How does Frisco ISD educate a student, feed a student, transport a student, communicate with parents and make decisions that affect the community and taxpayers?
The District launched FISD Insight in spring 2017 to shed light on all that goes on behind-the-scenes to get a child from kindergarten to the point that he or she is ready for college or the job market.
This year’s pilot class was the first step in offering a diverse group of residents, volunteers and parents the chance to explore the District at a deeper level. FISD Insight provided an opportunity for citizens to see what is involved in educating a student – from the type of cloths a school custodian uses to clean classrooms on a daily basis to face-to-face discussion with members of the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees.
“This fills in the gaps,” one class member said after the program was complete.
Frisco ISD doesn’t just serve most of the City of Frisco – it reaches into the communities of Little Elm, Plano and McKinney as well. The ongoing goal of FISD Insight is to improve interaction and knowledge of the District among many different groups of people, whether they have students who attend FISD schools, are active in their neighborhoods and community or have an interest in education.
“This was an opportunity to bring citizens together to see how the puzzle pieces fit together around our primary mission – educating students,” said Jamie Driskill, Frisco ISD director of community relations and marketing. “We looked at the classroom, the arts, athletics, technology and the unseen areas that are essential such as transportation, security, health services, business services and more.”
The pilot class was made up of people recommended by area chambers of commerce, the Frisco ISD Council of PTAs and various community leaders. Some class members were already somewhat involved in the school district, while others had no real previous experience with FISD. The goal was to have a cross-section of people who would be able to share their experience and give constructive feedback to the District.
Each FISD Insight class member was also asked to make an individual campus visit, preferably to a school they hadn’t been connected to previously and to attend a School Board meeting. Class members were recognized at the June School Board meeting for their participation in the first year of the educational outreach program.
“My experience with FISD Insight gave me a deeper understanding of how FISD operates and ranks among other similarly-sized districts, as well as strategies to address the budget shortfall and provide the same level of excellence that FISD students and parents expect,” said Dee Maddox, an FISD parent and Insight class member. “The presentations provided information that increased my understanding of the administration’s commitment and the tours showed the level of facilities and services available to FISD students. For me, the Career and Technical Education Center and Ford Center were my favorite tours. The presentations on human resources, support services, finance and zoning were equally eye-opening.”
Several class members said in an exit survey conducted by the District that they felt future classes might benefit from longer sessions – though taking people away from work was an obvious concern they understood. Class members also suggested a full session devoted to challenges faced by the District, particularly the budget and strategic planning issues.
Allison Miller, director of the Frisco Education Foundation and FISD Partners in Education Department, was instrumental in reaching out to the community to identify people interested in participating in the first pilot class.
“We have many great partners in education throughout the area, but we need to make sure we are reaching out to our sister cities of Plano, Little Elm and McKinney,” she said. “We want our parents and students who live in those communities, as well as Frisco, to know they are part of something special. We have students who live across miles and miles of Denton and Collin counties. Bringing a sense of belonging to people who live and work within our District is a continuing goal of the Board of Trustees and FISD as a whole, and we want to roll out the welcome mat to anyone interested in learning more about our school district.”
The new class is one of several ways Frisco ISD is working to engage the community and seek input from residents. Opportunities are available for citizens interested in helping develop future budgets and bond programs. The District also hosts several events throughout the year to share information and answer questions from parents, faith-based leaders, business partners, realtors and more.