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January 16, 2013     Hays Free Press
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F Hostage negotiators compete at Texas State University. - Page 1C HaysFreePress.com January 16, 2013 ~a~s ~ree ~ress Page 3B BY KIM HILSENBECK kim@haysfreepress.com In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in New- town, Conn., local school districts are working with local law enforcement agencies to revisit their safety proce- dures and protocols. "We're always vigilant about school safety," said Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy, "but a tragedy like what happened in Connecticut brings up the worst fears. So we're all taking another look at our plans." Those plans meet the standards set forth by the Texas School Safety Center (TSSC), Savoy said. The Texas Attorney General's Office in December released a list of 78 Tex- as schools that were not in compli- ance with TSSC standards. In a Jan. 9 update, that list has been reduced to eight schools - none in Central Texas. Savoy said Hays CISD consistently meets the compliance criteria. That list includes procedures and poli- cies for dealing with any number of potential threats or disasters. "Every class has an emergency procedure poster," Savoy said. He encouraged parents to review it when they drop off their child at school. "We also conduct mock drills once a semester; these include evacuation, lock down, shelter in place and severe. weather," he said. The safety standards followed by Hays CISD are part of the TSSC's Uni- fied School Safety and Security Stan- dards for Texas Schools. They were written to provide a set of criteria to help school districts develop a quality emergency management program. Savoy said he is absolutely con- fident that Hays CISD students are safe. He said the district is working closely with the Hays County Sheriff's Office, as well as the police depart- ments in Buda, Kyle and San Marcos, PHOTO BY KIM HILSENBECK A mom walking her children into Carpenter Hill Elementary holds onto them a little tighter following the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy says he is absolutely confident that Hays CISD students are safe. The district is working closely with the Hays County Sheriff's Office, as well as the police departments in Buda, Kyle and San Marcos, to review safety plans. to review the safety plans. "We have had local law enforce- ment visit our campuses recently to re-familiarize them with our floor plans and layouts," he said. Savoy also credited local agencies for being prepared for most any situa- tion. "We're very fortunate that we have very knowledgeable law enforcement and emergency response personnel in all of the agencies that touch our schools," Savoy said. "They have a degree of expertise and training that is probably better than a lot of areas." While the safety procedures and protocols are not necessarily different post-Connecticut, Savoy said it never hurts to examine the system and look for enhancements. "We always want to err on the side of caution," he said. Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said his officers are conducting more rou- tine visits to school campuses than before the incident at Sandy Hook. New officers are required to tour local school campuses, according to Barnett. "We don't want to cause any un- necessary panic - we just want to See SCHOOL SAFETY, pg. 4B S Hays CISD students will have science experiment conducted at International Space Station BY KIM HILSENBECK kim@haysfreepress.com Preparations are underway for students in the Science, Technol- ogy, Engineering and Math (STEM) program at Hays CISD to have one of their experiments conducted at the International Space Station - what's being called America's newest National Laboratory- later this year. The opportunity is part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, or SSEP- a national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math- ematics (STEM) education initiative that gives typically 300-plus students across a community the ability to design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit. SSEP was launched in June 2010 by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education in strategic partnership with NanoRacks, LLC. Lori Shultz, a fifth grade STEM teacher at Carpenter Hill Elementary, is one of eight such teachers at Hays CISD. The STEM program is cur- rently running at Carpenter Hill and at Pfluger Elementary and has about 200 students. The interim director is Tim Pearsall, who took over after the recent departure of Ellen Lyon, former superintendent Jeremy Lyon's wife. Shultz's colleagues at Carpenter Hill are Michelle McCoy, Tavia Hrabovsky and Jamie Cole. The STEM teachers at Pfluger are LaVada Ferguson, Krista Milan, Christine Coats and Emily Repp. Shultz spoke recently with the Hays Free Press about how she got involved with SSEP and how it will impact the students, the district and the commu- nity. "In November, we found out about a live webcast for our students to watch," she said. "Students from a school were interviewing astronauts at the International Space Station in real time about their experiments and other topics." Her students were fascinated. So was Shultz. She contacted the program director, Jeff Goldstein, to learn more and find out how the Hays CISD STEM students could get involved. Goldstein told Shultz that the dis- trict would need closer to 400 students involved in order to get funding. "It costs about $21,500 to send one experiment into space," she said. Goldstein takes care of fundraising, according to Shultz, so the STEM team can concentrate on their scientific ex- periment. Still, she said the district has to provide him with a list of potential sponsors. Ideally, businesses in the local com- munity are ideal funders of a project of this nature, Shultz said. Due to the time frame, however, Goldstein recom- mended asking larger businesses as small companies would be less likely to be able to contribute in higher amounts. That means he would need more companies to donate. "The average donation should be about $3,000," wrote Goldstein in a letter to SSEP participants. PHOTO BY LORI SHULTZ Fifth grade STEM students at Carpenter Hill Elementary Hadlee Gray, left, and Justin Mc- Mahon dream up experiment ideas for the upcoming space mission. Hays CISD students will submit three potential ideas; the one selected by the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program review panel will be conducted at the International Space Station this fall. To meet the requirements for the SSEP experiment. number of district students, Shultz What happens next? contacted Katie Campbell and Aaron Shultz said the students involved Higdon, GTT teachers at Wallace and in the program are how grouped into Dahlstrom middle schools, respective- teams of five. Each one will submit a ly. GTT stands for Gateway to Technol- potential experiment. ogy. Shultz said Campbell and Higdon "I have Level 1 judges who are other were very receptive and a plan was set. STEM teachers and professors from With those teachers on board, UT Austin and Texas State University," Shultz now had the required number Shultz said. of students. She then wrote the imple- That panel will submit the top mentation plan to submit to SSEP three ideas to Goldstein. His level 2 And then - a glitch. Goldstein told judges will then select the final project her the program is only for students in that will represent Hays CISD on the fifth grade and above. But the STEM experiment at the International Space students at Hays CISD includes fourth Station. graders. The chosen experiment will fly this "I explained to Dr. Goldstein that fall. And students from the STEM and our fourth graders are not your typical, GTT program will have the opportuni- every day fourth graders," Shultz said. ty to talk with the astronauts conduct- "I told him how these kids were tested ing the research on their behalf. for the STEM magnet school program." "Our kids will get to speak live with She must have presented a compel- astronauts and ask questions, get ling argument because Hays CISD is explanations of their experience and the only school district in the nation interact with them," Shultz said. "It's to have fourth graders included in the very exciting." ncw yc l" to s ACOUNSELOR'S W!hlcome to 2013! he world has anged drastical- fy in 20 years. With the rise in technology, the comput- er and smart phone age has brought ease and comfort to communication; but it has also brought about its own issues as well. So- cial websites, blogs, text messages and email make it easier for individuals to alienate one another with negativity, bullying has taken a different form from what We knew as children. Now, more than ever, parents and commu- COUNESLOR'S CORNER, pg. 4B SCHOOL BRIEFS Dreaming of college The College Dreams Workshop will take place from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Jan. 19 at the University of Texas Belt Media Center. Presented by Latinitas, this workshop aims to help parents, guardians and other caretakers who have young girls in their lives. Participants will learn media skills. This is a free event but you must register by calling (512) 861-0592. HCISD partners with E3 Alliance for School Research Study Hays CISD has joined with E3 Alliance on a research study that alms to better understand student absences. Information will be gathered at four Hays CISD schools, Lehman High School, Chapa Middle School, Kyle Elementary and Fuentes Elementary, over a two month period. All information collected is confidential. District officials are asking parents to partner with them in this research study designed to identify resources and services that may be needed in local communities within Hays CISD. Questions may be directed to Elsa Hinojosa, Hays CISD, at (512) 268- 2141 or AmyWiseman, E3 Alliance, at (512) 223-7249. Let the search begin The Hays CISD Board of Trustees met earlier this week to interview executive search firms to help find a replacement for Jeremy Lyon, former superintendent. Lyon left in early January to head up the Frisco ISD near Dallas. Four firms sub:nitted proposals in response to a request for proposals distributed by the board in late December. Three firms made the cut to be interviewed. The search and candidate interview process is expected to take several months. To schedule an appointment, call 512-694-1746 FARMERS' Debbie Thames Insurance Agency AUTO HOME LIFE * BOAT HEALTH 251 N. FM 1626 #2C Buda, TX 78610 Office: (512) 312-1917 Fax: 312-0688 Email: dvthames @ austin xr.com Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm Your Business & Referrals Are Appreciated ADWARE SPYWARE ..... .......... MALWARE VIRUSES On-Site Removal (requires broadband COMP~J internet access) Norton Internet Security and Anti-Virus 2010 Mfr. Rebates Available to Previous Owners