By Cheryl Posey
Confirmed this week in a personal interview and a press release that was sent out by the White Settlement ISD, the entire Board of Trustees along with the district’s top administrators and most of the group’s spouses attended a convention April 12 through 15 in San Diego, California.
The board members attended some sessions, some of them conducted by movie stars, to help improve the White Settlement ISD.
“Keynote speakers included academy award-winning actress Geena Davis, who discussed how the media plays a key role in child development and how her organization is making a difference,” the release stated.
Superintendent Frank Molinar said in the release that one of the purposes of the trip was to make connections across the state and nation.
“By participating in educational training and networking oppor-tunities at the state and national level, White Settlement ISD will create a brand name for itself, creating positive exposure for our community,” Molinar said.
Board member John Bradley spent some time at the convention concentrating on strategies for high poverty schools. The release noted that approximately fifty percent of students in the district come from low socio-economic backgrounds. He said that the approach for the district is to remember that every child is capable of learning and “will either rise or fall to the expectations we have for them.”
In an interview after the board returned from the trip, board president Randy Armstrong said the trip was something he felt was needed to get the board away from their current environment and accomplish some things they cannot do here. He said it took some encouragement to convince many of the other attendees that the trip was necessary.
“There were a lot of them that didn’t want to go, but I insisted,” he said. “It was an opportunity to grow.”
He said the costs for the trip were placed in the general fund budget back in July, when no one came forward at the meeting to speak against the trustees going.
Former board member Ben Posey said the national convention and the San Diego trip had been mentioned as a possible trip for the district for quite a while, but many thought it was not the right time to spend this amount of money while educational funding in the state of Texas is being slashed.
According to the National School Board Association’s Convention website, fees for the conference started at $755 per person, with regular members of the association paying $945 to attend. The WSISD board members paid an early bird convention fee of $895 per person for the ten attendees, with all other trip expenses including travel, meals and lodging also being paid by the district.
Also speaking about the trip to The Grizzly was district superintendent Frank Molinar. He said that anytime a group of educators can attend training together, the district benefits.
“We feel that training is very important. It is absolutely vital for our teachers and staff to be trained with today’s latest technology,” Molinar said.
Armstrong and Molinar are both Brewer graduates who have played a part of the school’s history from many positions. They both state that their interests, hopes and dreams for the WSISD come from the heart.
“I’m here because I do want to make a difference,” Armstrong said. “I want to help take care of this place for as long as I can.”
Molinar said his purposes are the same.
“My intent is to do the very best for the 6500 kids and 800 faculty members in this district,” Molinar said. “Everything I’ve done is for the kids and community I love.”
Molinar and Armstrong recently announced a technology plan that will provide every high school student with an iPad 4, and many of the trustees and administrators attended technology training in San Diego to help with the success of this initiative.
Both Armstrong and Molinar said they were willing to consider trips for other employees of the district because they realize the value of being away from the school environment to learn, grow and glean ideas from educators from other districts.
“Why wouldn’t we do that?” Armstrong said.