Robert Bostic and Charles Dupre oversee more than 80,000 students between them.
The two area superintendents – Bostic for Stafford MSD and Dupre for Fort Bend ISD – are aware of the challenges facing public education in light of a growing county and student population. And they seek to improve the quality of their students’ lives and education.
Bostic and Dupre will be part of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of Schools address Oct. 2 at Safari Texas Ranch in Richmond, where they will discuss their short- and long-term goals as well as the challenges facing their districts.
In FBISD, a nearly $1 billion bond and subsequent projects involving technological upgrades and new construction are the impetus behind excitement for the district as it strives to accommodate a growing student population that is expected to reach nearly 86,000 by 2027. Dupre also will be discussing the impact of House Bill 3 – which requires school districts and open enrollment charter schools to increase salaries for certain staff – as well as other legislative actions from the recent session impacting public education in Fort Bend County.
Stafford MSD’s optimism for the future centers in large part around an impending STEM school for grades 3-8, which it plans to open in time for the 2021-22 school year.
Status quo won’t cut it
Both districts are mirror images of Fort Bend County, constantly growing and evolving. To keep up with demand, both FBISD and SMSD have moved or are prepared to move forward with several new projects aimed at creating an environment more conducive to serving its students.
As part of a $992.6 million bond passed in 2018, FBISD dedicated $142.6 million to technological advancements, such as rolling
out technology – laptops, tablets and other smart devices – in every classroom in the district.
Dupre said about half the district’s schools will have those implemented during Phase 1 this year, with the rest to follow.
“That’s a huge game-changer, because technology is a valuable tool,” he said. “It won’t replace the teachers, but our teachers are using it as a tool for more effective instruction.”
More than $400 million from the 2018 bond was dedicated to ongoing and future construction projects aimed at improving facilities and mitigating overcrowding issues as FBISD continues to grow, according to Dupre.
Meadows Elementary is in the process of being rebuilt, while the FBISD board has already approved schematic designs for a 12th high school and is set to vote on plans for Lakeview Elementary’s renovation and a new middle school in the coming weeks.
“We’re in a season now where we’re tearing down and rebuilding some of our oldest schools while building new schools to address enrollment growth,” Dupre said.
As soon as Bostic took over at Stafford MSD in 2014, he said he saw the potential for growth.
“We had a vision of shaping this district for the future five years ago, and today, we are well on our way,” he said. “I commend my staff for their dedication and enthusiasm toward making these projects a reality. They are truly the reason why we are on this successful path.”
Every day, SMSD inches closer to the biggest part of that vision – a new, state-of-the art Stafford Middle School, a three-story building that will open in August 2020 as part of a $62 million bond referendum passed in 2017. That will then pave the way for SMSD’s STEM Magnet, which will open in what will be a renovated area of the current middle school campus.
Both the middle school and STEM school came out of successful passage of what Bostic said was the largest investment in K-12 public education in Stafford’s history.
“There is a great deal of excitement about the STEM Magnet — both in Stafford and throughout the region as it will be the first STEM Magnet of its kind in Fort Bend County,” he said. “…STEM education represents the future.”
The Texas Education Agency recently gave Stafford MSD a “B” in the annual state accountability ratings, thanks to the district’s test scores and college preparation marks. But Bostic said they won’t stop until they reach the top.
“I am not satisfied with it, and from my conversations around the campuses, the staff isn’t either,” Bostic said. “We have made very intentional moves, with complete emphasis (on earning an A rating).”
Playing a vital role, Bostic said, are moves such as the hiring of Dawn Dubose as chief of schools and Kadir Almus as chief academic officer, as well as the tight-knit nature of its community. Dubose oversees all of the campuses, while Almus’ team tracks data to ensure SMSD finds the right ways for students to improve academically.
“Stafford MSD’s greatest strengths are our employees. Other districts may be larger, but that does not mean they are better,” Bostic said. “We have a sense of community that is rare. It is a small-town feel and a private school setting in a public school system. … We are confident that these initiatives will result in future success.”
Dupre had a similar tale, saying efforts the district’s “Profile of a Graduate” implemented in 2017, has played – and will continue to play – a major role in the district’s academic success. Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, FBISD also joined more than 50 school districts in the state to build a better accountability framework called the Community Based Accountability System (CBAS).
District staff meet regularly with leaders from other districts to identify and establish components of an accountability system that go beyond STAAR test scores to measure how districts prepare students for life after high school. CBAS, which was piloted at six campuses across FBISD last year, appears to have been part of the solution. Of the 63 FBISD schools in the Star’s circulation area, 51 received an A or B in this year’s TEA rankings, which included college and career preparedness grades for high schools. Several FBISD schools, such as Glover and Hunters Glen elementary schools (F to a C) and Marshall High School (D to a C), saw year-over-year improvement, while Lantern Lane Elementary went from an F in 2018 to a B this year.
Dupre believes more improvement is on the way in 2019, thanks to efforts such as CBAS.
“We’ve developed strong systems to support our students. We have clear direction and systems in place to achieve those outcomes, and our staff has done a remarkable job bringing that to life,” he said. “It’s my job to execute according to the board’s mission. We’ve got a tight team that is helping bring our mission and vision to life.”