HALLSVILLE — Hallsville ISD Superintendent Jeff Collum gave trustees a glowing report of the district’s enrollment, graduation rates, finances and ratings when he delivered his annual “State of the District” address at Monday night’s board meeting.
“This year was a great year for Hallsville ISD,” Collum said. “We received a superior financial rating. This year was also a great year for our 4,500 students in our Virtual Academy, and we continue to see that grow and thrive.”
Collum said the district’s enrollment, though it dropped a little this year, has steadily grown over the past several years.
“On enrollment trends, we’ve grown quite a bit in the past 10 years,” he said. “In 2008, we had about 4,000 kids, and now we are pushing 5,000 kids. It’s good to see we are still on a steady rise. This year we dropped about 35 to 40 kids but over the past 10 years we have steadily grown.”
Collum said students’ attendance rates remain high, and the district’s fastest growing campus is the junior high campus with about 1,200 students. The district’s largest campus is the high school campus at about 1,500 students.
The high school’s graduation rate also remains high, he said.
“I have to brag on this graduation rate,” Collum said. “This is something to brag on — a 99.4 percent graduation is absolutely incredible. ”
Collum also addressed the district’s State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness scores in comparison to the state and area districts.
“Proficiency levels in STAAR — do we still have work to do? yes, we do — but our students overall and teachers overall are doing well compared to the state and the region,” he said.
Collum then praised the district’s staff.
“A little over 50 percent of our staff are teachers. We still carry a very high student to admin ratio — for every 563 students, we have one central office administrator. That means we are doing a lot with fewer people but still carrying high academics and high performance levels across the region,” Collum said.
Collum also said the district has worked hard to close gaps in salaries.
“Teachers on the beginning levels coming in — yes, our base salary is lower — but we have done some work to see how we can continue to raise that. But you can see the longer they stay in our system, we really start catching up with peer groups and the districts around us, so we are closing that gap,” Collum said.
The district’s extracurricular accomplishments also were mentioned Monday.
“Here’s a couple of highlights from the last school year. You’ve got state qualifiers, regional district champions, bi-district champions, two staff members inducted into the College Hall of Fame, and that’s incredible,” Collum said. “The Belles were recognized nationally with a viral video and on ‘The Gong Show.’ UIL Academics earned their 10th consecutive district championship. FFA was one of 18 chapters in Texas to receive a gold rating and placed in top 2 percent of chapters in the nation.”
Collum said despite a continued reduction each year in government funding for public education, Hallsville ISD students and staff continue to achieve at a high academic and athletic level.
Collum said the district’s goal the past year was to retain their superior financial rating and achieve an “A” rating in accountability.
“Just as a recap, one of the goals was to get a superior rating, and we met that goal,” he said. “Another goal was to get an ‘A’ academically, and we met that goal. Multiple staff continue to receive awards at the state and national levels, and I give them credit where credit is due. We have great staff and great kids. The district was named No. 22 in the state of Texas, according to U.S. News.”
In the future, Collum said the board wants to continue to look at its facilities long range.
“We’ve got some work to do around the corner, and I’m excited about that,” Collum said. “We want to continue to address staff salaries and compensation plans, and that needs to stay at the top of the list every year. We need to address maintenance plans, fleet and bus plans, address additional safety measures across the district and analyze ways to increase district resources long term while being fiscally responsible and maintaining high academic standards.”