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Cedar Hill ISD Achieves T.E.A. Recognized Status

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(214) 882-2451
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Date Published
Jul 29, 2011
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Cedar Hill, TX. - July 29, 2011 - The Cedar Hill Independent School District achieved Recognized status from the Texas Education Agency for the first time. 

Based on TAKS scores from the 2010-2011 school year, CHISD has three exemplary schools, five recognized schools and six acceptable schools. 

"We have been focusing on staff development and preparing our teachers to instruct our students at a higher level. We have also hired more math and science teachers so consequently our scores have gone up in math and science," said Dr. Homer Carter, CHISD Chief Academic Officer. "Our superintendent Horace Williams, set a goal of excellence and we have given our teachers the support they need to accomplish that." 

In addition the CHISD high school completion rate was 92.3 percent, an increase of 4 percent from the previous school year. "We put together a team to make sure our high school students were getting the support they needed to finish high school," Carter said. "The team worked to track students who were having trouble and helped them through counseling, tutoring, credit recovery and night schools." 

"CHISD began its journey towards being World Class in January, 2007 when Board Trustees then adopted the current vision statement," said Dan Hernandez, Cedar Hill ISD Board President. "This vision statement has been the common element in all decisions relating to personnel, finances and curriculum, which when combined with the similarly-focused efforts of our students, staff and the community, continues to guide CHISD closer to its destination. Achieving the "TEA Recognized District" designation is a first for CHISD, and is a major milestone for our district. However, we must recognize that this is just one of many more milestones we, the students, staff and community, will pass on our continuing journey to be a premier district providing our community with a world-class education system." 

Among the standouts in the school district is Bray Elementary, which has been Exemplary for 12 out of the last 15 years, even though 62 percent of its student population is on free or reduced lunch. 100 percent of Bray's third and fourth graders passed TAKS reading and math. "All of our teachers have to believe that all students can learn. We have regular students who rise to a high level because our teachers have high expectations," said Robert Johansen, who has been the principal at Bray for four years. "We are also a data driven school. We take assessments on our students all the time so we can determine their strengths and weaknesses as well as assess their styles of learning. That way our teachers can develop lesson plans and exercises to meet the students needs." 

"Bray is like a big family. All teachers work and support all students. It is not uncommon to find the principal, vice-principal and counselor in the classroom tutoring students," said Susana Sanchez, incoming Bray PTA President. The Bray PTA has 80 percent parent participation and 100 percent teacher participation. Mrs. Sanchez added that since the school district doesn't have the money for elementary schools to have art programs, the Bray PTA operates an art program for the school so that every child gets 45 minutes of art a week. 

Highlands Elementary became an Exemplary school this year after missing it by a hair for the last two years. By T.E.A Standards, approximately 80 percent of Highlands' students are economically disadvantaged and 79 percent of the students are considered at-risk. "We started excelling when we made the decision to work together as a team to help all of the students. Parents and staff work together with high expectations for our children and consequently our students perform. We moved from pockets of excellence to a culture of excellence," Highlands Principal Sylvia Lewis explained. 

"Many of our children may not be able to control their circumstances, but we want them to know they can rise above their circumstances. Our staff does everything it can to make sure students are ready for learning. That may mean providing breakfast in the classroom for anyone who wants it or clothes if they need them. If we find out the family is under a hardship, we do what we can to help, Lewis continued. "Our mission at Highlands is 'Educating every child, whatever it takes'. Those who are selected to work at Highlands must commit to our mission." 

Cedar Hill Collegiate High School has been Exemplary since it opened three years ago. The 2010-2011 school year marks the second consecutive year that 100 percent of the students met the passing standard in all areas assessed on the TAKS test. Collegiate is a district charter school with open enrollment for students who want the opportunity to earn up to 60 college credit hours from Cedar Valley Community College while attending high school. 

"The first year not all students believed we could reach the goal of 100 percent of students passing the TAKS," said Usamah Rodgers, Collegiate High principal. "That first year 100 percent passed the Reading TAKS and 96 percent of the students passed the Math TAKS. After coming so close to achieving our goal the first year students were more committed than ever to reaching our goal. Each year students push themselves and their classmates to do better." 

"Our goal is for all students to graduate college and be career ready," Rogers added. "The faculty, staff, students and parents have bought into the vision of the school and we have a culture of excellence. We provide quality instruction day in and day out at Collegiate. We take time to analyze our student data and provide targeted instruction in order to meet students' needs. We also provide afterschool and Saturday tutoring." 

CHISD Exemplary school staff is known for going above and beyond their scope of work on a regular basis. The Cedar Hill school district started building an orchestra program after Bray Elementary principal Robert Johansen felt it was important for all of his elementary students to learn to play a string instrument. "We used $10,000 of the Bray campus budget to purchase a classroom set of instruments. Through community donations we now have enough instruments for 70 students to perform in a concert. All students at Bray get two classes a week of string instrument instruction," said Johansen. "Research shows there is a direct correlation between fine arts and increased student achievement in reading and math." 

Other CHISD school ratings: RECOGNIZED SCHOOLS West Intermediate Joe Wilson Intermediate High Pointe Elementary Waterford Oaks Lake Ridge Elementary 

ACCEPTABLE SCHOOLS Cedar Hill High School Ninth Grade Center Permenter Middle Bessie Coleman Middle Plummer Elementary Beltline Intermediate (Closed from budget cuts) 

While the Cedar Hill ISD Recognized rating includes Beltline Intermediate School, the school board voted to close Beltline due to a $3.2 million dollar shortfall from the state. The school board also had to make cuts across the district and eliminate 73 teaching and staff positions to balance the 2011-2012 budget. 

The CHISD school board is scheduled to vote Monday August 29, 2011 on whether to call a $53.3 million dollar bond election and a 13 cent tax rate increase election for the November 8th ballot to make up for lost revenue from state budget cuts. 

The Cedar Hill ISD Community Advisory Committee met for two months this spring and recommended to the board that it call both a bond election and tax rate election. The CAC toured every school and developed a priority list of facility improvement needs. It also reviewed the district's operating budget cuts and recommended reinstating a number of teaching and staff positions by asking voters to consider a tax rate election that would generate additional local revenue to make up for the loss of revenue from the state. 

The proposed TRE that the school board will consider in August will reinstate 15 teaching positions at eight schools. The CAC proposed a bond election that, if called, would provide improvements and technology for every CHISD school. Four schools will get renovations. Five schools will get new roofs and two schools will get major roof repairs. The CAC bond proposal also recommends correcting the inequity issue in the high school softball program by building an appropriate Softball/Baseball Complex at Cedar Hill High School. For a complete list of Community Advisory Committee recommendations, please visit 

About Cedar Hill ISD: The Texas Education Agency rates the Cedar Hill Independent School District as a Recognized school district. CHISD has 8200 students. The Texas State Comptrollers Office named Cedar Hill Independent School District as one of four percent of schools districts in the state with a 5 star rating in its Financial Allocation Study for Texas. FAST tracks school districts that use best practices to operate efficiently, while achieving strong academic performance. The district has an AA- financial bond rating from Standard and Poor's.Cedar Hill ISD Achieves T.E.A. RECOGNIZED Status

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