by Darby Kethan
The packed community room Thursday, May 19, on the WISD elementary campus was a wonderful recognition of the 2016 Honor Graduates, UIL One Act Play State Qualifying Cast and Crew, HOSA National qualifier, and State and State Track and Field Qualifier and STAR (Superintendents Team for Academic Recognition) students.
Following the presentation of certificates to the students, Board President Tony Castillo recognized and thanked the parents for their support of students, transporting to and from practices, and expressed the school's appreciation of the efforts made in behalf of the students and recognized the instructional staff and teachers for supporting kids.
Sergio Ramos, who is completing 50 years in education in Woodville, recognized tennis team members and expressed his pride in the students and appreciation to the assistant coach who stepped in to continue supporting the team members during Ramos' recent illness and recovery.
Superintendent Conner expressed appreciation to the WISD Board for recognizing the students and expressed appreciation to a motivated instructional staff and parents for the support they provide for students.
Financial reports for the month ending April 30 were presented and approved by all board members.
The approval of a purchase of a new 77 passenger bus, part of a yearly purchase plan in which one bus is retired as a new one is bought, was brought before the board. Board member Dingler questioned whether the bus would be equipped with seat belts or not. Superintendent Conner responded that choosing seatbelts would be a board decision. Discussion included questions about how much to fit the new bus with seatbelts ($10,000) and the expense to retrofit currently owned busses ($25,000, each). Assistant Superintendent Jarrott said that statistically, bus accidents are rare. Other concerns expressed also included if one bus only were equipped, which students would ride that, (the newest bus is considered a "trip bus", used for out of town trips), and concerns about extricating students who were in belts in case of accident. The bus purchase, no seat belts, was approved by all.
The board was asked to approve a Full Day Pre-kindergarten Program for Woodville ISD 2016-17 school year. Superintendent Conner suggested a cap on 50 students for full day with students first coming from eligible Pre K students, ESL students, and then others, as space allows. The school will receive a $25,600 High Quality PreK Grant funding which may be used on additional personnel, classroom supplies and training.
Board member Shaw expressed concerns he had received from the community about the PreK full day program regarding the student/certified teacher ratio, how much and what kind of training the staff will receive for the implementation of the new program, the time frame for the training and the transportation arrangements for students. Laura Willis, Curriculum Coordinator responded to the concerns. Approval of Full Day Pre-kindergarten Program passed by a majority of 5-1, Mr. Shaw voting against.
The Superintendent's report included summer maintenance work and storm damage repairs. STAAR testing early results look good despite a spate of problems that created testing issues, such as computer glitches, and missing answer choices for multiple choice questions.
Seven district Instructional grants have been awarded for innovative technology programs for the upcoming school year and the request for funding for the PreK grant has been approved. Conner was questioned regarding the issue of transgender bathroom facilities and he stated that those needing such a facility will be appropriately accommodated.
Project Graduation '17 is being considered with a volunteer from the community to head up the program. This program has been successful here in the past but has not been held for several years and will be a welcome addition.