Established in 1884, Galveston's public schools were initially governed by the City of Galveston until 1949 when the Texas Legislature created the Galveston Independent School District for the express purpose of providing a free public education to the children of the community.
The district serves approximately 8,400 students, including the Island and Bolivar Peninsula, and operates one high school, three middle schools, seven elementary schools and one Pre-K through eighth grade campus on Bolivar Peninsula. The district also offers alternative education programs and accelerated instruction programs for elementary, middle and high school students. The Accelerated Instruction Model or AIM program allows students to catch up to their grade level or in the case of high school allows students to obtain their high school credits at their own pace to graduate. The Ball High School Class of 2006 included 97 AIM students.
GISD's student body is ethnically and culturally diverse. Approximately 41 percent is Hispanic, 31 percent is African American, and 28 percent is white or of other races. The district employs more than 1,200 people and the annual operating budget for the 2006-2007 school year is $79,790,000.
During the 2003-2004 school year, GISD opened student enrollment to non-Galveston residents who work within the boundaries of the school district. The district is now collaborating with HeadStart to serve four-year-olds in a full-day pre-kindergarten program.
GISD offers a variety of programs for students. Services include dual credit courses with Galveston College, a nationally recognized Advanced Placement program, bilingual and English as a Second Language curriculum, a two-way immersion program for elementary students learning English and learning Spanish, special education programs, an Accelerated Instruction Model (AIM) program, preschool program for children with disabilities, student assistance program and tech prep initiatives with Galveston College.
The Texas Education Agency recognized ten GISD campuses with Gold Performance Acknowledgements for improvements on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). GISD made improvements in four of the five TAKS testing areas. Oppe and Parker Elementary Schools are "Recognized" campuses.
In an effort to improve student performance, GISD is implementing best practices from top performing schools to improve student achievement such as curriculum based assessments and vertically and horizontally aligned curriculum.
Ball High School had 239 students take 529 Advanced Placement (AP) exams for college credit, more than tripling its numbers from 2002-2003 school year and more than quadrupling the number of tests taken. This improvement is a direct result from the district's Advanced Placement Incentive Program, sponsored by Advanced Placement Strategies, Inc., a non-profit entity based out of Dallas. The goal of this program is to increase the number of students taking Pre-AP and AP classes as well as encourage more minority participation. This program is strongly supported by the Galveston ISD Educational Foundation.
During the 2005-2006 school year, Ball High School implemented the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) to prepare freshman students for college. AVID targets students in the academic middle or B, C and even D students who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard. College students from the University of Texas Medical Branch and Texas A&M University at Galveston assist as tutors and role models. Galveston Independent School District is the first district in Galveston County to implement this program which has now been expanded to serve sophomores.
Ball High School students with an interest in music can take new sound production class using state-of-the-art equipment at the Ball High School Trade Cottage. GISD would like to acknowledge the support of the City of Galveston Community Development Block Grant program, Sheridan Mitchell-Lorenz, and the G-1 Corporation for the establishment of the cottage.
GISD has a Newcomer Program to meet the needs of students who have recently come to the United States from a foreign country. The Newcomer Program is housed at Austin Middle School. Students are grouped in smaller classes in a non-traditional learning environment and are placed in the program for a maximum of one school year.
Ball High students have been accepted to Harvard, Princeton, Georgetown, MIT, U.S. Naval Academy, West Point, Rice, Stanford, UCLA, U.S. Air Force Academy, William and Mary, Wharton School of Business, Tulane, Trinity, Northwestern, Washington and Lee, Baylor, SMU, Texas A&M University, University of Texas, University of Houston and many other state and national universities and colleges.
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