As Granbury Independent School District continues to grow, the district will need to make some decisions regarding expansions and facility updates — and that’s where the five-year strategic plan comes in.
The strategic planning process first began in March and the final five-year plan proposal was recently approved by the GISD Board of Trustees on July 17.
"Students were involved in the process, parents, community members, former educators, current educators, teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals," GISD Superintendent Jeremy Glenn told the HCN. “We really wanted a diverse group.”
The five-year plan provided a way for those individuals to collaborate and figure out ways to overcome obstacles and discover new possibilities for students — essentially shaping the future of GISD.
Glenn explained that the five-year plan focuses on four main components: academics, human capital, facilities, and culture.
The goal for academics, Glenn said, is for the district to provide a solid academic foundation for its students.
“We want to be academically excellent,” he said. “We want to be known for our academics.”
Human capital focuses on taking care of teachers and providing a positive work environment for them.
"The last two years, we, across the state of Texas have seen a lot of teachers leave the profession,” Glenn explained. “In fact, last year, more teachers left the profession than any other time in previous years. Teaching has become a hard job, and that's why we always encourage people to be respectful, considerate, and compassionate when dealing with their teachers because it’s a difficult job.”
The culture component encompasses not only the culture in the district, but a culture in the community.
"We want people to be proud of the Granbury Pirates,” Glenn said. “Our students do amazing things. We have programs that are not only state recognized, but nationally recognized, and we want to make sure that our community understands that, knows it, and embraces it.”
Glenn said according to Zonda Education demographics, GISD is labeled as one of the fastest growing counties in Texas, which poses a problem for the district regarding facilities.
“Everybody knows Granbury is growing,” he said. “And even with the slowdown in the economy and interest rates going up and the moratorium with the city, we know that we are primed for development here in Hood County, and we are already seeing the impact in our schools with increased enrollment among students.”
For the last five years, GISD has set a record enrollment every year. In fact, Glenn said this year’s estimated enrollment is 8,051, with roughly 1,200 total employees.
“As we cross that 8,000-student mark, and we look at potentially being a 6A school district in February, we know that we have to put facilities on the ground to take care of our kids,” he said. “And we want to make sure those facilities are innovative, we want to make sure they're educationally adequate, and we want to make sure — most importantly — that they're safe.”
He said in the past, the district has put “band aids” on facilities, especially with the implementation of portable buildings.
“Really, it's not the best environment for our students to be in, and at Granbury, we believe that our students deserve the best,” Glenn said.
Student growth is the number one challenge the district is currently facing, which is why the five-year plan also involves a new bond proposal.
The district hasn’t passed a bond in 10 years, which is why the community rejection of the May 2022 bond convinced Glenn and the board to review the reasons behind the public’s hesitation before submitting a new proposal.
"We've really taken time over the last year to study the mistakes of that bond to really listen to our community, to our stakeholders, to our taxpayers, so that when we come back, and ask for another bond for facilities, that we put together something that can be supported by the community,” he said.
He explained that the public’s disagreement for the 2022 bond was largely due to a number of reasons, like the economic downturn and the concern over the additions of one large middle school and one large high school.
"We tried to really go through the vetting process to make sure that as we call this next bond, we really focus on what we need,” Glenn said. “We want to keep it small and break it up. It was a rather large bond last time and we asked for a lot all at once, so this time we're going to back it up and say, ‘Here's what we need right now,’ and then as we need more later, we'll come back and ask our voters for that.”
Aside from the bond and student growth, the district is continuing to focus on student safety and academic success — two of the most important goals at GISD.
"After the tragedy at Uvalde, all districts in the state of Texas took a step back to reevaluate their safety protocols and precautions, so we're doing everything we can to make sure that we have the safest school environment possible,” he said.
He added that when he became superintendent in 2018, he knew he would have work to do when it came to the academic success of the students.
“Academically, our primary focus is to make sure kids have a solid academic foundation, so when I came on board, we had a couple of campuses that were struggling,” he said. “So, every year we're looking to close achievement gaps and grow students so that they can be successful after high school.”
A NEW YEAR
As a new school year approaches, Glenn said he is excited for the first day of school and for the first sporting events of the year.
"Something we do very well here in Granbury is we give kids a lot of opportunities to plug into their passions, so whether their passion is career and technical education or fine arts or a sport, we want to make sure that they have an opportunity to plug in,” he said. “I definitely look forward to the first football game of the year because you got the cheerleaders out there, you have the band out there, you have the Stowaways out there, you have kids in the stands, and a lot of times it's right off a volleyball game, so those players are there. And as Granbury grows, it's a reminder that we still have that small-town feel, so seeing the kids back in the hallways is always an exciting time for any educator.”
Glenn added that he is excited about the future of GISD and to be a part of a district that is “innovative, growing, and changing.”
“We have such great community support,” he added. “It’s going to be a good year.”