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Beaumont Independent School District

Beaumont Independent School District makes high marks in Texas

Nadia Ibanez

Beaumont Independent School District is setting the bar when it comes to educating students by using data to help them achieve their best.
Beaumont Independent School District

 

Located on the southeastern border of Texas along the Gulf Coast, the Beaumont Independent School District (ISD) is achieving academic, fiscal and facilities success against the odds.  With some 75 percent of its nearly 20,000 students being economically disadvantaged, the school district has earned exemplary ratings by the state of Texas in reading, science, social studies and completion rates and is recognized for its achievements in math and its graduation rates.  Beaumont ISD has managed to maintain a $42 million fund balance and to continue an on-time, within budget $389 million facilities improvement program.  All of this success occurs, despite being in the throes of recovering from the devastation of three hurricanes and state budget cuts.

 

LEADERSHIP

 

See, touch, feel and teach, teach and re-teach are mantras of the 15-year veteran Beaumont ISD Superintendent of Schools Carrol A. Thomas. Dr. Thomas came to BISD in the mid-1990s when the community and the school board were in the midst of major discord.  “They couldn’t agree on whether it was day or night,” he explained, “consequently, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) took over to lead the region’s largest school district out of crises that included failures on the academic, fiscal and policy fronts.”

 

Dr. Thomas focused on equity in people and resources, and immediately started to take advantage of the millions of dollars in federal funding to complement budgets and programs.  Since Dr. Thomas’ arrival, Beaumont ISD has garnered about a half billion dollars in grants that help to support operations, programs and specifically in closing the academic achievement gaps among students.

 

A leader in the educational arena, Dr. Thomas has been called on by the U.S. Department of Education and President Barack Obama’s original transition team for advice on several federal education initiatives. Today, the Beaumont ISD Board of Trustees has earned Board of the Year at both the state and national levels for their ability to work together in achieving the best education possible for its students. Dr. Thomas’ leadership approach means administrators must each personally make sure people are on task and teachers must teach a child a much as needed and in as many ways possible until each child masters the objective.

 

ACADEMICS

 

Rated by TEA as academically “recognized,” Beaumont ISD is the largest predominantly African American school district in Texas with this high rating.  With a population of 65 percent African Americans, 16  percent Hispanics and 16 percent Caucasians, the district is outpacing others across the nation and making gains in truly leaving no child behind. 

 

“Our mission is to guarantee that our graduates possess the skills, values and knowledge to compete globally,” the superintendent explains. Beaumont has incorporated data and technology to know not just a student’s weaknesses, but also a teacher’s. If a student isn’t mastering a certain skill or knowledge, teachers have individualized plans to help the child improve.  If a teacher is lacking in ability to teach students a certain skill, data identifies the weakness and staff is immediately deployed to help the teacher become more proficient. 

 

Consequently, more than half of the district’s 29 ratable schools landed in the top 12 percent of Texas’ higher performance schools.  Overall, 14 schools were rated as TEA exemplary and eight earned the academically recognized status. Furthermore, for three years in a row, Beaumont ISD has had a school to garner the highly coveted national Blue Ribbon School honor. Several schools and programs (including its parent involvement program) have been tagged by regional, state and national organizations as models to emulate. The best part, according to the 3,000+ employees is the $3 million incentives they received for these academic achievements.

 

FINANCES & FACILITIES

 

While school districts across the nation have been reducing staff and programs to meet funding shortfalls, Dr. Thomas, the trustees and the leadership team at Beaumont have been proactive in planning for tough economic times.  In 2007, voters passed the largest facilities improvement program in the history of the region.  Ten new schools, the Thomas Educational Support Center featuring a 10,400-seat stadium and a competition natatorium, and a host of other improvements are cutting at least five million dollars a year for the next 30 years from the cost of running the district. 

These facilities have improved the face of Beaumont and now serve as an attraction to new residents.  In fact, Beaumont ISD’s population has risen by several hundred students when others are losing students. Also, the region’s economy is stronger due to the district’s building programs.

 

Rated superior in finances by TEA and other international rating systems, Beaumont ISD recovered more than $40 million in reimbursements from insurance and FEMA for claims for damages caused by hurricanes Rita, Ike and Humberto.

 

Also, the district is capitalizing on attrition and filling only the most critical positions. These moves are helping in the face of an expected $24 million state cut to Beaumont ISD’s budget for the next two years. 

 

Beaumont ISD is listed in a recent state comptroller’s report for getting the best bang from the taxpayers’ dollars.

Beaumont ISD Video

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