Knowing a consistent academic program is key to successful learning, Nacogdoches ISD is implementing a program in the 2013-14 year that will allow a student to attend the same elementary school campus from kindergarten through fifth grade.
The Stay Put program was adopted last April to bring continuity for those students — approximately 25 percent of the elementary population — who previously attended multiple NISD campuses in one year.
Most campus changes occurred when families relocated from one NISD attendance zone to another, and the children switched elementary schools in accordance with previous NISD policies.
“We found students who had attended every elementary school in the district within one school year,” said Dr. Sandra Stewart, NISD’s assistant superintendent of academic services. “That’s not academically sound for those children.”
Stewart said the district based its new Stay Put initiative on a successful program at Jacksonville ISD, which is similar in size and has comparable demographics. Jacksonville elementary campuses consistently have been named exemplary after starting the program more than 15 years ago.
“They attribute much of their success to the Stay Put program,” Stewart said. “By taking away the limitations of attendance zones, they have been able to provide consistency and increase the academic strength of their students.”
In NISD’s implementation of a Stay Put program, the district found it also could save taxpayer dollars while providing students a more-steady educational environment. Consistent classroom numbers meant the district was able to eliminate 14 teaching positions, which previously were hired to meet changing classroom ratios caused by student movement within the district.
The decrease in staffing equaled approximately $550,000 in savings for the district, which it reinvested by hiring key positions that would boost academic success. Reading specialists for every campus were among the hires.
The concept of Stay Put is new for both parents and employees, Stewart said, and will require adjustments within its first year. Special programs limited to only some elementary campuses have created challenges for placing siblings.
“We are listening to and addressing all concerns,” Stewart said.
A shuttle system is being provided to accommodate transportation for the students who live in one zone but are attending a school in another zone. The student rides the bus that picks up in his neighborhood, goes to the school in his attendance zone and is then shuttled to his final campus destination.
The same shuttles handle students who chose to attend a magnet school not in their attendance zones.
The Stay Put Initiative is one of several programs NISD is introducing this year to strengthen academics and develop positive behavior on its campuses.
• Adding reading specialists on elementary campuses to give students extra
• Bringing in Conscious Discipline, a comprehensive self-regulation program that
integrates social-emotional learning and discipline; and
• Capturing Kids Hearts, a professional development course that will help
teachers and staff:
— Develop safe, trusting, self-managing classrooms;
— Improve classroom attendance by building students' motivation and
helping them take responsibility for their actions and performance;
— Decrease delinquent behaviors such as disruptive outbursts, violent
acts, drug use and other risky behavior;
— Reinforce the role of emotional intelligence in teaching; and
— Develop students' empathy for diverse cultures and backgrounds.