Sunday, February 28, 2016

News from Mrs. Graves

Upcoming Events


Softball v Pershing @POMS, 4:30 pm

Baseball v Lanier @POMS, 4:15 pm
James & the Giant Peach, Student-Only Show $2, 4:30 pm

8th gr Panoramic Picture, 8:15 am
HISD State of the Schools Luncheon (ticketed event -  see
UIL Rehearsal Intermediate Band
Baseball v St. Vincent DePaul @POMS, 4:15 pm
Soccer v Grady @POMS, 4:30 pm
Softball @ West Briar, 4:30 pm

Flip Flop Fiesta (ticketed, adult-only event – see PTO website for more information)

HISD Regional History Fair
Pegasus Competition, College Park HS, Woodlands
POMS Track & Field Meet, Westside HS, 8:00 am

Boys’ Lacrosse v Memorial @POMS, 4:00 & 5:30 pm

Save the Date!
Keeping Your Kids Safe Online
Monday, March 7, 6:30 p.m.
Learn actual and potential on-line threats along with tricks and tools predators use to lure even the savviest child.  Hear about the consequences of cyberbullying and revealing too much.   Leave with tips on prevention and how to avoid victimization.  Real Houston area stories and cases used.

This is a parent only event provided by Crimestoppers.  Students will be participating in a similar presentation, designed specifically for their age group in the coming weeks.

Latest News on Budget

from HISD eNews
HISD proposes funding reconfiguration to ensure neediest students get resources amid budget cuts
Facing a $107 million shortfall for the 2016-2017 school year, the Houston Independent School District is proposing a reconfiguration of district funding methods to ensure the neediest students still receive appropriate resources.

The budget cuts are a result of the state’s funding formula, which requires HISD to send millions of local tax dollars back to the state — a process that is known as recapture and affects districts designated as property-wealthy. Though nearly 80 percent of HISD students come from low-income families, the district is considered property-wealthy because of rising property values throughout the city.
The reconfiguration plan calls for an increase in funding for students who are designated economically disadvantaged or at-risk, as well as those who are considered homeless or refugees. The funding would be reduced for students who are designated as gifted and talented, but schools will still get an extra $200 for every student identified as gifted and talented.
The amount of funding each campus receives from the district is based on the average daily attendance of its student population. The district currently spends $3,589 on elementary and high school students and $3,625 on middle school students. That amount is then weighted to increase funding for certain student groups.
Schools also receive an extra $112 per student, an increase that was approved by the HISD Board of Education during the 2015-2016 school year to fund salary increases. The added boost brought per-student funding up to $3,701 for elementary and high school students and $3,737 for middle school students.
Under the proposal submitted Thursday to trustees, the overall allotment for each student would decrease by $179 per student, dropping funding to $3,522 for elementary and high school students and $3,558 for middle school students. However, some of that decrease would be offset by increasing the weights for certain student groups.
The reduction to the school allocation is expected to save $40 million. The district also is proposing more than $60 million in cuts to the central office. Among those cuts are $23.3 million from central office administrative and district-wide budgets and $11 million from one-time project funding, as well as the elimination of the ASPIRE teacher bonus and tutoring and extended day programs. Elimination of ASPIRE and the centrally funded tutoring and extended day programs is expected to save almost $30 million.
“When we consider discontinuing centrally funded programs for extended school day and tutoring, we don’t do it lightly,” Deputy Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer Ken Huewitt said. “We know these are valuable services that have made a big difference for our neediest students and have gone a long way in closing the achievement gap. My hope is that, by increasing funding for at-risk students, schools still will be able to implement these best practices, as needed.”
District administrators are continuing to review central office-based contracts and departmental budgets to determine where additional reductions can be made. Additionally, a spending freeze has been proposed for HISD central administrative offices.
How will that change in the funding formula impact Pin Oak?  
We have estimated this change in funding will be a loss of approximately $330,000 to our annual budget.  We will be reviewing our discretionary spending and are hopeful we can weather this funding cut without significant changes to student opportunities.  I will be briefing the SDMC on these funding adjustments in the coming weeks.

Congratulations Thomas Raguso!
Thomas recently advanced from the HISD Spelling Bee, and will be participating in the city-wide spelling bee, hosted by and broadcast live on PBS, Channel 8 in late March.
If that wasn’t prestigious enough, Thomas has also qualified to compete in the state level competition of the National Geographic Bee on Friday, April 1!  To learn more about the National Geographic Bee, visit the State Bee Homepage, and click on Texas to access your state Bee website.
Giving Tree
Leaves and stones on the Pin Oak Giving Tree are now on sale!  Your child or your family can be part of Pin Oak history forever with an engraved leaf or stone on the Pin Oak Giving Tree at the front door of the school.  The order form is attached to the blog notification email, or can be accessed on the Pin Oak website.  It makes a great gift for your child as he or she moves into high school. Deadline is March 31st.
Promotion Standards
In order for HISD students to move to the next grade level, they must meet HISD’s promotion standards, which include classroom grades, state tests, and attendance. For more information, see
The HISD Board of Education voted to change promotion standards for grades 3, 4, 6, and 7 at the Dec. 15, 2015, board meeting due to changes in the state’s 2016 testing calendar. Because the STAAR testing dates in math and reading for those grades are now later in the school year, test results are not expected until June 15, 2016. Due to the fact that the last day of school is May 25 and summer school starts on June 1, results will be received too late to make promotion/retention decisions based on STAAR results. Because of this delay in reporting, the board voted that STAAR data will not be a promotion standard for students in grades 3, 4, 6, and 7 for the 2015-2016 school year.

Students in grades 5 and 8, however, are still required to pass the STAAR tests to be promoted. Those who fail the first administration of STAAR in March must retest in May and should plan to attend summer school until results from the state indicate that they have 
passed the retest.

Here are the 2015-2016 HISD standards for promotion. If your child does not meet the promotion standards outlined below, your school will contact you regarding opportunities for your child to receive additional instruction.
Grades 6 and 7 Promotion Standards:

 State requirement of overall yearly average of 70 or above and local requirement of an average of 70 or above in reading, other language arts, mathematics, and science or social studies.

 Students must have sufficient attendance*

Grade 8 Promotion Standards

 Students must pass STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) in reading and mathematics.

 State requirement of overall yearly average of 70 or above and local requirement of an average of 70 or above in three of four core courses: Language arts (average of reading and English), mathematics, science, social studies.

 Students must have sufficient attendance*

Sunday, February 21, 2016

News from Mrs. Graves - REVISED

Upcoming Events

Spring Musical, Faculty Preview, 4:30 p.m.
Baseball @ Johnston, 4:15 p.m.

Rockets Science Fieldtrip (Dabbs, Wings & Wheels Class)
Softball v Burbank @ POMS, 4:30 p.m.
James and the Giant Peach, 6:00 p.m. (May Sell Out)

Early Dismissal, 1:00 p.m. - NO AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
James and the Giant Peach, 6:00 p.m. (May Sell Out)

Soccer vs TH Rogers @ POMS, 4:30 p.m.
Softball @ Black MS, 4:30 p.m.
James and the Giant Peach, 6:00 p.m. (May Sell Out)
Baseball v Black MS @ POMS, 4:30 p.m.

UIL Preparation Rehearsal, Inter/Adv Band, Woodwinds & Brass Only, 3:40-5:30 p.m.
James and the Giant Peach, 6:00 p.m. (Sold Out)

Pegasus Houston Regional Dance Championship, Dekaney HS School

Flip Flop Fiesta
The POMS fundraising event of the year is just around the corner on Friday, March 4, 2016. Please sign up for a position, it's going to be a fun evening!  Your support will make the difference.  Areas we need help include:

  • Catalog Distribution - 2/29/16
  • Event Preparations - 3/1/16 and 3/3/16
  • Event Day Set Up - 3/4/16
  • Assistance During the Event 3/4/16

Sign up now!  If you have any questions, feel free to contact Christine Lott (

Bellaire HS Cardinal Kick-off
February 24, 2016, 6:30 p.m.

  • Learn about academic programs such as AP, IB and Dual Credit;
  • Discover opportunities to participate in the award winning Visual & Performing Arts Programs;
  • Visit with coaches from our 13 UIL Athletic Programs, as well as additional Club Sports;
  • Explore your interests by attending Club Jamboree and meet representatives from over 110 clubs and student organizations;
  • Get connected and begin to receive information about the Class of 2020; and
  • Find out how the 2012 Bond and the rebuilding of Bellaire High School.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

News from Mrs. Graves

Upcoming Events

Spec Ed Field Trip to Children's Museum

Choir Cafe Program (Periods 2, 5, & 6), Cafeteria, 6:00 p.m.
Baseball @ Black MS, 4:15 p.m.

NJHS Meeting, Team Time
Baseball vs Briarmeadow @POMS, 4:15 p.m.

SDMC Meeting, 3:50 p.m.
Choir Cafe Program (Periods 3, 4, & 7), Cafeteria, 6:00 p.m.

4th Grading Cycle Report Cards Go Home
UIL Preparation Rehearsal - Inter/Adv Band (Percussion, Oboe & Basoon ONLY), 3:40-5:30 p.m.

POMS Band Invitational Solo Contest

Early Dismissal on Wednesday, 2/24

Responsible and Safe Behavior with Social Media
More than any of us want to believe, middle grade students are increasingly using social media in ways that can be harmful long after they leave middle school. Social media today is far reaching, and teens often simply are not mature enough to refrain from risky behavior.

Parents often think that by reading texts they are adequately monitoring what teens are doing with their phones. That is a great place to start.  I would encourage you to learn more about the many apps your children are using, including Snapchat.  I have included two links for articles that discuss some of the more popular apps, but remember that every day new apps are popping up and becoming increasingly more popular.  

If you haven't talked with your teen recently about responsible use of social media, now is the time. Agree on the apps your child will have access to and have candid talks about your expectations for how those apps are used.

Pin Oak Idol 2016

Its time to get your act ready for Pin Oak Idol, 2016!!!
The show will be held on April 29th!   Pin Oak Idol, 2016 auditions will be held on April 6th and 7th after school.  Performances but be show ready at the audition.
Pin Oak Idol sign-up forms can be picked up outside Mr. Dabbs room (Rm. A128), at the front office, or in the school store.  Students must have the form filled out with a parent’s signature to audition.  Please return all completed applications to Mr. Dabbs (Rm. A128).
For any questions about the show, please see Mr. Dabbs.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

News from Mrs. Graves

Upcoming Events

7th gr District Swim Meet, Lamar HS, 4:30 p.m.

Band Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper and Concert, 5:00 p.m.

8th gr District Swim Meet, Lamar HS, 4:30 p.m.
Boys' Basketball @ Key MS, 5:30 p.m
Girl's Basketball vs Key MS, @ Pin Oak, 5:30 p.m.

PTO Meeting, 8:30 a.m.
Boys/Girls Soccer v Lanier @ POMS, 4:30 p.m. 

Heart 2 Heart Valentine's Dance, 6th & 7th gr, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Last Day of 4th Grading Cycle
PTO Staff Appreciation Valentine's Dessert Buffet

MS Debate Competition @ Scarborough
Pegasus HISD Competition @ Waltrip HS
Jr Cheer Clinic - CANCELLED 

Meet Mr. McDonough, Principal of Bellaire HS
During our regular PTO Meeting on Thursday, we welcome Michael McDonough, Principal of Bellaire HS.  He will be here to talk about the many opportunities and offerings at Bellaire HS.

Algebra Information for 6th grade families
Pin Oak offers high school Pre-AP© Algebra 1A/1B in both seventh and eighth grades. Students who succeed in algebra in seventh then have the opportunity to take high school Pre-AP© Geometry A/B in eighth.   Students who complete algebra and/or geometry have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement© math classes in high school.
Because many middle schoolers are not yet ready for high school courses, we will carefully evaluate all our current sixth and seventh graders in an attempt to predict which are likely to be successful in early algebra.  It is our intent to use as many factors as are available to ensure that each child is placed in courses that will bring out his/her own personal best and provide each a positive experience that will spur him/her on to a love of learning.  The criteria we use will include:  standardized test scores, math class average, teacher evaluation, and an algebra readiness test.  No special preparation is needed, other than their math classes.
This is our fifth year to have seventh graders in algebra.  Each year when we evaluated sixth graders’ readiness, we found many who were ready, but there also were many who would likely do well with a bit of extra instruction to be ready for algebra.  We have provided this extra help each year during in a summer advanced pre-algebra math camp.  We monitor students as they progress from pre-algebra to geometry and now have several years of results.  We have found no significant difference in the ultimate success of students who initially qualified outright for algebra in seventh and those whose entry was contingent upon completion of the math camp.  In other words, math camp appears to bring those who are “almost there” before algebra to success through geometry.
In May 2016, we will evaluate all sixth graders for algebra readiness, and will advise you of your child’s recommended placement.  It is likely that there will again be three groups: those ready, those not ready, and those who would likely do well with a bit more pre-algebra.  

Please be aware that if your child needs a bit extra and if you want to have him/her in algebra for seventh, it will be necessary for him/her to attend math camp at Pin Oak, 8:00 am – noon, Monday-Thursdays, June 13-30, 2016.  This is an intensive study, with each day being equivalent to over a week of normal instruction.  Accordingly, students who wish to participate are expected and required to attend the full session.  We’re writing to let you know this now so that you may have time to plan your summer accordingly.

Taking these courses at an early age is best for some students, but not for all.  Many students thrive and flourish, but others find discouragement and dismay.  We pledge to use our best judgment to recommend the best placement for your child’s success. 

Budget Shortfall FAQs
Why is the district facing a $107 million budget shortfall for the 2016-2017 school year? 
Under the state’s current funding structure, the Houston Independent School District is required to make a “recapture” payment to the state under Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code. The “recapture” payment for the 2016-2017 school year amounts to approximately $165 million. HISD is able to pay $58 million of that amount, but the remaining $107 million will need to be cut from the 2016-2017 budget.

What is Chapter 41? 
Chapter 41 law, commonly known as the “Robin Hood Plan,” was passed by the Texas Legislature in 1993 in an attempt to equalize disparities between property-wealthy and property-poor districts. Under the law, the state can take money from property-wealthy districts with revenue that exceeds a state-set level and redistribute the funds to property-poor districts — a process known as “recapture.” Though nearly 80 percent of HISD students come from low-income families, rising property values throughout Houston caused HISD in 2015 to exceed the state-set level and go into “recapture.” 

Who receives the money HISD must pay in “recapture”? 
The state uses “recapture” dollars from wealthier districts not just to redistribute to poorer districts, but also to put into the state’s general revenue to pay for non-educational purposes. 

What options does HISD have in making a “recapture” payment to the state? 
School districts in Texas subject to “recapture” have five options to equalize wealth, and districts may exercise these options singly or in combination: 
Option 1: Consolidate with another district 
Option 2: Detach property 
Option 3: Purchase credits from the state and send revenue to the state 
Option 4: Contract to educate non-resident students from a partner district and send revenue to a property-poor district(s) 
Option 5: Consolidate tax bases with another district 

Options 3 and 4 must be approved by voters. If HISD voters do not approve sending $165 million of local property taxes to the state, then the commissioner of education is required to take billions of dollars of property from HISD and attach it to other school districts across Texas.

If HISD entered “recapture” in 2015, why wasn’t there a large budget shortfall for the 2015-2016 school year? 
In 2015, HISD’s legislative team, along with board members, parents, and community members, lobbied aggressively during the 84th legislative session for a school finance bill that would keep HISD out of “recapture.” That bill did not pass. Fortunately, at the end of the legislative session, lawmakers put $1.2 billion into the state school fund program. By using these last-minute funds, HISD was able to offset its $47 million “recapture” payment for the 2015-2016 school year.

Can HISD’s legislative team lobby again this year for a school finance bill? 
Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature will not meet again until 2017. Although the governor can legally call a special session requiring lawmakers to meet this year, it is highly unlikely. 

Why is HISD considered wealthy if nearly 80 percent of the district’s students are economically disadvantaged? 
A district’s wealth is measured in terms of the taxable value of property within the district’s borders, divided by the number of students in weighted average daily attendance (WADA). If a district’s wealth per WADA exceeds limits established in law, the district is considered “wealthy.” Student demographic percentages do not impact this designation. 

Can HISD lower property values to avoid “recapture”? 
No. Though the HISD school board adopts a property tax rate, the district cannot determine property values. Property values are determined by Harris County Appraisal District. 

Can HISD change its tax rate to avoid “recapture”? 
No, that is not an option. Even if HISD were able to raise its tax rate, the district would generate more revenue, but a portion of this new revenue would become subject to “recapture.” 

How will HISD prepare a 2016-2017 budget with a $107 million shortfall? 
HISD’s chief financial officer and budget team are in the process of analyzing the district’s current expenditures and budget needs and are examining possible areas where cuts can be made. The Board of Education, which ultimately approves the district’s budget, will be holding several public workshops over the next several months in which board members will examine and weigh in on different proposals and suggested cuts presented by the district. The board and chief financial officer have said their top priority is protecting classroom budgets.