Prepare Students for College and Careers
I strongly believe that our students must graduate prepared to enter the workforce or to attend college. My colleagues and I have worked hard to build a partnership with the Houston Community College System (HCCS) to increase the number of Career and Technology Education (CTE) courses and certifications available to our students and to establish an Early College HS. Due to our efforts, CTE course enrollment increased 12% from the 2011-2012 school year to 2012-2013. This past June, our Alief Early College HS held its first graduation and 60% of the graduates earned Associate’s degrees along with their high school diplomas.
Children have different abilities and strengths, but I strongly believe that every student must be challenged and engaged. During my tenure, I have advocated for increasing enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) classes, dual credit courses, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) and extracurricular activities. The Alief Board approved two late bus runs so students could attend tutorials and/or participate in after school activities without parents having to worry about them getting home safely. We also established senior centers at each high school where students can get information about scholarships, colleges, and SAT and ACT tests. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) parent meetings are held for grades 7 – 12 to give parents and students information about athletic scholarships.
I am committed to preparing our students to compete globally. I believe students should learn a second language, so I supported the expansion of our Dual Language Immersion Program (Spanish) which is now offered at 10 campuses. This year we are investigating the feasibility of implementing an International Baccalaureate (IB) program and a Chinese or Vietnamese Dual Language Program. Our students must have access to the most up-to-date technology to be competitive so the Alief Board is committed to ensuring that the district technology system is the best possible. By the end of this school year, wireless networks will be available at all facilities. Apps are being developed for IPads, IPhones and android devices and a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy will be established.
Safety and Security
I believe that it is essential that we provide safe, secure facilities so children can learn and educators can teach. After the Newtown, CT shootings, the Board authorized safety inspections for every Alief facility. I strongly support making the capital improvements needed to maximize safety. The Board also approved hiring additional police officers to monitor elementary campuses and increased funding for Communities in Schools (CIS) to expand that program to additional campuses. We also will provide intruder and active shooter training for staff members.
Hire and Retain Highly Qualified Staff
I believe that student success depends on hiring the most qualified staff available. I am proud to say that during my board service, Alief has always offered competitive pay and benefits. The Board approved a 3.5% pay increase for the 2013-2014 school year. The administration and board members have worked hard to provide excellent health benefits for our employees. Health insurance premiums have not increased for 7 consecutive years. Last year, the Board approved a partnership with a health clinic that our employees can access at no co-pay. We also implemented a comprehensive Wellness Program. This year a staff survey will be conducted to gauge employee satisfaction.
I strongly support offering the programs and services our students need to succeed, but I also believe it is vital that taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and effectively. Since I have an accounting degree, I have the knowledge and expertise to understand the budgeting process. I want to ensure that Alief taxpayers get value for their money and that the taxes assessed are fair and equitable. Alief receives less state funding per pupil than many of our neighboring districts. As a result, our taxpayers pay higher taxes than our neighbors in other districts. Our Board authorized participating in the school finance lawsuit to fight for our fair share of state funding so our taxpayers are not overburdened. This year, the Board and administration will begin to evaluate the need for a future bond referendum to ensure that each facility continues to provide optimal working and learning environments.
See the Accomplishments page for more information.
Political advertisement paid by the Sarah Winkler Campaign, 12731 Palm Desert LN Houston, TX 77099