Trustees discuss ‘Focus’ schools, Tomato Bowl plans

On July 13, 2017, I started working for the Jacksonville Progress. This article came from one of the first school board meetings I covered for the paper. It’s also one of my first front page articles!

The Jacksonville ISD Board of Trustees meeting Monday included information about campuses named as Texas Education Agency’s Focus Schools.

According to Lisa Cox, the associate superintendent of curriculum and student services, four Jacksonville schools were recently listed as campuses that need added attention by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). These schools are Jacksonville High School, Jacksonville Middle School, Joe Wright Elementary School, and Nichols Intermediate School.

“The four Jacksonville ISD campuses recently identified by TEA as ‘focus’ campuses are already well into targeted interventions in identified areas,” PR Director Grace Traylor said in an email. “The newly released information is based on 2015-16 STARR test data. Once scores were available last October, JISD implemented programs in areas in need of targeted interventions during the 16-17 year and saw growth in all areas.”

With the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a new system has been developed to determine which schools are in need of help. The schools which need improvement fall into two categories: Priority schools and Focus schools. A Priority school has a graduation rate of only 60 percent and/or scored the lowest in math and reading tests. Focus schools are schools that don’t quite fall into the “Priority” category, but still have noticeable gaps in math/reading comprehension.

Cox said the district will be getting some federal funding to intervene in these schools to help get their scores back up to standard. This funding is expected to be made available this October.

The renovations at the Tomato Bowl, which will be done by Claycomb Associates Architects, are changing to include compacting the visitor-side benches to make more room for locker rooms and bathrooms. Home team concession stands will run along the length of the north end zone, and the northeast corner of the field will be opened up to allow easier firetruck and ambulance access to the field. JISD officials said some of the changes to the original plans are due to flooding concerns.

While these renovations are underway, the football team will be without a home field for the 2018 season. Two potential remedies to this were discussed at the meeting. One option would be to borrow the stadium from Bullard High School on Saturdays for home games. The second option would be to have an entire season of away games, and to make the following season nothing but home games. The board is still looking into these and other options.

Other items discussed and/or approved during the meeting included:

A study is ongoing into the possibility of building a loop around Jacksonville to relieve some traffic going down U.S. 69 through town.

August 28, 2017 has been set as the date for a public hearing over the proposed 2017-18 budget and tax rate.

The board also voted to apply for a waiver to change the date of Texas Education Agency state required testing.

There were no public comments, and no action was taken from the executive session held prior to the regular meeting.


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