Spurger ISD Board discusses funding concerns

by Emily Waldrep

The Spurger School Board held its monthly board meeting on Thursday, June 21 and discussed several issues that will affect Spurger ISD in the coming year.

One of the main orders of business discussed that is a concern to the district is a new amendment that passed in the primary and will be on the ballot in November. If passed, this amendment would allow tax dollars to follow students no only from public school to another public school but from public schools like Spurger to private schools, charter schools, and even a home school setting. In essence, this system would be a form of a voucher system. Mr. Fisher conveyed concerns that small home schools could begin opening up in the county that would pull away much needed tax dollars from local districts. If a parent wanted to pull a child out of school and home school them, then all the tax money designated for that child would go directly to the parent. This could negatively effect all local schools staff and students, and is something that could change the face of Tyler County education in the near future.

In other business, the board held a reception for school board member Rusty Roberts for serving the district and community for 25 years. Friends and family attended and extended their appreciation for a job well done.

Spurger ISD also announced that they will be publishing a list of the top 25 tax delinquents in the district. The list is expected to come out in mid-July and will contain the names of district taxpayers who haven't filed their taxes. This method has proved effective in the past when trying to collect missing tax money.

Colmesneil ISD Board welcomes new teachers

by Emily Waldrep

Colmesneil ISD held its monthly school board meeting on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 and discussed various small agenda items that will go into effect in the upcoming school year.

The board first welcomed its new athletic director, Fancy Johnson, and said they were very encouraged that there are more than 40 kids coming to the open Gym at the school to work out and prepare for the upcoming sports season.

In addition to the new Athletic Director, the district welcomed 4 new teachers. Tammy Dickenson, Heather Mitcham, Jenice Kerr, and Brenda Goode will all be joining the teaching staff in the 2012-2013 school year.

In other business, they made some small changes to the 2012-2013 school year. A new dress code was put into place that states that undergarments must be concealed not only during school hours but school functions as well. For students, this means no "saggy pants" or loose bra straps.

Colmesneil also updated on various stadium improvements for the upcoming football season. A new fence will be installed in front of the stands so that both the players and spectators will be better protected from injury.

Woodville ISD votes to purchase new bus

by Leann Monk

In the regular scheduled meeting of the Woodville ISD School Board, held Monday, June 18, a public hearing was held to review and take comments on the Woodville ISD Acceptable Use and Internet Safety Policy for Technology. According to Superintendent, Glenn Conner, the Board must hold the hearing to comply with state funding regulations. Board President, Trey Allison asked for public comment and having no members of the general public present there was no comment. The Board then voted to approve the policy for the upcoming year. Conner told the board members the policy would affect the students, teachers and the at- will employees in the district having access to the internet. This adopted policy will be sent home with students when they return for the new school year for their signature as well as their parent or guardian.

Also on the agenda for action from the Board was the purchase of a new 77 passenger bus. Conner informed the board members of an accident involving one of the districts fleet buses at the end of this past school year. This accident resulted in the bus being a total loss. According to Cody Jarrott, from the business office, the school will be paid $10,500 from the insurance company. The cost of a new bus is over $90,000. Conner told the board the need for the replacement was necessary. "As we get further into the school year, being without this bus will cause us issues; especially on a Friday evenings when we have buses out on routes and we need four buses to get to a ballgame," he explained. After some discussion among the board, it was voted to purchase the new bus. The money for the purchase will come from the funds balance. "This is why you have a funds balance – for emergencies," said Conner.

During the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Sherry Kenner gave a report to the board on the Annual Evaluation of English as a Second Language. "This report shows we are doing a good job on our campuses teaching these students English as a second language," she said. When asked by Allison if she was pleased with the results of the report, Kenner answered, "I am. This report follows the progress of these students for two years. I am pleased." Board member Jimmy Tucker asked Kenner if the district was prepared if there was an influx of students who might need to utilize this program in light of the prospect of new businesses coming to Tyler County. Kenner assured the board members the district was prepared.

While addressing the board, Kenner also gave a Character Counts Report. She explained to the board members Woodville ISD has adopted six pillars of Character Counts as the framework for character education. The six pillars are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. She explained these character traits are reflected in all aspects of the school districts activities including classroom instruction, discipline, guidance, and extra-curricular activities. They are also reflected in activities of administration, food service, maintenance and transportation. She reported that each campus sponsored specific programs to promote Character Counts.

Both reports, the English as a Second Language and the Character Counts are required of the school district as part of the No Child Left Behind Program.

The Superintendent reported to the Board the results of the recent state tests. According to Conner the results are in but the jury is still out. Texas Education Agency Officials released STAAR or State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness results, but because no standards have been created for what is a passing or failing grade, school districts don't know whether to sigh with relief or frustration. The STAAR replaces the TAKS tests. When fully implemented in 2016, students in the third and fifth grade who do not pass their STAAR tests will be unable to go to the next grade. For the next school year, teachers will hopefully know a little more about how to prepare students. The state promised that the STAAR would be a more rigorous test that the TAKS and all the district can do is to focus on the classroom and make sure students are learning what is required.

Conner also gave an update on the facilities repairs and construction. He informed the board that the batting cage should have the slab poured sometime in the upcoming week; construction had been delayed due to the rain. He also gave a report on the importance of student attendance; showing board members the final numbers for the 2011-12 school year. "We are working on some ways to get those students in the classrooms. When those students aren't at school, they are losing valuable instruction time," said Conner.

The Woodville School Board meets regularly on the third Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the administration building.

Woodville to score ISO ‘Class 4’ rating - lower insurance rates

by Leann Monk

The Woodville City Council meeting was called to order by Mayor Ben Bythewood, Monday, May 14, proclaiming the city would recognize Woodville Eagle Choir and Band Day on May 28. The proclamation, read by Bythewood, stated this day honors the 2011-2012 Woodville Eagle Band and Choir members for their success in capturing a Division I rating on a Class 1 Solo or Ensemble at Region X UIL Contest; qualifying these members to advance to State Competition on May 28. The band and choir members advancing to the state competition and being recognized in this proclamation are: Allen Dorman, Joe Arline, Hallie Beaty, Jacquelyn Johnson, Michael Nanney, Abbie Quinn, Makayla Stowe, Hannah Williams, Jenna Barnes, Shelby Hadnot, Christopher Ledesma, Sam Matterson, Patricia Rice, Kristen Swafford, and Whitney Williams. The students are under the direction of Choir Director, Matthew Moody and Interim Band Director, Jim Boone. "The students have contributed greatly to the City's pride with their achievements, and I urge all citizens to congratulate the band and choir members for their accomplishments and wish them success as they advance to State Competition," said the Mayor.

Next on the agenda for Council to consider was the variance to the city's noise ordinance. Todd Pounds, from the Woodville First Baptist Church, petitioned Council to lift the current noise ordinance until 10 p.m. on May 16. The event Pounds and the church would be hosting would be held inside the family life center of the church, but according to city administrator, Pounds was afraid the noise would be heard outside the walls of the building. "He wanted to get approval just in case the noise could be heard outside the walls of the center. Especially since it is a residential area," Risinger said. Council voted to lift the ordinance until 10 p.m.

Also for consideration to the city's noise ordinance was a petition from Rage Bowie from Inner Court Evangelistic Ministries. This petition was tabled due to no representation being present at the council meeting. However, since Council met, it has come to the attention of the City Administrator, this event has been cancelled due to the petitioner finding a new location.

Council then considered for approval the Engineering Study proposal from the meter company McKinstry. This company provided for Council a workshop on April 25 to give information on their services and how they would be able to benefit the City of Woodville. According to Risinger, this study would examine whether or not the water meters the City currently has in operation is doing an accurate job. "Basically, this company would do a study and present a proposal to Council that would tell us if our current meters are capturing all of the water that passes through, like they are supposed to and if we need to replace them," she said. After the company makes its presentation and recommendations to Council, then they would discuss the City's options. Council voted to allow McKinstry to go forward with the study and then report back with their findings.

Risinger then gave her monthly report by first reminding Council the City offices would be closed on May 28 in observance of Memorial Day. She went on to give an update on the German Pellet project. "The engineer is working on the design and we are currently shooting for August 1 to have gas out there," she said. Risinger also noted in her report to Council the recycle trailer has been ordered. "The trailer is slightly larger than the current trailer we are using." "All of the information for the design of the City of Woodville's website has been submitted to the GovOffice Design Team and our site has been submitted to the programmers for scheduling. We are approximately four weeks out in the programmer's schedule," Risinger told Council in reference to the city's new website. "This has been something we have been working on for a while and now we are getting closer," she said.

Risinger informed Council the City had received notification that the Insurance Services Office or ISO plans to recommend a "Class 4" Public Rating to the State Fire Marshall's office for Woodville. The city had been rated a "Class 6". "This rating will help people with their insurance rates," she said. "This is a good thing," she went on to say. According to councilmember and insurance agent Russ Nalley the lowering of the classification will be a positive factor when insurance companies figure premiums and rates on home insurance. "The lower class code is one factor that goes into the equation," said Nalley. "Insurance companies use a number of things to determine the final premium or rate for home insurance. The class code for an area is one of those things that go into the formula," he explained.

Woodville City Council meets the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. on the second floor of the City Hall.

Warren ISD Board recognizes athletic, academic and band programs

by Leann Monk

The Warren School Board opened their meeting Tuesday, May 22 by recognizing the success of the spring athletic, academic and band programs at Warren High School. Before a packed board room, each coach, teacher and director recognized the success the students had this season by going above average and achieving play-off or state levels. Also recognized for their outstanding achievements over the past four years of high school were the 2012 Valedictorian GiGi Barker and Salutatorian Meagan McCluskey. Barker told the board she would be attending Lamar University to pursue a degree in graphic design. McCluskey informed the crowd she would be attending the University of Texas in Dallas to pursue a career in physical therapy. Board President, Lance Johnson told the Board, "We are proud of these kids. The students have had a very successful spring. Let's see if we can come back in the fall with a successful volleyball and football season."

Johnson reported to the School Board the results of his recent conference with the teacher's district wide. "I believe I received some very good ideas from the teachers," he said. "I wanted to listen to what they had to say. I wanted to open the lines of communication between us," he went on to tell the Board. "We do need more communication between the teachers and administration," said Board President Ray Reid. "One idea I really liked," said Johnson, "was to start a pen pal program between the fourth and fifth grades here at Warren and at Fred. So they get to know each other before we put them together in the sixth grade." Johnson also listed technology and career courses as the main concern of the teachers in the conference.

In an update of things happening around the WISD campus, Johnson informed the Board that the summer working hours would be Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. "We are doing this again this year in efforts to save money. On Friday when we are not here, we turn the lights off and the A/C units up" he said. Johnson read a list of repairs and renovations that will need to take place around the campus soon. They include renovating the Warren Elementary bathrooms due to strong sewage and urine smells. Johnson says the smells are due to plumbing issues that need to be corrected. Also on his list was to refurbish the Warrior Football Stadium.

The Board then considered the resolution concerning high stakes standardized testing of Texas public school students. "Basically there is a movement across the state to alter the current standardized testing or teaching the test," said Johnson. "For so long we have be 'Teaching the Test' to get that exemplary rating for our school from the state. Let's produce an exemplary graduate; one that is college or career ready. For so long we've tried to push a square peg in a round hole," he went on to say. "We want Warren ISD to view what is important to our students, not the state. We are not telling the state what are not going to do; but what we are telling them is what we prefer to do," Johnson said. "It's been a long time coming," said Board Secretary Will Young.

Before they adjourned, the Board voted to hire five new teachers for the district. Johnson told the Board they are still looking for a librarian and counselor.

Having no new business or budget amendments, the Board voted to adjourn. The next Warren School Board meeting will be June 26 at 7:00 p.m. in the WISD Administration Building.