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Superintendent Thanks Students and Parents After Midland Graduations

Midland Independent School District Superintendent, Dr. Ryder Warren, thanked the parents and graduating students for a successful year. In his graduation letter he highlighted the school districts achievements and the challenges he plans to address during the summer.
Midland Independent School District Superintendent, Dr. Ryder Warren, thanked the parents and graduating students for a successful year. In his graduation letter he highlighted the school districts achievements and the challenges he plans to address during the summer.

Below is Warren’s letter:


With our last two graduation ceremonies yesterday, we have completed another school year. I have to start my article this week with an absolute “Thank You” to our graduating seniors. There is a truth in the school business that the school year will rise or fall depending on the strength of the senior class. I can tell everyone we are completing one of the most positive years to date because of our graduates.

The leaders of MISD’s four high schools – Midland High, Lee High, Coleman High, and Early College High – all reported the strength of our seniors very early in the school year, and this group finished strong. I personally thank these young men and women for their leadership in our schools, and they need to know they’ve set the bar very high for other classes to follow. I also truly thank our students’ parents and guardians. The support these caregivers gave to the graduating seniors was very apparent throughout the year.

Our first graduation ceremony this year was for Early College High School at Midland College, and I am very pleased to report our “experiment” has become a shining star, not only for MISD, but for Midland College and for our community as a whole. This is our second round of graduates from ECHS, and we had more than forty students walk the stage who earned their high school diplomas and their associate degrees during the same four-year timeframe. We are very proud of our students, our staff, and our supporters of Early College High School.

I believe we are developing a state model of excellence for early college high schools, and we are doing this from the partnerships we’ve developed to support the campus. From MISD’s relationship with Midland College to financial supporters (Pioneer Natural Resources and the Abell-Hanger Foundation – to name just a couple), we are seeing a huge amount of success in the ability to graduate our students from the secondary and the higher education settings, and we are going to research even better methods and programs to offer our ECHS students and give them even more opportunities to grow.

I am also very pleased to report that Coleman High School continues to excel as our credit-recovery campus that serves our nontraditional learners. More than fifty students lined up last week to receive their high school diplomas, and many of them have dealt with real adversity and challenges in their young lives, and they have managed to stay on course to complete high school. I am very proud of these young men and women.

The last two groups to be absolutely commended are our graduating seniors from Midland High School and Robert E. Lee High School. Yesterday, we graduated more than 1,100 students, and as I stated above, this class has set the success bar very high for the senior classes to come.

I do want to take time this year to personally commend seven specific students because of their hard work and determination in their academic endeavors. I want to pay a special tribute to our valedictorians and salutatorians and to our “shining star” student at Coleman. Midland High School’s top academic students are Cora Drozd and Victoria Gerald. Lee High School’s Val and Sal are Raj Patel and Palvasha Deme. Our second group of valedictorians and salutatorians for ECHS are Natasha Thio and Ashley Cross, and the CHS top student is Victoria Castillo.

As we move into the summer months, we have several challenges I want to outline for the community. As I’ve written about several times, our school board members have adopted a plan that calls for four areas of improvement, which are the following: (1) retaining and recruiting the best staff, (2) improving and/or creating the best educational programs, (3) maintaining a “Midland” influence with our state legislature, and (4) implementing a long-range facility plan for the district.

First and foremost, the next couple of months are critical for us to appropriately staff the district campuses, departments, and programs for the upcoming school year (2014-15). This has been our most critical need for the last several years as the challenges of the Midland cost of living and the lack of housing have put a crunch on our pool of applicants. This lack of applicants for the district’s needs spans all campuses, departments, and programs.

As previously reported, we have a huge debt of gratitude to pay to eight community organizations that have realized MISD has this challenge and they have stepped up to help. The Abell-Hanger Foundation, the Apache Corporation, Chevron, Concho Resources, the Henry Foundation, Pioneer Natural Resources, the Scarbauer Foundation, and the Warren Equipment Company have established a partnership with our school board in which the goal is to establish a long-term pattern of academic growth. The first initiative the organizations have tackled is our staffing challenge. This group is sponsoring an initiative that will touch about 1,600 teachers, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the next steps of this endeavor and to expand the partnership to other organizations and supporters in our community.

The second critical issue our school board and school administration will tackle this summer is the completion of our annual budget, and there are several different challenges the MISD Board of Trustees will have to wrestle with in order to adopt the budget at the end of August.

Challenge #1: The 2014-15 MISD budget and all future MISD budgets, unless our Texas school finance law changes, will have to accommodate more than $30 million of our local tax dollars leaving the school district to help fund other districts around the state. With the economic growth we’ve sustained and with our local taxable values rising at the rate they have been for the last several years, MISD has become an official “Robin Hood” district. This is the perfect storm for us. We have more kids to educate meaning we need more staff – especially classroom teachers – and we have less funds in which to accomplish that. As an administrative staff, we are analyzing all avenues in which to address the funding shortfall, both for next year and for future budgets.

Challenge #2: I can’t say “thank you” enough to those companies that have taken an active role of support to our classroom teachers. However, even with the $6.25 million contribution for the stipends, as a school district we must still aggressively seek to not only keep pace with statewide salaries, I also feel we need to be one of the leading districts across the state regarding salaries for every position we have. Our salary schedules for both our professional positions and our support positions must reflect this need. Using true base salary increases and the notions of retaining/recruiting stipends, we hope to put a budget together that will sufficiently keep and attract the quality staff we must have to serve our students.

Challenge #3: Academic growth and providing Midland students (and parents/caregivers) more choices on how and where they want to be educated is a part of the initiative that we will look at with our community partners. We are going to strive to expand our partnerships with many more companies, organizations, and caregivers in Midland to devise a plan of action that will transform our district into the service organization of which we can all be proud. This will take much planning and communication with all stakeholders, but it will also take an appropriate amount of funding to put these new programs in place.

As stated, these are just a few of the hurdles we have in front of us this summer, but there is nothing out there that cannot be overcome. I’ve stated many times that this community never ceases to amaze me with its capacity to accomplish goals that we feel are important to the community. The leadership of our school board has been immaculate. The partnerships with all of our community organizations and businesses have been an absolute necessity and an absolute “win” for our kids and our schools, and again, our goal is to grow even more relationships with our community’s businesses.

As usual, I want to thank everyone for the support of our children in Midland. I will continue to update you on our progress, especially in terms of staffing and budget preparation as the summer progresses. I also invite everyone to attend our board meetings this summer to learn more about our challenges. Our regular meetings will be held on Monday, June 9th, and on Monday, July 28th.

If anyone has questions or comments about my article, please do not hesitate to contact me at ryder.warren@midlandisd.net. Everyone have a wonderful summer.


Ryder Warren, Superintendent
Midland Independent School District

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