The Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District recently showcased the district and welcomed community members and elected officials into its schools and classrooms for its inaugural School Priority Day.
More than 100 community members and several elected officials came out to learn more about the district during the recent event, which was modeled after the “Make Education a Priority” resolution launched by districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2011.
“It was important for the district to have the School Priority Day because there was a lot of misinformation out there about what public schools are doing and accomplishing. It helps people to actually go in schools and see the education that is going on, the technology that is being used, and how the kids are learning,” said Bob Covey, CFISD board member. “It dispels a lot of the negatives that seem to be associated with public school education.”
The event began and concluded at the Berry Center. During School Priority Day the guests took school buses to and from the facility and were directed by student-led tours of CFISD school buildings.
Since 2000, the Cy-Fair area has seen 273,000 new residents. The number of new residents reflects more residential growth than 21 states around the nation. More than 38,000 housing occupancies are expected to join the district by the year 2025.
CFISD serves approximately 114,000 students and is the third-largest in the state. CFISD has 88 campuses, which includes elementary, middle, and high schools. Additionally, there are five special program facilities.
Community members made visits to Woodard Elementary, A. Robison Elementary School, Cypress Fair High School and Cypress Woods High School.
“We felt it was important to open the doors of our campuses to our community, including elected officials, local businesses, realtors and empty nesters, so they could witness some of the incredible programs offered and the quality of education our students receive in CFISD,” said Mark Henry, CFISD superintendent of schools.
The Texas representatives who participated in CFISD’s School Priority Day were state Rep. Kevin Roberts, R-Spring, state Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, and state Rep. Mike Schofield, R-Houston. Additionally, a visiting group from Sweden were in attendance for the district’s event. The international group were able to directly observe, experience, and learn about American schools.
“What I enjoyed most about my time visiting Cypress-Fairbanks ISD was seeing the students in action, and I was amazed at the variety of real world career minded course choices that students have today. I had two wonderful student tour guides who took me around Cy-Ranch to visit the early childhood education class, international economics class, video Editing class, and an AP physics class,” Roberts said. “In every classroom I saw our students actively engaged in learning and it was inspiring to see how technology is playing a major role in that process.”
The Texas Education Agency awarded CFISD the highest possible rating of “met standard” for the fourth consecutive year in its annual accountability ratings in August 2016. All 83 eligible district schools earned the same distinction, which keeps CFISD as the largest Texas district with all schools receiving “met standard” or “met alternative standard” designations.
CFISD has seen $106 million in reductions in the budget since 2008. The district’s 2016-17 budget is $894.5 million with an operating cost per student of $7,744. The district homestead exemption is 20 percent. The district’s 2016-17 tax rate is $1.44 per $100 valuation and $1,944 annual taxes on a $200,000 home.
The district’s eight new construction projects include Bridgeland High School, Cold Food Storage Warehouse, elementary school No. 55, Matzke replacement campus, Ken Pridgeon Natatorium, Westgreen Ag-Science Center, and the Westgreen Transportation Center.
In 2015-16, more than 5,000 volunteers provided a collective 325,000 hours of support for staff and students valued at more than $7 million. There are more than 5,300 active volunteers in the CFISD community. Volunteers include 598 student mentors and 317 bus buddies.
The district has 51 adopted schools and 358 business partners have contributed nearly $6,000 in advertising, sponsorships, donations, and incentives.
Last year, the Cy-Fair Educational Foundation, a nonprofit raises money to fund a scholarship for high school graduates in the area, awarded $353,000 in scholarships to 106 students. Over the past 46 years, the foundation has awarded millions in scholarships.
“We provide an excellent education for students whether they are going college, technical, or in the service. They are getting an excellent top-rate education in our public schools,” Covery said. “We are offering that as it should be, which is free to the public (and) sponsored by the tax payers not looking for anything special except to educate these kids to be community leaders and leaders of tomorrow.”
CFISD has more than 25,900 Facebook likes, 16,600 followers on Twitter, 7,000 followers on Instagram, and 6,000 followers on LinkedIn.
The district concluded School Priority Day’s events at the Berry Center where guests shared lunch and spoke about their experience during the educational event. The superintendent of schools also shared closing thoughts with the visitors.
“I believe it was truly an eye opener for those who have not been on a campus in decades,” Henry said. “The visitors were able to experience the high level of engagement that takes place with our teachers and students and to see many of the changes that have taken place since they were in school, such as the use of technology and the instructional strategies used by our world-class staff.”