SISD excited about changes

While the sweltering summer winds down, the Sweetwater Independent School District (SISD) is already preparing for the "New Course - New Direction" of the new school year which is just days away.Two huge changes have been made that will drastically impact the community: the closing of the HOBBS alternative school and the reorganization of the two elementary schools.Sweetwater ISD Superintendent Terry Pittman, in his latest Superintendent's Corner on the district's website, stated, "Both moves were made after much consideration, deliberation and research. Our HOBBS students will be served at the Wallace Campus in Colorado City."Talks of the alternative school changes began as early as October 2010 when concerns of costs, distance, and travel concerning the campus arose. "Although the miles of transportation are similar, the bus route on Interstate 20 is less hazardous than the winding country roads of wildlife," said Pittman.Two options were presented during the selection process — relocation inside the city limits or consolidation with the alternative campus in Colorado City. In December 2010, the Colorado City location was selected. Melinda Alexander, principal at the Wallace Accelerated High School (WAHS), is excited to see the changes that will take place at her campus for the 2011-12 school year. Alexander describes the Wallace campus as a "school of choice" that partners with a variety of entities such as students, area schools, communities and staff. With the consolidation of SISD students to its campus, Wallace explains her expectations for the upcoming school year, saying, "We hope to provide SISD students...with the same opportunities that have been provided to students in CISD [Colorado Independent School District] who have chosen to attend WAHS, — whether they desire to recover lost credits or to accelerate their education."Furthermore, the collaboration with SISD also provides more opportunities for CISD and WAHS. Alexander added, "It will allow our campus and staff the opportunity to build new partnerships and enhanced creativity among students who are choosing to continue their education in hopes of making a difference in their future."Alexander knows that each new school year comes with challenges and the 2011-12 school year is no different, but she is eager for what's ahead. "My staff and I are very excited about being able to work with students, parents and neighboring districts."She quotes the saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child', yet Alexander states that in this instance, it will take many villages. "The staff members at Wallace Accelerated High School, along with CISD, consider it an honor to be partnering with neighboring districts as we educate our students together."The other amendment was in regards to Southeast and East Ridge elementary schools. "Southeast Elementary will be the campus for all Kindergarten and first grade students while East Ridge Elementary will serve the second and third graders," Pittman announced on the website.On making the changes, Pittman noted, "Consistent classroom size and curriculum are huge benefits with cost savings in combining programs and services that are age specific." He also praised the district's maintenance team for successfully completing the transfers.Southeast will be under the new leadership of Peggy Elliott, who was previously on staff at East Ridge. And as the school year approaches, Elliott's excitement for her new position is very evident. "My expectations for Southeast are to provide a safe, positive and nurturing school environment where learning is the focus," said Elliott. "The Southeast community will be encouraged to exhibit a culture of excellence that lays the foundation for the future of all students."Along with the new school year, Elliott also eagerly anticipates the teamwork aspect — "building partnerships with students, staff and the community of Sweetwater that will lay the foundation for learning in our students in Sweetwater ISD."Vicki Mayberry will now be the principal at East Ridge. Mayberry formerly served as the principal at Southeast and is "excited and looking forward" to her position at East Ridge and the newly implemented grade leveling at the elementary schools."I am proud to be a part of the transition of grade level campuses," Mayberry shared. "With the grade level campuses comes an opportunity to better serve the students in the District through a more thorough curriculum alignment."Mayberry understands the high standards set not only by the school but the state as well, yet she is eager to begin collaborative efforts to work toward those goals. "In keeping with the District’s high expectations, I look forward to high academic achievement at East Ridge. While there are challenges in education for Texas, I feel confident and motivated working with the talented staff and parents of East Ridge."The 2011-2012 school year for the Sweetwater Independent School District begins on Monday, Aug. 22.