Skip Navigation
Superintendent
Spread a Little Cheer
12/20/2017
It’s been quite a semester! Hurricane Harvey caused devastation throughout our area and delayed the opening of school until September 11, but thanks to everyone pulling together, we got things back on track. I know that some of you are still dealing with the effects of Harvey, so I hope the holiday gives you a chance to accomplish some things on your “to do” list.

 

O'Brien Photo This year, there is more need than ever before around us, but we have much for which to be thankful. We have strong community support from the Partner In Education program through the Baytown Chamber of Commerce at all our schools as well as from numerous partners who have reached out to our district students and staff affected by Harvey. For example, Covestro donated shoes to students in need at two elementary schools, and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. donated, through the Goose Creek CISD Education Foundation, money for mattresses and frames for students and employees who are parents of students in our district. Walmart donated bedding, and Baytown GMC helped with deliveries. We have received donations of Christmas presents, school supplies and gift cards from all across our great nation

 

Amidst all the chaos this semester, we received two somewhat unexpected gifts. The Houston Astros gave us something to cheer about by claiming the World Series Championship, and even more recently, we woke on a Friday morning to see everything blanketed in snow. The pure delight on the faces of children – and even adults – as they enjoyed this phenomenon that is almost foreign to our area, was yet another sign of good things to come.

 

With the Christmas season on the way, I hope you will reach out to those who need some holiday cheer in their lives. Many school clubs and organizations have sponsored families as have our staff members at the Administration Building. Several groups have visited nursing homes, spreading cheer with their songs and small gifts. I’m especially proud that Goose Creek CISD teamed up with Toys For Tots to “Pack the Bus” with heaps of toys for area children.

 

Holidays are about sharing time with family and friends and making memories that last a lifetime. Be sure to pause long enough to truly reflect and appreciate all the blessings in our lives. Articulate your love, gratitude, concern, sorrow or happiness with those within your circle of family and friends. Seek opportunities to share some of those same heartfelt sentiments with your neighbors and those we meet along the way!

 

I hope you have a restful holiday and that you come back energized and ready to take on the busy second semester. Thank you for everything you do every day for our students, our schools and our district. I am blessed to work in this district with a staff that truly cares about others.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Randal O’Brien

 

 

 

 


Thankful for Our School District
11/17/2017

What an exciting time to be a part of the Goose Creek CISD family! As we seek to constantly improve all that we do, we explore opportunities that will continue to make us an exceptional institution of learning. When these conversations occur, I recognize that, along with them, there’s an uneasy feeling for the prospect of change.

O'Brien Photo If I have learned anything over my career in leadership, it is that change is inevitable – whether we’re talking about the legislature, the school calendar or the school day. Our decision, then, becomes whether or not we choose to participate in steering that change to a favorable outcome or to sit in the bleachers and watch it happen.

At a time when public schools are under scrutiny from those who seek to profit financially from privatizing them, we who believe in the public school system must stand up for public schools. As a result of underfunding schools and programs, leading to overcrowded classrooms; mandating standardized tests sold by private-sector firms that try to “prove” these schools are failures; blaming teachers and/or their unions for test scores; changing school accountability standards and identification and pushing non-accountable, profit-oriented charter schools as the solution, it is even understandable that the public may view the school system as flawed or broken.

According to a 2017 PDK Poll of the public’s attitudes toward public schools, Americans grade schools nationally as C/D, local schools as B/C and their child’s school as A/B. The closer we are to our schools, the more we believe in their success; however, one problem is that only about 25 percent of the population have children actually in our schools. I encourage you to visit our Goose Creek CISD campuses and attend our school events. The positive things that happen daily are the best indication of success, more so than any one assessment. Then, tell people about what you see in our schools!

We are thankful to live in a community that supports public education, and you’ve demonstrated that time and time again. In 1999 and 2005, voters passed bonds to improve our school district. The inception of the Goose Creek CISD Education Foundation in 2009 has provided continuing support from community members and businesses, and a $267 million bond was passed in 2013, allowing us, among other proposed items, to build three new elementary schools to serve our growing population. In 2015, voters passed a Tax Ratification Election, and this year, we have initiated a successful public relations partnership with the City of Baytown. Thank you for your monumental support!

Speaking of the public relations partnership with the City, you may have seen our commercials on HGTV, ESPN, PBS as well as on our website. We are tooting our own horn to let the public and our neighbors know, as you do, all the wonderful things going on in our school system. As we approach the holidays, I’d like to share with you how thankful I am for your decision to allow your talents and gifts to serve this community and our future generations. Please have a wonderful holiday season!

Planning for the future
10/27/2017
Although it hardly seems possible, our revised calendar confirms that we are in the second six weeks of the 2017-2018 school year. I hope that you are adjusting to the new school year and what might be a new normal for you and your family.

The Baytown community as well as Goose Creek CISD has demonstrated resilience as we joined hands to overcome our recent visitor, Hurricane Harvey. While much chaos and stress has been generated through this catastrophic event, we have all witnessed the best of humanity as neighbor after neighbor reached out to help one another. Although it has been a stressful time, laughter and hugs have played important roles throughout the recovery process. There’s no doubt this crisis has made us all stronger and appreciative of the blessings in our lives.

Goose Creek CISD administration was asked to host town hall meetings to collect input from the public as well as faculty and staff to determine whether a later arrival time for secondary students is conducive to the Baytown/Highlands community. Some research indicates that allowing students to sleep longer may be beneficial to their academic performance. While this research is not disputed, Goose Creek CISD believes that the community must decide what is best for students we serve. The information will be reviewed to determine appropriate bell schedules for all students. Ultimately, the decision will be up to our Board of Trustees.

The 2013 Bond is at 95 percent completion as the final two projects, the Technology Center and the Agriscience Center, are moving toward completion. The newly completed Transportation Center officially opens its doors soon, and an open house will be scheduled shortly thereafter. We would like to thank the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee for outstanding leadership demonstrated through the oversite of this bond package. It is being delivered on time and on budget for completion in the summer of 2018.

While the most prominent plant expansions are also winding down, commercial growth and residential home sales continue to soar as the population continues to increase. As a member of the Fast Growth School Coalition, Goose Creek CISD is always evaluating future school needs. Recently, a Citizens Facilities Planning Committee was formed and will meet biweekly over the next few months to assist our school district in its long term strategic vision and planning.

We want to thank our community, our state and our nation for the donations to assist those in need during our catastrophic event. The “Adopt a Classroom/ Campus” projects that spawned spontaneously as a result of the flooding have revealed the true heart of our country! Your response shows that the human spirit is stronger than any storm and reminds us that life is short, so we must live it to the fullest. I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, enriched fall.

 


Our Community Works Together to Overcome Obstacles
09/21/2017
As you know, the start of this school year was delayed by a catastrophic event - Hurricane Harvey - which affected many in our area. It has been challenging, and I appreciate all our Goose Creek employees who worked during the time we were closed to locate staff and students, provide information to the community, donate and work at our district donation centers, feed families through an extension of our Summer Meals Program and get everything up and running to start school September 11.

In all the chaos, I saw people helping each other. Although their own homes may have been damaged, they were working to rescue families and pets as well as assist others in removing flooring, sheetrock and priceless possessions ruined by the rising floodwaters. In the midst of despair, I heard more laughter than ever before as our community came together as a family to reach out to those in need. Maybe we felt like we should laugh before we cry, but nonetheless, I heard the sound of people reaching out to one another over and over again.

Over the past couple of weeks, our area has felt an outpouring of love as volunteers arrived from across the nation and businesses, organizations and other school districts sent huge donations of food, school supplies, clothing, cleaning supplies and other necessary items to our students and their families. The selfless acts of kindness we have seen have reestablished our faith in mankind and given us a stronger resolve to move forward in the face of any obstacles.

Since we’re clearly off to an alternate beginning, we will adjust the six weeks so that teaching and testing will align with our calendar. Our district was granted a waiver for nine days from the Texas Education Agency, so we will not be required to make up days or extend school hours. We are enrolling students daily, and although we are slightly short of the membership numbers we anticipated, the trend shows that our district will reach projected growth numbers as families return to their homes. The three new elementary schools we opened in the fall of 2014, thanks to the community’s approval of the 2013 Bond, have helped us accommodate all students, but our schools are at 97 percent of their capacity at this time. Clearly, Goose Creek CISD is the place to be!

I am thankful to live in this community, and I am thankful to work for this district with employees who set their own needs aside to make sure they were ready to welcome our students to the 2017-2018 school year. My heart goes out to the many within our community who have experienced loss, whether little or much, and have been physically, financially and emotionally impacted by Harvey. Thank you for the prayers, words and deeds of kindness to assist in beginning the new school year. I believe it’s not too late to make this school year the best ever!


Success Looks Like This!
06/12/2017
One of the best things about my job is having the opportunity to congratulate our Goose Creek CISD graduates as they walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. This year, 75 seniors graduated from IMPACT Early College High School during a ceremony held at Lee College May 25th. Many of these students had already received associate degrees from Lee College, and others will earn them this summer. Nearly 1400 students from Goose Creek Memorial, Robert E. Lee and Ross S. Sterling high schools also turned their tassels signifying graduation at commencement exercises held at Ford Arena in Beaumont May 27th. Congratulations to these students and their families for accomplishing a major milestone in their lives, and I wish them success as they prepare to explore the future.

Many wonderful things have happened across our district during the 2016-2017 school year, ranging from instructional to co-curricular to extra-curricular programs. To name just a few, students have advanced to state competitions in UIL Spelling, Track and Field as well as Robotics. For the 27th consecutive year, our district will be represented at the National History Day competition in Maryland. The Fine Arts programs have yielded All-State members in band, choir, orchestra, dance, theatre (playwrights) and art (VASE). Expanded dual credit course offerings at all the traditional high schools as well as at IMPACT ECHS have increased the number of students receiving college credit over the past five years.

Stuart Career Tech High School will open its doors this fall for the 2017-2018 school year to begin offering coursework to freshmen who will choose from four academies. The Advanced Automotive, Culinary Arts, Environmental Conservation, and Manufacturing and Industrial Maintenance academies will provide hands-on, project-based instruction to allow students to earn college credit and industry certifications in partnership with Lee College. SCTHS will broaden the opportunity for students to graduate with an associate degree that began with IMPACT ECHS.

Our Transportation Center, which will house eight repair bays, wash and service bays and parking for up to 300 buses, also will be completed this summer. It features a diesel technology classroom associated with SCTHS certification opportunities.

The 2013 Bond is approaching 80 percent completion a year ahead of schedule and under budget, with only the Technology Center and Ag Center as major projects to be completed. The investment in renewing mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) needs in every building in the district this year has shored up long range facility needs. However, as a member of the Fast Growth School Coalition, Goose Creek will continue to plan and prepare for the anticipated migration of families to this eastern section of the Greater Houston Area, as Baytown continues its strategic development as a premier community, one of the final master planned communities surrounding Houston.

Always a bright spot for our district is the work of our community business partners and our Goose Creek CISD Education Foundation, which recently awarded $130,000 in innovative teaching grants to our teachers. Since the Education Foundation’s inception in 2009, more than $830,000 has been awarded by the Grant Surprise Patrol to teachers to enhance instruction. Despite a legislative session that has fallen flat, for lack of better words, the Goose Creek faculty and administration continue to seek out innovative ideas to enrich the educational experience for every child. Thanks to the support of our community, we continue to lead the way with innovative programs, cutting edge technologies and 21st century facilities.

I am proud of our progressive mindset to continually seek to improve the education that we provide to the Baytown-Highlands community. The positive attitude, laced with grit and determination, is surely stronger than the obstacles that we face.

School has just ended, but summer school is in session, and our free Summer Meals for Kids program is feeding students attending summer school as well as at mobile sites, such as parks, libraries and summer camps. Last year, we served a total of 80,976 meals. This is a wonderful program that helps so many families.

Although our administrative team has already begun securing plans for the 2017-2018 school year, I hope that all the members of this organization get the rest and relaxation they deserve to come back next year and do it again. Have a safe summer!



Finish Strong
04/18/2017
We are now in the final six weeks of the 2016-17 school year. Our seniors and their parents are probably anticipating graduation with mixed emotions. Although it signifies the end of their school years in Goose Creek CISD, it also serves as the beginning of post-secondary education opportunities and careers. I feel confident that our GCCISD graduates are prepared to make decisions that will pave the way to successful futures. This year, graduation for IMPACT Early College High School is May 25th at 7 p.m. at the Lee College Sports Arena. Ross S. Sterling (10 a.m.), Goose Creek Memorial (2:30 p.m.) and Robert E. Lee (7 p.m.) high schools will hold their graduation ceremonies at Ford Park Arena, 5115 Interstate 10 South, Beaumont, TX 77005. For more information on graduation, please check our website at http://www.gccisd.net/page/graduation.home.


To bring you up-to-date on some 85th Legislative Session decisions as they affect our district, the A-F accountability system is being evaluated and modified to incorporate a bigger picture than just one test day. The Texas Commissioner of Education, Mike Morath, is working with educational leaders across the state to evaluate House Bill 5 to demonstrate a fairer panoramic picture of school districts versus a snapshot.

As for school funding, the legislature, in an attempt to simplify the complexities of school finance, has made recommendations to remove the cost of education index, simplify the formulas and begin to consider growth and inflation as primary tools for improved funding. Rather than an overhaul of school finance, we’re likely to see compromises at a minimal level as the movement to “deregulate” public education rather than meet the existing needs continues.

Since the inception of the $267.5 million bond, passed overwhelmingly by our citizens in 2013, the district has grown by more than 2,000 students, with projections of another 1,000 or more by its completion in 2018. The good news is that the delivery of the bond is on schedule and on budget, currently at 80 percent complete with a year to go.

One curricular variation to our traditional schools was the construction and implementation of an Early College High School, which opened in 2010, giving students the opportunity to graduate with college credits or even associate degrees from Lee College. A complement to the ECHS model, which has opened the doors for underserved student populations, is a bond project, Stuart Career Tech High School (SCTHS), scheduled to open in fall 2017. A renovated Kilgore Building, combined with the Stuart Career Center, will comprise SCTHS, which will follow the IMPACT ECHS model in offering college credit courses, but will provide a greater focus on career technical certifications. SCTHS will include four academies – Advanced Automotive, Culinary Arts, Environmental Conservation and Manufacturing and Industrial Maintenance. We are excited to offer our students and parents even more choices with their education.

As we enter this final six weeks of 2016-2017, one of the busiest times of the year, I want to encourage everyone, students and staff alike, to finish the year strong. We take pride in being a school district that focuses on continued improvement in all that we do. As I visit campuses, I see that we are all working together for the success of our students, and I am proud to serve our community!

A Heart-to-Heart Talk
02/17/2017
Welcome to the fifth six weeks of the 2016-2017 school year! It always amazes me that once we start the second semester, the rest of the year just seems to fly by!

Besides being the month for Valentine’s Day, which I hope you took time to enjoy, February is known as American Heart Month, a great time to learn about heart health and to commit to even some small changes that could make a big difference in your life. Several of our schools have kicked off Jump Rope for Heart and will once again contribute to the American Heart Association. Last year, Austin Elementary donated $22,107 to the AHA and recognized their Heart Hero, Reece Brown, a junior at Sterling High School and the son of Austin teacher Jackie Brown. Reece underwent two heart-related surgeries last year after his dentist expressed some concerns and suggested that he get them checked out. He is back in action at school and on the baseball field.


This year, Crockett Elementary will participate in Hoops for Hearts, honoring Heart Hero Kaylee Harris, a first-grader who has recently undergone heart surgery and is now back at school, working hard in P.E. and getting ready to play softball. Many other campuses participate in schoolwide projects to benefit the AHA and to bring awareness of heart health to students, parents and staff. Thanks to all of you who contribute to this worthy cause.

February also is Black History Month, a time to learn more about black Americans’ roles in U.S. history and to celebrate their accomplishments. There are activities and programs going on all through the district, especially in our history classes. For example, Sterling will present a Wax Museum February 23 with performances in the Commons and alcove. Goose Creek Memorial High School highlights the accomplishments of a black American each day on the morning announcements. Highlands Junior gives prizes to students who answer questions about black Americans correctly. Bañuelos Elementary students are announcing facts about black history daily, and some classes are participating in a Black History Poster Project.

We traveled to Washington, D.C. last summer, and I was in awe of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which honors our heritage for equality. You also may want to catch a newly released movie, “Hidden Figures,” which celebrates the team of African American women mathematicians at NASA who served a vital role during the early years of the U.S. space program.

If you’re looking for a worthwhile heart healthy activity, join me at the Project Blue 7th Annual Jail Break Run Half Marathon and 5K Saturday, February 25, 2017, at Lee College from 7 – 11 a.m. All proceeds from this event benefit Project Blue, a 501(c)3 organization that helps police officers when they face unforeseen illnesses or injuries outside the line of duty and funds criminal justice scholarships.

As for a construction update, the Transportation Center is coming along at about 40 percent completion, and the project is due to be finished this summer. Teachers and students are enjoying the new Career and Technical Education (CTE) wing at Goose Creek Memorial, which opened at the first of this semester. The new Stuart Career Tech High School is also nearing completion and will open August 2017.

By now, you have probably seen or heard our district’s stance on two important issues being discussed in the 85th Texas Legislative Session in Austin. It’s important for you to have all the information about these issues so that you can decide where you stand.

The first issue is the voucher plan, commonly called Education Savings Accounts. In brief, to make up for what some of our leaders are calling “failing schools,” tax dollars intended for public schools will be diverted to private institutions that do not have the same accountability requirements as public schools, such as the STAAR test. What most people don’t realize is that a voucher will not be enough to cover tuition at most private schools, so the only students who will benefit will be those who come from affluent families. Implementing this voucher system would take money from public schools, robbing our students of valuable resources. Public schools are not failing – don’t believe the hype! Stay informed. For more details and to find out who represents you in Austin, please go to www.gccisd.net/page/85thlegislature. We urge you to contact your state representatives.

The second issue is the Texas Education A-F Accountability System. Beginning in Spring 2018, each campus and the district will receive an overall A-F rating as well as a letter grade A-F for each of the five domains: Student Performance, Student Progress, Closing Performance Gaps, Postsecondary Readiness and Community and Student Engagement. This is a misleading, complex system. Please know that I am well aware that all of the wonderful things happening in our schools every day to engage, inspire and empower our students, preparing them to succeed in an ever-changing global society, cannot be reduced to a single letter grade. For more information on this, please go to www.gccisd.net/page/85thlegislature.

Thank you for caring about our students. Our district is focused on continuous improvement to help our students succeed, and we will not waiver from that plan. Success stories that started in Goose Creek CISD schools are heard all over the country. We invite you to visit any of our schools to see the wonderful activities our students are engaged in and to see why we are proud of our district.

A-F Doesn't Reflect True School Performance
01/06/2017
January 2, 2017
 
Goose Creek CISD Family:
 
Happy New Year! I hope that 2017 is your best year yet!
 
I hate to start the new year on a negative note, but I want to let you know about a pending issue that will likely have an impact on our schools. I believe it’s in our collective best interest that our entire community is educated about what’s happening in public education in the state of Texas. 
 
A bit of background:
In 2015, the Texas state legislature adopted a new public school accountability system, which is scheduled to go into effect at the start of the 2017-2018 school year. This new system assigns a letter grade (A-F) to every campus in the state, as well as to each district. In December, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released a list of five indicators that will be used for the new accountability system. While these other indicators will be weighted, the accountability system still relies most heavily on STAAR test performance for a portion of our student population. More on that in a moment.
 
This week, the TEA is expected to release “provisional reports” that allegedly represent a “draft” of the accountability system: In other words, if this system were already in place, what letter grade would each campus receive? These results will include data from the 2015-2016 school year, and do not include the results of all five of the domains the state itself said we’re being measured on. Simply put, the state is issuing “grades” with incomplete data and without even fully deciding exactly how this new accountability system will work. That’s the equivalent of a teacher giving an assignment and then deciding later how the students in his or her class will be graded.
 
As far as the STAAR test is concerned, all of our campuses “Met Standard” following the 2015-2016 administration of the test for the third straight year. “Met Standard” is the highest ranking that can be achieved under the current accountability system. Make no mistake: We’re proud of our results, but the test itself is fundamentally flawed and this past year’s administration was a disaster. You can read more about that here, here and here. If the TEA can’t administer a reliable test, why should our kids be judged on it?
 
In addition, several states have tried to implement an A-F accountability system with very mixed results. Why, then, is Texas going backward instead of forward with respect to school accountability, especially at a time when, by the Texas Supreme Court’s own admission, “Our Byzantine school funding ‘system’ is undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement”?
 
Regardless of what accountability system the state puts in place, Goose Creek CISD will always stick to our mission of delivering the best quality education to all students. We will always work to foster learning environments in every classroom, every day. We are less concerned about state-mandated tests than we are about providing your child with the knowledge, skills and tools he or she needs to be successful.
 
The 85th state legislative session begins in a few days. It is my hope that our newly elected officials repeal A-F and work together to design a state accountability system that accurately reflects the outstanding achievements in our public schools. Please check our district’s website for more information about issues affecting our schools as the session progresses.
 
As always, thank you for your support of our schools and our students, as well as for your patience as we all try to figure out the new accountability system.
 
Sincerely,
Randal O’Brien
Superintendent of Schools
Goose Creek ConsolidatedIndependent School District>
-----------
To view letter, click here.

CONNECT WITH US

Copyright © 2016 - Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District