When the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1, Dr. Eric Wright officially takes the reins as Hays CISD’s next superintendent.
While he won’t be clocking in that morning (his first day is officially Jan. 4), Wright said he realizes the potential in a distict that is working to meet the rapid growth going on around it.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Wright said. “The people I’ve met so far have been upstanding and eager to get to work and move the school district onward.”
Wright, whose contract was approved by district leaders Dec. 7, transitions from a school district in Fredericksburg, which had roughly 100 students move in per year, to Hays, which is growing at a rate of 700 students per year.
However, Wright said Hays CISD has so far managed growth as far as facilities and logistics “very well.”
“It’s quite a bit different,” Wright said. “But with the resources available through the demographers and facility planners, I think I will utilize resources they have to offer and we will keep up with the pace.”
One of the key challenges Wright plans to work on will be to have systems that are common throughout the district, which he utilized during his time at Fredericksburg.
Wright said the goal is to align curriculum across the district, as well as to address professional learning communities (PLC) to “de-aggregate data for each kid.”
Ultimatley, adhering to each student’s skills and strengths, as well as tailoring instruction to where students’ needs are is something he hopes to accomplish.
“I want every kid to be taught at a level that they are functioning at,” Wright said. “If they are ahead of the curve, I want them to be taught where they are not bored. If they are behind, I want them to be taught to where they are not frustrated.”
However, Wright also sees the struggles taking place within the district. One major issue is getting Hemphill and Camino Real elementary schools removed from the Improvement Needed designation by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
As a result of the designation, Hays CISD was required earlier this year to come up with Campus Improvement Plans.
Wright said he didn’t believe the designations stemmed from a lack of effort from teachers or students. However, he said the district must look at the curriculum structure and assessment part of the equation.
“We need to make sure it is aligned,” Wright said. He added the district must work on tracking student progress and applying any intervention when needed.
Adhering to State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) standards will also be his goal once in office. While Wright said he didn’t feel testing is the “end all, be all,” he felt there is “no reason we can’t” reach minimum requirements.
Collaboration with stakeholders and parents is also a key component he aims to employ. Wright hopes to host meetings with different parent groups, chambers of commerce and municipalities to gather input.
“The more we get together, the better product we produce,” Wright said.
One example of collaboration with stakeholders would extend to block scheduling at the high school level, which Wright oversaw while at Fredericksburg.
However, such discussions would have to involve surveying teacher and parent input. Wright said such a decision is not something “you do overnight,” and there are pros and cons.
“At the end of the day, it’s not a schedule that dictates quality of performance,” Wright said. “It’s the quality of the teachers and the materials children are using to learn.”