Board Notes: March 28, 2023

Presentations and Recognitions

Denton ISD’s Board of School Trustees recognized several groups and individuals at Tuesday night’s meeting, including 15 art students representing Braswell High, Guyer High and Ryan High, who qualified for state in the Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE). 

VASE is an annual competition with nearly 35,000 entries. Academically eligible high school students in grades 9-12 can participate in VASE.

Students create artwork, write about their creative processes and understanding of visual art and articulate information about their artwork during an interview with a VASE juror, who evaluates their work using a standards-based rubric. To qualify for state, students must attend a regional event and have their original artwork with them at the event. 

Jurors then interview students and evaluate the artwork using the aforementioned rubric. Artwork receiving an Exemplary Rating (IV) will receive a medallion at the state VASE competition. The state jury panel will then select Gold Seal winners from artwork receiving an Exemplary Writing, and Gold Seal artworks receive a State Gold Seal medallion.

Trustees also recognized Ryan High School social studies teacher Amanda Ledwon for being named the World Affairs Council (WAC) International Educator of the Year. 

A veteran educator with more than 20 years of experience, Ms. Ledwon has taught social studies at Ryan High School since 2019. She has been associated with the WAC for over seven years.

Ms. Ledwon is known for her passion and dedication to involving students in international studies. She reads the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to her students each year to educate them about this important global topic. Through her teaching, she has inspired former students to pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees in human rights.

Ms. Ledwon’s two-decade teaching career has covered all education levels, from grade school to college. In addition to teaching social studies at Ryan High School, she is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas at Dallas and an adjunct professor at Texas Woman’s University and Collin College.

In 2021, Ms. Ledwon received the district’s Honor Graduate Educator of Influence Award. She has been a member of the Ukrainian American Society of Texas and Zorya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble since 2000. For the 2010-2011 school year, she was an alternate for the Garcia Robles Fulbright Study Abroad Grant to Mexico. In 2016, she was part of the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Scholarship “Through the Lens of Jordan: Integrating Middle Eastern Narratives into North Texas Social Studies Curriculum.”

Lastly, trustees recognized the Denton Noon Kiwanis Club. 

Each year, the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) honors businesses and organizations for their support and exceptional advocacy of local schools. This state-wide honor, as part of “Stand Up for Texas Public Schools,” recognizes local businesses and community organizations that partner with districts, making a difference in the lives of local public school students.

The Denton Noon Kiwanis Club has served the children of our community for more than 100 years. Through a valuable partnership with our campus nurses, the Kiwanis Club provides healthcare services to children in our community through a non-profit clinic solely supported by the fundraising efforts of the noon Kiwanis.

Denton ISD nursing professionals, through a referral process, connect families to the clinic who need assistance for their student(s). Whether it involved much-needed medication, eye exams or dental procedures this organization fill the gap to address services for our students.

Year after year, decade after decade, the Denton Noon Kiwanis Club has, both financially and philosophically, supported our district-wide initiatives due to its belief in public education and commitment to providing access and opportunities for all children.

Workshop Items

Discussion of 2023-2024 Budget 

Denton ISD Executive Director of Budget Jennifer Stewart gave an update on current school year debt service, planning estimates for 2023-2024 and potential legislative bills. Mrs. Stewart noted the district was able to pay an additional $31 million toward principal on bond payments in 2022-2023. Additionally, she highlighted Denton ISD saved taxpayers $19.5 million in 2022-2023 alone, and since 2005, has saved taxpayers $311.2 million. Ms. Stewart also provided an update on Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 2, which would increase homestead exemptions to $70,000 and reduce appraisal growth limit from 10% to 5%, respectively, if passed. 

Legislative Updates for the 88th Legislative Session 

Denton ISD General Counsel Deron Robinson gave an update on the 88th Legislative Session. Mr. Robinson discussed the state of the session, noting 8,172 bills were filed, and of those, 1,307 are related to public education. Mr. Robinson said the district is watching numerous bills, including Senate Bill No. 8: relating to public education, including parental rights and public school responsibilities regarding instructional materials and the establishment of an education savings account program. Other bills the district is watching include: Senate Bill No. 3, House Bill No. 1416, House Bill No. 2570, Senate Bill No. 11, House Bill No. 3, House Bill No. 1157, Senate Bill No. 891, House Bill No. 681 and House Bill No. 1358.

Discussion of Human Resources Employee Engagement Survey 

Denton ISD Director of Human Resources for Staff Engagement Emily McLarty provided an update on staff engagement. Mrs. McLarty noted Gallup research indicates highly engaged teachers have significantly higher attendance rates. Denton ISD improved from 84-87% from the 2021-2022 school year to 94% this year. Denton ISD had the fifth lowest teacher turnover rate in 2021-2022 for the North Texas Region at just 14.2%. Mrs. McLarty said the district is focused on recognition, hearing employees’ voices and building connections. 


Report Items

Utility Management Report July 2022-December 2022

Denton ISD Executive Director of Operations Paul Andress provided an update on utility management from July 2022-December 2022. Trustees were provided with information regarding total consumption and cost comparison, analysis by utility type and percentage change of energy use. 

International Baccalaureate (IB) Report

Denton ISD Director of Advanced Academics and Assessment Dr. Amy Harp gave a report on how the Primary and Middle Year Programmes encourage students to become active, lifelong learning and to think creatively and critically. The Diploma Programme prepares students for the university experience. IB Coordinators provided updates specific to their school and spoke on student achievement at each. 

Intruder Detection Audit Report Update 

Denton ISD Superintendent Dr. Jamie Wilson presented a report to provide an update to the recent Intruder Detection Audits conducted by the Texas School Safety Center. Further detail was provided to the board in executive session for the purpose of safety and security.