March 16, 2016
A message from HPISD Board President Joe Taylor

With Spring Break already in the rear-view mirror, it won't be long before graduation season is upon us along with several end-of-the-year banquets and celebrations. This is an excellent time to assess where we are as a school district and reflect on progress that has been made so far this school year.
Tradition of Academic Excellence
From a board perspective, preparing our students for the next step in their educational careers is of critical importance.It is with great pride then that we are able to report that HPISD's tradition of academic excellence continues.

Members of our graduating class of 2016 have already been accepted to some of the finest colleges and universities in the country including Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Penn, Vanderbilt, University of Virginia, Notre Dame, Cal-Berkeley, Georgetown, NYU, Carnegie-Mellon and many others. Naturally, Highland Park High School will also be well-represented at the many outstanding universities and colleges in the great state of Texas, as well as throughout the region. This obviously speaks highly of our academic program.

Three weeks ago, Highland Park High School's Academic Decathlon team brought home the state championship for the first time in school history. Our team of students, coached by Greg Bergeron and David Alvarado, will now head to the national championship next month in Anchorage, Alaska. Academic Decathlon extends to several disciplines, including art, music, language/literature, mathematics, economics and social science.

In addition, this year's senior class had the largest number of students honored by the College Board who were either named National Merit Semifinalists (16), Commended Students (47) or National Hispanic Scholars (7) in Highland Park history. The percentage of seniors achieving these honors amounts to nearly 14 percent of our graduating class.

There are so many other academic accomplishments by our students---- at all of our schools---- that it would be virtually impossible to list them in one place.
School Operations
Thanks to the district's maintenance team, custodial staff and our outstanding group of school leaders, the district's schools continue to operate at a high level, which is remarkable given how our facilities are at capacity levels. More than that, for those of us who have the opportunity to occasionally visit district classrooms, it is exciting to observe our outstanding teachers in action.

One new program added this year is Passport to Spanish. Kindergarten and first-grade students at all four elementary schools are learning the Spanish language with the goal of adding instruction each year to eventually serve students through the sixth grade. Thank you to our PTAs for their support of Passport to Spanish.
Community involvement
In addition to the quality of our staff, very few---- if any---- communities match the kind of parental and community support that we enjoy here in Highland Park ISD. It is truly our hallmark. The level of commitment by so many parents---- whether by serving lunch in all of our school cafeterias, supporting schools financially at various auctions and fundraisers, or through HP Arts, La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas, the Sports Club or Mad for Plaid---- is what sets our community apart and is a large part of what draws people to the Park Cities.
New facilities
Significant progress has been made this school year to lay the foundation for a new era of schools in Highland Park ISD, including:
  • The first $225 million in bonds were sold last month. Even better, the district was able to take advantage of low interest rates and a Aaa rating to reduce the burden on taxpayers to a level lower than initially anticipated.
  • With feedback from a number of different constituent groups, the district is nearing a final design on the exterior and interior of the first elementary school to be constructed in HPISD since 1949.
School finance
As trustees, we are continuing to monitor the long-standing court case regarding school finance, which is currently under consideration by the Texas Supreme Court. Given that nearly 70% of HPISD Maintenance and Operations (M&O) tax collections are redistributed by the state to other school districts and that district revenue has essentially been flat for the past few years, this court case is of significant interest. We are expecting a decision at some point this spring.
It is an honor to serve as the president of the HPISD Board of Trustees. Each of us on the board recognizes that we are here to serve the best interests of students, to properly provide oversight of the district's finances and continue HPISD's longstanding tradition of educational excellence.

As we approach the end of the school year, let's all endeavor to finish as strong as we started back in August. Our students deserve nothing less than our best effort.

Thank you for your continued support and interest in what we believe to be one of the premier school districts in the state, if not the country.
Joe Taylor, President
Highland Park ISD Board of Trustees

Joe Taylor was elected to the HPISD Board of Trustees in 2008, and was elected as Board President in 2015. He previously served as the Board Finance Officer and on the district's Finance Committee.