Board Notes: March 26, 2024

Presentations and Recognitions

Thirteen Denton ISD Students Selected for All-State Band, Choir, Orchestra, Dance
Thirteen Denton ISD musicians and dancers earned All-State honors for the 2023-2024 school year from the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) and the Texas Dance Educators Association (TDEA).

TMEA is an organization of more than 12,000 school music educators dedicated to promoting excellence in music education. Musicians are chosen for the prestigious honor of all-state through a competitive process held across Texas at the district, region and area levels. This process begins throughout the state in auditions hosted by 33 TMEA regions.

The TDEA All-State Dance Team is comprised of dancers representing schools from across the state of Texas. All-State dancers participated in the TDEA All-State Convention Jan. 10-13 in Houston. The experience included dance workshops, leadership training, master classes and networking with other students. The All-State Dance Team experience culminates in a performance choreographed by a master choreographer.

The Denton ISD students named to the highest musical and dance honor in Texas include the following:

Braswell High Band
Nathan Contreras, All-State Jazz Ensemble, Trumpet
Mr. Aaron Snipes III, Director
Mr. Taylor Sitzman, Assistant Director
Mr. DeCorian Hailey, Principal

Braswell High Choir
Matthew Barrios, All-State Choir, Tenor 2
Mr. Derrick Brookins, Director
Ms. Kaela Vance, Assistant Director
Mr. DeCorian Hailey, Principal

Braswell High Dance
Keira Oshunkentan, All-State Dance
Ms. Kristina Rankin, Ms. Briana Eason and Ms. Tiana Martinez, Directors
Mr. DeCorian Hailey, Principal

Denton High Dance
Grey Collier, All-State Dance
Ms. Kerri Burgess and Ms. Jamitrice Keating-Lynton, Directors
Mr. Joel Hays, Principal

Guyer High Orchestra
Celine Cho, All-State Philharmonic Orchestra, Violin
Ms. Michelle Hanlon, Director
Ms. Sarah Wright, Assistant Director
Dr. Shaun Perry, Principal

Guyer High Choir
Anastasia Reed, All-State Choir, Soprano 2
Marshall Miller, All-State Choir, Bass 1
Ms. Katherine Engle, Director
Mr. Tyler Fox, Assistant Director
Dr. Shaun Perry, Principal

Guyer High Dance
Sophia Moore, All-State Dance
Ms. Rachel Simpson and Ms. Lauren Uddin, Directors
Dr. Shaun Perry, Principal

Ryan High Choir
Favour Ayeni, All-State Treble Choir, Alto 2
Mr. David Rives, Director
Mx. Sam Kats, Assistant Director
Mr. Vernon Reeves, Principal

Ryan High Band
Pablo Acosta, All-State Bass Clarinet
Cooper Randolph, All-State Contrabass Clarinet
Mr. Jarrod Beard, Director
Ms. Nachel Konemann, Associate Director
Mr. Vernon Reeves, Principal

Ryan High Orchestra
Osiel Cardenas, All-State Viola
Mr. Jeremy Atkins, Director
Mr. Vernon Reeves, Principal

Ryan High Dance
Jayden Luster, All-State Dance
Ms. Keli Jones and Ms. Emily Schaefer, Directors
Mr. Vernon Reeves, Principal

Denton ISD Communications Department Receives TSPRA Gold Star Award, Best of Category for Website Design
Members of Denton ISD’s Communications and Community Relations Department received a Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) Gold Star Award, as well as a “Best of Category” commendation, for website design signifying the website is the best in the state of Texas for the 2023-2024 year.

Courtney Dunning, Web Content Coordinator and Colby Cervantes, Web Content Specialist, were the recipients of the award in the division of districts serving 15,000-40,000 students. TSPRA’s annual Star Awards provide recognition for the outstanding education communications and projects of its members, and the entries are evaluated by impartial judges.

Both Ms. Dunning and Mr. Cervantes were instrumental in overhauling Denton ISD’s website and implementing a vibrant, visually-driven, responsive design in the Spring of 2023. The new design displays each of Denton ISD’s branding, which makes it welcoming, while also incorporating more user-friendly features and functionality.

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

Lauren Coffey with the Education Retirement Program (ERP) of Texas has made it her mission to support Denton ISD teachers and staff any way she can. Over the last several years, she has partnered with the National Life Group to honor Denton ISD teachers through the LifeChanger of the Year.

Ms. Coffey has been instrumental in bringing this program to Denton ISD, which annually honors teachers, staff members and educators nationwide who make a significant difference in students’ lives. This year alone, Denton ISD has 13 nominees for the LifeChanger of the Year. Winners of the LifeChanger of the Year have the opportunity to win up to $10,000 for the grand prize, with a total of $70,000 awarded yearly across 17 winners nationwide.

Discussion of 2024-2025 Budget
Jennifer Stewart, Executive Director of Budget, provided an update on the 2024-2025 budget. Ms. Stewart discussed the 2023-2024 average daily attendance rate (ADA), which through the fourth six weeks, averages 94.64 percent. 

“We are funded based on attendance, not enrollment,” said Dr. Jamie Wilson, Superintendent of Schools. “Also take note that this next school year we will open an additional elementary campus by reallocating existing staff - we will not add positions.”

In addition, Ms. Stewart explained the projected revenue budget summary for 2023-2024 compared to the adopted revenue budget summary for 2023-2024. The difference between the projected budget versus the adopted budget is $5.48 million, leaving the adopted revenue budget for 2023-2024 at $315,229,362. 

Ms. Stewart further detailed the expenditure budget for 2023-2024, which equaled $333,079,765. However, the district did receive $5,274,000 in revenue gains, stemming from interest earnings, tuition-based programs, excess tax and sale of property. Denton ISD also saved $3.5 million from budgeted vacancies and personnel costs reclassified to other funding sources. The district experienced $3 million in unexpected loss in revenue due to school health and related services (SHARS) funding losses, as well as $5.2 million in additional costs due to contractual obligations and substitute costs. As a result, Denton ISD is projected to incur a $17,276,403 ending deficit for 2023-2024. 

Regarding basic allotment, Ms. Stewart noted the State of Texas has not increased the basic allotment since 2019 despite record inflation. 

Staff and Family Engagement Update
Emily McLarty, Director of Staff Engagement and Julie Zwahr, Chief Communications Officer provided an update on staff and family engagement. 

Ms. McLarty explained the importance of staff and family engagement, and more importantly, how the two are intertwined. Better staff engagement leads to higher family engagement, which leads to increased student engagement and student achievement. An engaged staff experiences a strong connection with the school and district, know that their voice matters and their contribution is important and feel recognized and appreciated for the work they do. 

Ms. Zwahr noted that engaged families experience a strong feeling of pride, serve as the school’s advocate when topics of education are discussed and have a positive emotional relationship with their child’s school. Ms. Zwahr further explained that Gallup compares Denton ISD’s family engagement survey results with top Fortune 100 companies and high-operating corporations. 

Denton ISD’s employee engagement score has increased year-over-year since 2021-2022, rising from 3.94 to 4.01 in 2022-2023 and 4.06 in 2023-2024. The results of high employee engagement are lower absenteeism, decreased turnover, increased student engagement and increased student achievement.

Denton ISD’s family engagement scores increased in all five categories: school environment, academic standards, strength and development, school communications and school leadership. School environment increased from 3.94 to 4.06, academic standards increased from 3.84 to 3.96, strength and development increased from 3.98 to 4.12, school communications increased from 3.78 to 3.96 and school leadership increased from 4.04 to 4.17 from 2022 to 2023.

In addition, the total number of respondents for Denton ISD’s family engagement survey nearly doubled from 2022 to 2023. 

“Participation has dramatically increased,” Ms. Zwahr said. “Gallup does not see this type of growth across all categories while nearly doubling the number of respondents. This is a true testament to the leadership on our campuses and the job our staff is doing interacting with our families and the community. Gallup is using these results as an example across the country. This is something of which to be incredibly proud.” 

Bond Progress Report
Community Volunteers Aimee Jones and Suzanne Danhoff  provided Trustees with a bond progress report based on a recent review by the committee. A team of community members review financial statements, building plans and any adjustments that have occurred each quarter to ensure the projects materialize as they were portrayed to the community. The process is an additional level of transparency that is a common practice of the district.

Construction Report
Brandon Boyter, Denton ISD Executive Director of Construction, Planning and Growth, provided an update on active construction projects ongoing in the district from the 2018 and 2023 bonds. Mr. Boyter detailed the progress of Calhoun Middle School and Newton Rayzor Elementary School’s replacement campuses, which were funded from the 2018 bond referendum. He also discussed progress from the 2023 bond, specifically at Hill Elementary and Martinez Elementary School. Mr. Boyter noted the exterior walls at Hill and Martinez have both already been constructed. 

4th Period Attendance Report
Dr. Lesli Guajardo, Director of District and Student Support Services provided an update on the 4th period attendance report, noting the average daily attendance (ADA) year to date is 93.1 percent. 

Intruder Detection Audit Report
Denton ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jamie Wilson provided an update on the recent Intruder Detection Audits conducted by the Texas School Safety Center. Further detail was provided to the board in executive session for safety and security.