Several weeks after the state released its letter grades for public school districts and campuses, Mineral Wells ISD is finding more positives in the data.
The district overall received a B with an overall grade of 84. Mineral Wells High School received a B, the district’s three elementary schools combined and the junior high campus received C’s while Mineral Wells Academy – the campus for at-risk students – earned an A.
The grades are based on results of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, tests given in 2018-19 along with a myriad of other data and components to determine if districts have their students attending and performing well while showing improvement and readiness to advance or graduate.
As seen in recent years, weaknesses remain some reading test scores, especially with a couple of classes that follows them grade to grade. But again MWISD students performed very well in math, science and history. Mineral Wells Junior High earned a state distinction in Science while the high school campus received a distinction for being in the top 25% in Academic Growth when compared to other campuses.
Cumulative scores that were above state averages were found in eighth grade Science, and fifth and sixth grade Math. Marked improvements were found in U.S. History test scores (93 percent passing); English I and Algebra; and eighth-grade reading.
MWISD school board members Monday received a presentation from the district’s Executive Director of Curriculum Carey Carter highlighting more of the results and data while noting the district deals with a student population of about 3,300, of which 77 percent qualify for free or reduced-cost meals.
Carter compared MWISD to 10 other district similar in student population to show how the district stacked up in overall ratings, percentage of poverty among students and spending per pupil. Her chart showed Mineral Wells performed as well, or better than, seven of those comparable districts – Big Spring ISD, Brownwood ISD, Springtown ISD, Gainesville ISD, Burkburnett ISD, Lake Worth ISD and Castleberry ISD (with an 83 percent student poverty rate). Alvarado ISD scored the same as Mineral Wells ISD overall, while Levelland and Kennedale (with a student poverty rate of just 44 percent) scored slightly higher.
Of districts in Palo Pinto County and four in Parker County – Weatherford, Millsap, Garner and Poolville ISDs – Mineral Wells ISD for the 2018-19 year overall scored as high, or higher, than Graford, Strawn, Weatherford, Garner and Poolville. That despite MWISD having the highest student poverty rate of those local and area districts and the second-lowest spending per pupil.
Carter also noted the district’s high graduation rate of 97.3% over four years; 98.5% over a five-year period; and 95% over a six-year period. The district’s graduation rate showed 100 percent of the state targets met, as well as meeting 100 percent of targets for overall school quality.
She said the data and comparisons to area and comparable districts shows that Mineral Wells ISD is “still moving quickly in the right direction.”
District Superintendent Dr. John Kuhn credited the six campus principals and their staffs and efforts to raise student testing performances.
Trustees on Monday approved hiring a Southlake-based company to perform a demographics study and forecast for the district.
Templeton Demographics specializes in school district enrollment and demographics data and projections, stating the 16-year-old company serves over 50 school districts annually by providing enrollment projections, attendance zone planning and GIS mapping.
“I would like to do something that I don’t think has ever been done in Mineral Wells to my knowledge,” Kuhn said.
For $9,500, the company will provide the district a 10-year enrollment forecast by campus and grade level, analyze existing demographics and enrollment history, review local housing development patterns, future multifamily forecasts and more.
There hasn’t been any significant changes reported recently in Mineral Wells’ population or housing growth. However, a multifamily housing project is scheduled to soon begin adjacent to the junior high school, and there is talk of new housing developments in town.
“Right now is the right time with the development going on downtown, and we are hearing rumors of housing developments,” said Kuhn.
New housing developments are taking place outside Mineral Wells, especially in western sectors of Parker County.
“I don’t know if that means growth for the school district,” Kuhn said.
He said it is important for the district to see some projections to help plan ahead.
The district’s new Director of Information Technology Justin Lascsak presented, and was approved, the ability to move forward with the third year of a three-year plan to update faculty and staff computer equipment and accessories.
Trustees authorized the purchase of 60 laptop computers, 25 desktop computers, 60 bags for the laptops, 12 micro-desktops, 12 adapters and 20 monitors at a total cost of just over $64,000.
The vendor is SHI Government Solutions, a corporate reseller of software, hardware and other technology items and accessories.
Lascak said in some cases the costs to the district on items, such as the Dell laptops as much as half off their suggested retail price.