“Jerry did an excellent job for our school district and will definitely be missed,” said Superintendent Fran Marek. “Jerry's a great man and has great love for our school district and for our students. He's done a lot for Joshua and our school system and we certainly wish him the very best.”
Joshua compiled a 5-35 record in four season under Bird, but in his final season the team went 3-7, including a road victory over Burleson and two non-district wins.
“I really enjoy working with high school kids and hopefully I've made a difference for a lot of kids here in Joshua. I just felt like it was time to move on,” Bird said in an interview with the Joshua Star. “I've made a lot of great memories here in Joshua. I moved to Texas from Idaho because I knew Texas was the best place to coach high school football, and I've always wanted to be a high school football coach.”
Bird has an interest in finding another head coaching or coordinator position at the high school level.
“I didn't think it would be very professional of me to look for other jobs while I was working here in Joshua,” he said. “Joshua has been a great place to work, but a lot of times people don't understand all the behind-the-scenes things that go on with this position. When its that time, its that time.
The search to fill Bird's position will include a posting on the JISD website and other employment sites, according to Marek.
“It was a surprise to me,” said JISD trustees president Ronnie Galbreath. “We had been talking to Jerry about what we could do to make the football program better and turn things around. We're doing well in academics, ROTC and most other areas in the district, but we need to improve our sports program, especially our football program.”
Galbreath, formerly a football coach at Joshua, said that, after a while, losing seasons probably took their toll on Bird.
“It's awfully tough when you have those 0-10 seasons,” he said. “He's a good man and I'm sure he'll go on somewhere else and be successful. Sometimes, you just need a change. Jerry went through a lot with our programs, especially in football. After a while, you just get worn down. I think Jerry just felt it was time to move on and try to get another opportunity somewhere else.”
Bird will remain in the athletics director position until the end of the school year or until he finds another job, Galbreath said.
“We would like to fill this position as soon as possible because we have spring football coming up,” Galbreath said. “We don't have to have spring football, but the players and coaches like it and it seems to help. So we'd really like to get the new head football coach in and get him started overseeing that as soon as possible.”
In other board items, the JISD is looking at different options for its school bus service. Durham has been providing bus service for the JISD since 1993.
“Durham has done a nice job with providing buses for the district but, like any other business, we felt like it was time to put this contract back out for bid,” Marek said.
There are 41 school buses that Durham provides to serve the district.
“The JISD doesn't own any school buses, which is good because Durham or whoever the new contractor is going to be, does all the maintenance and repairs to all the buses,” Marek said. “We don't have to worry about any of that, which is nice.”
New technology is making buses safer, Marek said, and the district needs to take advantage of that.
“We're looking at a lot of different things in regard to some of the features that we want on our school buses,” she said. “We'd like to have cameras in all of our school buses. Right now, we just have a few cameras on a few buses that we can move around as needed. But, in the future, we would like to look at the possibility of putting cameras on all the buses.”
The district is also looking at the possibility of putting card readers in all of its buses, Marek said.
“Again, that's just something that we're looking at,” she said. “Nothing's official yet and we haven't even really looked at what the cost would be to have these card readers put into school buses. But the idea is a very interesting one.”
If card readers were to be installed in school buses, students would swipe their student ID cards as they got on the bus.
“It would be a great tool for parents to use to see if their child got on the school bus and also make sure that no child got left on the school bus during extreme weather conditions,” Marek said. “It would also allow bus drivers to ensure that no unauthorized person got on the bus. So those card swipes could play a major role in helping keep kids safe.”
The board also voted to add crossing guards before and after school between the Ninth Grade Campus and Joshua High School on Stadium Drive.
“There's some really heavy traffic in that area and we wanted to add an extra crossing guard there to make sure those students are safe crossing the street,” Marek said.