By James Draper
Dr. William Paul’s first ‘100 Days’ as White Oak ISD superintendent have been productive.
Skipping to the end: “The reality is, we’re in great shape,” Paul said. “We really are.”
Case in point, prior to Paul’s hundred days report Sept. 11, WOISD’s school board members applauded alongside the friends and families of an extensive list of students and teachers who earned accolades after their first month of classes.
Likewise, trustees heard an update on the ongoing success of the district’s FFA program before diving into a litany of necessary tasks.
According to Paul, after taking on the district’s top job in the spring, he’s attended 60-plus school and community events. He’s survey parents in addition to dialogues with businesses as well as local government and church leaders.
“One of the things it did is just kind of affirm what I already thought: We have a great district,” Paul said. “Our students are respectfully, take school seriously and hold staff in high regard. Our staff cares about students. Our facilities are well-maintained. Our budget is in good shape.”
There are some areas with room for improvement, of course.
First, Paul said, he’s eager to take a more in-depth look at the district’s facilities plan and align it with a vision for the future: “Where do we want to be in 10 years in terms of facilities?”
Meanwhile, “We need to overhaul our business office and personnel procedures,” he added, and to continue assessing and improving safety and security. The district also needs to be proactive in preparing for the inevitable retirement of senior staff members during the coming decade. “We are very top-heavy in that regard. We need to be very intentional about how we transition as these staff members retire and make sure they’re being replaced with high-quality individuals.”
For students’ sake, Paul has two main goals: to win the Lone Star Cup – “Every year we’re on the cusp.” – and to continue enhancing Career & Technical Education (CTE) options.
That’s not necessarily to add more, he added, but to ensure the district is maximizing potential in current programs. He’s excited about WOISD’s new partnership with Kilgore College (along with Gladewater ISD and Union Grove ISD) and the opportunities that creates for adding a healthcare pathway for interested students.
By the end of the school year, 10 White Oak students will be certified as Patient Care Technicians.
“That’s what they need the most in healthcare facilities,” he said. “That’s becoming a more popular program by the day.”
Among other practical steps for improvement, the district will post available jobs by March in order to get the “best and brightest” applying for the next school year. Another annual goal will be a balanced budget with six months of operating expenses in hand.
“With our overhaul of procedures,” he said, “I think we’re going to become more efficient.
Likewise, “We’re going to work on overhauling our bus fleet through grants.”
All things considered, based on everything he’s seen, Paul is excited for the weeks, months and years ahead.
“It’s easy to see why we’re still a destination district.”
By James Draper