9-18-17 Harvey UPDATE

FISD is in full recovery mode.  I wanted to give you an update on the status of the District and some of the issues we will be facing over the months ahead and maybe answer some of the questions parents have about the impact of the storm on the schools.

First, I would like to give the highest praise to the administrators, counselors, teachers, staff, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and all others that are part of the FISD team for the exemplary effort to welcome back those we are charged to serve — our students.  This team continues to go above and beyond to make our students’ return to school from the devastating floods a big part of our community’s shift toward normalcy, hope, and recovery.  Harvey pushed us down into a dark corner, but we have come out swinging.

Here are the most frequently asked questions and the answers for today:

How many students have been displaced from their home by the flooding?  As of today, there are 438.  This number includes those “displaced” from a typical living arrangement in their original home — living upstairs or in a different location at the same address or living in a trailer at the same address.   The majority are those living in another house, a hotel, or some other arrangement.

How many FISD students have we lost and added because of the storm?  We have kept our word to retain the students who were in FISD prior to the storm.  At this time, 3 students have withdrawn and we have enrolled 5 students from other districts.  Our current enrollment is just a few students higher than it was one year ago today.

What services do you have for the displaced students?  The counseling staff for each campus is keeping a close eye on these kids and trying to determine what is needed.  The McKinney Vento Act provides many services to displaced students.  Every displaced student’s family should have received communication about these services.  If not, please contact your campus registrar or counselor.  PTO’s have been the mechanism to provide funds, contributions, gift cards, etc. for these families.

How do the displaced kids get to school?  Our community has stepped up as it always does and organized carpools to help neighbors.  The FISD transportation dept. put in countless hours to work through the logistics of all our displaced students. We have added routes which cross elementary zone boundaries, as well as a service to pick up those displaced that live outside the FISD boundary.  Right now we are transporting approximately 30 of the 134 students in locations outside of the FISD boundary.  These students are all protected by federal guidelines for displaced students and have the right to attend the school they were attending prior to being displaced.

Do we have to make up the days that were missed?  No. The state has provided a waiver for the days missed for the hurricane.  We missed a total of 7 instructional days.  However, district leadership felt it was best to change the September 18th day from a staff development day to an instructional day.  We are considering doing the same with the October 30th staff development day.  A final decision will be made soon.  We will get this out to you as soon as the final decision is made.  By having student instructional days on these two days, we will increase the student instructional days to help make up for some of the lost time in the first semester.  Professional learning is critical for our staff, but this is a unique situation.

What about homework now that we are past the 15th?  After meeting with the District leadership team and hearing from principals, we will return to a typical pattern of work in each class.  However, all are aware of the situation and are monitoring affected students closely.  Continue to communicate with teachers, principals, and counselors as the recovery continues.

Have the school buildings and materials in the schools made it through the storm?  Fantastic.  We are blessed to have schools operating in the same fashion as the first day of school prior to the storm.  Relative to many other districts, FISD was spared from the storm.  We will continue to do evaluations of our roofs and other equipment, but it appears all is well.

What is the impact on FISD employees?  There are 109 FISD staff members that have flooded homes and cars or both or have sustained some type of material loss as a result of the storm.  However, one of the characteristics of Mustang Pride is resiliency.  These employees are at work and giving their best for your students. The Education Foundation created a fund to assist FISD employees who need financial help.  These funds will go directly to employees to assist them in recovery.  If you would like to contribute, please go the FISD Educ Foundation Link and click on the donate button.  The District continues to provide many services to these employees as possible to assist with recovery.

How does the District continue to help the community recover?  One of the main ways is to house recovery efforts on district facilities.  Last week we hosted Galveston County Health Department to provide over 200 tetanus shots to community members at the FISD boardroom.  We also have allowed multiple large cleanup teams to use FJH showers after being in homes in flooded areas.  On September 18 from 6:00 – 9:00, the district will host FEMA and SBA representatives who will be giving presentations outlining disaster assistance programs for residents.  This meeting will take place at FJH at 1000 Manison Pkwy.  Continue to stay tuned to FISD social media.  This will be the source for updates as new information arises.

“Mustang Voices” is a new venue developed to keep the lines of communication open between the district and the community. It will be an opportunity for citizens, parents, or anyone to meet with me and other District level leaders.  We want to hear your questions about the storm or other issues related to the District.  We have several questions for you to consider as well.  The discussion will be in a small group format led by a member of the district staff.  Our first Mustang Voices will be held on September 27th at 4:00 p.m. at the FISD Boardroom.

Our community is a group of “risers.” The following link is a video the district put together as a tribute to the community and to Kingwood for the football game.  I would offer it to you as a conclusion to this letter.  Harvey Video

Have a great week,

Thad J. Roher, Superintendent