• July 10, 2020
    Good morning Balsz families, friends and the community,

    Thank you very much for availing yourself to the ever changing environment that is the Balsz School District. As we navigate through the changes of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that individuals understand that children are our priority and our primary concern.

    In keeping with this premise, I would like everyone to understand Balsz' philosophy as it aligns to our plan of action. Here are the facts:

    1. We have a working school district population of families, meaning our families have active employment and cannot leave their K-5 students at home.
    2. We surveyed our community and found over 90% of our families either specifically said yes or maybe, with precautions to returning to school. Over 70% want an in-person model that would bring their students back into the buildings.
    3. We have over 800 students who have technology challenges and cannot access the internet; not because the district cannot provide the resources, but because of economic and geographic constraints.
    4. Research has proven that K-2, at least, has a nurture need to be provided with the learning in a structured environment. Even the strongest distance learning programs we have researched are still responding to the challenges of K-2 specifically in how the distance learning would support their needs and not widen the Achievement Gap.

    My plan, as you well know, was approved by my Governing Board, with modifications allowed. This means the plans can change. As they do, we immediately try to inform the community. My letter to the community posted has since been updated and individuals are being informed of changes. Please be patient as we progress into a plan that will best represent our community and our needs for our students. I am thankful for the opportunity to explore options for the Balsz School District and I encourage those wanting to share positive thoughts to join us in this process.

    I look forward to hearing all voices that are “In the Best Interest of Children” as we strive for Excellence!

    Arleen Kennedy, Ed.D
    #BelieveinBalsz


    July 1, 2020
    Dear Parents/Guardians and Students of Balsz School District:
    As we prepare for students and staff to return to the Balsz School District, I want to reaffirm to students and their families that student safety is our highest priority. I want to assure you of the District’s on-going commitment to your child’s safety and to working cooperatively with community resources to ensure that our students return knowing that Balsz School District will continue to be a safe haven for students and their educational needs. This letter will outline the school reopening plans and share pertinent information with you in order to facilitate your decision regarding the return of your student to the classroom or continue online distance learning.

    Return to School Plans
    The district will officially open for students on August 17, 2020, pending no additional delays from another Governor Executive Order. Although the District Office has reopened for the 2020-2021 school year, the school administration and District Office is available for questions and concerns. New teachers will begin on August 3, 2020 and all other staff will return on August 5, 2020.
    This district will offer “district-wide” open enrollment for all students and families will have the option to attend any school in the district. The district is offering in-person classroom attendance or online distance learning opportunities. School administrators will determine the number of online participants and share the parameters of the online option.

    School Safety/COVID-19
    One of my first goals as the new Superintendent was to initiate an extensive review of the district’s systemic procedures that will govern strict adherence to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Each school will have a Pandemic Crisis Guide that will outline our practices and procedures.

    We are developing a Parent Academy that will provide parents and guardians with appropriate information regarding safety measures to ensure the healthy existence of all members of the Balsz family.
    Among the many safety measures:

    • Students will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
      • Teachers will work with students in educating the importance of wearing masks.
      • Giving students two washable masks free of charge.
        • We are attempting to customize our masks to rally for school pride.
      • Any visitor to any campus will be required to follow the mask protocol established by the Governor.
      • Custodial services will be doubled in coverage to ensure thorough cleanliness.
      • School administrators will design a safe school entrance and exit plans.

    We will continue to keep families informed of any changes and other details as they arise. The District has committed to focusing our efforts into four key areas:

    1. Safety Procedures: The district will continue to ensure that every student is safe and will exercise practices that support student safety measures.
    2. Community Communication: The district will work with community resources to revamp our resources and ensure that our plans will support both the students and staff.
    3. Culture: The district will begin to create a culture where every student feels valued and connected to the learning process.
    4. Education: The district will focus in creating an environment of excellence and academic achievement. The ‘Achievement Gap’ will no longer define our students’ challenges, and our students will defy the odds of underachieving stereotypes to represent their best selves.

    We feel it is important for our families to understand our plan of action for the coming school term. We look forward to you seeking out your school to answer any additional questions that you may have.  We will notify you of the upcoming “Meet the Superintendent” Town Hall meeting where any additional questions will be answered.
    Welcome back to the 2020-2021 School Term where we “Believe in Balsz”!

    Arleen M. Kennedy, Ed.D, Superintendent

    #BelieveinBalsz


    Julio 1, 2020
    Estimados padres de familia, tutores y estudiantes del Distrito Escolar Balsz:
    Al preparar el regreso de estudiantes y personal al Distrito Escolar Balsz, deseo reafirmar a estudiantes y sus familias que la seguridad de sus estudiantes es nuestra más alta prioridad.  Quiero asegurarles del compromiso continuo del Distrito para la seguridad de su hijo y trabajar en cooperación con recursos de la comunidad para asegurar que nuestros estudiantes regresen al Distrito Escolar Balsz sabiendo que continuará siendo un puerto seguro para estudiantes y sus necesidades educativas.  Esta carta delineará los planes de reapertura de la escuela y compartirá información pertinente con ustedes para facilitar su decisión respecto al regreso de su estudiante al salón de clases o continuar con su aprendizaje en línea.  

    Planes para el Regreso a la Escuela
    El distrito abrirá oficialmente para los estudiantes el 17 de agosto, 2020 pendiente de que no haya ninguna demora adicional debido a otra Orden Ejecutiva del Gobernador.  Aunque la Oficina del Distrito ha reanudado sus funciones para el año escolar 2020-2021, la administración de la escuela y la Oficina del Distrito está disponible para preguntas y preocupaciones.  Las maestras nuevas empezarán el 3 de agosto, 2020 y el resto de todo el personal retornará el 5 de agosto, 2020. 
    Este distrito ofrecerá matrícula abierta a “nivel distrital” para todo estudiante y sus familias tendrán la opción de asistir a cualquiera de las escuelas dentro del distrito.  El distrito está ofreciendo oportunidades de asistencia a clases en persona o en línea.  La Administración de la escuela determinará el número de participantes en línea y compartirá los parámetros de la opción en línea.   

    Seguridad Escolar/COVID-19
    Una de mis primeras metas como Superintendente nueva es la de iniciar una revisión extensiva de los procedimientos sistemáticos del distrito que gobernará respeto estricto para combatir la pandemia de COVID-19.  Cada escuela tendrá una Guía para Crisis Pandémica que delineará nuestras prácticas y procedimientos.  

    Nos encontramos desarrollando una Academia para Padres de Familia que ofrecerá a padres y tutores la información apropiada respecto a medidas de seguridad y asegurar la salud de todos los miembros de la familia Balsz.  
    Dentro de las muchas medidas de seguridad:

    • Se requerirá el uso de máscaras por los estudiantes y practicar distanciamiento social.  
      • Los maestros trabajarán con los estudiantes en educarlos sobre la importancia del uso de máscaras.
      • Darles a los estudiantes dos máscaras lavables sin costo alguno.  
        • Estamos intentando personalizar nuestras máscaras en apoyo del orgullo escolar.
      • Cualquier visitante al campo escolar deberá de seguir el protocolo del uso de máscaras establecido por el Gobernador.
      • Los servicios de los Custodios será doblado para asegurar limpieza rigurosa.

    Continuaremos manteniendo a las familias informadas de cualquier cambio y otros detalles que se presenten.  El Distrito se ha comprometido a enfocar sus esfuerzos en las cuatro áreas claves:

    1. Procedimientos de Seguridad: El distrito continuará asegurando que todo estudiante esté seguro y ejercitará prácticas que apoyen las medidas de seguridad de los estudiantes.
    2. Comunicación con la Comunidad: El distrito trabajará con los recursos comunitarios para modernizar nuestros recursos y asegurar que nuestros planes apoyen tanto a estudiantes como al personal.  
    3. Cultura: El distrito empezará a crear una cultura en donde cada estudiantes se sienta valorado y conectado con el proceso de aprendizaje.
    4. Educación: El distrito se enfocará en crear un entorno de excelencia y rendimiento académico. La ‘Brecha de Rendimiento’ ya no definirá los desafíos de nuestros estudiantes, y nuestros estudiantes desafiarán los estereotipos de las probabilidades de bajo rendimiento al representar sus mejores personas. 

    Sentimos que es importante que nuestras familias entiendan nuestro plan de acción para el año escolar venidero.  Esperamos que se acerquen a su escuela para que el personal responda a cualquier pregunta adicional que ustedes tengan.  Les notificaremos de la siguiente reunión de ayuntamiento “Conozcan a la Superintendente” adonde se responderá a preguntas adicionales.
    ¡Bienvenidos de regreso al año escolar 2020-2021 en donde Creemos en Balsz!”

    Arleen M. Kennedy, Ed.D, Superintendente

    #BelieveinBalsz

  • June 19, 2020

     vintage photo of Black Americans in Texas celebrating Juneteenth

    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. -ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 16th President of the United States of America

    Happy Juneteenth! In response to the Civil War and its impact on the American society, President Abraham Lincoln, through the Emancipation Proclamation, declared that effective January 1, 1863, all slaves held in states in opposition to the Union were to be “now and henceforth, forever free”. It would not be until June 19, 1865, that the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment would take effect and free all slaves. Newly freed slaves in Texas officially declared June 19, 1865 “Juneteenth” in honor of their freedom.

    The BALSZ Elementary School District #31 would like to commemorate "Freedom Day," for all slaves and their descendants. Please take time today to stop and learn more about ‘Juneteenth’ and its impact on American history. Learn more at https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/historical-legacy-juneteenth

    As your newly appointed Superintendent, it is my honor to begin the work officially on such an auspicious holiday! As we forge a new path of success, always remember that education can and will be the ‘great equalizer’. BALSZ School District will always strive for excellence and equality. We simply ask that everyone, “Believe in BALSZ!

    Freedom in America is a right, not a privilege!

    -Dr. Arleen M. Kennedy, #BelieveinBalsz

    Dr. Arleen Kennedy under Balsz logo with hand under Children First