During a recent Rotary Club and Bridge City city council meeting, Bridge City ISD superintendent answered two very important  questions, “Where are we going?” and Where are we now?” when talking about the state of the school district.

King began by telling people the number of students has continued to grow over the years. In October of the 2008-09 school year, the enrollment after Hurricane Ike was 2,352 students. In the 2009-10 school year, the number grew to 2,456 and in 2010-11 it once again rose to 2,601. By the 2011-12 school year, the enrollment increased to 2,699 students and the enrollment continued to climb in the 2012-13 with 2,770 students.

Even though the enrollment continued to escalate, the district has continued to meet state and federal testing standards. Bridge City ISD has been since the 2007-2008 school year, a recognized district. In addition, the district has met the Federal Adequate Yearly Progress every year.  According to the The Texas Education Agency, 44 percent of Texas school campuses met the AYP requirements. However, the Bridge City school district was the only public district in Orange County this year to meet the federal standards set by the U.S. Department of Education under the 2001 ‘No Child Left Behind Act.’

‘We are excited about our scores, but that’s not what drives us,” King said. ‘It’s the overall big picture.”

Since 2008, statistics show 63 percent of graduates go on to some type of two to four year college.

King quoted Socrates when he said,” Education is not the filling of the vessel, but rather the lighting of the fire.”

He also stated as he had many times before, the district should not be measured by “one day one test.”

“One day, one test does not determine our accountability,” King said. “What we want is a full range of accountability. You just don’t get a full picture on one day tests.”

Bridge City students are involved in many activities. At Bridge City Middle School & High School about 75 percent of students are involved in some type of curricular and extracurricular activity. There are 585 students in 7th through 12th grades involved in athletics and 349 students in 6th through 12th grades in band. In 2010-11 there were 185 students in band and the size will have doubled by the start of the 2013-14 school year.

It is projected, there will be more than 400 students in band in the 2015-16 school year, King said.

Students are also involved in the various programs such as cheer leading, drill team, theater arts and choir.

The signing of HB5 has allowed the district’s vocational programs to grow and become a proven success. This year, 26 students earned their cosmetology license while 15 students earned a certified nurse’s assistant license. There were 25 students who earned a NCCSR core card through the welding program and 26 students went on to trade and technical schools.

“It‘s important for it all to be balanced,” King said.

According to King, students are going beyond their academics and striving to make a difference in their community.

Students at Bridge City Elementary collected can tabs for the Ronald McDonald house, collected donations for troops overseas, and conducted a pet food drive. Both BCE and Bridge City Intermediate participated in the Relay for Life fundraisers. BCI students  mailed Christmas cards to soldiers and collected donations for the Meadows Nursing Home. At the Bridge City Middle School, students with the National Junior Honor Society completed 1,600 hours of community service. Students at the high school also did their share of work in the community. They raised more than $15,116 in cash in addition to hosting canned food and blood drives.

Financially, the district “has maintained a healthy fund balance for a district our size.”

Public Education was cut $5.4 billion in the 2011 Legislative Session. BCISD lost $1.3 million is state funding over the biennium. But, the district dealt with the issue through staff attrition by combining Sims and Hatton Elementary Schools into Bridge City Elementary. The district adopted a deficit budget for the first time in 10 years, but also froze salaries and capital outlay. Employee programs were also eliminated from the budget.

“All financial decisions are made to least impact students.” King said.

King added, the district’s motto is “We are the best in Texas.”

“It’s what our children and community deserve,” King said.

He said, he will continue to move the district into the future.

“We need to be thinking about 2026. That’s the year this years kindergartners will be graduating and we need to be getting them ready,” King said.

King said they will be looking at ensuring all students are ready for the future. They will make sure they are compatible with the increased technology and allow for maximum educational opportunities in areas such as an increased participation in student programs such as fine arts and athletics.

The district is currently working on making the schools a safer place. Safety renovations are under construction at BCI, BCMS and BCHS. The plan is to have them completed by the start of the school year.

“Our district from the growth, academic and financial standpoint is in good shape,” King said.

But, there is not a plateau where they can rest on their laurels.

‘We believe in any organization, there is no plateau,” King said. ‘We will work on continuing to grow.”