AISD rolls out cavalcade of good news

AISD rolls out cavalcade of good news
Posted on 06/25/2020
AISD rolls out cavalcade of good news

AISD rolls out cavalcade of good news 

From no-cost meals and supplies to employee raises and new classes 


By Toni Garrard Clay 

AISD Communications Coordinator 


Even as the leadership team at Athens ISD prepares for the complexities of a new school year starting soon amidst a pandemic, there is plenty of good news to be shared. 


During the June 22 board meeting, Acting Superintendent Dr. Janie Sims recommended and the board approved a 3 percent raise to all district employees. The lone exception, bus drivers, will see a 2 percent raise due to having received two salary increases during the previous school year. 


“We’re so pleased to be able to provide our employees with even a modest raise during these uncertain times,” said Sims. “Credit must be given to the fiscally conservative leadership of our CFO, Randy Jones, and the board of trustees.” 


Sims herself was the subject of board action this week as the district’s elected trustees chose her as the lone finalist to hold the superintendent’s position. A 20-year veteran of AISD, Sims is also the first woman to hold the superintendent’s title there. 


Trustees also approved AISD’s participation in a federally funded program providing no-cost meals at breakfast and lunch for all district students, pre-K through 12th grade. The program, which was authorized by Congress, is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and does not impact or utilize local tax revenue. Students need not apply for the free meals, and will still be charged for any additional food or drink items that are not included as part of a set meal. 


Additionally, for the third year in a row, AISD is purchasing all school supplies for pre-K through fifth-grade students. Supplies are purchased primarily using federal funds and, to a lesser extent, through State Compensatory Education funds.  


“We started purchasing school supplies for our students a few years ago after a program review of how our federal dollars were being allocated,” said Sims. “After that process, we came to the conclusion that one of the best ways we can assist our families is by relieving them of the need to purchase supplies. It has been one of our most well received actions.” 


Another program that has been received well in the community, and even outside of the district, is the recent announcement of the new Athens Virtual Academy. The academy offers tuition-free, flexible, student-centered, on-line classes for grades 6 through 12. More than 300 accredited courses are available to students across Texas. Locally based students will also have the option of participating in extracurricular opportunities and social activities at Athens ISD. An application process is required for acceptance to the academy. 


In another recent development, district leadership has determined that career and technical education courses, common at the high school level, will be introduced this coming school year at the middle school as well. Three CTE classes will be added at AMS: intro to agriculture, intro to culinary arts, and intro to construction management. 


“You hear this a lot, but it’s true; we’re continually looking for ways to better serve our students,” said Sims. “All of these developments are examples of that mindset. There’s no doubt we have a challenging year ahead due to the unknowns caused by the virus, but we’re not backing away from the pursuit of excellence.”


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