Rockwall ISD Board Update: Highlights from Board of Trustees May 15, 2023 meeting

ROCKWALL, TX (May 16, 2023) NOTE: Board meeting summaries highlight different agenda items. For more information on every agenda item presented, visit


Congratulations to the following students and student groups who the Board of Trustees recognized for the following accomplishments:

· Elementary Stock Market Teams – Each year, the SIFMA (Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association) announces the student winners of the Stock Market Game™ competition in Texas. A team of 5th-grade students from Doris Cullins-Lake Pointe Elementary won second place in the 4th/5th grade Spring 2023 competition in the Region, as well as a team of 6th-grade students from Sharon Shannon Elementary School who won second place in the DFW Middle School year-long session in Region.

· Rockwall High School Student Council – For its exemplary record of leadership, service and activities that improve the school and community, the Rockwall High School Student Council has been recognized as a 2023 National Gold Council of Excellence by the National Student Council and was awarded Sweepstakes from the Texas Association of Student Councils (TASC). Only 1.7% of high schools in Texas win the National Gold Council of Excellence award. Rockwall High School Student Council has won these prestigious awards two years in a row.

· State VASE Winners – Approximately 35,000 students participate in the Texas Art Educators Association Visual Art Scholastic Event (VASE) contest each school year. State winners from Rockwall ISD include two students from Rockwall High School and two from Rockwall-Heath High School.

· Dr. Gene Burton Academy State Champions Representing Various Career & Technical Education Programs:

BBQ Team 205 Pitmasters – The 2022-2023 205 Pitmasters BBQ team, led by their coach Sean Hill, competed at the Texas State High School BBQ Championship. Rockwall ISD earned 2nd place in brisket, 4th & 9th place in chicken, 5th place in ribs, 10th and 25th place in dessert, and 19th and 29th place in beans, making Team Smoke the State Grand Champions.

Business Professionals of America Competition Team – The 2022-2023 Business Professionals of America (BPA) competition team, which consisted of 20 state qualifiers, attended the BPA State Leadership Conference, led by their teachers and coaches Mrs. Misty Rayson, Mrs. Naposhi Amos, Mrs. Marcia Eddy, and Mr. Jeff Burkham. Eight of the 20 students won at BPA state, and seven advanced at the BPA virtual competition. These students represented Rockwall ISD at the BPA National Leadership Conference, where all eight advanced to the national finals.

CyberPatriot XV – Four teams competed in the 2022-2023 Cyberpatriot XV competition season consisting of 19 State Qualifiers led by their teachers and coaches, Mrs. Bunch and Mr. Jeff Burkham. A team of six students qualified at State. That team competed in the National Semifinals, where five of those six GBCCA students represented Rockwall ISD in the international finals qualifier.

DECA Marketing, Finance and Entrepreneurship Team – The 2022-2023 DECA Marketing, Management, Finance and Entrepreneurship competition team, which consisted of 31 state qualifiers, attended the DECA State Career Development Conference, led by their teachers and advisors Mrs. Dori Brown and Mrs. Alisha Bridges. Ten students placed at DECA state, while four qualified to advance and represented Rockwall ISD at the DECA international competition. The four students competed among 14,000 students worldwide, with one earning “Top 10 International Finalist” in Apparel and Accessories Marketing.

Drone Team Airship Academy 1034A- The Drone Team – Airship Academy 1034A – led by coaches Leslie Reese and Kay Orr recently placed third in the National Championships Bell Advance Vertical Robotics Competition. The team had to place 1st in a regional event to qualify for the National Championships. Besides a 1st place regional finish, the team placed 3rd and won Best Overall Design and Best Presentation at two regional events.

· Rockwall High School Boys Gymnastics State Champions for the 3rd Year in a Row – The Rockwall High School Boys Gymnastics team finished as State Champions for the third year. Rockwall High School Head Coach Boys’ Cameron Sweny was named the Texas High School Boys’ Coach of the Year at the State Gymnastics Championships.

· Rockwall High School Girls Gymnastics Team Placed at State – The team finished runner-up at the State Championships.

· Rockwall-Heath High School Girls Gymnastics Individuals Placed at State Championships – Three gymnasts placed in four events at the state competition. Coach Amy Heidel was named the Texas High School Girls’ Coach of the Year at the State Gymnastics Championships.

· Rockwall High School Lady Jacket Soccer Head Coach Recognized by UIL – Coach Melissa Garcia was named the 2021-22 NFHS State Coach of the Year for Girls’ Soccer by the University Interscholastic League and the National Federation of State High School Association. The organizations bestow this prestigious award to one coach in each sport for each state association.

Recognition of Trustee Stephanie Adams for 12 Years of Service

The Board of Trustees recognized Mrs. Stephanie Adams as she retires from the Board after twelve years of service as Trustee of the District. Mrs. Adams served four terms, beginning May 2011 through May 2023. During her service as Trustee, Mrs. Adams was Board President, Vice President and Secretary. As a trustee, she was part of a team that managed the District’s commitment to student academic achievement, managing the District’s fast enrollment growth, completing the 2015 bond program, successful passage of the 2021 bond, and the construction of six new facilities during the last six years while being fiscally conservative achieving the lowest tax rate in Rockwall ISD history.

As a mark of her desire to be the very best for her community and school district, she earned Master Trustee status in 2017, a program that required her to commit her time to various sessions held around the state.

Mrs. Adams’ noted accomplishments as a Rockwall ISD Trustee team member include:

· Leading during a time of higher student enrollment growth from 14,213 students in 2011 to 18,514 students in 2023;
· A successful 2015 bond program was completed under budget and on time, building six campuses, including the first college and career academy in the District serving approximately 3,000 students;
· A successful 2021 bond program that will address secondary needs and lay the blueprint for future high
schools #3 and #4;
· Lowered the tax rate from $1.47 in 2011 to $1.21 in 2022;
· Three-time state accountability District “A” Rating;
· Approximately 1,500 students, or 59% of all 5th and 6th-grade students in the District, participate in advanced academic math pathways;
· Top Five Honor Board in the State of Texas for governance, fiscal responsibility, and academic/extracurricular achievement out of more than 1,200 school districts in Texas;
· One of the highest graduation rates in the region at 99.6%; and
· Giving high-fives and shaking the hands of approximately 13,000 graduating seniors prepared for higher education, military, technical school, and workforce opportunities.

Sharon Shannon Elementary School and Quest Academy Principals and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction – Secondary Named Laurie Branch named new principal of Sharon Shannon Elementary School

Laurie Branch has served students and staff for nineteen years in education. Most recently, Laurie Branch has served as an elementary principal for seven years in Forney ISD. She also served Rockwall ISD for five years as the assistant principal at Billie Stevenson Elementary and Nebbie Williams Elementary. In addition to her campus administration experience, she served as a Literacy Coach at Grace Hartman, as well as an elementary teacher in multiple content areas. She earned a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Texas A & M Commerce. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from Midwestern State University. Mrs. Branch’s professional experiences include:

· Seven years elementary campus principal experience;
· Successful implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs);
· Campus-wide implementation of school-wide behavior systems;
· Extensive experience leading campuses with a variety of special programs; and
· Twelve years leadership experience in creating positive campus culture.

Kody Hergert named principal of Quest Academy

Kody Hergert has served students and staff in public education for 19 years. Most recently, Mr. Hergert has served Rockwall ISD as the assistant principal at Utley Middle School since 2016.

Previously, Mr. Hergert served Rockwall ISD as a science teacher and coach at Cain Middle School as well as a physical education teacher and campus athletic coordinator at Utley Middle School. In addition, Mr. Hergert has served as a teacher and coach in Duncanville ISD and Garland ISD. He earned a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University. Mr. Hergert’s professional experiences include:
· Successful secondary campus leadership experience;
· Participant in the Rockwall ISD Aspiring Principal Academy;
· Summer School Principal for grades 6-12;
· Participant in Rockwall ISD Strategic Planning Committee;
· Successful design and implementation of a campus-wide system for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS); and
· Skilled facilitator of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) process.

Kevin Samples named Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction – Secondary

Mr. Kevin Samples joins the curriculum and instruction team with 26 years of experience in public education, including five years as the principal of Rockwall High School. Mr. Samples has also served as the principal of Mesquite High School, assistant principal in both Mesquite ISD and Mabank ISD as well as a teacher in Rockwall ISD. Mr. Samples earned a Masters of Educational Administration from Texas A&M-Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Social Studies from Ouachita Baptist University. Mr. Samples’s professional experiences and accomplishments include:
· Principal of the Year for Secondary Schools, Mesquite ISD;
· Principal of the Year Finalist;
· Leading Rockwall High School to earn a distinction in Academic Growth multiple years;
· Leading Rockwall High School to place #11 in the UIL Lone Star Cup, the highest ranking in school history;
· Designer of the Innovative Teaching Conference, Mesquite ISD;
· Extensive experience in leadership development, program evaluation, CCMR, the PLC process, and implementing the guaranteed and viable curriculum; and
· Presenter at local and state conferences.

Board Approves District Strategic Plan

The Board of Trustees approved the updated District Strategic Plan presented by members of the Strategic Plan Committee. Strategic planning is an essential part of Rockwall ISD’s continuous improvement efforts. On February 6 and 27, 2023, Trustees received information on the 2018 Strategic Plan goals and the 2023 Strategic Plan process.

In March, a Strategic Design Team committee of parents, community members, teachers, students, and campus and District leaders spent two days reviewing Rockwall ISD Beliefs, Call to Action, Learner Profile and Learner Outcomes. The committee also learned of the District’s previous 2018 Strategic Plan accomplishments, future challenges and teacher input as a result of the Superintendent’s Lunch and Listen sessions. As a result, the
committee updated Specific Results as a framework to guide the District.

Board Approves Annual Public Hearing for Annual Budget and Proposed Tax Rate for 2023-2024 Fiscal Year

Per Board policy CE (Legal) requires the District to call a board meeting to adopt a budget for the succeeding fiscal year. The Board approved the next regular monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees on June 19, 2023, at 6:00 pm, in the Rockwall ISD Administration Building, Room 600, for the Public Hearing.

Board Approves Employee Pay During Cullins-Lake Pointe Elementary Emergency Closure

The Board approved a resolution to provide for continuing wage payments to employees of Cullins-Lake Pointe Elementary affected by an emergency closure. Rockwall ISD, acting in the best interest of the health and safety of students and staff, ordered the emergency closure of Cullins-Lake Pointe Elementary School on May 4, 2023. Per Board policy DEA (LOCAL), following an emergency closure, the Board shall adopt a resolution or take other Board action establishing the purpose and parameters for such payments.

Board Approves Intermediate Guaranteed Maximum Price for the Middle School #4 Construction Project

The Board approved the Intermediate Guaranteed Maximum Price (IGMP) for the Middle School #4 Construction Project for $7,400,430.00, which includes electrical, roofing, Child Nutrition equipment and HVAC packages. Funds from the 2021 bond authorization will pay for costs.

Update on Rockwall ISD Unlimited Tax School Building Bonds, Series 2023 Bond Parameter Sale

District leaders reported that the Series 2023 bonds priced with a net premium resulted in a $200,000,000 deposit into the Rockwall ISD Project fund in mid-May. The District maintained its excellent Aa2 (Moody’s) and AA (S&P) underlying ratings in addition to the Aaa/AAA Permanent School Fund (PSF) Guarantee Ratings. Projections at the March board meeting presentation were based upon a 4.65% TIC. The final TIC for Series 2023 was 4.1824%, which resulted in $21,724,177 less interest cost versus original projections.

Submitted press release.