benefit students first hand.
Answer:
I see your point of spending money on things that are not necessary, but let me shed some light on several of the things you mentioned. First AISD is not in a financial crisis. Many schools are and the state of Texas as well. However,  I contend we are better off than most and are rock solid. We had to tighten our belts some because of the cut in state funding.  But we were one of the few schools which took an early stand against laying off any employee and no one was denied a job because of a lack of funding. While other districts went into a state of panic and began to throw teachers out into the street, Alvarado turned headlong into the tsunami and dared the storm to break our trust with our people. This school year teachers received a 3% raise (raise plus step). The few other schools that offered raises bragged about a 1/2 to 2% raise.  They also do not pay longevity checks or interest free loans in the form of the Christmas Club. Alvarado compares very well with the majority of schools our size and compare closely with the larger neighboring schools. However, the bad new is that we will never (not in the next few years anyway) compete with Mansfield, H.E.B, Carroll, Birdville, etc. because larger and more affluent schools are able to pay more simply because of the size of their budgets and revenue generating capacity. But there ARE reasons why we would rather work in Alvarado than in a large district.
Well, enough of only a few of the  reasons why I am proud to be employed by AISD. You asked about the spears on the buses.  The spears cost a few hundred dollars and if we divided that amount and distributed it to the employees equally, we'd each get about nine-tenths of a cent. The raise, step and longevity cost $535,436.00. So since it was impractical to divide up the spear money, we invested it in spirit and pride instead. Many people commented on how much they liked the spears including lower paid district employees. I am sure there are those who are critical of it, but they haven't mentioned it yet. I am told that when our kids roll into a competing school's parking lot and step off the bus, they look over their shoulders at that spear with pride. I am unable to compute a price on that but it is worth far more than my 9/10's of a penny.  Incidentally, the Alvarado Police Department has the spear logo on their officers' sleeve patch, the city of Alvarado has the spear logo on its water tower for the world to see day or night, First Financial Bank has the spear logo on its debit cards, and the Alvarado Fire Department put the likeness of an Indian Chief on its commemorative coin.
So even though it is my wish that everyone was happy 100% of the time, despite any criticism, I am proud that someone had the idea to invest in a few spears to be placed on the trip buses. We are Alvarado! Go Indians! - Dr. Chester Juroska, AISD Superintendent

Tuesday, Dec. 4
Question:
Just wondering what time the Flashing School Zone lights are supposed to come on in the mornings. I thought it was 7 am but since the time change they have been on before 6:30 am. Who is responsible for adjusting the time on the lights?
Answer: Part of the problem with the school zone lights is that different entities control them. The school district requests that school zones be added in an area when a new school is built to protect our students, but they are typically controlled by whoever controls the highway. State highways are controlled by TXDOT, county highways the county, and city roads the city. TXDOT is responsible for the lights on Highway 67, the lights on South Davis that run from Alvarado Elementary South along the side of Alvarado Intermediate School, and the lights directly in front of Lillian Elementary. The city is responsible for the lights on Cummings between Alvarado Junior High and Alvarado Elementary North. To help ensure that the lights are working during the correct times, we send a letter annually to TXDOT that states both the times that students are picked up and dropped off and the days that school is in session. We were contacted by a citizen about the time change, and we contacted TxDot for the citizen to remind TXDOT about the time change. A person was sent to change the times last week. The city also had a person change the times on the lights on Cummings. At this time, as far as we know, the lights are working correctly. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Friday, Nov. 16
Question: When a district employee uses their own vehicle for district purposes, is there a process in place to reimburse the employee mileage? If so, why are the employees not told that they can be reimbursed mileage they put on their personal vehicles while doing business for the district?
Answer: The school district does reimburse employees for mileage when using their personal vehicle if the destination is at least 100 miles one way from the school district. The stipulation of using a 100 mile radius was put in place by they school board of trustees as a way to save money when the district was looking at trimming budgets a couple years ago. Anytime an employee travels outside of the district for job related functions, the employee must fill out a professional leave form which includes an employee reimbursement form. Those forms can be found online under the Finance Department tab or by contacting you school's front office. - Rodney Toon, AISD Business Manager

Wednesday, Oct. 24
Question: I was told that even kids that passed all their tests will have to attend Marvelous Mondays until noon is this true?
Answer: In order to have OFYP days we have to have the OFYP students attend 180 days. From the beginning of school to the last day we only have 177. The three days are a regular school day that students that did pass get rewarded by leaving early. So, to remediate kids that did not pass their state standardized tests, especially EOC (i.e. a student is in a geometry class but taking the Algebra 1 test in December) we are going to have all students come through 12:15 and then have the Marvelous Monday students go through their remediation classes for the December tests until the end of the day at 3:30 p.m. Students who miss on those days, their absences will be counted as unexcused. - Chris Magee, AHS Principal

Monday, Oct. 8
Question: I would like to know how or why the School Board finds leggings as an inappropriate clothing option, yet "skinny" jeans that conform to the body, as well as skirts, shorts,etc., are an option that is OK? Why are the cheerleaders allowed to wear shorter skirts than even a normal skirt is allowed in school? Why are tight body hugging leggings flared out at the bottom acceptable for Color Guard? I was told by a representative at the High School today, that a student could "pour" themselves into a pair of jeans, and that is OK, because the board is fine with jeans, but not leggings, because it can lead the mind elsewhere..... hmm, seems that showing actual skin with skirts and shorts and tight skinny jeans could also do the same. How hipocritical you are Alvarado/Alvarado School Board!!!!!!! So, because a student is in a recognized school function, sport, activity, it's OK to break your own rules? It's OK to single out kids that are not in one of those areas? Yes, you might send home a student who happens to be in one of those clubs/activities during a regular school day for wearing those things, but when its a game day, or performance, etc., now its OK? Isn't that sending a mixed message to ALL?
Answer: There are some articles of clothing worn to school that are acceptable to the mainstream and some that are not.  Leggings/tights not worn with a skirt or appropriate length shorts are not acceptable by the mainstream.  The uniforms that are mentioned are readily acceptable by the vast majority of people.  Someone has to decide what the dress code will be.  In this case duly elected representatives of the people in conjunction with professional educators have been charged with making those decisions.  To allow everyone to make his/her own decisions regarding clothing and grooming would deteriorate into a chaotic situation resulting in a breakdown of teaching and learning.  Incidentally, educators also abide by a dress code, much stricter than the one for students. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Tuesday, Sept. 25
Question: Not too long ago, participants in junior high athletics were allowed into all games free as long as they showed their ID. Why do they now have to pay to get into these sporting events? The people who can most afford to get into the games get a card that gets them and their entire families into the games for free while these young athletes have to pay to attend. There is something not right about this. Is this card offered to all school employees or just the upper level administration and school board members?
Answer: All junior high athletes are given passes to enter all junior high games free and high school athletes are given passes that all them entrance into all high school events free. All school employees - teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, maintenance workers, etc. - can get into home events free by showing their ID badge. It does not allow the entire family, but the employee can attend any event as long as it is in Alvarado. As far as district passes are concerned, those are regulated by the UIL district that we are aligned with. Most of the District 7-3A passes are designated for administrators and coaches. Administrators are often pulled away from their families to stay late and work home events, thus the reasoning behind allowing their families in as well. The same thought is behind the coaches receiving a District 7-3A pass. It is not unusual for coaches to work 70-80 hours a week during the season they are coaching. Allowing their families into the games free seems like a small expense for all the sacrifices their families make for the sake of someone else's children. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Monday, Sept. 24
Question: Why does the Intermediate school feel that they have the right to tell the parents what snacks the children can bring or not bring to school for snack time? Parents should be able to take responsibility for their child's nutrition.
Answer: Parents should be able to take responsibility for their child's nutrition. If a campus allows snacks (usually at those schools that have students eating lunch before 11 a.m.) then as long as the student is bringing a snack from home for themselves, there is no regulation by the school. However, if a student brings a snack that is to be shared with another student or the entire class, there is a list of acceptable snacks that must be adhered to. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Friday, August 31
Question: I've been trying to get some window decals for two years. My grandson is playing football and i would like to support him.
Answer: If you go to a home football game, the Spirit Shack is to the right as soon as you walk in the gate. That would be the best place to find a window decal. If not, you can contact the athletic department at (817) 783-6940 and the secretary will be able to assist you in getting in contact with the Booster Club that provides the decals. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Wednesday, August 29
Question: Why did the district choose a speaker for the beginning of the year that blamed teachers for his poor childhood memories and educational experiences? I understand the speaker was trying to make the point that we all need to address each individual learning style and work to ensure students' success, but many teachers were left feeling blamed and bashed for the jobs we are doing every day. If we are being told to work harder and meet a every growing amount of challenges, shouldn't we hear about how teachers are improving the educational field or a least hear from professionals about new advances and opportunities in our profession?
Answer: Bashing today's teachers was not the speaker's message at all. I am sorry that it wasn't clearer. His point was to motivate teachers' to continue the good fight of differentiating our techniques according to our students' needs - something we remind ourselves regularly to do. What education is today is night and day different from what it was when the speaker was a student and when I was a child and even a young teacher. My fifth grade teacher thought she could cure my ADHD by grabbing my shoulders and shaking me. Administrators thought they could cure it with a paddle. What was done to me is now highly illegal. In high school, I was near graduation before I had heard of the first class where students were placed when they couldn't handle the regular academic classroom. Prior to that they simply dropped out. There were no classes for autistic, Down Syndrome or multiple handicapped students. Those students stayed home or were institutionalized.  Emotionally Disturbed children were expelled. When I was a new teacher working with special education children, the students, including those only with mild learning problems, were bused to a special campus in deplorable physical condition.  Math class for high schoolers was often a ditto sheet to count the ducks on a pond. Educators used demeaning labels as required by law for every child. I was shocked to have a couple of bright, teenage African-American girls in my class. When I asked them why they were in my class, they casually said because they got pregnant. I was speechless. It wasn't  just teachers not knowing what to do with children with special needs. Administrators and college instructors who trained them didn't know what to do either. I heard many horror stories from professional educators of my generation who were shoved to the corner because they were a minority or might have been slightly different. As a beginning administrator before accountability, there was little concern regarding the academic performance of minority or socio-economically disadvantaged students. Athletes were only required to pass any three subjects. The elective teachers were "leaned on" to pass the players, allowing the core teachers to fail them. It was the Twilight Zone against what we now have. But gradually things changed. All children began to be respected and are educated according to their needs. What we have now are the regular teachers working with all students and special educators supporting them. Teachers are performing at an exemplary level. Most of you thankfully never knew of a system that left so many children behind. That is what the speaker was saying. - Dr. Chester Juroska, AISD Superintendent

Saturday, August 25
Question: I have 5 children in the district - at 3 different campuses (down from 4 last year!). I am curious as to why some of the individual school websites have taken time to fill in the campus calendars, another one only has football games (while I know is a big deal...its not the only thing happening at the high school!), and the other has pretty much nothing at all. I try to coordinate the district calendar with all of the campus calendars, as this is imperative when scheduling doctor appointments, work schedules, and transportation to and from each of their school & other activities-while there are 5 kids...still only 2 parents!. It is helpful to know exactly when their standardized testing is specifically at each grade level...especially for doctor appointments that are scheduled months in advance. We had to cancel several of these last school year & wait months to get rescheduled because of STAAR testing scheduling conflicts. I know the district calendar has all of the generalities including the testing schedule, but it does not have the specifics for each school campus. I know we should be able to rely on some amount of communication via letters from the schools, but let's face it...most letters either never get out of the backpacks or end up as a mess in the washing machine and dryer or simply get to us in an untimely manner when they do make it into our hands. My question is...is it possible for each of the campuses to make it more of a priority to update their calendars and their "events" links on their individual websites and include times of events if they are known...for example...college nights, awards days, community pep rally & ice cream social, etc...? This would really help many of us out here and avoid frustration & disappointment on the students' sides! If this info is out there & I just missed it, please direct me to where I can find it...Thanks!
Answer: We understand how hard it can be to keep up with what is going on at one campus, so keeping up with three can be quite difficult. A lot of information can be found on the district website and the calendar found there. Community events, district-wide events, holidays, staff developments and even testing dates can be found there. Be sure if you look at that calendar to click on the tab for more information to find out the place and time and, if a testing day, what grades will be testing. Parents should also receive a wall calendar the first week of school that outlines several district dates and campus events. Testing dates on the wall calendar also list what grades are testing on what date. The wall calendars are sent home with each student so parents with multiple students should receive multiple calendars. (If more are desired you can get extra copies at the Central Administration building.) As far as the campus websites are concerned, each campus is responsible for updating its own calendar. The beginning of the year is always a crazy time with so many things going on. I would expect those calendars to be up and full in the next couple weeks. If not, contact the campus with your concern and I am positive they will appreciate the fact that parents are actually looking at the calendar and do what they can to update it more frequently. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer


Friday, August 24
Question: How many years are we (staff/teachers) going to be using the jerseys? I understand the desire to reflect a cohesive unit, however, we have had these for a number of years. We usually have to wear them with slacks (no jeans) so as to look professional, however, we look anything but professional. Baseball jersey type shirts, and most spirit shirts for that matter are meant to be worn with jeans. Personally I've paid a lot more for my jeans than any other pants, they look very nice. I realize that the district might be looking at this from a financial stand point, which is fine, however, since we (staff/teachers) are having to wear them could we not have a voice in it. I know several teachers on my campus, myself included that wouldn't mind paying a little to get something new and different to wear. Couldn't we at least have a little say in it?
Answer: The jerseys were selected to be our district spirit shirt for several reasons. The fabric is easy to care for and extremely durable. The style was selected because it is available in a wide range of sizes to accommodate 420 employees.  They can be worn open like a jacket, and easily layered for the ever changing weather of Texas. Because these are district provided shirts, we will use them until the economic crisis is over and the district can justify providing new shirts for all employees. The reason we have district spirit shirts is for camaraderie, to build team spirit across the district and to remind all of us we are an important piece of a bigger picture. Whether you work at one of the six campuses, in technology, in operations, or in administration, we are unified in our district spirit shirts; we are one in our common mission. I agree that we are not “professionally” dressed in the business sense of the word, when we wear our spirit shirts with slacks. But, we do appear as a professional cohesive unit, as you mentioned. Not every employee has “nice jeans” to wear but everyone has a pair of black or khaki slacks. And, I can assure you, the interpretation of “nice jeans” by 420 employees would greatly vary.  
The district has no issues with campuses/departments or even employees individually purchasing Indian spirit shirts to wear on Fridays with your jeans. The district would require any official department or campus spirit shirt to incorporate the district’s mascot and colors of purple and gold. I encourage you to speak to your campus/department leadership to determine what options you might have. You can always wear an individualized spirit shirt with your district spirit shirt over it when you are attending a district function. - MaryAnn Wood, Director of Human Resources


Tuesday, August 21
Question: My child will be going to kindergarden when do I find out who his teacher is?
Answer: The first and best opportunity to find out who your child's teacher is would be to attend Meet the Teacher Night this Thursday. The elementary schools will be open from 5-7 p.m. for parents and students to meet this year's teachers. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer


Monday, August 20
Question: What kind of report card does Alvarado ISD use for elementary? I heard that it is not one with numbers and the more traditional kind that I grew up with.
Answer: We firmly believe that a successful education depends on effective communication between all stakeholders. Standards-Based Reporting reflects 21st century best practices in instruction and is research based. The standards-based report card currently used at our elementary campuses is one that informs the parents of what specific standards the child should know, understand and be able to do. It is directly linked to the state standards (TEKS). As we face 21st century learning standards, we must use effective methods to measure and report what students are learning. A standards based report card is one of the ways we can accomplish this goal. - Maribel Diaz, Executive Director of Instruction


Friday, August 17
Question: Why can't 4th and 5th grade be in band?
Answer: More students will be successful if they wait until 6th grade. There is quite a difference between a 4th grader and a 6th grader. The 6th grader is more physically mature which in turn helps the student develop the proper embochure, hold the instrument correctly and produce the proper air stream to produce characteristic sounds. Also, waiting until 6th grade allows more time for fine motor skills to develop before learning to handle the manual dexterity that is required to be successful on an instrument. - Patrick Dietz, AHS Band Director


Thursday, August 16
Question: I was just wondering what the options and/or classes etc., there are for driver's education. I wasn't sure if there is a course my child can take at school, or if it is separate.
Answer: Driver's Ed is not offered inside the school day. AHS usually has 4-6 classes a year but they are conducted toward the end of the fall semester, beginning and end of spring semester, and in the summer. AHS will announce all driver's education information over the announcements when a class is scheduled. - Chris Magee, AHS Principal


Friday, August 10
Question: As an elementary teacher, I am hoping that we could have a school supply committee redo the school supply lists for the 2013-2014 school year. Every year it is very frustrating to see that pre-k thru 3rd graders need the same items. This just isn't true! The lack of supplies is also hard for teachers to make it through the entire school year (1 box of crayons and 12 pencils, really?). I realize it states that some supplies may need to be replaced throughout the school year. However, getting parents to do this just doesn't happen. I would love to have a rep from each campus for each grade level meet and make a district supply list. I know many districts in our area have district supply lists but they are grade specific! Thanks for listening!!
Answer: All of our elementary schools will be taking measures to ensure that teachers do not spend money out of their own pocket to provide school supplies for their students in the 2012-2013 school year. It is a great idea to revise our 2013-2014 school supply lists to ensure that it works for both parents and teachers. In the mean time we want it to be clear that all teachers teachers need to get with their school administrator and discuss their grade specific needs as it pertains to school supplies for the 2012-2013 school year. - Maribel Diaz, Executive Director of Instruction


Thursday, August 9
Question: Why is there a Meet the Teacher night in junior high? Aren't they a little old for something like this? Couldn't the schedules just be mailed or posted on Skyward? I've also heard that the schedules change so much that it's pointless to go to Meet the Teacher. Why not just have an Open House later on in the actual school year?
Answer: It is no secret that most successful students have parents who are highly involved in their children's education. The superintendent in several different communications over the years have strongly encouraged parents to not only regularly communicate with their child's teachers but also the campus principals. If this is done then if  a problem arises everyone is on the same page and the problem is resolved by a team effort. Although many parents do less of this as the student advances in grades, it is a best practice to continue to communicate with the school. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent


Tuesday, August 7
Question: My daughter will be in Jr. High this upcoming year, and she has had some of her friends put their schedule on facebook for this year. Are the schedules being mailed and or where can I view her schedule?
Answer: Those students had access to their schedules through FamilyAccess, however, the schedules have since been pulled from Family Access for now. Schedules always change in August and many of those that have already been printed will not be accurate once school starts. The first chance for junior high students to receive their schedules will be Monday, Aug. 20 at Meet the Teacher Night. If you are not able to attend, you will be able to look in FamilyAccess beginning Tuesday, Aug. 21. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer


Tuesday, August 7

Question: Was the school calendar change during the summer? When. we (teachers) left for summer break I thought our staff development began on Aug. 20, not Aug. 15. If this is the case, how in the world is this right!
Answer: The school calendar that was voted on by the staff and adopted by the Board of Trustees in March had new teachers beginning their training on Monday, Aug. 13 and returning teachers beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 15. There was a calendar that had staff developments beginning on Aug. 20, however, that calendar was not voted as the favorite by staff and was never adopted. The only change to the calendar since March has been the loss of six testing days in November. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer


Tuesday, August 7
Question: There was talk about uniforms for this next year is that still going to happen?
Answer: I am unaware of any recent discussions regarding a standardized dress policy, much less uniforms. There was a discussion a few years ago but the feedback we received from parents led us to believe that there was strong sentiment against it. I believe that parents should have the largest say on issues like these which is why we dropped the subject. However, I also believe that if a person did research on the subject, they would see that those schools with a standardized dress policy or uniforms have far fewer disciplinary issues and the cost is usually less than the cost of buying a set of new clothes. There are other benefits to a standardized dress policy. We public school educators are always hearing how much better private schools are better than the public schools. Maybe we should borrow some ideas from them, one of which is a uniform dress code. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent


Wednesday, August 1
Question: What are the pre k registration dates? Is it a first come first serve?
Answer: Registration for all students begins Monday, August 6. Pre-K is something you must qualify for. The eligibility rules provided by the state can be found here. - Maribel Diaz, Executive Director of Instruction


Tuesday, July 31
Question: It is my understanding that schedules for Jr. High are handed out during Meet the Teacher Night. We will be on vacation that week and will not be able to attend. Is there another time schedules can be picked up before school starts?
Answer: You can come to the junior high to pick up the schedule any time after Monday. If you have access to Family Access you will be able to view the schedule from home following Meet the Teacher Night. - Melodye Brooks, AJH Principal


Thursday, July 26
Question: I've heard that the coaches take their wives with them to a coaching clinic they go to which is paid for by the district. Is this true? I realize that coaches work long hours, however that in itself does not constitute spending that amount. Instead of coaches sharing a hotel room, is there 1 coach per room? This seems as if the priority is athletics and not in the classroom.
Answer: Some of the wives are indeed accompanying their husbands on the trip. However, they are not causing the district to expend any extra money. A set number of rooms were reserved at the rate of two coaches per room. However, the unmarried coaches graciously volunteered to have four to a room so that some of the wives who wanted to attend could. The department was budgeted a specific amount of money for the clinic and they are not exceeding that amount.
After this clinic the coaches will begin working seven days per week well into the night. These wives will see them only in fleeting moments until the end of football season, hopefully sometime into December. The dedication they have to our students is far beyond a normal person would have.
Incidentally, these coaches put academics first, insisting that the athletes are successful in the classroom, both scholastically and disciplinary. The coaches provide tutorials for the players who need extra help. Gone are the days when coaches had only football on their minds and didn't really care about academics.
The district has been generous with all students and teachers. Not one goes without the needed classroom supplies and equipment because of expenses incurred by athletics. Our athletic program is highly successful, but so is everything across the board. Every one of our programs are successful. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent


Tuesday, July 24
Question: I would like to know why you make your district employees wait so long between paychecks during the summer months. This creates a true hardship during the summer.
Answer: Several times during the year, the district pays early to accommodate the employees, i.e., "tax free" weekend, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and sometimes, Spring break. In June, the district office is closed for vacation on the 25th and district employees are again paid early. When employees receive their pay early, the period of time until the next paycheck is longer. The district is exploring solutions to address this concern. - MaryAnn Wood, Director of Human Resources

Tuesday, July 17
Question: When can I register my child for kindergarten? Also where are the cut off line where you decide if the child goes to north or south?
Answer: Central Registration re-opens August 6.  Visit our web page for a list of items needed to register, office hours and location, and to download paperwork if you would like to fill it out in advance to save time, click here. The easiest way to determine which attendance zone your child falls into would be to call the transportation office at (817) 783-6807. If you will provide them your address, they can tell you which attendance zone your home falls within. - Julie Holland, Director of Technology and Mark Ratcliff, Assistant Superintendent of Operations


Monday, July 16
Question: My family and I are moving to a nearby town and have been told by friends in that town that AISD is a better school district and they have open enrollment. Their child attends AHS. Is this true? After looking into the local school districts, we would much rather have our children attend AISD.
Answer: Alvarado ISD doesn't have "open enrollment" as such.  We do accept transfers from other districts under certain conditions.  A student must have an acceptable attendance record, no serious or persistent behavior problems, ability to pass the STAAR test and cooperation between the parent and school.  Additionally, there must be seats available in a classroom and grade.  We are bound by law to have no more than 22 students in grades K thru 4. Currently, the elementary campuses are waiting to determine what number will be in each class before accepting transfers and the secondary campuses are waiting until August 5th to interview students and parents before accepting transfers. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent


Wednesday, June 13
Question: Why aren't the minimum/maximum amount of credits to pass a grade posted on the high school's site as a side link for the parents and students. Also wouldn't it be a good thing for the students to see on their skyward page of how many credits they have compared to how many they need to go into the next grade?
Answer: The credits for each grade were on the final report card, transcript, and a piece of paper sent home at the end of the year (3 different ways). The credits were also in the course guide that students received a hard copy of in January. The course guide is online all year as well on AHS website. - Chris Magee, AHS Principal


Monday, May 21
Question: Are parents suppose to smoke in the school parking lots? I'm not only seeing this a lot but also smelling it. I don't smoke nor do I want my child around it as I'm picking him up from school.
Answer: If they are in their cars, it is difficult to stop that, but they are not to get out and smoke.  Maybe they are walking up to the door and finishing up.  We'll have to have a closer look to see what is happening. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent


Friday, May 18
Question: Is there a no tolerance policy about alcohol and drugs for athletes?
Answer: Before you can be an athlete in this district, the athlete and a parent must sign the athletic code of conduct.  Bolded below address the issue of drinking alcohol and drug use.
Banned Substances
            The following rules apply to all athletes at all times:
                        1. No use of tobacco of any kind.
                        2. No drinking of alcoholic beverages.
                        3. No abusive drugs (marijuana, narcotics, steroids, etc.)
These rules apply to every athlete at all times during their school career. Violations will result in expulsion from all athletic activities in accordance with the District’s Drug Policy (CAPE HERO) and the State’s steroid testing policy. The best thing you can do as a parent is to let us know so we can address the issue. - Jeff Dixon, Athletic Director


Monday, April 16
Question: Why is it okay for administration to send out hate filled rhetoric slamming political ideas that they do not agree with. I understand that information needs to be passed along about things, however shouldn't it be done in a non-partisan fashion. After all, this district is filled with more than one type of political party. I believe that respect should be given to all ESPECIALLY by someone who is supposed to be our district leader?
Answer: Let me be sure you understand who I was talking about. I am a political conservative. Representatives like Rob Orr are conservative.  He and many others are not in favor of dismantling the Teacher Retirement System. The ultra or radical right who I am talking about  is out of the mainstream. They do not support public educators or public education.  Among the ideas of dismantling the TRS, they are also calling for even more draconian cuts to school funding. They want even more accountability (standardized testing) than we have now. They do not support bilingual education and are hostile to extra funding for sub pops. They want to allow vouchers to allow people to take public school funding and pay for private schooling thus reducing further the amount of money we now have. I would be surprised if you hold these beliefs. I rather think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. As for my being the leader and should refrain from partisan politics, I do not consider the radical assault on our schools and thus our children as partisan. I expect all public educators to stand up for our students and their profession. I as the leader of this district will continue to passionately defend our teachers and other educators. I will not lose anything even if the legislature decides to take our younger teachers' and future teachers' pensions, but I am not in this fight for myself. I urge you to go to the Texas Retired Teachers Association website and look at some research on this matter. In the end, if you still believe that it is a good thing to dismantle the TRS, I will give you the same platform that I have to defend your position to your fellow educators. I strongly believe in hearing all points of view. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Friday, April 13
Question: What is the status for AHS getting Credit Recovery online? I've been told so many different things. Also, what's going on with summer school?
Answer: We are in the process of designing summer school. Our credit recovery is online. All information should be out in May regular ding summer school. - Chris Magee, AHS Principal


Monday, April 9
Question: Can you tell me the requirements to register for Kindergarten in the school year of 2012-2013?
Answer: Kindergarten Roundup will be May 7-11 from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. at Central Registration in the Technology and Learning Center Building. Students must be 5 by Sept. 1, 2012 to register. When registering, please provide a birth certificate, shot records, a social security card, proof of residence (a utility bill showing service to an address) and a photo ID of the guardian. If you have questions, you can contact Stephanie in Central Registration at (817) 783-6851. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Question: I've noticed an alarming amount of students will skip washing their hands because it would take them too long to do so during the passing period. My question is can hand sanitizer stations be installed by restroom doors so students can sanitize on the way out of the restroom?
Answer: First of all, there is no substitute for students washing their hands. With that being said, there should be hand sanitizers in every restroom and classroom in the entire district. If you know of a restroom or classroom that does not have one please notify the maintenance department. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Thursday, March 29
Question: What is the difference between the Sick Leave Pool and the Sick Leave Bank? What are qualifications for each?
Answer: The Sick Leave Bank is a voluntary benefit operated by the employees of AISD. The By-Laws are published  on our website under Human Resources Documents, Sick Leave Bank. You "deposit" one day leave into the bank, you are a member and could qualify for additional leave based upon established criteria. The Sick Leave Pool is the voluntary donation (maximum one day per year) sick leave days by an employee for the purpose of assisting a fellow employee who, after exhausting all paid leave, has a personal illness or disability or has an immediate family member who has a personal illness or disability or complications with maternity.  Please see Employee Handbook, page 24 for specifics. - MaryAnn Wood, AISD Director of Human Resources

Wednesday, March 28
Question: I'm noticing other districts that are getting out of school for the summer at least a week earlier than we do. Are we going later due to the Marvelous Mondays? 
Answer: We do not add days to the school year for Marvelous Mondays. Students at AHS, who are exempt from Marvelous Mondays, attend less school days. Schools that get out earlier may not have as many holidays during the year, such as a full week at Thanksgiving. - Dr. Kenneth Estes, AISD Assistant Superintendent of Administration

Monday, March 19
Question: Can you get an excused absence for a school day to go see a college that you might be interested in as a junior?
Answer: Yes, juniors get one day and seniors get two. - Chris Magee, Alvarado High School principal

Wednesday, March 7
Question: Is there a plan to provide more police presence at next year's football games since people will probably be wandering over to buy beer before/during/after the game?  I know they can't get back in without paying, but they can still roam around causing trouble or drive home drunk with all our kids in that parking lot or leaving at the same time.
Answer: We are in the process of deciding how we will assign security for our games, not just because of the alcohol sales next to the stadium, but to make it safer for our patrons in general.  The business has not had a license approved yet, although it is inching its way through the bureaucracy.  I still am baffled as to how they were granted a variance by the city.  We have protested the issuance of an alcohol sales license with the TABC but unless we can show them just cause, they probably will not heed our cries.  They are turning it over to the County Judge for final approval.  If you are as outraged by all of this as I am, please write or call the judge and express your displeasure.  Maybe if enough people cry out, something can be done to stop the sale of alcohol next to our children's school.  The TABC informed me that there were 18 calls to that business this past year.  It is logical that with the sale of alcohol, the calls will be multiplied.  Many of our children are in that store before and after school.  What were they thinking?!! - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Wednesday, February 29
Question: Will school be letting out early for the boys basketball team's trip to the regional tournament in Lubbock?
Answer: No, there will not be a district-wide early release. However, if a family would like to go then that will certainly be acceptable as an excused absence for our students."  - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Monday, February 27
Question: Are administrators required to give teachers a 2 week window of time for when they will be coming in to observe for formal observations?
Answer: No, advance notice is not required. According to Board Policy DNA (Local) classroom observations of teachers, "shall be unscheduled."  - Dr. Kenneth Estes, Assistant Superintendent of Administration

Friday, February 24
Question: Is it possible to see the voting results for the 2012-2013 calendar?
Answer: The voting was as follows: Calendar A) 57 votes; Calendar B) 111 votes; Calendar C) 75 votes. To see Calendar B, click here. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Wednesday, December 7
Question: What time officially does the entire staff get off on Friday for the football game?
Answer: It has been communicated through email to all employees that staff is expected to stay until 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9. If you have children at the AISD Learning Center you are expected to pick them up before 3:30 p.m. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Thursday, September 29
Question: How is it that we are in a financial crisis, but we can afford to build a $1.5 million maintenance building? I'm very surprised that we are spending funds on such projects when we have students starving and employee salaries being lowered. Could that money not been used for school supplies for the families who struggled to buy supplies and living in poverty? There are many families out here struggling and to see such a big amount spent on a building, makes it hard to trust that the school is doing everything they can to help student's education.
Answer: This is a common misconception regarding expenditures on building facilities. There are several different funds in a school budget and each is generated differently. Facility funds are usually from what is called Interest and Sinking or I & S. These funds come from a special election in which the voters approve the building of a specific facility - $.26 per $100 valuation of property for all of our bonded indebtedness. In May 2006 the voters approved approximately $25 million for a new Intermediate Campus. These funds could only be used for that campus and anything left over could not be spent on non-facility items, only capital improvements. The surplus is being used for the maintenance building and several other improvements. Even if the school district wanted to spend the money on salaries for teachers or supplies for impoverished students, it could not legally. Those items are paid for out of Maintenance and Operations (M & 0) funds - that is the daily operation of the district. These funds are generated by state funding and the local tax of $1.04 per $100 valuation of property.
I might add that while we are in a belt tightening mode, we are not in a critical state. Other districts slashed personnel and programs while we held a steady course. No teacher who wanted to work in our district was laid off. Teachers have more than adequate funds for supplies. We also have minimized the amount that parents have to obtain for their children. For those who simply cannot afford them, we have a store of supplies that have been donated for such purposes. Several of our local businesses have donated large amounts of these supplies along with money for us to purchase them with. There are breakfast and lunch programs for those who cannot afford meals. We have several agencies that work closely with the school to provide food, clothing and even Christmas gifts. Alvarado is well aware of the children and families who need extra help and go beyond what is expected to help them.
Lastly I would like to point out that the new maintenance building is not a frivolity. What they had been using was a complete health and safety hazard. I dare say it was the worst facility in the entire country and was an abomination for a school like Alvarado to house their maintenance men in it. Building a new one had been talked about and planned for well over ten years, but each time we got close, some other use for the money came up. The maintenance crew just smiled and went on thinking their day may come soon. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Monday, September 12
Question: I would like to say how disappointed I am in Alvarado Elementary North's discipline procedures. It is apparent that students who are habitual trouble makers get to leave class to a "quiet area" and are given a snack for calming down. While others students get color changes and are punished. So it appears that misbehaving children are being rewarded for their ability to throw a big enough fit to get out of class and have a snack. Other students wait ALL YEAR to be rewarded for good behavior. What makes this worse is the principal and vice principal are the ones promoting it! It makes me sad to see the disappointment on my child's face asking why another student who cried and climbed under a desk got a cracker and she got nothing for being on green all week. Yes, I have personally seen this happen! I don't expect this to be published for the public  to see, I'm sure that would create a huge up roar, but this is ridiculous. And society wonders what's wrong with kids today.... It's the school system!
Answer(s): Public schools are bound by state and federal laws on how discipline is to be handled in regard to children with special needs, be they physical, learning or emotional. Because of very strict confidentiality laws, school personnel are not to publicly designate who those children may be. I do not know which children are being referred to, but perhaps the principal and vice principal are simply abiding by the law. The penalties are very severe for violating the rights of special needs children. If most students' disciplinary cases are handled in the traditional manner, perhaps what you are witnessing is not as it seems.  Unfortunately we cannot discuss with you details of a specific student, but it is my hope that you will understand that schools do not always make the rules. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

While it would be inappropriate to discuss any individual student's behavior support, I am able to report that students who are exhibiting appropriate behavior do receive incentives on the AEN campus. While "green" level behavior is expected of each student in order to maintain an orderly environment, those who are successful at maintaining good behavior may receive treats such as extra recess time, or an opportunity to have lunch with the teacher or principal, depending on the grade level and team. Often those rewards come at the end of a certain term, such as at the end of a six week period. And it is true that at the end of the year students who have stayed on "green" for the year are rewarded with a party called "Principal's Pride". This year our school social worker is also implementing a program called "Purple Pride" that will provide recognition for students who go "above and beyond" in the area of character, i.e. respect, empathy, responsibility, integrity,and so on. An overwhelming number of AEN students come to school each day with exceptional demeanor and a real excitement for learning. We are happy to partner with parents to encourage their success. - LouAnne Stevens, AEN Principal


Monday, August 22
Question: I heard that light up shoes were not going to be aloud this year due to them being a distraction. My kids have been wearing light-up shoes to school for years and we have never had a problem, so is this true?
Answer: No - this is not true. You can find a dress code in the student handbook on your student's campus website that will explain what can and cannot be worn. If, in the middle of a school year, something does become a distraction, it will be dealt with at the campus level and all parents would be informed of the changes. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Monday, August 15
Question: Do the Junior High students get August 22-26 off from passing their TAKS test? It was a topic brought up to me by my child and I wanted to make sure if its true.
Answer: No - all students will have to report on Monday, August 22. There was discussion of a flex schedule at the elementary, intermediate and junior high campuses like the high school uses, but it was put on hold. It is a subject that could be brought up again in the future, but not for this year. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Question: My child will be going to the Intermediate school this school year. Do I need to register him? 
Answer: Only if your child is new to the district. If he or she is coming from one of the three elementary campuses in Alvarado ISD their information is automatically transferred to the new campus. If your child is new to the district, you can register at the Technology Department. For more information on registering, you can call (817) 783-1156. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Question: I thought to save money we were not going to provide district wide meals? There are teachers not getting their stipends anymore that work very hard for them and I feel that the district shouldn't be paying for food that they all can pay for themselves.
Answer: You are correct that we initially planned to cut district-wide meals out of the budget. However, as the end of the budget year approached we realized there would be funds for a light breakfast for the entire district. The district's administration feels that getting together as an entire district is extremely important and helps form a team feel among everyone that we are all working together - from the bus drivers to maintenance department to each one of the campuses. In regards to stipends, you are correct that they were cut and they remain cut. Putting the cut stipends back into the budget would have been a very expensive endeavor that would have affected a small percentage of our teachers. The one big item that did find its way back into the budget, at least for this year, is longevity pay - something that affects everyone in the entire district. We appreciate the fact that you are concerned and hope that you continue to contact us with any more concerns. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Question: What is the dress code in Lillian?
Answer: The dress code is in the student handbook. You can find the handbook on Lillian Elementary's website or by clicking here. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer


Wednesday, August 10
Question: In high school what is the dress code?
Answer: The dress code is in the student handbook. You can find the handbook on the high school's website or by clicking here. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Question: Where do I go to see schedules for classes?
Answer: The junior high and high school campuses will be handing out schedules at Meet the Teacher Night on Monday, Aug. 15 from 5-7 p.m. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer


Wednesday, July 20
Question: I heard that the school district is going to charge students to ride the bus. If so what kind of money are we looking at and how we are going to be able to afford that? Is this rumor or not?
Answer: We have no plans to begin charging for students to ride the bus. Too many of our students do not have the option of alternate transportation or live in an area where there is no sidewalk to accammodate walking to school. Again, this is not an option for Alvarado ISD, and nor will it be in the future. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer
 
Tuesday, June 14
Question: Why is there no summer school for students that fail but there is for students that fail the TAKS test? At other schools you can pay for summer school in order for your child to attend the next grade.
Answer: Summer school is generally held by larger schools who have a larger student population and thus financially support the program. When we have tried in years past, we never have been able to enroll enough students to even come close to paying for the instructor. However, there are multiple options. Our students have gone to Burleson's summer school in past years. This year they will be able to still do that or choose to take the class on-line through Burleson at a lower rate. Additionally,  upperclassmen are able to sign up for credit recovery classes at the high school and make up the failed class during the regular school day. Joshua High School is also an option, but I do not believe they have an on-line segment. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent


Tuesday, May 31
Question: I notice that there is an opening for a Transportation Director at the school. Why? I heard the current one is doing well with the vp's while dealing with the students and the driver's seem to be doing a better job. He has gotten several vehicles donated to the - saving the district money.
Answer: Yes, the Transportation Director's position is currently open. However, I would like to remind you that this is not a place for asking about specific employees or students ‑ only the position. If you would like to talk to someone about this particular situation you will need to make an appointment with Dr. Juroska or our Human Resources Director, Mary Ann Wood. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer


Wednesday, May 25
Question: Did the district not apply for the wavier for all of the days that were missed? It seems as if we are making up more days than the original built in bad weather days. I know several districts that are out of school at the end of this week who also missed due to the snow days.
Answer: This has been quite a remarkable year in terms of weather. We missed five straight days due to weather and, if you include the April 11 staff development day (it was also a makeup day for the high school), we have missed six full days due to weather this year - more than anyone I've talked to can remember. When it came to the waiver, we were set to recommend a three-day waiver to the school board. However, only days before the meeting, we discovered that the high school students who are not required to attend Marvelous Mondays would be short of the state-required 170 days of attendance. After making the rest of the Marvelous Mondays regular instructional days for all high school students, we were still a day short of 170 days for those students. Therefore, it was the decision of the district administrators and the school board to ask for two waiver days and make up one more day at the end of the year. While the state allows us to waive days for students, they do not allow us to do so for staff. The school board generously passed an item at the March meeting that enabled us to forgive those days for staff, who without it, would have been working until the end of the second week of June. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Tuesday, May 24
Question: I do not understand why we have to have a supply list that is the same for all elementary schools. Why don't we let the teachers decide what they need for their individual classrooms. Isn't that what the supply list suppose to be for? Every year we write out our needs and they never consider them. Someone just changes the list and the classroom needs are never met. In these economic times I think it would be more practical to let each grade level decide exactly what they need. Our list often contains items that are simply put in storage because they are not what the teacher needs.This is a waste of parents money and a waste of our storage space. Why can't we just be practical? This puts the spending back on the teachers wallets.
Answer: School supplies, just like clothing, can be personal. We all like certain styles and colors. However, when we plan our school supplies we have several other factors to consider.  Expense is a big factor. We consider our parents as the purchasers when making the supplies lists. We have been given many resources with which to work. We try to ask the parents for minimal items since most have more than one child and one list to provide to classrooms. We have provided campuses classroom sets of C-Scope supplies to help with lesson implementation. If there is something you HAVE TO HAVE in order to teach your content and it is not on the supply list or the C-Scope supply list, please contact your campus administration. If it is necessary for instruction, we will see that it is purchased. If it is something you personally like that you do not have to have purchased for instruction, then you have the choice of purchasing it yourself or not. The district does not like for you to have to spend your own money for needed classroom material.  We will work hard to continue that standard. - Ellen Cooper, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum

Wednesday, May 18
Question: Can you post a teaching staff to administrative position ratio for the district?
Answer: According to the last AEIS report released by the state, Alvarado ISD's staff breakdown is as follows:
Central Administration - 2%
School Administration - 3%
Professional Support Staff - 7%
Teachers - 50%
Educational Aides - 11%
Auxillary - 27%


Tuesday, May 17
Question: Please explain why the PPCD program has been cut. Is it due to funding or change in regulations regarding this program? Are we no longer required to provide this program?                                                  
Answer: The PPCD program will be in place next year. We were considering delivering the same services using Head Start but the less than expected cost savings wasn't worth giving up control of the program. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question:
Senior Cheerleaders Why are upcoming seniors just handed a spot on the varsity squad if they have been cheering the previous three years. Is it not their privilege to have been a cheerleader?  This eliminates opportunity for other girls and boys. They should have to try out like everyone else?
Answer: I can't believe that after 40 years I am still surprised by some things. I did not know that this was a policy and it is the first time I have heard any concern mentioned. Here is what I found out. This procedure is and has been for a number of years in the Cheerleader Constitution. There is a rationale for this practice, so I suggest discussing it with the sponsor and or principal.  They can articulate it far better than I. In order for the constitution to be changed, a person would have to go through a chain of command and talk with those two people first, then the superintendent, then the Board of Trustees. If the practice was changed, it probably wouldn't happen immediately. Those students who came in under the old constitution would continue under it until they graduated. I can't say for sure but it seems logical and fair to me. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Monday, May 9
Question: To piggy back on the Good Friday Make Up day, has it ever been considered to have Good Friday as an Early Release day if needed to made up? I've heard of other districts doing this and it would seem to be a win for both sides if considered.
Answer: I agree with the problems of having to attend school on Good Friday. That day is considered a Holy Day in my church, although our activities occur in the evening. We have special services throughout Lent ending with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I mention these things to let you know that the season is very special to me. A committee of people work on the calendar and struggle with finding two days (required by TEA) to designate as bad weather makeup days, not to mention working in other holidays and the length of the year. There is no alternative which makes everyone happy. If we choose to extend the year, people clamor abut summer vacations. If we choose another day during the semester, parents complain that finding baby sitters is a problem. Fortunately it has been relatively rare to use bad weather makeup days so we do not have to attend on Good Friday. My staff and I work very hard when bad weather threatens to determine if school needs to absolutely called off, opting for a late start whenever possible. No matter what option we choose, people call and call us every name in the book while others call and thank us for the decision. If you would like to be on the committee next year to assist in developing the calendar, contact me and I will see that you are provided that opportunity. It is a thankless job but those on the committee strive valiantly to make as many people happy as possible. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: Why is the high school sports' banquet held out of town? I know that we want to make it nice for our kids, but, doesn't it take some of the school spirit away if is not even held in our town?
Answer: We had nearly 550 attend the Fall Sports Banquet. We are expecting over 600 for the Spring Banquet. The town of Alvarado does not have a venue large enough to handle such an event.  Jeff Dixon, Athletic Director

The athletic department strives to not only increase the performance of AISD athletes but also instill pride and enhance the image of the program. It is also a reward for all of their hard work. Having the banquet in a special place does just that. The high school prom is also done that way as well as the JROTC Military Ball. We believe the students as well as the vast majority of the parents enjoy going to a venue that is considered extra special.  Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent
 
Monday, May 2
Question: Is there another day that could be used as a makeup bad weather day other than Good Friday?  Most people are off on that day since it is still considered a religious holiday and that weekend is important to a lot of families as time to be together. Just wondering if it could be changed to another day. 
Answer: I agree with the problems of having to attend school on Good Friday. That day is considered a Holy Day in my church, although our activities occur in the evening. We have special services throughout Lent ending with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I mention these things to let you know that the season is very special to me. A committee of people work on the calendar and struggle with finding two days (required by TEA) to designate as bad weather makeup days, not to mention working in other holidays and the length of the year. There is no alternative which makes everyone happy. If we choose to extend the year, people clamor abut summer vacations. If we choose another day during the semester, parents complain that finding baby sitters is a problem. Fortunately it has been relatively rare to use bad weather makeup days so we do not have to attend on Good Friday. My staff and I work very hard when bad weather threatens to determine if school needs to absolutely called off, opting for a late start whenever possible. No matter what option we choose, people call and call us every name in the book while others call and thank us for the decision. If you would like to be on the committee next year to assist in developing the calendar, contact me and I will see that you are provided that opportunity. It is a thankless job but those on the committee strive valiantly to make as many people happy as possible. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Monday, April 25
Question: This is a question in response to the question and answer on April 4th. On April 4th the question was asked about an assistant principal from the high school getting a new position. Recently, I noticed on the personnel page that there is a job opening for an assistant principal. Why are we asking for a new assistant principal at the high school when we already have an assistant principal and an "administrative intern"?
Answer: To get the best understanding of why this is being done is to speak with the principal of that campus. The assistant principals are a direct support for the classroom teacher. When discipline situations occur, they are called upon by teachers and expected to respond quickly to assist the teacher. There is a gargantuan size number of activities that must be covered by an administrator. They are spread very thin as it is. In order to fully appreciate the position of an assistant principal, I invite anyone who would like the opportunity to see first hand what they do, to work in that office for a day or two. If a classroom teacher would like to check this out, we will see that his/her classes are covered. I was an assistant principal and a principal at the secondary level. There is not enough money to get me to go back to that. The physical and emotional strain is horrific. Working with defiant students and enabling parents day in and day out can take the steam out of the strongest educators. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: Why is there no off-season baseball program?  Unless I'm mistaken, there is an off-season program for every other sport, yet PE is the only option for baseball players who choose not to play football.
Answer: The size of our school does not warrant having multiple, sport specific, off-season programs. All of our coaches teach academic classes as well as athletics, this alone makes it difficult to have specific off-season programs for every sport offered. PE is not the only option for baseball players who don't participate in football. If they want to be in athletics in the fall, they can join cross country, soccer, or football. The State only requires one PE credit. That requirement can be met with two spring semesters of baseball. We encourage all of our athletes to participate in more than one sport. The majority of them do so. Track, golf, and power-lifting conduct their workouts before or after school. Baseball, softball, track, and golf compete only during the spring semester. Football, volleyball, and cross country take place during the fall semester.  Soccer, basketball, and tennis take place during both semesters. All baseball coaches coach either cross country or football and are unable to conduct an off-season program for a spring sport in the fall. Head coaches who only coach one sport do so because of conflicts with other sports making it very difficult for them to coach two sports. - Jeff Dixon, Athletic Director

Thursday, April 21
Question: Will AISD be accepting students for transfer for the 2011-2012 school year? If yes, what are the requirements?
Answer: We will be accepting transfer students on a case by case basis. The students cannot have significant deficiencies in acceptable behavior, attendance, parental support or academics. Facility availability is also a determining factor. The interviewing campus administrator determines the definition of significant deficiency. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Tuesday, April 19
Question: Most things discussed have covered teachers and had very little talk of educational assistants. Should we expect cuts in these position despite the small cost of them?
Answer: When cuts are made, every position should be considered. However, no, one category will be expected to carry the entire burden. The pain would be spread around. However, my middle name is optimistic, so I do not expect massive layoffs ever in Alvarado. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: Has the district considered going to a 4 day a week schedule?
Answer: As far as a four day week is concerned, while on the surface it may seem like a popular notion, many parents would be upset because their children would be at home unsupervised. A longer day for the younger children would be strenuous, not to mention for us older folks as well. I think it would save money but like many other great ideas, they don't pan out in practice. Thanks for the thinking outside of the box though.  - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: What is the plan for teachers and the high school for the past Monday, April 11th? Will it be added to the waiver or made up in June?
Answer: For the teachers who missed their staff development, we plan to add April 11 to the board's "forgiveness" resolution that was recently passed for the bad weather days, but that must be approved by our wise and generous board. My belief is that it will be approved, but I never presume for the board. As for the high school, we have altered the hours of the school day to make up for the lost time so there will not be any more additional days except those that were previously announced.- Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: Is it true that the aides are going to be furloughed a month next year?
Answer: There has been no talk or thoughts of furloughing aides for the coming year. For administrators, yes there has been talk. There will be no furloughing of aides for next year nor hopefully any one else. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Wednesday, April 13
Question: I have been wondering for quite some time on how the things are run in the administration considering all the uproar people are usually in about their job by their hand... Like how the transportation department goes continually without a raise. I understand that our district gets orders from Austin, but... Does that stop our own administration from bulking up their wallet? I understand that we are in a bit of a "money crisis" this year in the school funding. Rumor has some schools closing and others shutting down others, but that is neither here nor there. What matters is what is happening to us and our students. If you are so concerned over all of this why not drop the budget of the higher ends or let go a few dead weights instead of cutting the fat where it is needed to keep the children safe. I do recall a while back of the high school needing to be replaced. It was put to vote and was declined on the majority of reasons of being too high in price and we are already still paying on school things. However... Mind you, I do not know if this is possible or not... But try to take up donations or another form of tax from people to help aid the school more. People do not like higher school taxes, but people don't like their kids in school either. And sometimes we all have to do something more than what is asked or what is expected of us.
Answer: Whoa. The Transportation personnel has received the same as all non-teaching people. That for the last couple of years has been a 2.3% lump sum over their yearly salary, plus a longevity bonus up to $1,000 and bus drivers on top of that can merit up to $350 minus $2 for each day they are absent. That is a nice amount of money that wouldn't have been received in a lot of districts. With the funding crunch, everyone will go without a raise unless something happens at the state level. Transportation people have not been left out. We have no dead weights in AISD. Everyone is a valued, dedicated employee who merits far more than they are compensated. Virtually every person in our district is paid less than his/her counterpart in other districts of our size or larger. That is one of the reasons we are not in the miserable financial shape these high paying districts which are laying people off. We already have a system for people to make donations to our school in money or property, supplies, etc. Each month the board approves these gifts. There are no limits to what individual citizens can contribute. As far as an extra tax is concerned, I would jump at that but we also have to take into consideration the odds of a tax increase election being successful. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: I heard something very disturbing the other day, that the high school coaches are required to work extra days and are not paid for all of those days. I know that every coach my son has worked very hard and has gone above and beyond to help him succeed. Not only has he grown from having some of them as football coaches, but, also has learned a lot in the classroom.
Answer: The disturbing news that you heard about coaches, applies to band directors, choir directors, theater arts directors, cheer sponsors, etc who get stipends for their extra work, not a daily rate of pay as when they are in the academic classroom.  The misconception occurs when people see five extra days of pay which in reality is a basis for increasing the stipend. We need to not think of a number of days that student activity people work. Coaches during football season work seven days per week up to 14 hours per day. Other sports' coaches work gargantuan amounts of time as well. This isn't required by the district, but their dedication to put a winning team on the field motivates them to do this. Likewise for the band, choir, theater people and UIL sponsors. None of these people get paid nearly enough. I appreciate your taking up for the coaches. In spite of their hard work, many people think we have too many and are over paid. That is not a very accurate measure. I'm glad we don't have to pay minimum wage for all the hours they put in. It'd break the bank. Ag Science people also work far above the number of days they get paid for, perhaps the highest of any of our other professionals. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: Is there really a need for all of the positions at central administration?  I recall the state advising districts to cut administrators first. I know that the district is trying not to cut period, but, it seems as if there are positions that are either not needed or could be combined. I have also heard that there are some positions at central administration that only work half time, yet, they are paid with a full salary...is this true? That would be an insult to teachers if true.
Answer: This year we are trying to keep everyone employed so there are no plans to lay off anyone this year, teachers, administrators, paras or auxiliary. Everything is on the table for future years, however. Many of the administrators are in instructional services. They were hired because our TAKS scores were lower than desired in math and science.  They work directly with teachers and principals and we've made great strides. A case by case argument regarding his/her significance can be made for each administrator, yet as important as they are, they will be subject to the same fate as teachers. We have two half time administrators who get half time pay as they draw their retirement. Yes, it would be insulting to teachers and everyone else to pay someone a full salary for working halftime - not to mention illogical when we could hire someone to work full time. These two people are a bargain since in reality they work more than half time but get only half pay. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent


Monday, April 11
Question: Will there be an attempt in the near future to try and pass a bond for a new middle school? Or is that something that will not be attempted for years to come?
Answer: The board may consider it for May 2012 but may wait even longer depending on the economy. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: Why do we have an athletic trainer position open if we are in a financial crisis? Athletic Department is one of the areas the district overly staffs and pays bonus/stipends too. If we are in a financial crisis should this position be filled? These duties should just be added to one of the coaches who already gets the extra money. Please clarify.
Answer: Our children's health and safety is an area we cannot and will not compromise. Trainers often are called upon to act in life or death situations. I credit one to having saved my son's life when his head came into contact with a concrete pad in a pole vaulting mishap. Trainers are health professionals and not coaches. We are actually understaffed with one and should have two. We seem to burn them out after two years. In addition to teaching a couple of classes, he attends every JH and HS athletic contest, many out of town. This is year round. Coaches have one or two sports. I am just glad we do not have to pay them by the hour.. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent
(This is not a question, but, a comment in regards to the question about not hiring a new athletic trainer. First of all, thank you Dr. Juroska for your understanding of the time and work our coaches put into the students and the athletic program. The athletic coaches are stretched immensely as it is. Coaches not only have coaching duties, but, also help with other sports than their own.  Coaches also help their players to be recruited to colleges, without their help many would not be able to do so. Also, the question also mentioned and alluded that coaches are overly paid due to their stipends. If one takes a look at the coaches stipends around the state, Alvarado's coaching stipends are among the lowest and Alvarado coaches work the most hours. Their stipends do not begin to cover the amount of time and effort coaches put in, Dr. Juroska said it well we he commented, "I'm glad they are not paid hourly." If you break it down hourly, coaches stipends become pennies. To add the duties of a health care professional to already overly worked coaches is simply obsurd. I would want my player to have the best medical attention if needed. The benefits of students being involved in sports far outweigh the costs.  Numerous studies have shown that students are more apt to graduate when they are involved in sports. Lastly, have we forgotten that coaches not only coach sports, but, also are in the classroom.  Many are excellent, and some of the best teachers in the district. The coaches have a desire to strive for success whether that be in the classroom, court, of field.



Monday, April 4
Question: Why during these "hard" times does district administration keep adding positions while teachers get stipends cut and high school loses block schedule which is going to hurt the students? To be more specific but not included in my question is - I am a high school teacher so I get an email that says one of our assistant principals is now a director of operations. A quick look shows that AISD did not have this position before and nothing was posted about it. As a teacher it's frustrating to see admin grow and the teachers carry the load on pay cuts etc. ... does not seem right.
Answer: You are correct in that this is a new position. However, the new position was actually created by combining two jobs that will be vacated by the end of the school year so, in essence, we are actually losing one position through attrition. There will also be more cuts in administration as we continue to make up for the expected reduction in funding. The decision to create the position was based much on student safety in regard to transportation. We all are seeing salary freezes and loss of benefits. One administrator has already volunteered a pay cut. Please remember that the majority of administrators are directly involved in assisting teachers. Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: I continue to hear about the House Bill 1 and the reduction of prekindergarten. I was wondering if there was a strong probability that AISD would lose this program or do we have other funds to help support it and keep it in place?
Answer: The PreK program is and has been underfunded and yet the legislature is considering reducing the funds. However, TEA requires that we offer the program. So, unless they lift that requirement which is not expected, we will offer it. It is one of many unfunded mandates. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: There are several programs/positions in the district that are for the sole purpose of improving low TAKS scores. Now that the TAKS is history (after this year), and there is no indication how the kids will perform on the new test, can these programs/positions be eliminated to help with budget issues?
Answer: We have never hired people for the sole purpose of improving TAKS scores. We have hired many people recently (tutors and staff) to improve the understanding and learning for those students who have been identified as at risk of not being successful, whether it be on the TAKS or on the record. With STAAR challenging our deeper knowledge and learning starting next year, we would be remiss if we did not keep everyone we could to help students and teachers with their understanding and learning and success. - Ellen Cooper, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction


Thursday, March 31
Question: What is the class size outlook for next year? Will 30 per class be the new standard?
Answer: Grades PK-4 are still governed by a cap on their class size. Class sizes for grades 5 and 6 should remain similar to current class sizes. Junior High classes should also be similar in class size. With the conversion to the 7 period day, the high school may have smaller classes. It is likely that elective classes will continue to have the larger class size. - MaryAnn Wood - Human Resources Director

Question: Regarding the question about administration being cut - some schools might be able to do that, but my child is at a school with few administrators, and discipline is off the charts. If they don't have time now to discipline so the other kids can at least try to learn something without constant disruptions, how will there be time if there are less of them?
Answer: I agree with you that the campus-based administrators are a necessity. Many people must think we hire them frivolously. A few hours in an assistant principal's  office with these people would convince them that they are directly responsible to insure that all children are in a safe harmonious environment. We are striving valiantly to keep all of our employees, including the administrators who work every day, every hour with students. They are not shuffling papers. If I might be allowed some commentary, people need to realize that in the good old days, a glare from the classroom teacher would settle down a disruptive child. In the rare case it did not, the teacher would step in the hallway with the disruptive student, dust his britches off and everyone could get back to learning no witnesses and no forms to fill out. The sounds from that "discussion" would settle every child in the school down. The student would pray that the teacher did not call his parent. Now too often just a teacher's verbal reprimand results in a strained parent/teacher/principal conference whereby the school has to convince the parent that she wasn't picking on the student. There are mountains of regulations and paper work that teachers and administrators have to deal with, not just with discipline, but a myriad of governmental regulations that have to be tended too.. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: Alternative School - We are apparently already merged with another district to cut costs. However, if a student is so disruptive they have to be removed from the normal school setting (after multiple chances to improve behavior), why must we pay for that? I know jobs might be lost, but there are other costs involved with running an alternative campus. Why can't they be expelled, and their parents have to worry about whether another district will transfer them, or pay for private school? If they are afforded a free public education and abuse that privilege, why shouldn't parents bear the brunt of that expense? Along the same lines, Homebound is a great resource for kids with illnesses and such, but why should pregnant teens, who are Homebound because of their personal choice, get one on one tutoring at the expense of the district? Is it because the school would lose more if they weren't "in attendance?"
Answer: We are required by law to provide an education for all students within our jurisdiction. That is the purpose of having an alternative school. We used to have our own in the former Lillian Elementary School. When the cost became so great several years ago, we entered into a cooperative arrangement with several other Johnson County schools. The AEP campus is in the Keene ISD.  Certain serious violations are mandatory placements to the Johnson County Juvenile AEP in Cleburne. This program is paid for by the county which is also required by law. I too question why taxpayers are burdened with having to pay extra for disruptive students but it is simply a requirement. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: Is the district cutting the AVID curriculum? What is the yearly cost of AVID? How many students are in the program? Students need to know due to schedule changes, Regular versus Pre-AP courses, dual credit, etc. Especially with the lost of electives on a traditional schedule.
Answer: If the state cuts the high school allotment which pays for the AVID program we would have to cut it. There are currently 120 students participating in the AVID program. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent


Monday, March 28
Question: Cuts in the budget have been talked about which will have an effect on teachers, what cuts are being made that will effect admin? Are their salaries being frozen? The state suggested that admin be the first cut, has this occurred?
Answer: Many of the cuts thus far impacted all employees including leave days, longevity, raises, etc. Shortage area stipends of course impacted teachers only and while I do not agree, many teachers resented their peers from getting extra money for working the same hours and days that they did. Also, please consider that we are striving valiantly not to lay-off teachers as many schools are doing. There are future cuts on the table that are being considered for administrators such as reassignment to teaching positions and furlough days whereby they do not work but do not get paid.  The pain will be shared by all. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Thursday, March 24
Question: Often my daughter's bus is so crowded by the time it gets to our neighborhood in the morning, she and a few kids don't get to ride the bus to school. In the afternoons, her bus always makes two trips in the neighborhood and she is on the second trip. Are there any steps you can take to make two runs in the morning? I find it unfair that since we are the last neighborhood to pick up that if it's full we don't get to utilize the transportation offered.
Answer: We apologize for any inconvenience you may have had and if you would like for us to address a specific incident you will need to contact our transportation department. We can tell you that Tuesday morning we had a bus driver call for another bus because her bus was full. The fact that a second bus would be coming was communicated to those students and it was there in less than five minutes. This was the first time this year that this has happened to our knowledge.  - Mark Carpenter, Director of Transportation

Question: Will any aides be cut from staff? If so, how will they be notified?
Answer: We are trying valiantly for no one to be out of a job who already is employed and who is performing satisfactorily. The great majority of schools are not taking that position. There are no aide positions on the chopping block but we get new and changing information weekly, sometimes daily. If someone left the district, we would look hard at not replacing that person. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent
 
Friday, March 11
Question: Will there be any new hiring, are we in a hiring freeze?
Answer: We are generally in a hiring freeze although some teaching positions would have to be filled if they became vacant. And even at that we would proceed slowly with filling that position in case someone already employed could fill it and their current position be absorbed. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: Will the AVID Program still be in place next year?
Answer: The state probably will cut the High School Allotment which pays for our AVID program and tutorials. If the grant is indeed cut then we will suspend the program. If the grant is reinstated, then we would reinstate AVID. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent


Thursday, March 10
Question: I have heard several rumors about making up bad weather days. When will we find out how many days we are making up and exactly when they will be?
Answer: There are a couple different options. The school board needed more information than what was presented at its March 7 meeting so it tabled any decision until its March 21 meeting. With that being said, it looks like the district will request a waiver for three days, whereby we would make up the two days already in the calendar which is required. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

Question: How anonymous is this forum?  Do you see the IP address?
Answer: It is completely annonymous. This idea was contingent on the questions being annonymous and using Google Docs allowed for that. The only thing I see is the time a question was submitted and the question itself ... that is it. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer


Wednesday, March 9
Question: If there were going to be layoffs, would we be able to find out early enough to look for another job over the summer?
Answer: If there were going to be layoffs, we'd certainly give people a warning. However, at least for the coming year, there is minimal chance of anyone being laid off. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

Question: More of a comment than a question - with all the hoopla in the media regarding budget cuts, etc., I feel fairly secure that the powers that be in our district (school board, etc.) are looking out for what is best for our kids.
Answer: For the Record thanks you for your vote of confidence. We truly care and make a valiant effort at not just being fair, but being generous. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent


Monday, March 7
QUESTION: Why do we have to pay TRS insurance towards retirees income. What happened to all of the retirement money that they paid in?
ANSWER: Active members pay toward the health insurance benefits for retired members. State health insurance for retirees is a relatively new thing so many if not most paid into that fund only a relatively short time. Fortunately, when a retired member turns 65, the cost goes down significantly because Medicare kicks in and TRS becomes a secondary insurance. Our only consolation is that someday, somebody will be contributing to our cause until the fund becomes self sufficient, if that ever happens. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintedent

QUESTION: Will we use the calendar that was chosen for the 2011-2012 school year, or will it be a new calendar?
ANSWER: Unless the state reduces the number of instructional days to help ease its budget issues, the school calendar approved by the school board in January is the calendar we will use in 2011-2012. You can view that calendar here. - Tommy Brown, Public Information Officer

QUESTION: What's the deal with the Venus rumor? Are they going to start coming to Alvarado next year?
ANSWER: Gee, I heard it was Rio Vista. I wish they would make up their minds. There is absolutely no truth to this rumor. I have never been approached by anyone from any other school district nor had discussions with any board member regarding this issue.- Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

QUESTION: Is AISD facing the same budget crisis that many other districts are facing?
ANSWER: We are preparing budgets for best case, moderate case and worst case scenarios. Until the state legislature does its damage, there is no way to be absolute. Alvarado is better off financially than most districts. We are not having mass lay-offs and calling for elections to raise the tax rate as are some districts. We are belt tightening and may have to suspend some of our benefits, but the main goal is to keep everyone employed that wants to be. I am also an optimist and believe (but cannot prove)  that the state will not in the end be as Draconian as at first indicated. If they use some of the rainy day fund, that will help. If Governor Perry can be gagged, it is possible we can receive close a million dollars in federal assistance. These are of course maybe's. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent

QUESTION: Who are the experts answering the questions? Is it the company talking points or answered by an independent group?
ANSWER: The "experts" are the people in the district closest to the issue.  For example if it is a financial question, the superintendent or CFO would answer the question.  A curriculum question would come from Ellen Cooper.  A transportation policy questions would come from Mark Ratcliff.  There are no company talking points and an independent group wouldn't know the inside story.  If you've never talked with the superintendent, you will find that he is open and honest to a fault.  He also expects everyone else to be the same. - Dr. Chester Juroska, Superintendent