Board Notes: April 9, 2024

Presentations and Recognitions

Board Spotlight – Braswell Teacher, Coach Recognized for Work with Students
Braswell teacher and offensive coordinator Charles Hitchens has a heart for his students. Mr. Hitchens makes it his mission to build a meaningful connection and relationship with every student who enters his classroom, or who he coaches on the football field.

Mr. Hitchens is passionate about seeing his students succeed, and his students’ success is his greatest reward. In the year that he has been at Braswell, dozens of students have felt the impact Mr. Hitchens has made not just on their academic career – but in their life. 

Mr. Hitchens’ No. 1 goal is to show students that he cares about them, supports them and is their biggest advocate. The relationships that Mr. Hitchens builds with his students, he hopes, prosper into lifelong connections that lead to lifelong success. 

Early Childhood/Pre-K Update
Cecilia Holt, Director of Early Childhood Education, provided an early childhood and Pre-K update. Ms. Holt noted the growth in enrollment year over year from 2020 to 2024. Currently, Denton ISD has 1,624 students enrolled in early childhood education. In addition, the number of Pre-K classrooms has increased from 89 in 2022-2023 to 95 in 2023-2024. Ms. Holt explained of the 1,624 students enrolled, 80.5 percent are 4-year-olds and 19.5 percent are three-year-olds. 

Dr. Chris Rangel, Ann Windle School for Young Children Principal, detailed the academic growth students are experiencing. Dr. Rangel also explained the Texas Pre-K guidelines, which were new in 2023-2024. Some of those 10 domains include:

  • Language and Communication
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Fine Arts

Discussion of Teacher/Principal Residency Partnership
Jason Rainey, Interim Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Jason Liewehr, Executive Director of Human Resources, provided an update on the district’s teacher/principal residency partnership with the University of North Texas. 

Denton ISD was selected by the University of North Texas as the pilot district for the Teacher Residency Program. The program launched August 2023 through the collaboration of university professors and Denton ISD administrators. There are 23 full-time UNT residents placed at three elementary campuses: Borman, Newton Rayzor, and W.S. Ryan. Residents are paired with an exemplary teacher, and teachers were hand-selected by the campus administrators. 
This residency provided an opportunity for these UNT seniors to earn wages while allowing them to complete their degrees and teaching certificates.

In March, 12 resident teachers signed their first employment contract with Denton ISD, taking a leap towards fulfilling their dream of working as a teacher. Denton ISD is in the process of expanding its residency footprint by adding two campuses at Alexander and Evers Park Elementary. 

Regarding the principal residency program, in partnership with UNT, this program provides a pathway for teachers to obtain a master’s degree in educational leadership while participating in a full-time, year-long residency program at a high-needs campus. Ten residents will be selected through an application process. 

Discussion of 2024-2025 Budget
Jennifer Stewart, Executive Director of Budget, provided an update on the 2024-2025 budget. Ms. Stewart discussed the district’s current fund balance given the $17 million deficit and the estimated fund balance for 2024-2025, assuming a $20 million deficit. Denton ISD’s fund balance for 2023-2024 is $77,693,394. If the district adopted a $20 million deficit for the 2024-2025 as a result of no additional funding from the State of Texas, Denton ISD’s fund balance would dip to $57,693,394.

Ms. Stewart also explained how the change in fund balance could potentially impact the district’s Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) rating. Should Denton ISD adopt a deficit budget of $20 million again in 2025-2026, the highest rating the district could receive is 89 points, or a B. Denton ISD has received the highest possible FIRST rating of an A for 21 consecutive years. 

Announcement of Board Continuing Education Hours 
Since 1996, the State Board of Education (SBOE) rule has required the board president to make a public announcement each year of the names of those board members who have completed the required continuing education, who has exceeded the required hours of continuing education, and who is deficient in meeting the required continuing education as of the anniversary of the date of each board member's election or appointment to the board. In June 2018, the Legislature amended the provisions to require that during the last regular meeting of the board of trustees before an election of trustees, the minutes reflect whether each board member has fulfilled their training requirements as of the date of the meeting.

Denton ISD Board President Mia Price announced each Denton ISD trustee has exceeded the State Board of Education requirement for the minimum number of hours required annually.