Start the day right

Food and Child Nutrition Services is celebrating National School Breakfast Week starting March 8 with activities for students.

Elementary students are encouraged to use the coloring sheet available at www.dallasisd.org/fcns or create their own art piece to have a “blast” creating a colorful artwork.

High school students are encouraged to post a picture of their favorite school breakfast food to participate in a giveaway. The best pictures will be posted on social media.

Other activities during the week include incorporating one or all fun themed attire days during the week. The themes can be found on the FCNS website and include Milky Way Monday, Super Smart Tuesday, NASA Wednesday, Planet Thursday, ands Take Flight Friday. Photos of the activities—whether in-person or virtual—should be submitted to FCNSMedia@dallasisd.org for a chance to win a prize for the classroom.

All artwork submissions are due Thursday, March 11. Teachers can submit the artwork to FCNSMedia@dallasisd.org or use the hashtag #DallasISDBreakfast when posting on social media to be entered for a daily giveaway. Winners and best pictures will be posted on FCNS’s Facebook page at @DallasISDFood.

 

 

 

 

 

Help is available

The recent frigid temperatures and winter storms that hit Texas left many Dallas ISD families facing expensive repairs to their homes and other hardships. Fortunately, there is assistance at the federal and district levels.

President Joe Biden declared an emergency for most counties in Texas, which made federal disaster assistance funds available to families to help with home repairs and other needs not covered by insurance. FEMA programs do not pay for fuel or spoiled food.

Federal assistance

To start a claim, call 800-621-3362 or go to https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ to apply for federal FEMA funds. Homeowners must be able to provide FEMA with information on insurance coverage available to them as well as documentation on insurance settlements or denials to process the application. Additional information you will need to file the claim includes:

  • Social security number or the social security number of a minor child in the household who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien
  • Annual household income
  • Contact information such as phone number, mailing address, email address, and address of the damaged home
  • Insurance information (coverage, insurance company name, etc.)
  • Bank account information (if you are eligible to receive financial assistance, the money can be deposited in your account)

District assistance

Dallas ISD has two types of leave that district staff can access if they need to take time to deal with major repairs in their homes or other hardships related to the recent winter storms.

Emergency Leave—Emergency leave includes, but is not limited to, unforeseen natural disasters or destruction of a vehicle or domicile by flood, fire, or storm involving the employee or a member of the employee’s family. Employees may be granted three paid days of emergency leave by the BRC.

The days will not be deducted from the employee’s time off. Additional days of absence will result in a deduction of accumulated time off.

Hardship Leave—Hardship leave may be granted only if the employee is not eligible for or has exhausted any other leave (e.g., FMLA leave, temporary disability leave, general medical leave, or workers’ compensation). The leave may be granted for serious illness of the employee or a family member or personal hardship for circumstances beyond the employee’s control.

Leave may be paid if the employee has available time off. Hardship leaves may be granted up to 20 business days in a school year. An extension of an additional 20 business days may be granted by the BRC with proper documentation.

 

For additional information about leaves and to requests one, visit the Benefits Department webpage or contact BenefitsLeaves@dallasisd.org.

You can help

Partnership and Volunteer Services is accepting donations of gift cards in amounts of $25 and $50 for distribution to families displaced or impacted by the recent snowstorm. District staff or members of the public can drop off cards purchased from retail stores, MasterCard or Visa to the PVS team at 9400 N. Central Expressway during business hours Tuesday through Friday or make a drop off appointment by calling (972) 925-5440. Family and Community Engagement Services will deliver the donated cards to families that have been identified by campuses as being in need. Families displaced from apartment complexes that suffered water damage from burst pipes are especially in need of assistance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calling all potential principals

Great schools that guarantee equity and excellence for all students require strong leaders. To ensure Dallas ISD has the strongest leaders for each school, the district has developed a robust, rigorous principal selection process that includes several stages for those applying for principal positions. The application window for the 2021-2022 Principal Candidate Pool is now open through Oct. 9 in TMS.

The selection process for principal candidates will include multiple application stages and various types of assessments. Only applicants who are successful during all stages of the selection process will enter into the Principal Candidate Pool and be eligible to interview for school-specific principal openings. Although there is not a guarantee of obtaining a principal role, individuals in the Principal Candidate Pool will be the only candidates considered for 2021-2022 principal positions.

For questions or additional information email LEAD@dallasisd.org

Policy change allows campus staff to bring children to work

A change to DH (REGULATION) announced today will allow the children of classroom teachers and campus staff to accompany their parents to campuses during the period of districtwide distance learning for all. Children must be at least 4 years of age and no older than 15 and can be enrolled in any school district to qualify.

All campus staff must request and receive permission in writing from the principal before they bring their children to work with them. Approval can be revoked by the principal or district at any time during the districtwide distance learning period.

The change will avoid creating a hardship for teachers and campus staff who choose to work on campus and whose children would otherwise have to attend daycare or stay home alone.

Teachers and campus staff who take advantage of this option are responsible for the personal safety of their children and for ensuring there are no disruptions to their daily tasks or campus operations. The children must follow all district and campus health and safety procedures.

Children who are enrolled as Dallas ISD students must abide by all district rules, regulations, guidelines and expectations while on campus.

Telephone etiquette tips while working from home

This week’s Core 4 tip again stresses the need for excellent phone etiquette while working from home. When you deal with customers on the telephone, your verbal communication skills, particularly your tone, are important. The customer will “see” you through your voice, so whether it is tinged with enthusiasm, sarcasm, boredom, or exhaustion, the customer will hear you—loudly and clearly. Make sure the attitude you convey is a helpful and interesting one that says you are happy to assist with the request.

When you answer your work phone, even from home, you represent Dallas ISD. To the person on the other end of the phone, you are “the district.” You may be the initial contact or the only contact they experience that day. Make it a positive customer experience for everyone with whom you speak.

Suggestions for Core 4 answering the telephone from home

  • Answer the phone promptly
  • Identify your campus/department and then identify yourself; e.g. “ABC Department; this is Kim.”
  • Speak with a smile in your voice. If you smile when speaking on the phone, your tone of voice is more welcoming and friendlier.
  • Show interest in the caller and their concerns.
  • Do not engage in other conversations while you’re picking up the phone.
  • Be of service and offer assistance.
  • Be informed about the district’s services, and personnel. Have basic information readily available for reference.
  • Listen. Take notes to help you remember important details.
  • Make referrals to other people and departments properly.
  • Avoid eating and chewing while you’re on the call. Chewing destroys good diction, not to mention it’s just rude.
  • Consistent positive communication is the key to quality service.

Three schools are Blue Ribbon nominees

Three Dallas ISD schools are among only 26 in Texas nominated for the 2020 National Blue Ribbon School award: Henry W. Longfellow Career Exploration Academy, Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Early College High School, and Edward Titche Elementary School.

The U.S. Department of Education awards the Blue Ribbon recognition to schools where students perform at very high levels or where exemplary progress is being made toward closing achievement gaps.

Edward Titche Elementary School
Titche Elementary Principal Damien Stovall said he is still in disbelief about the Blue Ribbon nomination. After constantly being rated as one of the state’s lowest-performing campuses and facing closure in 2017, Titche Elementary underwent a tremendous transformation.

“To go on this incredible journey with our amazing students, staff and parents is not something I can put into words,” Stovall said. “We are changing the mindset not just of this school, but of the entire community.”

 

Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Early College High School
Lassiter ECHS earned its second Blue Ribbon nomination in six years. Principal Michael St. Ama said the Blue Ribbon nomination is a testament to the school’s culture and community support.

“This group of students is so motivated to work hard and be successful, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “We push our teaching and our focus to ensure our students achieve on the highest level.”

 

Henry W. Longfellow Career Exploration Academy
Longfellow Principal Lorena Hernandez said the school, which last earned a Blue Ribbon award in 2014, promotes student leadership at every opportunity.

“We are building leaders, not just students who excel at academics,” Hernandez said. “And this Blue Ribbon recognition lets our students, teachers, and families know that our commitment to excellence has paid off.”

Nominated schools must now complete a rigorous application process through the U.S. Department of Education. Announcements of the national award winners will be made in September 2020. Schools that receive the award will be recognized at the Blue Ribbon Schools awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

 

Future principals—your time is now

The district’s Leader Excellence, Advancement and Development program wants teachers and instructional coaches to know that the district has three university principal prep program partnerships, of which two are currently accepting applications. The district offers partial tuition reimbursement for participants who are selected into one of these programs. One of the goals of the LEAD program is to grow high-potential teachers and instructional coaches as rising leaders for the district, ensuring that year after year, each school has an effective leader.

Winter break is the perfect time to apply for the two master’s degree principal prep programs whose deadlines are approaching.

University of Texas at Austin—Texas Principal Leadership Academy

Application deadline: Wednesday, Jan. 15

Program Highlights:

  • Fast-tracked 12-month program resulting in an M.Ed in Educational Leadership and Policy with principal certification
  • 12-month residency with hands-on training as a leadership intern under the guidance of a mentor principal
  • Classes take place in Austin, online and in the Dallas area

For more information and to apply, visit education.utexas.edu/principal

Southern Methodist University—Aspiring Leaders Program

Application deadline: Monday, Feb. 17

Program Highlights:

  • Two-year program resulting in an M.Ed in Urban Educational Leadership with principal certification
  • Second year residency under the guidance of a mentor principal and on-the-job support and coaching from Teaching Trust staff

For more information and to apply, visit smu.edu/urbanleader

University of North Texas at Dallas—Future Leaders Academy

The application window is not yet available.

Program Highlights:

  • 18-month program resulting in an M.Ed in Educational Leadership with principal certification
  • Classes held at a central Dallas ISD location
  • Internship course taught by Dallas ISD leaders

For more information, email LEAD@dallasisd.org

From Wing Stop to Dallas ISD maintenance supervisor

David Ybarra was working at Wing Stop before joining Dallas ISD’s Operation Services as a groundskeeper.

“I wanted something more than a job,” Ybarra said. “I wanted a good, stable and dependable career with benefits that I could grow in.”

At age 19, Ybarra had to quickly learn the new career path and craft he signed up for. And while Ybarra admits that there were times he doubted himself over his work challenges and responsibilities, they only helped him thrive.

“It took the right leaders in the Operations Division to help me grow,” Ybarra said. “They shared their knowledge and experiences with me so I could find the solutions to challenges.”

Fast forward 10 years, and Ybarra, who has a child enrolled in Dallas ISD, is now the Interim Supervisor at the Northwest Grounds Division.

“It’s a great journey being a part of the district,” Ybarra said. “Now as a supervisor, I get to help and advise new incoming leaders who will one day grow into a bigger role like I did.”

Ybarra credits his peers and supervisors for helping him achieve the role he has today. But he added that it would not be possible without internal ambition and perseverance.

“Dallas ISD is like a big door, and once you open it, there are so many other doors of opportunities in which you can grow into,” Ybarra said. “But you just have to have the patience and strive to learn above all.”

September paycheck includes salary increases and adjustments

All qualifying employees who are not part of a district excellence initiative will see board-approved salary increases reflected in their September paychecks. Some employees also could see additional increases in their base pay to better align district salaries with market rates as recommended in the recent Texas Association of School Boards study.

Those whose salaries are determined through one of the excellence initiatives— most teachers, assistant principals, principals and executive directors of schools—will see salary increases, if eligible, reflected in their October paychecks.

Most pay ranges were increased to improve alignment with the current job market.

As part of TASB’s recommendation to align Dallas ISD to industry standards, the board-approved increase will now be an equal rate increase based on 2 percent of the pay range midpoint of an employee’s pay grade, which was determined by TASB. This is unlike in previous years when the board-approved increase was applied as a percentage of the employee’s actual hourly/annual rate.

Employees are able to log into Oracle and go to Employee Self Service to view their notice of assignment. These notices will include the employee job, salary, and pay grade information. For information on pay groups and pay grades, employees can consult the district’s 2019-2020 Compensation Resource Book.

Other changes in compensation

The main purpose of the TASB study was to analyze compensation throughout the district to ensure alignment with the current job market. Recommendations from the study included changes in pay range structures, consolidation of pay groups, and alignment of job titles. Some of these changes could have resulted in base salary changes though no salaries decreased due to the TASB-based adjustments.

Changes in pay range structures

  • Instructional support pay grades were aligned with the teacher hiring scale
  • More pay levels were added to some pay plans, such as those for paraprofessionals, instructional support, police and security and food services

Consolidation of pay groups

  • All administrative assistants moved to the office support pay group
  • All therapists, nurses and athletic coaches were moved to the instructional support pay group
  • Media assistants, community liaisons and deaf education were moved to the paraprofessional pay group

Alignment of job titles

  • Administrative and executive assistants were aligned by reporting structures
  • Central staff pay grades now distinguish between exempt and non-exempt jobs
  • Central job titles changed for consistency

H drive storage to be phased out

Dallas ISD IT Infrastructure will be phasing out on-site H drive storage for employees. The transition to a cloud storage option started on July 1, 2019, and will continue through Dec. 31, 2019. 

Benefits for Employees: 

  • Users will be offered a choice between Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive applications 
  • 1Terabbyte of storage on OneDrive or unlimited storage for Google Drive 
  • Improved secure remote access for employees without requiring the use of VPN 
  • Mobile device compatible 

Implementation Timeline: 

  • July 1, 2019 – Migration process begins. IT will no longer create new “H drives” for individuals 
  • Employees will migrate their H drive files to the cloud by Dec. 31, 2019 
  • Dec. 31, 2019 – Existing H drives will become read-only 

Support/Training: 

  • Training will be offered via step by step “How to” documents along with instructor lead training sessions 
  • Sharepoint site will be created and updated to house the “How to” documents and information pertaining to FAQ’s on the migration to cloud storage