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Spurger ISD Board studies needed budget increases

by Emily Waldrep

Spurger Independent School District held its monthly board meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 17, at the John Mooney Hicks Administration Building and discussed the budget.

The board reviewed a wish list of items requested by several areas of the school district. The list included toolboxes, a large dolly for mats, ply board, blinds in each classroom in the high school, various items for the baseball and softball fields, more funding for the athletic banquet, a new score board in the Minter Gym, a gym floor cover and baseball equipment upgrades.

"Baseball is a very expensive sport and we are not competitive in baseball, because for one, when you look at the bats that our boys are using, they are $50 bats which seems like a lot but every other school is using $200 bats and the ball is jumping off of it farther and its realistic," said Superintendent Joe Fisher. "Our bats are 2 or 3 years old and theirs are brand new. I know our catchers gear is really old and needs to be updated and that is probably $400-$500 dollars just in gear to protect the child. Then we need some bats and netting and things like that."

The board also expressed a need for a new car to transport a special needs child to Beaumont daily. The current car is older, but will still be used for workshops and smaller trips.

"The new car will pay for itself," Fisher said. "We get $2.56 per mile on the trip to Beaumont and back."

The board also discussed whether to include the $500 FLEX card given to employees in the previous school year, which helped pay for medical expenses or deductibles.

"The response the employees had thanking the board for that was incredible," said Connie Griffith. "I did not put it into the current budget, but it will cost the board about $34,000 to do that."

Fisher said that he would like to keep the FLEX card in place.

"We were not prepared for how well the card would be accepted," Fisher said. "I got thanks all year due to this card. It will pay for glasses, dental work, or prescription medications."

Fisher said that if the board approved the budget including the wish list, health care, cars and other additions that they would be adding $72,000 that would be taken out of the fund balance.

"That's a lot of money," Fisher said. "We are continuing to live on 20 year ago revenue and operate a 2014 school district and its not the same."

The board decided to not make a motion on the budget until looking at the wish list expenditures and cost of a new car.

In other business, the board approved Suburban Propane for their propane supplier and Sun Coast Resources as their fuel supplier.

The next meeting will be held on August 21 at 7 p.m.

Woodville ISD joins THPSC

by Emily Waldrep

Woodville School board held its regular meeting at 7 p.m. on July 21, in the Woodville ISD community room at 505 N. Charlton Street in Woodville, and discussed 2014 tax collections, board members continuing education and set a date to set the districts proposed budget and tax rate for the 2014-2015 school year.

According to the board, $66,000 has been collected in taxes for the month and approximately 85 percent of total taxes have been collected. The school is expecting a significant settle- up in September that will bring in the remaining taxes into the budget.

The board also set a date and time to hold a public hearing to discuss the districts proposed budget and tax rate for the 2014-2015 school year. After a short discussion, the hearing was set for August 28, 2014 at 7 p.m.

Next, the president of the board reported that every member of the Board of Trustees have all met their continuing education requirements, which means that board members are making a real effort to stay up to date on board policies and ethics.

In other business, the board approved a resolution that allowed Woodville ISD to join the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium as an Associate member.

"The year before last there was a group of schools asked to form the High Performance Schools Consortium," said Superintendent Glen Conner. "And they did, and the legislative body put it together; but recently, sort of cut the leg out from under it. The group is still together but they weren't given the flexibility that was initially thought to be put in place with this, such as different types of testing. Since then, the work has continued to end the high stakes testing."

The school will be joining a group of 23 school districts and 108 associate schools to develop high priority learning standards, use of multiple assessments to measure learning, integration of technology in student learning and the creation of a robust community accountability system.

The board voted to support the district in becoming an associate of the High Performance schools consortium so that the district can more effectively pursue their goals.
Conner also gave his report to the board.

"First off, the elementary restrooms are about 75 percent complete," Conner said. "We did a face lift on the restrooms up there and replaced some fixtures and wall board and it should be finished within the next couple of days."

Conner also reported that all of the main building, with the exception of a little bit of construction in the middle school, is finished with remodeling.

The only other thing left that needs to be attended to before school starts is a few road and pavement repairs around the district.

The next board meeting will be held on August 18 at 7 p.m.

Colmesneil ISD students shine in STAAR

by Michael G. Maness

Colmesneil ISD president Curtis Pittman convened the board, and secretary Kenneth Adaway led the invocation, with an extensive agenda of items at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 15.

After passing the consent agenda, including the financial reports, Superintendent Angela Matterson reported that their Pre-K program was underway with 20 students.

For the older students, the TEA's STAAR results were in, and Matterson was proud to report that across the board their students made over 80 percent in satisfactory scores in all of the indices, noting that the basic requirement was that the school have over 55 percent satisfactorily scoring.
Matterson showed several examples of excelling from the students. For instance, the elementary school students were at 88 percent in reading, and the junior high students were at 87 percent in writing and a whopping 91 percent in science.

The board voted to allow stipends for the teachers teaching science classes.

Matterson noted how hard it is to find and secure an instructor certified as a composite science teacher.

The board approved the appraisers for the teacher assessments, the appraisal timelines, and the list of transfer students.

Matterson reported that the 2014 high school seniors had submitted a local graduation policy, noting how the students themselves had worked up the guidelines. "They're stakeholders," said Matterson, and took some pleasure in reporting the students' high level of responsibility in forming their policy, and the board approved it.

The board approved the Memorandum of Understanding for Concurrent Enrollment and Dual Credit between CISD and Angelina College. Adaway noted how a student could earn as many as 30 college hours if they worked hard through the summer. A few of the students, said Matterson, had already earned 24, and it was not unusual for several to earn 16 or more hours. With paying the proper tuition to Angelina, the student got both HS and College credit, giving them a head start toward their college degree.

Business manager Gina May made several rather minor but noteworthy proposed changes in the budget in order to reduce their debt note and pay the bills. The school finances were in good order, the budget balanced, and the estimates of revenue on target. The board approved May's budget adjustments without any debate.

Taking up for consideration a new Facilities Use Agreement, there was a lively discussion regarding requests. Board member Kenneth Graham, with extensive experience in school administration, mentioned how his previous district had included a clause that required any entity to be in concurrence with the schools values and goals. Action was postponed to the next meeting to give the members time to think through the agreement and its ramifications.
Since coming on board, Matterson had been busy leading the district's superintendents and teachers through the development of comprehensive administrative manuals, student/employee manuals, handbooks, and their code of conduct. All things would be in complete compliance with state law, TEA and TASB policy.

On the horizon, Matterson indicated that there appears to be interest in starting an official Student Angler Federation under The Bass Federation's renowned program, whose motto is "Promoting Education Through Fishing." At no cost to the school and only moderate fees for the students, with TBF's extensive insurance policy, this seems like a real catch that the students seem motivated to reel in – see HighSchoolFishing.org for more.

Commissioners approve vehicle monitoring and tracking system for Sheriff Department fleet

by Emily Waldrep

Tyler County Commissioners met Friday, July 18 at 8:30 a.m. and voted to approve a new municipal Synsurance agreement with the Tyler County Sheriff's Office for patrol and non-patrol cars.

Earlier in the month, Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford was able to meet with Richard Downing, of Synovia Solutions, which is a communication and tracking company that deals with in-car computers and access.

"This program just caught my attention so much with the liability issues and the safety aspect," Weatherford said. "This is something I couldn't walk away from and I ask you to consider to approve this for my department because I think it is something that will benefit the county as a whole and there is no additional money needed whatsoever, and the numbers will remain well within our telephone budget."

Downing gave a short presentation on his product and on Synovia Solutions, which provides several important services to vehicle fleets.

"We have been in business for 13 years and we provide real time GPS with tracking among other things," Downing said. "We are in 200-plus cities in North America and we have 25 of the top 100 fleets in North America, such as Houston ISD. We also have over 72,000 GPS units deployed throughout North America."

According to Downing, Synovia makes it easy for clients to use and employ a real time GPS system. Synovia provides all of the hardware, software, free ongoing training and technical support to those who use the system.

"We ping patrol cars every 30 seconds, but with the unit we are going to provide to the sheriffs department, when the lights and sirens are on in a car that ping will increase to five seconds so the system is always recording everything that is going on," Downing said. "If something happened and there was a wreck, you have proof of when the cars lights and sirens were activated and a time line of events."

The system also gives remote access to those who need to look at the system from home or in a patrol cars, mileage reports, live and historical weather, reporting help, engine diagnostics such as odometer, engine hours, average MPG, and fault codes, live maps, real time fleet tracking and countless other benefits.

"Everything is recorded," Downing said. "The sheriff can also put a monitor in the communications department so that they can see where all the patrol cars are at all times."

The Sheriff can also set up a "Geo Fence" within the system that will contain patrol cars to a certain area, and if the car leaves that area or goes over a certain speed within that area, the Sheriff will receive an alert.

"There are many things that caught my eye about this system," Weatherford said. "I have got a great group of employees that I have entrusted to drive these Tahoes and patrol cars and they have firearms on their side. In this day and time I want to make sure there is accountability and that big brother is watching. I have entrusted not only my livelihood but I've entrusted them with your safety, and with doing that, I want to make sure they are able to answer to me, but also that I'm able to answer to the public. It gives a check and balance for me."

The sheriff also said he is glad that the department will be able to employ the Geo Fence to help officers remain accountable to the area that they are working.

"We can pull up the shift that's working on GPS or we can pull up the shifts that are off," Weatherford said. "We will know exactly where cars are at all times and there will be accountability. The engine diagnostics will also help us out a lot."

The commissioner's court unanimously approved the new communications and GPS system through Synovia for the Tyler County Sheriff's Department and the system will be put into place this year.

"I think it's a great thing," said Commissioner Walston. "As far as the maintenance, accountability, and all aspects of the program."

The court also approved Stewart Cobb at 1st National Bank Leasing as the lease provider of patrol cars.

Ivanhoe Council considers street repair issues

by Emily Waldrep

The City of Ivanhoe held its monthly city council meeting at 6 p.m. on July 10th at the City Hall to discuss various agenda items, including election procedures and appointment of officers to several organizations.

The street and road report was read by Roland Priddy, who reported that in the last three months the city spent $21,000 dollars on the roads. A list was provided of what work was done and how many hours were spent on the roads.

According to Priddy, the rain and drainage on the dirt roads has been a problem for the workers.

"They are trying to put rock into some of the washouts," Priddy said. "Hopefully this will work better than just putting more dirt in that is going to wash right back out again."

Priddy also reported that a representative from Lufkin is going to come out and meet with members of the council about an overlay for the roads that will cost approximately $5,000, which Priddy says may be a problem because the contractor cannot mobilize for that price.
Thankfully, the contractor is scheduled to be in Woodville in several weeks and hopes to take a look at the road that needs the overlay.

The council also held its second reading for Resolution #2012-4R(d) which is a resolution to rescind, or erase, Resolution #2012-4R and amendments "A" through "C" for appointments of officers and liaisons.

"The council understands the need for reorganization when a plan is not quite right and the city council recognizes that these resolutions have not proved to be a benefit to the city at this time," said Mayor Jack Brockhouse.

The council could not rescind the resolutions and amendments at the second reading, but all council members approved the second reading. The next reading will be held during the August meeting.

Next, the council discussed the yearly issue of holding a joint election with Tyler County on November 4.

"This is the same agreement we do every year and we have the joint election with the county that saves us a lot of money," Brockhouse said. "It would be of the benefit of the city, county, and voters to hold the election jointly."

All council members approved holding a joint election with Tyler County, adopting a contract with the Tyler County Clerk for the election, and calling a regular election for November 4 for the purpose of electing and mayor and two city council members.

The council also accepted David Hyman and Company as the year 2014 city auditors.

Spurger ISD Board approves combining election with county

by Emily Waldrep

Spurger ISD school board held its monthly meeting on June 19, 2014 at 7 p.m. and was able to discuss contracts, goals, and election options for the 2014 election year.

In first order of business, the board heard the third reading of the TASB Update 99 and will be ready to accept the update during the July meeting.

The board also voted to uphold the current memorandum of Understanding Concurrent Enrollment and dual credit partnership between Angelina College and Spurger ISD. The memorandum allows high school students to enroll in classes at Angelina that transfer to their high school courses so that some students can begin receiving college credit in high school. The program has been in place at Spurger successfully for several years, and the board saw no reason to end or amend what is working for their students. The board unanimously approved the agenda item and students will continue to be allowed to be duel enrolled in both Angelina and Spurger.

The board also discussed approving C&C Sanitation and Waste Management Services to take care of the trash and dumpsters on the campus. Superintendent Joe Fisher brought up some problems he had experienced with the company, and asked the board to read over and review the new contract. After some discussion, the board amended the contract to better fit their needs and will be submitting it to the sanitation company for approval.

The board also discussed school board election options. In the past, the board has handled its own election at the administration office but last year opted to go in with the county and have their names added to the ballot in Woodville. It worked well last year and, according to Fisher, saved the district several thousand dollars. After some discussion, the board decided to hold the school board election with the county again this year. Two spots will be up for re-election in November.

The next meeting will be held July 17 at 7 p.m. in the administration building.