Gregory-Portland ISD held its first ever State of the District luncheon last week to inform the community of everything that was going on in the school district and how the students were doing as well.

The Portland Community Center was packed with students from all the district campuses showcasing the various clubs and talking to guests about several of their projects.

“It has been a great morning so far, walking through the Wildcat showcase outside of this room, enjoying student performances and presentations and being reminded just how phenomenal our students and employees are at G-PISD,” G-PISD Superintendent Michelle Cavazos said. “What’s even more exceptional is how we’ve come to arrive at this place and this time in history as a school district.”

Cavazos, who took the superintendent reigns back in July 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, applauded the teachers and staff for their rapid assessment and response while planning for a new school.

“Our hearts and minds were filled with concern for our students who missed out on the end of the school year, and who were also hoping to return to the way things used to be,” she continued. “Suggestions and opinions were a dime a dozen and the school response to COVID was a hot topic of discussion in nearly every circle.

“We had to pivot regularly and with new guidance released from the state or the Texas Education Agency coming just when we thought that we had a plan to move forward as decided, something inevitably changed.”

She said that last October only 55% of G-PISD students were attending school in person, but today all the districts students were back in the classroom with their teachers.

“We’ve been through a remarkably challenging time and we’ve learned that normal doesn’t really exist anymore,” Cavazos said. The only true constant is the desire of great people to do what is most important to serve our incredible students and their families.”

She also thanked the community for their support of the 2020 bond which is paving the way for more facilities and programs that are geared to further enrich students’ lives and pave the way for a greater future. 

“To me, it was a collective voice of support of what matters most of all – the children,” she added.

In spring 2022, G-PISD will break ground on a new early childhood center for pre-K and kindergarten students, a new agricultural science center and an all purpose indoor practice facility at the high school along with creating various district programs and funding new technology for students.

Cavazos also talked about the ‘COVID slide’, which refers to the 30% to 40% learning loss students suffered while having to deal with virtual learning when schools were closed.

“While COVID has set us back slightly, we are not deterred because we realize how vital face-to-face instruction is for our students, especially our youngest learners,” she said. “COVID impacts aside, we also recognize that we need to shift our expectations. As I mentioned, G-PISD has been generally recognized for it’s high academic standards for a long time. 

“Now our goal is no longer to only compare ourselves to other schools in our region, our goal is to meet our students where they are, build the systems of support for long term progress that leads to ultimate success and set our sights not on being considered a good school district locally, but a great district across the entire state of Texas.

“We have highly capable students, the incredible team to do it and we have the community support to make higher goals and expectations possible for this already outstanding school district.”

Cavazos also highlighted the districts highly skilled financial team which saved $1.45 million in interest for the 2020 bond and has saved taxpayers $5.8 million since 2013. The district also has an ‘A’ grade with the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas.

“This means that we are making strategic decisions and carefully managing the dollars you’ve given to us so that we can give our very best to our Wildcats and therefore the best to our G-P community,” she added. “We all remember what school was like. And most importantly, remember how the experiences taught, shaped and formed the way we view our own community and the way we view the world.

“The underlying factor remains – and always will remain – people, children, young leaders who become community leaders and teachers, parents and local heroes who influence the lives of these young people.”

•pgonzales@mysoutex.com•

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