Catching Up with Craft

Catching Up with Craft

Catching Up with Craft is written by Superintendent John M. Craft and is sent to Northside ISD staff every Monday to keep them updated on local and state education issues.

Good Morning Northside ISD and welcome to the last month of 2023!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and if you are like me, you are probably asking yourself, “is it really less than three weeks before Christmas?” While it’s hard to believe, we are in fact preparing to wrap up 2023 and launch into 2024. 

From Around the District

To begin, I want to again congratulate Harlan High School for advancing to the 6A volleyball state semifinals played in Garland November 17th. The Lady Hawks put up a valiant effort against Katy Cinco Ranch and while coming up a bit short on the scoreboard, they have a lot to be proud of in their tenacity and determination. Congratulations, ladies!

Also, our three football teams who advanced to the second round, all won and advanced to the third round and played the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving at the Alamodome. Brennan, Harlan, and John Jay all played some really tough teams at the Alamodome and while football in Northside comes to a close for the season, we are so proud of their efforts. We are looking forward to next year. Now onto the winter sports, which is surely to continue to include some very competitive play and continued success across the district.   

District-wide Survey Update. You should have received a link to provide input through a quick 5-10 minute survey. This is an anonymous survey, and the individual links are assigned so that the information gathered can be aggregated back to specific locations (i.e. campuses and/or departments). Please take a moment to provide this vital feedback which will be used to help drive our continuous improvement actions across the district. As a reminder, please complete the survey by this Thursday, December 7. 

Food Bank Information. As a reminder the final Food Bank distribution of 2023 will be held at Gus Stadium (8:30-10:00 a.m.) on Dec. 14.

Vale Middle School Discovery Day. It was an absolute pleasure to visit with Vale Middle School 8th grade students on their annual career day. They had some really great questions as we engaged in our conversation and I attempted to articulate exactly what the job of a school Superintendent entails. We remain very appreciative of all of our community volunteers and presenters for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their professions with our students. It was also great to see our Vale 7th grade students learning all about our Magnet Programs from current High School Students. Great job Ms. Mary Harrington, the Vale Head Counselor, and Associate Principal Jenna Bloom and the Stingray faculty for a fantastic learning experience.  

Rhodes Elementary School Guest Reader. The Rhodes Elementary Pre-K and Kindergarten students might never be the same after hearing their Superintendent's attempt at reading “How to Catch a Turkey” right before the Thanksgiving break. It was a great time and I learned that all it takes is the Principal to get involved and that whole dilemma gets remedied stat! (You have to read the story.) Thank you to Ms. Diaz and Raptor students and staff.  

Carson Elementary- 25th Anniversary. We celebrated our third campus this year to reach the 25 year milestone of providing exceptional education at Carson Elementary School and it was a phenomenal turnout. Principal Lisa Mendez and Associate Principal Kimberly McClintic and the committee of teachers and staff who planned the ceremony deserve accolades as it is no small feat to pull together an event of that magnitude, particularly as we were preparing for an extended break. The student performers did an amazing job. I really enjoyed learning more about the amazing namesake, Jim Carson, a 35-year educator in Northside ISD and U.S. Army Veteran who gave so tirelessly of his time to the district, well after his retirement. I felt inspired after leaving the celebration and humbled by the impact he left on the Cowboy community.   

Clinical Teacher Reception. We again want to congratulate our 116 Clinical Teachers who will be graduating this semester and will soon become full-time teachers (many of them already joining Team Northside). We also want to thank our mentors for their efforts in helping forge phenomenal experiences by not only helping to prepare our newest professionals for the classroom, but also lending a shoulder to lean on and modeling along the way. Investing in the future is critical to our success as a district and without these Residency programs and staff support, we would be at the mercy of others to help develop our talent. Again, congratulations clinical teachers, Diana Ely, and our Professional Learning team for a job well done.     

Assistant Superintendent for Technology Services, Lori Jones, set to retire after 22 years of service to NISD. Lori Jones has led our Technology Services team while also serving our Nation as an Officer in the United States Air Force (recently promoted to Brigadier General), and has done so with grace, humility, and resolve. We had a great reception on Wednesday with many current and former colleagues present to express their appreciation. Her outstanding leadership was evident hearing from all in attendance of her accolades and accomplishments, but as she articulated best, for Lori, it has always been about the NISD Team and students. Congratulations and best wishes Lori. You will be missed, but we know you will continue to do great things working to defend our Nation.    

Legislative Update

I would love to be able to share some great news regarding legislative progress, particularly as it relates to school finance and employee compensation, but as a result of the HB 1 debate on the House floor November 17th, the only progress made was another defeat of vouchers/education savings accounts and the referral of HB 2 to the Senate. 

HB 1, the omnibus voucher/school funding bill, had a relatively short debate as Rep. Raney promptly filed an amendment to strip the voucher/ESA provision from the bill.  The amendment was approved by a vote of 84 to 63.  Rather than allow the House to then vote on the actual bill with the ESA now stripped from it, Chairman Buckley sent the bill back to committee.  

Ultimately, this means that vouchers/ESAs were defeated, but the good parts in HB 1 (including significant funding) died along with it.  A very helpful school safety funding bill - HB 2 (which would provide $10 million in school safety funding for NISD; considerably more than what we currently receive) was unanimously approved in the House and sent to the Senate. Unfortunately, the Senate hasn’t moved on it and actually filed their own safety bill on Friday (SB 5). SB 5 would provide significantly less safety funding than HB 2. 

Sadly, due to the ongoing power struggle between both chambers, HB 2 has sat idle for two weeks, as has SB 2 - a teacher pay bill. This legislative session ends in 3 days, so hope for advancement of either or both of these bills diminishes by the hour. It is unknown whether the Governor will call a 5th special session at this point as school choice, school funding, accountability reform and school safety hangs in limbo and districts remain reliant on current law as we prepare to budget for the upcoming school year.

We again appreciate our Bexar County Delegation for their time and resiliency in standing firm on supporting public education, as this process has proven to be a marathon, and it doesn't appear the finish line is anywhere in sight.   

The Spirit of Northside 

This week the Northside Spirit Stick goes to our phenomenal Technology Services Department. The team plays such a vital role in supporting teaching and learning on a daily basis and without their support, transforming the learning experience would be next to impossible. Thank you, Lori Jones for your tremendous leadership and for developing capacity across the NISD technology landscape. Your impact will be felt for years to come. 

Congratulations Technology Services and Thank you for keeping us online, on the cutting edge and cyber-safe!

Have a great week Team Northside!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Good Morning Northside ISD!

First and foremost, I hope you had a great Veterans Day weekend, and thank you to all our Veterans for their service. I also appreciate our campus's efforts in their hard work in preparing various assemblies, ceremonies, and programs across the district. I had the opportunity to start Friday off with Trustee Freeman at Brandeis High School where their JROTC hosted approximately 80 Veterans for a student-led program followed by a community breakfast. It was great to visit with our students and Veterans alike. Similarly, the Northside ISD Museum Association hosted a Veterans Day program as well, and following the Presentation of Colors and National Anthem by the Holmes High School JROTC and Marshall High School Band, guest Speaker Brad Weber described the History of Camp Swift having served as a German Prisoner of War Camp for over 100,000 captured Germans during WWII. It was fascinating to learn how the POWs replaced the agricultural labor force during that time period while our soldiers were serving overseas. I also heard so many positive remarks about programs like those at Carnahan, Aue, and Leon Springs elementary schools, to name a few. Thank you again for all your efforts in supporting our Veterans Team Northside.  

American Education Week. This week we are acknowledging American Education Week. This remains an annual acknowledgment that happens the week before Thanksgiving, during which we celebrate our public school community. To all 14,000 NISD employees, this week is a salute to you! Thank you for your hard work and dedication to serving our students.

District-wide Survey. We want to hear from you! Your perspectives are vital in shaping the future of our district, and we value your commitment to Northside ISD. In the coming weeks, we'll be conducting a series of brief surveys with our students, families, and staff, so our stakeholders can share their experiences with our district.  We want to celebrate what we do well and recognize areas where we can grow.  When we return from the Thanksgiving holiday, you will receive an email from Qualtrics with an individualized link to the survey.  We invite each member of the Northside team to contribute their insights on different aspects of their roles and experiences within our district. Your participation is important, and we appreciate your commitment to the success of our students and Northside ISD.

From Around the District

San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SAHCC). I had the distinct privilege of sitting on a panel with my colleagues Dr. Sean Maika (NEISD), Dr. Eduardo Hernandez (Edgewood ISD), and Dr. Jeanette Ball (SWISD). We discussed many important topics, including:  

  • Career expansion and growth for educators across the K12 Pipeline 
  • The 88th Legislature and efforts to strengthen the teaching profession 
  • How the business community can help to strengthen the teaching profession and public schools
  • The state school finance system and the effects of adapting to our changing student learning needs, workforce shortages, and inflationary costs
  • The provisions of HB3 and what is required entailing school safety and what else needs to be done

I appreciated the opportunity to engage in the conversation and we appreciate the SAHCC support of our efforts to prepare a workforce-ready student population. 

Volleyball Regional Tournament. Congratulations to both O’Connor High School and Harlan High School for advancing to the 6A Region 4 Tournament. The Lady Hawks of Harlan are our Region 4 Champions and have earned a trip to the State Tournament in Garland and will take on Katy Cinco Ranch at 7:00 p.m. on Friday. They defeated the defending 6A Champions, Dripping Springs High School Saturday 3-0 and are playing very well. Good Luck Lady Hawks. We are very proud of you!

Football Playoffs. Three of our six playoff teams will also advance to the second round of the UIL football playoffs. Harlan defeated Eagle Pass on Thursday, Brennan defeated Laredo United South on Friday and John Jay beat Laredo Alexander on Saturday. Great job and best of luck in the 2nd Round!

Friday, November 17, 2023 

  • Brennan vs PSJA @ PSJA ISD Stadium – 6:00 pm 
  • Harlan vs Harlingen @ Cabiness Stadium – 7:00 pm  

Saturday, November 18, 2023 

  • Jay vs Weslaco @ Laredo Shirley Field – 1:00 pm

Food Bank Information. Just a reminder that Food Bank distributions will continue at Gus Stadium (8:30-10:00 a.m.) on Nov. 17, Dec. 1, and Dec. 14.

Legislative Update 

Thank you to all who voted. Proposition 4 overwhelmingly passed which included an $18 billion property tax-cut package. Under the proposition, school districts will reduce tax rates generating funds to cover operating expenditures like teacher salaries by 10.7 cents for every $100 of property value. The proposition also raises the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000.

Proposition 9, which also passed easily, raises the appropriation of $3.45 billion to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) to provide cost-of-living adjustments to eligible annuitants within TRS. The passage of Proposition 9 provides an increase of up to 6% for the nearly half a million annuitants in TRS. This constitutional amendment also extends beyond teachers and includes bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria staff as well.

In Austin. The third special session adjourned on Tuesday and the fourth special session immediately began. 

The House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment has voted to send House Bill 1 (school finance, teacher pay, and education savings accounts) and House Bill 2 (school safety) to the House floor for further consideration and likely amendments.

House Bill 2 would repeal the current school safety allotment in the FSP and replace it with a substantially larger ongoing formula grant program. The grant program would be funded via annual transfers from a new constitutionally dedicated state school safety fund (established in HJR 1).

The grant would provide funding based on a weight of .01 applied to a student count that is an enrollment-based regular program count (remember that regular program ADA excludes special education and career and technology FTEs). To this, the formula would add:

(A) $50,000 for each district or school campus with 500 or fewer enrolled students;

(B) $100,000 for each district or school campus with 501 to 1,000 enrolled students;

(C) $150,000 for each district or school campus with 1,001 to 1,500 enrolled students;

(D) $175,000 for each district or school campus with 1,501 to 2,000 enrolled students; and

(E) $200,000 for each district or school campus with more than 2,000 enrolled students.

The bill provides for the formulas to generate up to $1.1 billion per year. In addition, TEA could receive up to $250 million per year in grant dollars on top of the formula-based grants, depending on the availability of funds.

It is anticipated that both of these bills will be considered on the House floor next week.

The Senate began the 4th called Special Session right where they left off during the 3rd called Special Session. They sent Senate Bill 1 (education savings accounts) and Senate Bill 2 (teacher pay and school finance) back to the House. These bills appear unchanged from the last time they were passed by the Senate.

This week is definitely going to be an interesting one in the Capital as the debate between School Choice and School funding will be playing out as anticipated. There will be many lengthy discussions and only time will tell as to whether a compromise can be reached. I have alluded to this as the “Hail Mary” of the session as the complexities of HB1, HB2, SB1, and SB2 only continue to grow. More to come…

The Spirit of Northside 

This week the Northside Spirit Stick goes to our phenomenal Communications and Marketing Team. They continue to do phenomenal work staying ahead of all matters pertaining to effective communication, processing information requests, and highlighting accomplishments across the district. The team played an integral role in this year’s NEF Gala once again, which was a huge success.

Congratulations again to the Northside ISD Pillars of Character! You can learn more about each of them at: Thank you to all of our sponsors for their generous support to make this event a huge success as well as our volunteers and NEF Board Members. And of course, a special thanks to all who attended and supported the NEF Gala this year. Awesome job Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Barry Perez, and the NISD Communications Team!

Have a great Thanksgiving Team Northside. We will pick up the next edition of CUwC on Dec. 4th. Until then, enjoy your time with family and friends, and Thank you again for all your hard work.

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Happy Monday as we begin the 2-week countdown to Thanksgiving break!

Thank you Veterans

I wanted to take a moment to extend my sincere appreciation for those among us who have selflessly served our nation in the United States Armed Forces. Our Veterans and their families made sacrifices to ensure that we all continue to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities for which this great Nation has been built. Let this Veterans Day be a reminder that we must strive to make every day an occasion for gratitude, support, and unity, and let us forever remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the very fabric of our Republic is never threatened.  

National Native American Heritage Month

National Native American Heritage Month is celebrated each year in November. It is a time to celebrate the traditions, languages and stories of Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and affiliated Island communities and ensure their rich histories and contributions continue to thrive with each passing generation. This November and every month, we celebrate the culture and heritage of these remarkable Americans who deeply enrich the quality and character of our Nation. We celebrate Indian Country with its remarkable diversity of American Indian and Alaska Native cultures and peoples. 

Texas High School Coaches Day

In May, the Texas legislature passed a concurrent resolution designating Nov. 3 as Texas High School Coaches Day to recognize the commitment and hard work of coaches across the state who exert a positive influence on the development of young athletes. Our coaches serve as role models during students’ formative years and teach fundamental life lessons while instilling important values such as discipline, integrity, respect, teamwork, and good sportsmanship, helping to enrich the educational experience for all students. Thank you to all our Coaches for their commitment to excellence beyond the game! 

National School Psychologists Week

During the week of Nov. 6–10, 2023, schools nationwide will celebrate National School Psychology Week (NSPW) to highlight the critical work school psychologists do to help students thrive. This is a time to recognize and show appreciation for school psychologists who support students' learning and mental and behavioral health, promote positive and inclusive school climates, serve on school teams, and collaborate with families, teachers, and administrators to improve student outcomes.

National Merit Semifinalists and Commended Scholars

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). 

National Merit Semifinalist:

  • Brandeis HS: Samuel Garcia and Orry Huang
  • O’Connor HS: Arnold Rojas

National Merit Commended:

  • Brandeis HS: Hanh Doan, Rishi Hariharaprasad, Ryan Jiang, Zack Ning, Blake Owens, Joshua Vera, and Ahmad Yahya.
  • Clark HS: Daniel Dori, Zachary Grotewold, Roman Pendleton, Audry Pomeroy, and Michael Weiner.
  • Health Careers HS: Hannah Bond, Ahvani Pant, Baala Shakya, Anusha Soni, and Jasreen Wadhwa.
  • O’Connor HS: Tanner Jackson and Liam Meister.
  • Sotomayor HS: Aditya Bhardwaj
  • Warren HS: Connor Driessel and Aryanna Ordonez.

For all the prestigious academic recognitions please check out the district link.

From Around the District

Brandeis Symphony Orchestra Scores Big! 

The Bronco Symphony Orchestra has been selected to perform at the 77th Annual Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference held in Chicago, Illinois this year. Only three high schools or orchestra programs are selected annually from around the world. Brandeis is the first NISD program to be selected. The clinic offers guests interested in music education an array of clinics and exhibits with more than 18,000 attendees from all 50 states and more than 40 countries. Congratulations Brandeis Orchestra Directors, students, parents, and staff for this tremendous accomplishment.  

Jay Mariachi Band and Brennan Vocal Jazz Group Perform at ASCD

Our C&I Team along with thousands of administrators from across the state had the opportunity to see our very own John Jay Mariachi band and Brennan Vocal Jazz group perform and they were nothing short of fantastic. Way to go Mustangs and Bears, you continue to make NISD proud and represent our community in an excellent fashion. 

Volleyball and Football Playoff Time

Congratulations to all of our NISD volleyball and football teams who clinched playoff spots. We had 6 volleyball teams qualify for the UIL playoffs and 6 football teams (first time in NISD history to qualify 6 teams). Good luck athletes and coaches, we are very proud of you! 

NISD Volleyball Playoff Teams 

  • Brandeis 
  • Harlan- *Advances
  • O’Connor- *Advances  
  • Clark
  • Brennan- * Advances  
  • Warren- *Advances   

Amazingly all 4 representatives of our Region Quarter Finals are Northside ISD Teams! The winners will advance to the Regional Tournament next Friday and Saturday hosted by SAISD. Come check out these ladies as they continue their quest toward a State Title. 

Regional Quarterfinals- Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023

  • Harlan vs Warren @ Northside Sports Gym – 5:30 pm
  • Brennan vs O’Connor @ Northside Sports Gym – 7:30 pm

*Gym will be cleared after the 5:30 pm match

Football Playoff Match-ups

Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023

  • Harlan vs Eagle Pass @ Farris Stadium – 7:00 pm
  • Brandeis vs Steele @ Lehnhoff Stadium – 7:00 pm

Friday, Nov. 10, 2023

  • Brennan vs Laredo United South @ Gus Stadium – 7:00 pm
  • Clark vs Judson @ Farris Stadium – 7:30 pm
  • Taft vs Laredo United @ Laredo United ISD SAC– 7:00 pm

Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023

  • Jay vs Laredo Alexander @ Laredo United ISD SAC – 3:00 pm


And of course, we can’t forget about our Middle School Football Championship Games

Wednesday 11/8/23 @ Farris Stadium

  • Jefferson (H) vs Bernal (V) – 5:00 pm
  • Straus (H) vs Briscoe (V) – 7:00 pm


Student Shadowing with Darian De la Garza

I had the pleasure of introducing Sophomore CAST TEACH student and “superintendent in the making” Darian De La Garza to what I do each day. He chose to shadow me the morning of Monday, October 30. He is competing in this year’s TAFE regional competition and needed to learn about the school superintendency. A part of the competition requires students to learn and observe how a superintendent conducts day-to-day operations for the district. We began with our Senior Staff leadership team meeting and then blasted off to a meeting at Colonies North ES pertaining to school safety initiatives to be supported by the City of San Antonio. After a quick bite, we jumped on two Zoom meetings (TEA Military Student Board meeting and a Bexar County Legislative meeting simultaneously.) I think Darian was surprised when I told him to take over one of the meetings while I presented information in the other. I explained the importance of learning the job by jumping in the deep end. Good luck Darian on your project and we look forward to you returning to the NISD Team as a math teacher in the near future!

Connally Middle School 25th Anniversary 

While much has changed at Connally Middle School in the last 25 years, there are many things that haven’t. It was great to celebrate with both current and former Coyote staff, students and parents. I especially enjoyed visiting with Linda Garcia who opened the school in 1998 and served for 10 years as the Principal and Jaime Liendo, who served as principal from 2017 to December 2018 upon retiring from NISD, but has since come back to us and is currently working as an Alternative Certification Teacher Coach. Special thanks to Connally Principal Andrew Drumm, Associate Principal Erica Robles, and Academic Dean Marie Zavala and the committee of teachers and staff who planned this wonderful ceremony for the community. It is no small feat to plan an event of this magnitude while juggling their regular duties and responsibilities. Conrad Hernandez, NISD Assistant Athletic Director and Science teacher when Connally opened, did a great job speaking and we appreciate Trustee Corinne Saldana for also supporting the event.  And all of the student performers were absolutely amazing. Great job Connally Coyotes and I can’t wait to see the next 25 years of Excellence!

John Jay Science and Engineering Academy Symposium

What an awesome display of innovation and ingenuity. I learned so much Saturday morning from our students and judges alike. I truly appreciated the effort and thought our students put into their projects. I learned so much in just a short amount of time from wind powered thrusters to automated, solar powered windshield shades, it was truly remarkable. I want to thank the Science and Engineering Academy Principal, Crystal Mitchell and her amazing staff for the organization and support of the event. This was truly humbling being a former science teacher, and I can't wait to see some of these products hit the market in the future. (We will be chuckling… I remember when that was just an idea…) Great job. JSEA students! 

Food Bank Information  

With the upcoming Holiday season, it remains vital that our families do not suffer from food insecurity. Food Bank distributions will continue at Gus Stadium (8:30-10:00 AM) on Nov. 17, Dec., and Dec. 14. 

Each December the Food Bank works with the Harvey Najim Foundation to schedule food distributions prior to Christmas week.  Currently, we are seeing about 1,200 families get food at our bi-weekly distributions. A distribution is scheduled on Thursday, Dec 14 at Gus Stadium. This is during the high school exam week for the semester, thus there will not be student volunteers present.  If an NISD department can assist with this distribution it would be greatly appreciated.

Sign up as a volunteer by visiting the Volunteer Registration page on the San Antonio Food Bank's website

Legislative Update 

Governor Abbott said multiple times that he would only expand the agenda of the current special legislative session after a voucher bill has passed. The House has still not scheduled a hearing for HB 1 nor have they referred the Senate voucher bill (SB 2) to a committee. Chairman Buckley has previously signaled that he would not hear a voucher bill in his committee until the agenda was expanded to include school funding and teacher pay.  The Governor shortly thereafter expanded the agenda this week to include school funding and teacher pay.  See his statement and proclamation here.  Notably, the House has met since the agenda was expanded and still no movement on the education bills.  Chairman Buckley has stated that he senses there is not enough time left in this session (which ends on Nov. 7) to get it done.  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has proclaimed that the House should not move on Buckley’s bill (HB 1) at this point and should instead move on SB 2 which has already passed one chamber. There remains tension between the two chambers regarding ESAs/Vouchers and Public School Funding. The third special session is scheduled to adjourn on Tuesday and it is anticipated that A FOURTH special session will be forthcoming. 

Final Reminder for Election Day

Election Day is Nov. 7. Visit to see hours and locations. Additional election information can be found at VoteTexas.Gov. Fourteen constitutional amendments are on the ballot, including one that addresses a Cost of Living Adjustment for retired teachers. A resource that I find to be of great help in reviewing what’s on the ballot is the League of Women Voters Voting Guide which can be found at  

Thank you to all who have helped to cultivate a culture of voting by spreading the word on social media using #NISDVotes and #TxEdVotes!

Once again…The Spirit of Northside 

I had the pleasure of visiting Hector Garcia Middle School for Career Day Friday morning, and the Gladiators were amazingly attentive and inquisitive. Over 1,400 students had the opportunity to learn from over 60 individuals as they presented their careers. While I didn't convince any middle school students to become a Superintendent later in life, I had a blast visiting with students, staff, and community members. Thanks again to Head Counselor Julie Minnis for organizing the event and to Dr. Lopez and the entire Gladiator staff for making the event such a success. And Mr. Bailey, please reiterate to your band students my appreciation and assure them that I am in fact not the Grinch of NISD.  

Make it a great week and don’t forget about those who pack our parachutes! 

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Good Morning TEAM Northside!

It is hard to believe that we are approaching the end of the month with Halloween already upon us. I hope the much cooler start to the week finds you healthy and rested. As a reminder, flu season is expected to be rough this year and vaccines remain available across a multitude of venues. Please remember, it is important to take care of yourself and your loved ones. I hope you have a Happy Halloween and welcome to the month of Giving Thanks.  

From Around the District

15th Annual NISD Bowling Tournament/Kickoff. We had an awesome kick-off to this year’s High School Bowling League on Monday. It was great to see all of our high school students, cheerleaders, campus leadership, and parents supporting our students. It has been referenced that 75% of our student bowlers do not participate in any other campus-related activities. We greatly appreciate our campus sponsors/coaches and their efforts to keep students engaged and academically focused. We also want to thank Bandera Bowling Center and former Trustee Lynn Britton and current Trustees Saldana and Harle for supporting the kickoff and for their continued support of NISD Bowlers.  

Hobby Middle School Red Ribbon Pep Rally. The Hobby Hawks showed up in spirit on Wednesday and Principal Carranco and Ms. McGhee were ready to rock (literally Mr. Carranco used AC/DC as his walk-up song) and the students were incredibly excited and awake at 7:45 a.m. It was great to see all of the Hobby student groups perform and a special thanks is in order to the Clark High School athletes and cheerleaders, who showed up bright and early to support the event. While I was a little surprised the students beat the staff in the balloon popping contest, our teachers and coaches put forth a gallant effort. Great job Hawks.   

Thrill a Mill. Congratulations again to our Fine Arts Department whose students raised 5,629 lbs. of food for the SA Food Bank over the course of the two-day event! Thanks again to our students and staff for supporting this very important cause and your willingness to give your time to help others in need.

Thrill a Mill Superman
Thrill a Mill Dancers
Thrill a Mill Zombies

Leon Valley Elementary Bienenstock Natural Outdoor Classroom Unveiling. Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds joined us at Leon Valley Elementary School on Thursday for the dedication of the outdoor classroom. The Canadian-based company remains committed to creating healthier, more equitable communities with innovative natural playgrounds and parks. Leon Valley Elementary School applied to the National competition and won not only the outdoor learning space furniture, but also additional trees to be planted to complement the outdoor learning space. Congratulations to Principal Jessica Ruiz and the staff of Leon Valley ES.  Trustee Saldana and I were so excited to see the addition to Leon Valley and we know the new furniture will be put to good use in the very near future. 

O’Connor High School 25th Anniversary. We celebrated one of three NISD campuses’ 25th Anniversary on Thursday evening with students, staff, alumni, and Panther community members. It is hard to believe, but Sandra Day O’Connor opened its doors in the middle of the “country” (which is actually the geographic center of the district) when there were only 60 campuses and approximately 60,000 students.  A “Village Concept” was selected for the design of the school over a single, large structure. And according to documents from the time, the complex was to maintain a low building scale and retain the German architectural character of early Texas construction. It included a competition gym to relieve scheduling conflicts at Paul Taylor Field House (the only competition gym in the district at the time). The student performances were amazing and it was great to celebrate with those in attendance who cultivated the Panther spirit from the very beginning. Thanks again to Trustees Harle, Blount, and Saldana for supporting the festive event and Congratulations O’Connor, and I will argue, the best is yet to come!

Mary Hull Elementary Red Ribbon Parade. The parade is back at Mary Hull Elementary after taking a hiatus since 2019. The Red Ribbon parade had been a two decades-plus tradition and once again parents and neighbors lined the streets near the school with chairs and strollers to watch the festivities.  John Jay High School students showed up in force to support the event and the band, ROTC Color Guard, cheerleaders, orchestra, electric strings, and athletes were an amazing support. It was great to see the students and staff all dressed in red demonstrating their commitment to keeping drugs out of their school and community. It was also great meeting Mr. Roberto Zarate, the first Principal of Mary Hull Elementary, now Chairman of the Board for Alamo Colleges. Thank you to Ms. Noriega, Ms. Montoya, and the Mary Hull ES staff for your support and determination to help keep students safe and drug-free. 

Brandeis High School Water Polo.  Brandeis coach Megan Perez had the Broncos eager to win another State Championship, but this time in water polo. The Lady Broncos came up a little short against the defending 6A Champion Foster High School, but earning a bronze medal is no small feat. The ladies competed hard all season and I know we will see continued success in the future.  Congratulations, Broncos!

Brandeis Water Polo team

Legislative Update The special session is scheduled to end Nov. 7 and Governor Abbott has declared he is willing to call a fourth special session if necessary to once again try to push vouchers/ESA’s across the finish line. House Bill 1 still stands in limbo until an expanded call to the agenda to include school funding/teacher compensation is made, which does not look likely within this third special session at this point. It does not appear a compromise is within reach, unfortunately. We will continue to track any movement or changes in the coming days/weeks.   

Meanwhile, a district judge in Travis County handed down an injunction on Thursday prohibiting TEA from issuing accountability ratings for the 2022-2023 school year.

A few key takeaways from the judge’s order: 

  • The judge ruled in the plaintiffs' favor to grant an injunction until further notice/results of a trial.
  • The trial will be in February of 2024.
  • TEA can’t release any ratings until further notice or after potential trial results. 
  • The TEA Commissioner has filed an appeal to lift the injunction. 

It remains important to maintain perspective on this matter. Northside ISD and most other districts in Texas support high expectations and accountability for meeting academic standards. However, districts, campuses, teachers, parents, and students all deserve to know the rules put in place for accountability prior to a school year commencing, to allow the opportunity to meet the goals/expectations established. The Texas Education Agency should provide these rules/standards well before the academic year begins. While news of the injunction provides some insight as to what we can expect from an accountability front in the near future, we will need to remain diligent in our continuous improvement efforts as I anticipate the lull in the academic accountability system to be short. We will continue to work to improve student achievement regardless of an accountability system, as we recognize the importance of ensuring our students are provided the highest quality education possible.   

Get out the vote and the “I Voted Challenge”

Don’t forget - this Friday is the last day of early voting.  Election Day is Nov. 7.  Ben Muir, Asst. Superintendent for Human Resources, and I voted early last Monday at the Northside Activity Center and it was quick and easy!  Visit to see hours and locations. Additional election information can be found at VoteTexas.Gov.

Fourteen constitutional amendments are on the ballot, including one that addresses a Cost of Living Adjustment for retired teachers. A resource that I find to be of great help in reviewing what’s on the ballot is the League of Women Voters Voting Guide which can be found at  

Thank you to everyone who has already participated in the “I Voted” challenge by snapping a selfie or a photo of your “I Voted” sticker and sharing it on social media along with the hashtags #NISDVotes and #TxEdVotes! Staff, campuses, and departments are still encouraged to share the graphic below over the course of the voting period.

Dr. Craft and Ben Muir voting early
I voted challenge

Once again…The Spirit of Northside 

Colonies North Elementary hosted their annual Parade of Nations and did a phenomenal job. Ms. Norma Farrell and the Colonies North staff did not let the inclement weather stand in the way of celebrating their students' diverse cultures and heritages across 32 nations. As Trustee Harle put it best “Wouldn’t this be awesome if our whole Nation acted the way our students and staff did at this event.” So true. Thank you, Colonies North for remaining inclusive and providing a safe place for all students of all cultures to come and thrive each day! You are a testament to the fabric of our District. 

Have a Great Week, Team! 

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Good Morning TEAM Northside!

Red Ribbon Week. Welcome to Red Ribbon Week NISD. As we educate students about the harmful effects of drugs and substance abuse, I felt it was also important to reflect on the heritage of how the movement began. 

Beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, angered parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America. In 1988 the National Family Partnership (NFP) sponsored the first National Red Ribbon Celebration. Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.

Thank you for making this week a meaningful one for students! 

From Around the District

Mayor Nirenberg Update. I had the pleasure of receiving an update from our Mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg, on Tuesday and there are some very exciting developments forthcoming for our community. In the event you have not heard, the San Antonio International Airport (SAT) will be offering seasonal, nonstop flights to Europe beginning May 17, 2024. Condor Airlines will fly to Frankfurt Airport (FRA) in Germany, which connects to dozens of destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India. This is a pretty significant accomplishment as it will open a new sector for international travel, business, and commerce. The initial flights are already booked and sold out. This will only enhance cultural, historic, tourism, military, and business ties to San Antonio, which is very exciting. 

Also reported, JCB, Inc. will build a new facility to produce telescopic handlers and aerial work platforms in San Antonio. The project is expected to create more than $265 million in capital investment and bring more than 1,500 jobs to the San Antonio area.  

Student Voice Committee Kickoff. We had the opportunity to meet with the first half of our Seniors from all of our High School/magnet programs this past week. We will meet with our other half of amazing students today. The purpose of the Northside ISD Student Voice Committee is to provide the District Leadership Team insight, from the student perspective, on the day to day activities, procedures, and current events taking place on campus. The Student Voice Committee (SVC) will serve as an advisory role to the Superintendent, the Deputy Superintendents, the Board of Trustees, and District leadership. The primary mission of the Student Voice Committee remains to help develop life-long learners and promote the District goals by seeking and valuing student input on areas that impact academic programs, student achievement, a safe and healthy learning environment, and social, emotional, and behavioral health. We have amazing students, and it is truly gratifying to learn about our students experiences through our SVC committee meetings. 

CAST Teach Ribbon Cutting. Last Wednesday, we celebrated the official opening of the brand new CAST Teach building. As the ribbon was officially cut, CAST Teach students not only have a beautiful campus adjoining Stevens High School, but a laboratory for our future educators to be able to learn, receive hands-on experiences, and further fulfill their dreams of becoming future educators in NISD very soon! It was a great evening to celebrate with our Stevens High School and CAST Teach families, students, and staff!

Be Well, Stay Well Event at Stinson Middle School. The annual “Be Well, Stay Well” Wellness Event was held this past Saturday and we had a great turnout. Our Whole Child department delivered an array of fun and informational activities which included a rock wall, tasty food trucks, yoga, and Zumba classes as well as de-stressing classes for employees to utilize acquired skill sets in times of need. Thanks again to Dr. Kimberly Ridgley, Assistant Superintendent of the Whole Child Development, Mary Libby, Director of Counseling Services and their amazing staff for organizing this event. We also appreciate all of the support from our local businesses and health related services for supporting the event!

ESports Middle School Qualifier. We realize how important it is for our students of all ages to be involved in school activities. All of our member middle schools engaged in the qualifier competition Saturday and the Northside Activity Center was abuzz! Esports Gaming allows student teams to play popular games against other middle schoolers while developing real-world skills like teamwork, communication, and critical thinking – all taking place in a safe and supportive environment, designed specifically to make gaming a fun competition and it was great to visit with many of our students and families who had very positive reviews to share. It was especially rewarding to hear how the Esports league has helped students maintain their grades and excitement for representing their campuses. Thanks again to all of our Esports campus and District sponsors for making this such a successful program.  

Battle of the Two Undefeateds. John Jay vs. Harlan. The stands were full at Farris Stadium Saturday night as two of our undefeated football teams met in a highly contested competition. It was an electric atmosphere as both teams competed extremely well moving (very quickly) up and down the field. And while only one team can claim victory (congratulations Harlan Hawks!), it is always great to see student athletes working together, overcoming adversity, and competing at a high level…skills that will carry athletes forward in life for years to come. Congratulations to both teams and coaches as a tremendous amount of work goes into preparing for competitions each week. 

Benefits and Insurance. This is your last reminder to make sure Buddy has appropriate pet insurance! ACTIVE enrollment ends Friday, October 27th. As previously announced…The first Department or Campus to reach 100% enrollment status earns a free lunch provided by our very own HR team. Be sure to enroll for Health Insurance and Benefits!

Special Session Legislative Update

As a reminder, The Texas Senate previously passed two education bills earlier in the current Special Session: SB 1 which creates a sweeping Education Savings Account (ESA) aka voucher program that utilizes public dollars for private education, and SB 2 which puts additional dollars into public education and provides a teacher retention payment to eligible teachers (teachers in districts with less than 5k students would receive $10,000, while teachers in districts like NISD with more than 5k students would receive $3,000.) 

SB2 is not currently expected to advance as teacher pay and school funding were NOT part of the Governor’s agenda for the Special Session. The Governor has stated that he will add these two items to the agenda only if/after the legislature passes an ESA/voucher bill. If you’ve heard education advocates say that “teacher pay is being held hostage,” this is the scenario being referenced. 

On Thursday evening House Public Education Committee Chairman, Brad Buckley (R-Killeen), filed the much anticipated omnibus bill, HB 1. As filed, the 184-page bill addresses "primary and secondary education, including the certification, compensation, and health coverage of certain public school employees, the public school finance system, special education in public schools, the establishment of an education savings account program, measures to support the education of public school students that include certain educational grant programs, reading instruction, and early childhood education, the provision of virtual education, and public school accountability."  In a nutshell, the bill combines a myriad of issues by including an ESA/voucher provision as well as increased funding for teacher pay and school funding, accountability/A-F reforms, and more. The increased funding specified in this bill does not meet the minimum dollar amount needed to simply adjust for inflation since 2019.

The House Public Education Committee is not expected to meet to consider the Bill as Chairman Buckley previously articulated, "We can't do anything until (the governor) expands the call." (Note: “expanding the call” means adding more items to the agenda.) Please stay tuned for more information. 

Worth noting - a primary election for many members of the Texas legislature will take place in just a few short months. Unfortunately, turnout in primary elections has historically been EXTREMELY low in Texas, meaning a very small number of voters are essentially getting to decide who is elected. With that in mind….

Get out the Vote and the “I Voted Challenge.”

Today marks the first day of Early Voting, and as always, I encourage you to not only make sure that YOUR voice is heard at the ballot box, but to also aid in fostering a culture of voting within our community. Early voting runs through Nov. 3, and Election Day is Nov. 7. The Northside Activity Center is an early voting site. There is only one weekend of early voting - Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29. Visit to see hours and locations, and make a plan to vote today by marking it on your calendar to be sure it gets done! Additional election information can be found at VoteTexas.Gov.

Fourteen constitutional amendments are on the ballot, including one that addresses a Cost of Living Adjustment for retired teachers. A resource that I find to be of great help in reviewing what’s on the ballot (without being confusing and complicated) is the League of Women Voters Voting Guide

Everyone loves a good “I Voted” selfie on social media, so we are going to utilize that as a tool to help build excitement as we cultivate a culture of voting. Please join in the fun by snapping a selfie or a photo of your “I Voted” sticker and sharing it on social media along with the hashtags #NISDVotes and #TxEdVotes! Staff, campuses, and departments are encouraged to share the graphic below over the course of the voting period (today through Nov. 7) to help build that excitement. 

Once again…The Spirit of Northside 

So, this week is a bit different (as they all are). I caught word of a friendly competition between two campuses with a PTA membership drive. Aue and Ellison went head to head in an effort to boost PTA membership!

At the end of the competition, both schools were winners!  Ellison's PTA membership went up from 50% last year to 144% this year!  Aue's PTA membership went up from 100% last year to 156% this year!

Congratulations to Ellison Principal Julie Meneses and Aue Principal Ursula Silberschlag and of course the staff members at both campuses who make it happen each and every day! 

Have a great week NISD!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Good Morning TEAM Northside!

National School Bus Safety Week. Let me begin by celebrating our hard-working employees in our Transportation Department as we recognize National School Bus Safety Week. Each year
this week remains an excellent way for parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators, and other interested parties to join forces and address the
importance of school bus safety. Thank you again to all of our NISD Transportation employees for all you do to keep students and patrons safe each and every day.

Around the District.

NEF Golf Tournament. It was great to see all our golfers supporting the Northside Education Foundation and NISD. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning as over 100 prepared to tee off.
Many thanks to all the players and teams for coming out to support a great cause! Student golfers from Brandeis and O’Connor added an exciting new component to the tournament by giving
teams the opportunity to play off of their incredible drives. We want to especially thank our sponsors as well as our Partnerships Department for making the event so successful.

Joint Legislative Press Conference - On Thursday we had the opportunity to engage with our State and Local Delegates representing the Bexar County area to support public education. We want to especially thank Representative Martinez Fischer for inviting myself and Trustees Saldana and Freeman to demonstrate solidarity in support of our public education teachers, schools, and students. We appreciate the continued support of our hometown elected officials. Our public schools remain the backbone of our community, providing quality education to all students, regardless of their background or circumstances. They are the bedrock of our democracy and a cornerstone of equal opportunity. We will continue to remain proactive in standing up for what is right.

Breaking Barriers and Empowering Change.

I had the opportunity to engage and present with our partners from Alamo Colleges, professors, and district/high school staff on Saturday morning at the Dual Credit, College, and Career Readiness School Models (CCRSM) Conference. I have attached the keynote address for those interested, but it was a great conference for attendees to receive updates about the state of dual credit across Texas, as well as gain practical strategies for helping our own dual credit students succeed. The video embedded in the presentation is worth checking out as it stars several of our very own NISD students discussing the impact Dual Credit has had on their lives. Thank you again to Alamo Colleges for the opportunity and for their continued partnership.
(The link is located in the title of the slide, Breaking Barriers and Empowering Change Through Dual Credit)

Wanke Elementary School Solar Eclipse.

While I was out and about on Saturday I stopped by to see the Wolves preparing for the annular eclipse. I was not quite prepared to journey through the Wanke Woods to get to the event (what a cool outdoor space), but it was well worth the journey. The activity field was full of students playing, parents organizing the chaos, and Mr. Rendon (PTA President) grilling hundreds of hot dogs, all in preparation for the event. Thank you, Principal Sanchez and Associate Principal Weissler for the exciting enrichment opportunity, and for all your hard work in supporting your students and families.

Friendly Reminders.

Benefits and Insurance. ACTIVE enrollment ends Friday, October 27th. Time is running out, so be sure to take care of logging in and selecting benefits.

Mark your Calendars (October 21st) for the 4th Annual Be Well, Stay Well Event. Our Be Well, Stay Well program for the 2023-2024 year is live. Northside employees are free to sign up for sessions. Join in our campaign to be in a healthy state of mind, body, and soul.

Legislative Update.

Special Session
The Texas Senate passed two education bills last week as expected: SB 1 which creates a sweeping Education Savings Account (ESA), aka voucher program, and SB 2 which puts additional dollars into public education (but still nowhere close to what is needed to address inflation).

Senate Bill 1
SB 1 was approved in the Senate with an 18-13 vote. It creates an $8,000 ESA (voucher) for eligible students that would begin in the 2024-2025 school year. Families could access the money to pay for private school tuition or other expenses such as uniforms, textbooks, tutoring, or transportation, among others. Students would receive an ESA if they are eligible to attend public school and either:

  • were enrolled in a public school for at least 90% of the preceding school year,
  • are enrolling for the first time in Pre-K or Kindergarten,
  • attended a private school full-time for the preceding school year, or
  • was a homeschooled student the preceding school year.

The Senate adopted a handful of amendments on the floor. The Texas Association of School Business Officials reports that the amendments would:

  • allow the comptroller to advertise the program and to provide the comptroller with additional tools for enforcing rules; 
  • allow current home-schooled students access to the program;
  • collect demographic information about program applicants and participants;
  • limit providers to those operating inside Texas; and
  • provide for hold harmless funding for districts with fewer than 5,000 students who experience a loss of enrollment due to the program ($10,000 per student for the first three years after the child leaves the program).

The ESA bill faces an uncertain future in the House, where the main voucher bill is expected to be filed early this week. It is critical that public education remains united in opposing the subsidizing of public dollars to support private and home schools.

Senate Bill 2
The Senate also voted 30-1 in favor of Senate Bill 2. This legislation increases the Basic Allotment by $75 per student (note that an increase of $1,100 is needed to adjust for inflation since 2019), puts another $400 million into the school safety allotment, and provides funding for a $3,000 bonus in the current fiscal year for districts with more than 5,000 students and $10,000 for districts with fewer than 5,000 students. The funding is intended to serve as a bonus in FY 2024 and then would continue to flow as an allotment and be distributed as salary beginning in FY 2025.

In total, SB 2 puts an additional $5.2 billion into public schools, including the $4 billion that was set aside and not spent during the regular session earlier this year. Reminder that just to account
for inflation, an investment of $14 billion into the Basic Allotment is needed. It remains a bit early to know how the House will respond to this legislation, although House leaders have been working on their own bill that will not only address choice but also public school finance.

We will continue to communicate that widespread choice already exists within the public school system, that private schools are not accountable for their academic or fiscal performance, and that other states have shown that the cost of ESA programs rises quickly and mostly benefits students who are already in private schools.

Once again…The Spirit of Northside 

Seeing that it is School Bus Safety Week, I wanted to recognize a team that truly works behind the scenes (well under the hood mostly.) Our Transportation Department Mechanics do fantastic work keeping our vehicles on the road and safe. Thank you for all you do!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Good Morning TEAM Northside!

As our Deputy Superintendent for Administrative Services, Ray Galindo (AKA Northside Meteorologist) recently promised, temperatures have actually dropped to a point that our clothes are not immediately sticking to our bodies upon walking outdoors…. And it actually rained. Hallelujah. Hopefully, you have had the opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy some weekend activities. I won’t venture into the Texas/OU College Football rivalry from the weekend other than it was a fun game to watch!

NISD celebrates Principals Month! We do want to wish our Campus Principals a Happy National Principals Month! Serving as a Principal is one of the greatest jobs in the world… It can also be one of the most challenging. I cannot articulate how proud and Thankful I am to serve alongside some of the hardest working professionals in NISD who continuously support our students, staff, and communities. Please join me in showing our appreciation for all of our Principals throughout Northside ISD.  

National School Lunch Week! The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves nearly 30 million children every school day. President John F. Kennedy created National School Lunch Week (NSLW) in 1962 to promote the importance of a healthy school lunch and the impact it can have on students' ability to learn each day. Thank you to Mr. Wherry and our entire School Nutrition Team for continuously providing the nourishment our students so desperately need. Here’s tipping my hat to you all! Well done.

Texas Human Resources Day. October 13, 2021, has been designated as Texas Education Human Resources Day, a day set aside to recognize and honor the important contributions made by HR staff throughout the State. Our HR staff have worked hard to make sure our schools are staffed with high quality employees and that those employees have a good work environment. Thank you to Ben Muir and our HR Department for their continued support and hard work. 

Around the District…It was a very eventful first week of October throughout Northside ISD. 

Ag in Action. I had the amazing opportunity to visit our Ag Science & Technology Academy (ASTA) at O'Connor High School as they hosted the annual “Ag in Action” for more than 1,400 elementary school students. Many of our High school FFA students served as teachers throughout the week teaching students about horses, drones, dairy farming, shearing lambs, and many more agriculture skills tying curriculum with real-world applications. It was a great experience for both our high school and elementary students and educators alike. A special thanks to Chad Bohlken, Principal

A Cut Above at CCA. Construction Careers Academy plumbing teacher John Alvarez was congratulated on Tuesday as a national winner in the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence awards. He received $50,000 -- $35,000 for his school and $15,000 for himself.

Alvarez was one of 25 skilled trades teachers chosen nationwide for this award. It was a great celebration complimented by the Warren High School Band and Cheerleaders and many CCA students and staff. Congratulations Mr. Alvarez and Thank you to Harbor Freight for their continued support.  

Another Celebration at John Jay HS. We also had the opportunity to surprise Ms. Brandee Flores for her selection as the KSAT Educator of the Month. Ms. Flores is the current College Career and Military Advisor for the campus. It was great to visit with six of her former students, all in school at various higher education institutions in the Region. In visiting with these recent Jay graduates, they all agreed that without Ms. Flores guidance and support, they would not be in the position of pursuing post-secondary education endeavors. That was a great reminder of the impact a teacher has on young people's lives as well as the true “why.” Thanks again to KSAT and Firstmark Credit Union for their support. Congratulations Ms. Flores, you are an inspiration to us all!

NISD School Safety Forum.  We had the opportunity to engage with our community to discuss the importance of being educated and aware of significant health risks and safety issues surrounding vape and fentanyl. We appreciate the families and community members who took time out of their busy schedules to join us and we especially appreciate our presenters DEA Agent, Armando Telementez, U.S. Assistant District Attorney, Erin Van De Walle, and our very own NISD Police Department. Also, Special Thanks to Mary Libby, our Director of Counseling for organizing the event. We must continually collaborate and engage with our entire community to educate and mitigate the viciousness and havoc drugs can wreak on our students.   

Alamo Area Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development. I enjoyed being a guest panelist with our AAASCD Chapter here in Bexar County. We had the opportunity to discuss many important public education issues including funding, calendars, staffing, accountability, and innovation to name a few topics. It was great to hear the perspectives of other Alamo Region Instructional Leaders, and I feel it is important we all continuously commit to lifelong learning.
One of our hopes for this panel is that you will be able to provide a perspective on how you and your district are navigating through a variety of pressing topics. 

Bands on the Run. Coming to Farris Stadium on Wednesday, Oct 11 will be our very own NISD Marching Bands beginning at 6:30 PM. All 12 High School Marching Bands will perform in one location back to back, and are sure to provide amazing show designs, incredible visuals, beautiful music, and some very "high velocity" marching. Please come out to see some of our very talented performers and witness the hard work our bands have put in over the past several months. Good Luck to all Marching Bands.

Friendly Reminders

Benefits and Insurance. ACTIVE enrollment ends Friday, October 27th. Take advantage of the opportunity to make online selections for plan year 2024. You can enroll via Bswift.  Anyone needing assistance with insurance selections and/or enrollment are encouraged to attend one of the many Enrollment Fairs.  Representatives from the insurance companies will be available to answer questions and provide information about plans and services. The 2024 Benefits Guide contains important information and pricing for the upcoming calendar year.  

Mark your Calendars (October 21st) for the 4th Annual Be Well, Stay Well Event Our Be Well, Stay Well program for the 2023-2024 year is live. Northside employees are free to sign up for sessions. Join in our campaign to be in a healthy state of mind, body and soul. Click the Link for the Program

Legislative Update

Special Session 
Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation announcing the third special legislative session to begin at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, October 9, 2023.

The agenda items for the third Special Session are as follows:

  • Education savings accounts
  • Criminal offense for illegal entry into the state from a foreign nation
  • Increasing penalties for smuggling of persons or operation of a stash house
  • Provide more funding for construction of border barrier
  • Legislation concerning Colony Ridge development in Liberty County
  • Prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private employers

View the Governor's proclamation.

We will remain very engaged as the debate involving public education funding, teacher compensation, and school choice/privatization begins this week. I anticipate the process to be arduous and without easy resolution nor compromise to these very complex issues. We will provide necessary updates and are committed to advocating for Public Education in Northside as well as across the State of Texas.  

Voting  The League of Women Voters has released their November election Voting Guide. This document is a non-partisan, very informative resource for learning about the constitutional amendments that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot. Visit to view or download the guide. Today is the last day to register to vote in this election! Please help remind friends, family, eligible students, colleagues, and community members to register to vote today. Early voting runs from Oct. 23 - Nov. 3. 

Now for the Best Part…The Spirit of Northside 

These individuals rarely get the recognition they deserve working behind the scenes, insanely early hours, and many times very warm workspaces to ensure our students are fed and able to learn each and every day. In many cases, they are providing the only source of food security some of our students know. Our amazing and loving School Nutrition Staff throughout our campuses and District could not be more deserving as I think you will agree. Please join me in appreciating these fine men and women. Thomas Wherry, the NISD Spirit Stick is headed your way!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Good Morning TEAM Northside!

I hope this message finds you well as we welcome the month of October! Temperatures actually dropped below triple digits and hopefully, the cooler weather has provided a little shot of energy to each of you.  

Around the District

National Custodial Appreciation Day. Today October 2, we are celebrating National Custodian Appreciation Day. We are so appreciative of our hard-working custodians across the district. In many cases, they are working while the rest of us are sleeping. Today, we recognize the hard work that it takes to keep our facilities clean and inviting, so please help me in recognizing our men and women who diligently make sure we have schools and workplaces that are places where learning can thrive and students and staff can be successful.  

Board Meeting Highlights on Tuesday, September 26. Speaking of appreciation…We had a very productive meeting with the Board of Trustees on Tuesday and I wanted to highlight a few points of acknowledgment and appreciation. 

We had the opportunity to recognize our KENS 5 Excel Awards Recipients Ms. Dominique Roose, social studies teacher at Folks Middle School, and John Jay Quarterback / soon-to-be Naval Academy Cadet, Jackson Gutierrez. Jackson missed part of his workout to be with the Board, but it appears to have worked out seeing that the John Jay Mustangs remain undefeated at 6-0 for the season. Go Mustangs and again Congratulations to both Jackson and Dominique.

Board President Bobby Blount was also recognized by the Delta Sigma Theta San Antonio Alumnae Chapter for his tremendous work and service throughout the community. Great work Mr. Blount and well-deserved! 
Declaration of Respect. Since 2012, students, faculty, and staff have taken time to participate in the signing of the NISD Declaration of Respect. This district-wide initiative encourages everyone to pledge to be respectful of each other, treat others with kindness, and report bullying and cyberbullying. On Oct. 6, 2023, we will hold the 12th annual District-Wide Signing Day for students and staff. Our Counseling Department, led by Mary Libby, has done an excellent job of providing lessons and campus-wide activities that teach students how to demonstrate respect for themselves, others, and their schools. We also stress the importance of talking to a trusted adult about bullying and cyberbullying, or if they are worried about their own or someone else’s safety. This way, we all help in promoting a safe, respectful, and healthy school climate. The NISD Board of Trustees and I signed the Declaration at last week’s board meeting in an effort to demonstrate unity and support for this important initiative.   

Naming of M’Lissa M. Chumbley Elementary. M’Lissa Chumbley remains one of the longest serving Board members having been initially elected in 1995 and stepping down from board service earlier this year. In recognition of her incredible 28 years of service to the district, we are excited to share the naming of our next elementary school after her. M’Lissa M. Chumbley Elementary School is currently under construction in the Village of Westpointe West area and is set to open in the Fall of 2024. Please join me in congratulating Ms. Chumbley on this very significant acknowledgment. 

TASA/TASB Conference. Several Board Members, district administrators, and I attended the annual TASA/TASB conference this past week as a part of continued professional development. During the Texas School Alliance (TSA) luncheon at the Convention, recently “retired” (though he will tell you he’s just been re-purposed) NISD Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods received  the 2023 TSPRA Key Communicator State Award for his commitment to public education and advocacy work on behalf of public educators as well as recognized for his service as the 2022-23 TSA President. Kelly Rasti, our Executive Director for Community Outreach and District Advocacy, was also recognized for her tremendous work with legislators this past legislative session. As you well know, the legislative session of 2023 was a particularly challenging one for public education. As TSA President, Dr. Woods and Ms. Rasti helped to build consensus among 45 of the largest school districts in the state in order to develop and advance legislative priorities to support our students, teachers, and public education. We are blessed to have fighters like Dr. Woods and Ms. Rasti in our corner, and it was an honor to join in celebrating their work. 

TASB Delegate Assembly. We would also like to congratulate Trustee Karen Freeman for her tremendous work as a member of the TASB Board of Directors and Dr. Carol Harle for her service as our TASB Delegate. Thank you again for your continued service and volunteerism in your efforts to support public education across the state. 

It was a pleasure reconnecting with nationally acclaimed author and motivational speaker (and friend from my days at the University of North Texas) Damon West. If you have never heard Damon’s amazing story of how hope and learning to be a “Coffee Bean” while locked up in a maximum-security penitentiary forever changed his life, it is truly a remarkable story. Having gone to school with Damon and living with him in the late 90’s, it was great to reconnect after almost three decades. As Damon and I laughed, we could not have taken more different journeys in life, and to see us now is truly ironic. More information regarding his amazing story can be found on Amazon or other retailers “The Change Agent. How a Former College QB Sentenced to Life in Prison Transformed His World.”

TASA/TASB Architecture Award. We were also thrilled with the announcement that the District has received an architectural facility award. The Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) announced 46 projects that were included in the 2023-2024 Exhibit of School Architecture. This exhibit of new and renovated Texas school facilities includes projects from 38 school districts and three colleges that were submitted by 15 architectural firms. Our Sotomayor High School project, which was designed by Alamo Architects, has been selected for the “Wellness Award”. Congratulations to Leroy San Miguel and the entire Facilities Team!

Benefits and Insurance Reminder. Just another reminder that our annual enrollment for insurance benefits begins today, October 2, and ends Friday, October 27. Please take advantage of the opportunity to make online selections for plan year 2024. You can enroll via Bswift. Anyone needing assistance with insurance selections and/or enrollment are encouraged to attend one of the many Enrollment Fairs. Representatives from the insurance companies will be available to answer questions and provide information about plans and services. The 2024 Benefits Guide contains important information and pricing for the upcoming calendar year.  

Once again, this year will be an active enrollment so everyone MUST enroll/re-enroll in all insurance products. If you do not make any elections during Open Enrollment, you will not have insurance for the calendar year 2024. 

One Pass Gym Membership. I would also like to draw your attention to a very special benefit included with the United Health Plan options called One Pass Select. It is a voluntary program featuring a subscription-based nationwide gym network, digital fitness, and grocery delivery service. It provides discounted gym and fitness studio memberships, and digital fitness or grocery delivery services to our employees and families. For more information, please check out the link provided below. or visit

Legislative Update. As expected, Governor Abbott has announced his intention to call a special legislative session on October 9 at 1 p.m. The Governor has made it abundantly clear that he intends to add “school choice” a.k.a. vouchers/private school subsidies to the agenda; in fact, it may be the only item on the agenda. I will have more to say about this matter when we see the actual language of the Governor’s proclamation. Stay tuned. 

This again is a reminder to register to vote by Oct. 10. Early voting runs from Oct. 23 - Nov. 3. It is vital to participate in the democratic process and fulfill our civic responsibility. Please let your voice be heard, and be sure to review the constitutional amendments on the ballot before you arrive at the polls. There are multiple resources online for you to access information about the ballot measures. I often find the League of Women Voters to be a helpful non-partisan election resource. You can also visit for election information.  

The Spirit of Northside 

Finally, I felt it very important to recognize the hard work our very own NISD Police Department puts in on a daily basis to keep us safe and secure. The Board had the opportunity to recognize this work at the meeting last week, but I don’t know that words can ever truly articulate our sincere gratitude for our men and women supporting the shield and just how much they mean to all of us. Thank you again, Chief Carnes and all NISD Police officers for all you do!

Have a great week Team Northside!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

TASA/TASB Conference

Good Morning TEAM Northside!

We are now officially in the “Fall” season as of Saturday and temperatures are expected to drop…Wait for it…. sub-100 degrees this week! While I know it might be tempting to break out the winter coats…you might consider keeping the short sleeves close…just in case. 

In all seriousness, it is hard to believe we are preparing to wrap up the first official month of the school year. As my mother always used to tell me as a child (and adult) “Time flies when you’re having fun.” I now respond with “It also flies when you’re busier than a chicken in a foxhole.” 

I hope you have settled in and are enjoying the year. And cooler temperatures are in the forecast… (as is Thanksgiving Break).  

Around the District

 Brandeis High School NHS Induction. I really enjoyed the opportunity to witness 222 Broncos inducted into the National Honor Society. The student officers did a great job as did the Brandeis Administration. Great job Dr. Berger and Ms. McCraken.  I appreciate celebrating students' academic success as much as winning State Championships. Thanks again for making the event a special one for very deserving students.  

Sandra Day O'Connor Named Texas Honor Jazz Band. Speaking of significant accomplishments. Now, in year two of the new state recognition by the Texas Music Educators Association, Sandra Day O’Connor High School Jazz Band was selected as this year's Texas Honor Jazz Band.  I have since learned that jazz bands from across the State audition for this prestigious honor and in the inaugural year (‘22-’23) William Howard Taft High School was selected as the finest jazz band in Texas. What a tremendous accomplishment by both O’Connor and Taft High School Jazz Bands and to all the NISD instructors and directors who share in this success. Two schools within the same district since the recognition inception is impressive! Good luck to Panthers Jazz Band who will be performing at the upcoming TMEA conference.    

Hatchett Elementary Teacher Wins Big. Congratulations to Hatchett ES Art teacher, Marianna Sanchez, for winning a $4,000.00 prize for the Hatchett ES Art program. Americans for the Arts are the sponsors of this amazing  prize.  Check out the video.   Way to make this happen for our NISD students Marianna!

The Northside Education Foundation (NEF) Campaign Kicks Off! As a reminder the  Northside Education Foundation (NEF) Giving Campaign is underway and anyone can donate. The district-wide goal is to raise $140,000 to help NEF award more grants to NISD educators. Employee donations can be made through payroll deduction. Anyone can make a one-time or recurring donation here or text NEFFAN to 41444. NEF is offering monetary grants to campuses and departments with successful campaigns, as well as weekly gift cards to donors. Campuses and departments can also make their own Dream Team of employee and community supporters. Please join me in supporting NEF and continuing to do great things for educators and students. NEF continues to exemplify what Team Northside is all about!

NISD celebrates America’s Heroes Week. Each year, Northside ISD honors members of the military (active duty and veterans) and first responders during America’s Heroes Week, Sept. 28 through Sept.30. Those with military ID or in uniform, including first responders, will receive free admission to all varsity football and volleyball games. Before the varsity football games at Farris and Gustafson stadiums, members of the military and first responders will be asked to go to the north end zone to be recognized during the performing of the patriotic song. During the halftime show, the marching bands from both schools will present a musical tribute to all branches of the military. 

Once again, we Thank all our NISD and Community active duty service members, veterans, and first-responders for their dedication and service. Please help spread the word so we can appropriately recognize these fine men and women. 

Benefits and Pet Insurance Reminder. The NISD annual enrollment for insurance benefits begins Monday, October 2 and ends Friday October 27th. Take advantage of the opportunity to make online selections for plan year 2024. You can enroll via Bswift.  Anyone needing assistance with insurance selections and/or enrollment are encouraged to attend one of the many Enrollment Fairs.  Representatives from the insurance companies will be available to answer questions and provide information about plans and services. The 2024 Benefits Guide contains important information and pricing for the upcoming calendar year.  

As a reminder…this year will be an active enrollment so everyone MUST enroll/re-enroll in all insurance products.  If you do not make any elections during Open Enrollment, you will not have insurance for the calendar year 2024. 

Thank you again for Choosing Team Northside.  In case you haven’t heard, the check is in the mail (so to speak). We know you have a choice and we Thank You for choosing Northside ISD. As you may recall, the Board voted to recognize your hard work through an additional check that will be processed through each employee's financial institution on Sept. 29, 2023. Please be on the lookout as eligible employees will receive a direct deposit separate from their normal biweekly or monthly paycheck. Again, thank you for your hard work and for “sticking with us” Team Northside!

Legislative Update

A lot has transpired in Austin over the past 2 weeks. 

On September 12th, TEA announced the delay of the release of A-F accountability ratings. It is unknown when or if these “recalculated” ratings might be released. Stay tuned.   

On Saturday, September 15th, the Senate voted to acquit Attorney General Paxton on all 16 articles of impeachment after the House voted overwhelmingly to impeach prior to sending the charges to the Senate Body. The Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who served as the presiding judge of the trial, later criticized the House for the “handling” of the impeachment, offering it was rushed and he called for an audit of the House spending associated with the proceedings.

On Tuesday, September 20th, Governor Abbott joined an online event hosted by a conservative think tank, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). It was a precursor to an event that TPPF will be hosting on Sunday, October 15th being referred to as "School Choice Sunday." The following comments signify Governor Abbott’s intent to fund private school initiatives through a statewide Voucher, Education Savings Account, or other vehicle. 

  • Some schools in Texas today are trying to indoctrinate our children with a woke agenda, teaching them values that are morally at odds with Texans.
  • Polling data shows the majority of Texans want school choice, and we are obligated to provide that to them. We should have great success on this issue, but it is going to take hard work and a special session that will begin “next month”.
  • I feel the votes lining up, now we have to solidify them and get those votes across the finish line. The other alternative is to sort this out in the next primary by giving voters a pro-school choice candidate to run against those who stand in the way.
  • Ask pastors on the call to speak to their congregations on this issue and advocate for school choice at their service on Sunday, October 15.

I believe that parental choice regarding their child's education should be provided. I believe Northside ISD does just this through magnet programs, transfer programs, and the plethora of opportunities we provide students. Thus, I will remain opposed to the notion of funding private institutions at the detriment of public education. 

We have many issues that desperately need to be addressed such as the teacher vacancy crisis, staff salaries/compensation to help combat rising inflationary costs, addressing the educational needs of our evolving student population, and shifting demographics just to name a few. 

This is not the time to launch a private school initiative, regardless of the proposed scale. Public Education in the State of Texas needs our Legislators attention. We will remain vigilant in our efforts and in advocating for Public Education and the students who absolutely benefit as a result. The following statement was released to the media last week.

“It remains unfortunate that at a time when public education in the State of Texas desperately needs appropriate funding to support classroom teachers, maintain safe and secure campuses, address inflationary costs, and be able to recruit new professionals to the field, that the Governor would rather place a concerted effort on subsidizing private schools through "school choice" vouchers and/or education savings accounts. The legislative focus should be on the 350,000 educators and 5.4 million school children this great State is constitutionally obligated to provide quality public education services to, rather than the implementation of a private school coupon program, which will inevitably benefit very few students.” -John Craft

As a reminder to register to vote by Oct. 10 if you have yet to do so. Early voting runs from Oct. 23 - Nov. 3. It is vital to participate in the process and fulfill a civic responsibility. Please let your voice be heard.

Now for the Best Part…The Spirit of Northside 

This week is a bit different in that one of Northside’s P.E. Coaches made this nomination as a result of noting some really outstanding leadership being demonstrated on a daily basis. Coach Garcia noted the hard work and servant’s heart attitude of Principal Wendy Tiemann, Associate Principal Hannah Jackson, and the Tomlinson Elementary staff in going the extra mile to take care of all the young Trailblazers. 

Congratulations Joey Tomlinson Elementary Trailblazers. Keep Blazing the trail for your students!


John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Good Morning TEAM Northside!

If you are like me, the beginning of new weeks is rolling around very quickly now. I wish you a Happy Monday as we Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Being relatively new to San Antonio, I have come to really appreciate the history, diverse cultures, and heritage which has largely contributed to making our community such a wonderful place to call home. I encourage us all as a district to not only embrace and celebrate our diverse learning community but to also take a moment to learn something new about the American Latino culture. 

Welcome back to the fourth edition of Catching Up with Craft and I hope this message finds you well.     

Around the District 

KENS 5 Excel Awards Recipient. It was great to attend a middle school Pep Rally with the Folks Middle School Stallions! While I was not tasked with leading the spirit stick competition, we were able to recognize a very talented teacher. Mr. McKenzie, KENS 5 News Reporter Barry Davis, and I had the opportunity to surprise Dominique Roose, a phenomenal eighth grade Social Studies teacher in front of her students and colleagues. Congratulations Ms. Roose, the 2023-24 EXCEL Award winner for NISD!

Thank you to our Information Technology Team Members. September 19th is IT Professionals Day and we have about 250 IT Professionals that work throughout NISD each and every day to make sure students and staff can use the network and technology to collaborate, learn, and be successful. These fabulous team members tend to work behind the scenes and don't always get time in the spotlight. Thank you to our fabulous IT team and Happy National IT Professionals Day! You are greatly appreciated. 

NISD Board Retreat. The NISD Team of 8 had the opportunity to meet as a Team of 8 on Tuesday night to discuss not only how meetings and district business will be conducted, but also important initiatives to include the naming of the next Elementary Campus to be opened in the Village of Westpointe West (Fall of 2024), the scope of an Internal Audit Program, our Anti-Vaping initiatives, a District-wide culture/climate survey to be launched this fall, and the initiation of a Leadership Northside program to garner community support. More information will be forthcoming, so please stay tuned. We remain fortunate to have a supportive Board that remains committed to continuous improvement and student success. 

Colonies North Cougars.  It was fantastic visiting with the Cougar staff and Principal Norma Farrell on Wednesday to discuss a very exciting opportunity for facility improvements. The Colonies North facility improvements, originally included in the 2022 Bond Proposal which our community graciously approved, included the first phase of facility improvements. Unfortunately, the original portion of the building’s foundation has significantly shifted requiring expedited attention. As a result, we met the staff and Citizen Bond Advisory Committee at Colonies North Elementary to present a revised plan to include addressing the classroom wing that has settled significantly. This will continue to be assessed and revisited with the Board of Trustees, but sometimes life gives you lemons, and you just have to work to make lemonade. Again, special thanks to the Colonies North Staff and District CBAC committee for their work on this revised scope of work, and we will continue to work to improve facilities while remaining transparent and vigilant in completing all bond projects going forward.  

CPS Roundtable. I had the opportunity to engage with City Public Service (CPS Energy) executives, the main power supply company servicing San Antonio, to discuss critical infrastructure needs existing today as well as in the future. While growth can be positive, it can also accompany challenges as discussed at Convocation. We will continue to remain engaged with our critical infrastructure providers and work to be the best partner we can be for our community’s benefit.   

KENS 5 All-Star Athlete Jay SEA Quarterback Jackson Gutierrez.  Congratulations to future Naval Academy cadet and John Jay Science and Engineering Academy High School student Jackson Gutierrez for winning the KENS5 All-Star Athlete Award for San Antonio. I know Coach Gutierrez, Ms. Cuellar-Hernandez, Ms. Mitchell, and the whole Mustang family are very excited for Jackson. The special story will air on KENS5/Great Day SA/ will be Friday, Sept. 22.

The Spirit of Northside 

The competition is getting fierce for the NISD Spirit Stick. As a result of taking time out of their very busy schedules and recognizing the need to pause and celebrate our first responders, and service men and women through a campus-wide Patriot’s Day assembly, as well as remaining committed to going the extra mile for students across all demographics 


Congratulations to the Marshall High School Rams and Law and Medical School   

Congratulations Principals Richard Halle, Margaret Bray, and the Rams Team!  

Have a great week Team Northside, and remember to appreciate one another daily!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Good Morning TEAM Northside!

I hope you have all had a restful weekend as we settle into what is hopefully more of a normal routine across the district. It has been a great start and again, appreciate all your efforts this year. On a very positive note, we have sub-100 degree temperatures predicted towards the end of the week. (Perhaps Ray Galindo is going to fulfill his promise that “we will see cooler temperatures sometime in the future.”) In all sincerity, hang in there, this too will pass. 

As we begin this week of remembrance and we reflect upon the significance 9/11 had on each of us as individuals and as a Nation, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for our Veterans, First-Responders, Servicemen and women, Gold Star families, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending the freedoms and liberties we enjoy as a result. September 11, 2001 will forever remain etched into the fabric of our country and we must never forget the fallen, the price of living free of tyranny, and the luxury of living in the greatest Nation in the world. Thank you again.  

Around the District 

Higher Education Partners. It was great to meet the new President of Texas A&M University San Antonio Dr. Salvador Ochoa, who is serving the fastest-growing University in the A&M system currently. The University made a significant announcement which should provide our students a really incredible opportunity in the near future. The new promise expands upon the Achiever Promise program, which covered the top 10% of high school seniors. The new Jaguar Promise casts a wider net to serve even more students across the entire state of Texas. Eligibility requirements have been expanded to include:

● Students graduating within the top 10% of their high school class

● The top 11% to 35% of seniors graduating from a Texas high school with a family adjusted gross income of $70,000 or less

● Students graduating from an Early College High School with at least 30 credit hours.

● Transfer students with an associate degree or 60 credit hours who have a family adjusted gross income of $70,000 or less

Congratulations Dr. Ochoa and TAMU/SA! We look forward to future Northside ISD students benefiting from this amazing opportunity. 

For more information visit

It was equally great to meet our new President of Northwest Vista College, Dr. Amy Bosley, and the staff members of the Alamo Colleges District. We had a great conversation regarding our dual credit programming and ways to potentially grow our partnership, programming, and 

expand opportunities for our students in the future. 

We remain fortunate to have such great partnerships with our Institutions of Higher Education and I anticipate much more to be forthcoming on this front. 

North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Sean Maika, Superintendent from North East ISD, and I had the opportunity to visit with the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to discuss the importance of understanding the academic accountability system - particularly the A-F ratings that are expected to be released by the end of the month, the school finance system and consequences of not keeping up with inflationary pressures nor adequately funding schools, as well as school choice legislation that promotes either vouchers or education savings accounts. The presentation can be found at the link below. It is important to continue to promote public education throughout the community and Great State of Texas and our stakeholders need to understand these important matters which significantly affect our students and staff. 

North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Presentation 

Northside Leadership Academy. It was great to kick off the Northside Leadership Academy as we continue our efforts to build capacity and develop leadership throughout the district. The district will continue to be intentional in growing and developing our employees, and I encourage you to be on the lookout in early February if you are interested in becoming a campus administrator in the future. Congratulations again to the NLA 2023 Cohort and always remember to lead with Humility, Collaboratively, and Courageously.   

CAST Teach Pinning Ceremony. And speaking of developing future leaders, Ericka Olivarez, Principal of CAST Teach, and Jeanne Russell, Executive Director of CAST Schools, and I had the opportunity to welcome our newest freshmen and sophomores (our future educators), to the Pinning Ceremony the evening of September 6th. It was reassuring to see the students' excitement and to be able to celebrate their future journey with their friends and family members. Special thanks to the Stevens High School ROTC and Choir students, as well as Principal Ryan Purtell for their support of the program. We can’t wait to welcome our students back to the Northside ISD team as an employee in just a few short years!  

KSAT Conversation on the Important Topic of Vaping. As we continue to focus on safety and security, our recent efforts have included the importance of changes made as a result of HB 114 from this past Legislative Session. The bill has mandated the consequences associated with students vaping on school premises/attending school events. Any vape infraction now accompanies mandatory Disciplinary Alternative Education Placement (DAEP). Unfortunately, the implementation of this carries significant implications across the district for some students and families. While understanding the significance of educating students about the serious health consequences associated with vape usage, we have developed a Second Chance Program for first-time offenders in hopes of mitigating the prevalence of vape through an education platform, while also complying with the required alternative education placement at the home campus of the offender. We have worked proactively to educate parents and students regarding the new legislation, as well as the health implications associated. As discussed with our PTA Council on Thursday evening, curtailing this challenge will require the entire community working together. Please see the attached information we have provided families through school messenger, and we will continually work to curb this issue which is adversely affecting our youth. 

Vaping School Messenger Link

PTA Delegate Meeting/Kick-Off. It was great to see a packed Northside Activity Center for the first meeting with our PTA Council on Thursday evening. Northside PTA’s already have over 11,000 active members and are growing. Shane Allard, our District Safety Officer, was able to provide a brief school safety update and did a great job, and I was able to provide a brief district update as well as encourage members to closely track a potential upcoming Special Legislative Session, where I anticipate Vouchers/ESA’s and school funding to be dueling topics as compromises will be debated. We greatly appreciate our Council of PTAs support and advocacy efforts and I would encourage you all to consider joining PTA if you have not already done so. 

Go Woodchucks. And finally I was able to visit the Woodchucks of Valley Hi Elementary. I learned about the rich history of Valley Hi and how the Woodchuck came to be. (It wasn’t simply by a woodchuck chucking wood.) Principal Andy Morris and staff were smiling while working so hard with students on a very warm Friday afternoon. I greatly appreciate the time and opportunity to visit, and keep up the awesome chucking Woodchucks!

National Arts in Education Week! We will be celebrating Arts in Education across the Nation the 11th-17th. Once again thank you to all of our Fine Arts Educators for the transformative impact you have across the district with our students.  

Legislative Update

As you likely know, we have an election coming up on Nov. 7. Fourteen constitutional amendments are on the ballot, and the last day to register to vote in this election is October 10th. If you are unsure of your registration status, please visit  

In a continued effort to cultivate informed communities and promote a culture of voting, all campuses will be receiving voter registration applications (many of you received them already at the recent Principal’s meeting) that will be made available to staff and eligible students. Students may register if they meet general eligibility requirements, are at least 17 years and 10 months old on the date their application is submitted, and will be 18 years of age on Election Day. 

As with all elections, it's important to exercise your right to vote. I encourage you to make a plan to vote and to remind your family members and close associates to do the same. Help spread the word by sharing the attached flyer and utilizing the hashtags #NISDVotes and #TxEdVotes. 

The Spirit of Northside 

It’s already that time again to pass it forward. 

With an extremely short runway to get a campus off the ground and kids in the building without any major hitches is no small feat. This campus staff and district support personnel did not have a runway, it was more like a very short aircraft carrier flight deck. Nevertheless the team made it happen and haven’t looked back. 


Congratulations to the fabulous Roadrunners of Reed Elementary School. 

Congratulations Principal Chaisleigh Southworth and the Roadrunners! The NISD Spirit Stick is flying your way. 

As Always, Have a great week Team Northside! Make each day better than previous!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Good Morning TEAM Northside!

Successful Launch

We had a very successful launch to the school year on Monday, August 28th and I can’t thank you enough as I know this was a tremendous team effort to prepare for this school year. I really enjoyed visiting our newest Elementary Campus, Katie Reed ES, and seeing our students and staff in action for the first time. Again, special Thanks to Chaisleigh Southworth and the Roadrunners for their amazing work in preparing for the grand opening as I know what a compressed timeline you were working with.

I also had the opportunity to visit the fabulous Mavericks at Straus Middle School. With the exception of some warmer-than-usual classrooms due to some HVAC challenges (which were addressed promptly), it was a very smooth start and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting many of our middle school students. Thank you again Dana Gilbert-Perry for your time and hospitality. I really enjoyed being able to visit classrooms full of excited middle school students. And I don’t want to start any rivalries, but the Maverick 8th grade football team is already planning to go undefeated again this year.

Harlan High School also had a great start opening their doors to 2,400 Hawks. Mr. Yzaguirre and the Harlan staff had students in classrooms and were off to the races as of 10:00 AM. I learned quite a bit from Head Counselor Michelle Rodriguez regarding the scheduling process, which I know can be stressful, to say the least. Once again, great planning and preparation by our Counseling and Administrative staff at Harlan. It was great to visit and a special Thank you goes to Jose Ponce, the Harlan plant manager, who was tending to a few matters the first day. Thank you for your passion and pride in taking care of the Hawks, Jose!  

Again, Thank you for such a great start to the school year, Team Northside!

News from Around the District

I would like to take a moment to again acknowledge our entire Human Resources Department and our Campus Principals/Administrators and Directors for their tireless efforts in the hiring process this past spring and summer. Also, just as a reminder, we are still hiring! Current employees are eligible for a recruitment stipend in the amount of $300 dollars per new hire.  I have included some vacancy numbers and hiring statistics, which are trending in the right direction and have been for the past several months. We want to reward you for helping us fill vacancies and assist in bringing new team members to the finest squad in the State!

This year we have hired 882 new teachers to NISD.

Classroom Teachers - 184 Total Vacancies:
106 General Ed vacancies
78 Special Ed vacancies (50 Elementary and 28 Secondary)

We currently have 87 Alt Cert hires who are eligible for the certification reimbursement program and we have talked 53 Retire/Rehires into considering coming back for the 23-24 school year.

We are also hiring Instructional Assistants and currently have 121 vacancies.

While our Food Service team has the lowest vacancy number in 5 years, we are still hiring with 43 open positions. (18 Food Service Workers and 25 Mgmt. Positions)

As a result of the recent Board approval of an additional 20 Police Officers, our Police Department is hiring and has 31 vacant positions at this point.

And of course, we are always looking for phenomenal support in the Maintenance, Custodial, and Transportation Departments.

  • Custodial - 167 Total Vacancies:
    • 140 Custodians
    • 2 Head Custodians
    • 25 Assistant Head Custodians
  • Transportation - 122 Total Vacancies:
    • 56 CDL Bus Drivers
    • 0 Non-CDL Drivers
    • 66 Bus Assistants
  • Maintenance - 107 Vacancies

While the goal of being 100% staffed is a lofty one with over 14,000 employees, I encourage you as you engage in conversations in your neighborhoods, churches, and around your community, and remind individuals that we are hiring and we will reward your efforts!

Friday Night Lights (and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday)

We have not only had a successful kickoff to our Football Seasons, all fall sports seasons are well underway. We wish all of our student-athletes, marching bands, drill teams, cheerleaders, and student support groups the very best this season. I encourage you to come support amazing students and teams this season and more information can be found on the Athletic Calendar.

Legislative Update

As we begin the month of September, it is expected that the Senate will commence the Impeachment Hearing of Attorney General Paxton. The trial is scheduled to begin on September 5th. It is not expected that a special session will be called by Governor Abbott to address important education issues such as funding, the academic accountability system, and Education Savings Accounts/vouchers until after the proceedings have concluded. Please stay tuned in and informed as more momentum is gained in the coming weeks around Public Education.

Relationships and Opportunities

As we begin to settle into the school year, I would like again to encourage our campuses and departments to reach out to garner community and parental support through various channels of engagement such as Booster Clubs, PTAs, and Improvement Councils. Having the continued support of our parents and community members is critical to our Mission and student’s success.

The Spirit of Northside

It's once again time to pass it forward.

As a result of their amazing efforts and teamwork, this short-staffed department exhibited in preparing for the school year (particularly our HVAC technicians and crew members), operating under extreme temperatures and having to work around contractors up until the first bell was rung Monday morning.

The Northside ISD Spirit Stick this week goes to….

The NISD Custodial and Maintenance Department!!!

Congratulations and great job in getting us prepared for another successful school year!
Have a great week Team Northside! And again, tackle each day with courage, confidence, and character!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District

Good Morning TEAM Northside!

Welcome to the 2023-2024 school year! I hope you were all able to have a little bit of a weekend! I know how challenging this time of year can be, as I am sure final plans were finalized in preparation for the first day of school.

I want to thank you all again for your tremendous efforts in getting everything just right to kick off a spectacular year. As we open our doors to our incredibly excited students, I encourage you to remember our shared vision, and your individual why, and never forget you have a tremendous team ready and able to support you. I know you will have a wonderful first week and thank you again for all your time and energy devoted to your students. As you hit the ground running, just remember, there is always someone packing your parachute. Be sure to acknowledge them!

Around the District

Professional Development. We have had so many incredible events from Meet the Teacher events to all our staff development and readiness meetings, it is impossible to mention them all. I want to personally thank all of our Directors, Administrators, and Presenters for their leadership and initiative in preparing and delivering high-quality professional development.

Enrichment Academies. Our school year actually began on Aug. 7 for two of our campuses who embraced the piloting of Enrichment Academies in an effort to give some of our neediest students a head-start in their studies. Cable and Westwood Terrace Elementary Schools under the incredible leadership of Principals Tom Knapp (Westwood Terrace) and Debra Pinon (Cable) really worked hard to make this initiative successful and we can’t thank their staff enough. As a result of taking care of their students, they were unable to attend Convocation. I will assure you, that this is something we will look to remedy in the future, but Thanks again for prioritizing and taking care of your students. And special thanks to the Cable staff for hosting Texas Land Commissioner, Dr. Dawn Buckingham, during the first week of the Academy.

Block Walk. Thank you to the Sul Ross Rebels for hosting our Back to School Block walk. This was the 13th annual event, which continues to serve as an example of not only Teamwork but also willingness to go the extra mile in connecting with and supporting some of our neediest families and students.  I want to also thank all of our teachers and administrators from Ross MS and Esparza, Linton, Martin, Powell, and Villarreal elementary schools as well as NISD Board members and invited elected officials who supported the event and walked the communities to meet and greet students before the first day of school. And a special thank you to Ross Principal Faustino Ortega and Irene Zinsmeister for helping to organize and facilitate the event.

Texas Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (TXGRG) Backpack & Resource Fair.  The TXGRG held a backpack and resource fair at the Northside Activity Center on Aug. 12 providing the opportunity for grandparents to start the year with a backpack filled with school supplies, and the opportunity to talk to several agencies about various resources. TXGRG Founder and Executive Director Mercedes Bristol, Trustee Gerald Lopez, and Diana Ely really worked hard to pull this event together and I know our grandparents remain appreciative.

Jay HS Cluster Backpack and Support. We also had an amazing backpack and resource giveaway for the John Jay HS cluster at the San Antonio Food Bank. The event was incredibly successful as well and we greatly appreciate all who supported and worked the event.

We are truly grateful for all who contributed their time and resources to support many of our students and families and their needs.

Servant Leadership Summit. The NISD Athletic Department and our Whole Child department teamed up to host a great Servant Leadership Summit with several hundred students, coaches, and parents participating. The focus remains on supporting mental health, hope, and family. Students shared helpful tips and insights, and speakers from the Athletics and our Counseling Departments provided priceless strategies. Thanks again to our Assistant Superintendents Stan Laing (Athletics) and Dr. Kimberly Ridgely (Whole Child) for helping to organize the event.

Northside Education Foundation (NEF).  We want to again thank our Education Foundation or NEF for their support of Convocation as well as all they do throughout the year to support our teachers and staff across the district. Board President, Emily Persyn, and the Board of Directors remain true champions for us. FIRST YEAR EDUCATORS: If this is your first year teaching, please don’t forget to apply for your chance to win a $150 grant!

Convocations 2023. Our District Convocations were a lot of fun and really demonstrated the amazing power of our teamwork across the district. We would like to again thank our fabulous Fine Arts Department, our Directors who assisted in preparing our amazing students, all of our performers, both students, and staff, and all who contributed to the success of the 3-day event. A special appreciation to our Communications team and technical support crew. Job well done and we can’t wait to celebrate again next year. Team Northside, One Team, One Vision!

And as promised….

The customized Air Force 1’s I was “sporting” at Convocation were actually a gift from my sister-in-law, so I had to do a little research as to how they came to be.

The name of the company is Custom Kicks by Christie.

She is a small business, so there is not a website nor any public-facing advertising. She prefers to handle all business through word of mouth….  But, just for Team Northside members, I was able to reach out and establish contact, so here is the artist's contact information.

Christie Endicott -

Purple Star Campuses. We also want to give a shout-out to our new Purple Star campuses that were recently announced. These campuses have demonstrated their commitment to supporting our military-connected students and families.  Special thanks to our Grants and Recognitions Dept. for assisting campuses with navigating application processes and requirements.

The NISD campuses awarded the designation are: Mora ES, Wernli ES, Scarborough ES, Behlau ES, Luna MS, Bernal MS, Harlan HS, Stevens HS, Brennan HS, and Jay HS.  Thank you for your important work supporting our military-connected families!

Legislative Update

As I mentioned at Convocation, it’s important for educators to stay informed about legislation impacting public education. We anticipate a special legislative session on the horizon (likely this Fall) with issues such as school funding, teacher pay, and private school vouchers or Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) on the agenda. Even more important - we should all strive to cultivate a culture of voting within our community. There are 14 proposed constitutional amendments on the November 7 ballot, and the deadline to register to vote in this election is October 10. Take a moment to review the ballot propositions and be sure to make a plan to vote!  Visit for more information.

The Spirit of Northside

In keeping the spirit alive this year, I want to again express my sincere appreciation to our entire Fine Arts Department for such a phenomenal Convocation!

And now it's time to pass it forward.

As a result of their overly enthusiastic showing at Convocation on Wednesday, but more importantly for the job they do each and every day… (Their team registered over 100 decibels during the spirit stick exercise and I think my ears are still ringing)

So…The Northside ISD Spirit Stick goes to none other than… Drum roll…

Our phenomenal Culebra Transportation Team!!!

Congratulations Culebra Station! The NISD Spirit Stick is headed your way.

Have a great week Team Northside! And again, tackle each day with courage, confidence, and character!

John M. Craft
Superintendent of Schools 
Northside Independent School District