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Chester ISD Board Discusses Maintainence, Electives

by Leann Monk

"Are you ready?" asked Chester School Board President, Clint Sturrock. With that question, he called the board meeting to order, Monday, March 26 to discuss the districts business.

First on the agenda for discussion was the approval of the minutes and the financial statement for February. The board questioned items on the financial statement such as expenses to Forefront Network and on the yard maintenance. Superintendent, Kenneth Graham, explained to the board members Forefront was for the cost of additional hard drive equipment the school had to purchase. He also explained that the cost of hiring out the yard maintenance was $890 per grooming. After the vote the reports were approved.

Next on the agenda the board members voted on the issue of finding an election judge for the May 12th election. The board voted for current election judge Gladys Swearingen to continue in the position. According to members of the board, Swearingen has been the election judge for years.

Graham then gave the Superintendent's report to the Board Members. He handed out the possible 2012-2013 calendar for the Board to consider. "It is basically the same calendar as Warren and Woodville," said Graham. The Board will vote on the calendar at the next meeting. Graham then presented the Board with what he would like to see as a class schedule for next year. "We currently do not have electives for our kids. I would like to go to an eight period day so we can offer more to our students," said the administrator. "I would like to add computer classes to our schedules," stated Graham.

Readdressing the topic of the yard maintenance, the Chester Board Members stepped up to the plate so to speak. They all agreed that $890 was too much to pay per mowing and weed eating of the school property. The Board discussed going out for bids for yard maintenance. Board Member Vernon Lewis told Graham that in order to save the district money he would mow the baseball and softball fields for now. "We appreciate that," said Graham.

The Board then entered into executive session for a second time to discuss personnel matters and contract renewals. One teacher, Ms. Helen Hays will not be returning to Chester ISD next year. Hays is retiring; the board accepted her resignation. All of the other teacher contracts were renewed.

The Chester School Board will meet again April 16.

Warren Board Discusses Multi-Use Building

by Emily Waldrep

The Warren School Board held its regular meeting on March 27, 2012 at 7:00p.m in the Warren School Administration Building.

The meeting began with Lance Johnson's superintendent report. Christina Wheatman, Derek Gray, and Donna Buckner were all recognized as exemplary Warren teachers for the month of March. Johnson also went over the new multi-use facility that will be used for meetings, staff development, community events, and student use. The building will have wireless Internet and is expected to fit 250-300 people. "We expect this to be a great community building," said Johnson. The building will be available for use in April.

Building and construction updates were also covered in the meeting, and plans are underway to update the Elementary bathrooms. The plumbing will be revamped and new stalls and toilets will be installed as well as new energy efficient lighting.

Terry Ling discussed the Warren ISD budget, and said that "the budget is in great shape for the 2012-2013 school year, and we feel like we will be in good shape without any additional cuts." Currently, the budget is balanced and revenues greatly exceed expenditures. Ling also reported that Warren is "right on track with investments, and the financial standing is good."

The board then approved minor changes to the TASB Local Policy Update 93. Most of the changes dealt with minor verbiage changes, and the core value of the policy remains the same. The main changes were located in sections regarding student teacher relationships, health and wellness, bullying and harassment, and freedom of expression.

Board members also approved minor budget amendments that would keep the budget on track, and placed their votes for the ESC Board of Director candidates.

Colmesneil ISD Changes Board Election Date

by LeAnn Monk

"I would like to thank the community for coming out to the meeting tonight and for your support," said Jim Carlton, president of the Colmesneil School Board, as he called the meeting to order Tuesday, March 20.

Due to Board Member Curtis Pittman not receiving his copy, the approval of the minutes was tabled until the next meeting, giving all of the members an opportunity for review.

After review of the financial statement, Board Member, Kris Lindsay questioned why the district was paying overtime for bus drivers. "Those employees are paid at a blended rate," stated Stacy Ackley, CISD Superintendent. He went on to explain those employees were usually ones who were teachers aids and drove a bus as well. "It works out better for the employee and the district if we pay them with this blended rate," said Ackley. Lindsey then questioned the purchase of 10 plastic tables. Ackley explained the school had been borrowing tables from different organizations outside of the school district. The financial report was then voted on and approved.

On the agenda for the Board to discuss was TASA's or Texas Association of School Administrators Mission School Transformation and Board Resolution. This resolution is being presented to school boards all across the State for consideration. The resolution states, "the over reliance on standardized, high stakes testing as the only assessment of learning that really matters in the state and federal accountability systems is strangling our public schools and undermining any chance that educators have to transform a traditional system of schooling into a broad range of learning experiences that better prepares our students to live successfully and be competitive on a global stage." The board Members agreed to review to contents for discussion at the next meeting.

Also up for discussion was the 2012-2013 school calendar. If adopted, the students would start school August 27 with the last day of classes being June 7. The proposed calendar allows for a one week holiday for Thanksgiving, two week holiday for Christmas, one week winter break in February, and one week spring break in April.

Next up for action from the Board was to adopt the resolution and order changing the annual Trustee election from May to November. According to Section 11.0581 of the Texas Education Code, school districts are required to hold elections for trustees on the same date as the election for members of the governing body of a municipality located primarily within the same boundaries as in the school district, or as the general election for state and county officers and must be held under joint elections. The resolution states that beginning with the 2012 election, the general elections for the Colmesneil Independent School District Board of Trustees shall be held on the November uniform election date in order to comply with the Texas Education Code. The school board elections will now be held in November in conjunction with the City and County elections.

Ackley then presented the board with bids from two contractors for repairs to the campus facilities. "The roofs need to be replaced on the old gym, field house, cafeteria, and the light house on the elementary building," state Ackley. "We toured the facility today and we discovered there was leaking in the cafeteria," said Carlton. The two contractors who submitted bids for the work were Crews Services and OC Brooks. The total amount for the repairs is $54,350. "I'm just concerned that once we get in there and start doing the work, there is going to be more damage that we don't see," stated Lindsey. "I'm afraid what might be a $100,000 project will turn into a $200,000," he said. "Can we absorb an additional $100,000?" Lindsey asked. Lindsey asked Ackley what kind of time frame he had to get this project wrapped up, to which Ackley answered, "None was given." Lindsey asked when the projects will start. Ackley explained as long as it won't interfere with the students, they will start as soon as possible. A final question was asked by Lindsey about who would supervise the project. "I will," stated Ackley. The money to complete these roof projects will come out of the funds balance. "We can't use bond money," stated Pittman.

After the Board returned from executive session, they voted on those items discussed behind closed doors. They voted to except the resignation of two teachers, Keith Denby and Kathy Sheffield, both are retiring. In his letter of resignation to the Board, Denby wrote," I would like to thank Walter McAlpin and Ben Stewart." The Board also voted to hire Daniel Veirs, from White Oak High School, as a Composite Social Studies Teacher and Defensive Coordinator. The Board then voted to renew teacher contracts.

The Colmesneil ISD School Board meets on the third Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be April 17 at 7:00 p.m

Spurger ISD Board Discusses Declining Mineral Values

by Emily Waldrep

Spurger ISD held a school board meeting on Thursday, March 1, in the Administration building to discuss various issues, including district goals, declining mineral values, and reading and dyslexia programs.

The first order of business on the regular agenda was a report from the tax accessor. The report stated that since timber prices are falling, the value of minerals will decrease as well, which means that the district will collect less in taxes. A tentative tax audit will be available for the district in the coming months, and the final will be completed in July, but reports are already stating that values will be much lower because of the falling timber and mineral values.

During the district goals report by Mrs. Keppi Fortenberry, the reading and dyslexia program was discussed. In an effort to give every child the same learning experience, students are beginning to be screened for dyslexia and learning problems at a 2nd grade level, then followed and if necessary, evaluated, at a 3rd grade level. Superintendent Joe Fisher says this works because, "kids don't have a solid reading foundation until about third grade, but they have their basics down after 2nd grade, and we begin to watch them at that level." That way, Spurger can catch possible reading developmental problems earlier and place the kids in the appropriate program. As far as the dyslexia and reading program itself, Fisher say's "we will continue to use the same programs because they work." The district also boast having Amber Conner, a certified master reading teacher, at the school to work with students who need the extra help.

The board also passed a resolution to name Emily Waldrep to the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Media Honor Roll, a prestigious honor that has never been given to another Spurger resident. The TASB Media Honor Roll's goal is "to recognize representatives who make the effort to get to know the superintendent, board president, and district mission and goals, report school news that is fair, accurate and balanced, give a high profile position to good news about schools, visit the schools and maintain a policy of no surprises by sharing information with school representatives." Nominees for this award get recognition by the board and employees, as well as a certificate and recognition of tasb.org.

The board also voted on a representative on the ESC board of directors, and will be adding Christy Hughes as the single name on the Tyler County Ballot. Winners will be announced after the entire regions votes are counted.

The elementary principal reported that the children are working hard to raise money for a new piece of playground equipment shaped like a large Pirate Ship. The board will be budgeting that next school year, but has no time frame of when that piece of equipment will be purchased.

The board also went over various smaller matters, such as approving David Stickler as the auditor for the next school year, discussing a long range facility improvement plan and budgeting for the coming years and discussing the High Schools One Act Play's performance in competition in Carthage at Panola College on March 22, 2012.

The next board meeting will be held on April 19, 2012 in the Administration building.

Woodville ISD Board reviews goals, property values

by LeAnn Monk

"I know I'm out of order," stated Trey Allison, President of the Woodville ISD School Board, " But I would like to read the Board Goals before we proceed with this meeting. I feel they should be read at least once a quarter to remind us of why we are here and to help direct us in making our decisions." This statement was made at the school board meeting held on Monday, March 19. "Goal 1: Student Achievement- Woodville ISD will focus on STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) and EOC (End of Course) preparation. WISD students will score above the aggregate average of like districts for all tests, as well as above like district averages in all tested areas. WISD will strive to assure that 100 percent of eligible seniors will graduate under current TAKS standards. Woodville ISD will continue to increase district-wide academic performance," read Allison. He went on to say how important it was for the board to keep these goals in mind as they made decisions concerning the district and its students. For a full set of the Board goals, you can contact the WISD Administration Office.

Representatives from the firm Moak, Casey & Associates from Austin, were at the board meeting to discuss necessary action on the pending application the district has for a Chapter 313 Appraised Value Limitation on qualified property. According to Glenn Conner, Superintendent of the District, Woodville ISD would like to submit a completed application for approval to the Texas State Comptroller for appraised value limitation on qualified property. The Chapter 313 is an optional program applicable to school districts only and is set in place to help promote economic development. The basic concept is to allow a ten-year tax relief program for qualified properties. For the first two years the property would be fully taxed. However, during years three through 10, the property would receive a tax break. Eligible projects for this program would be new buildings and business personal property with a value limit ranging from one million to $100 million. These projects must be related to manufacturing, research and development, clean coal, gasification for a coal biomass mixture, renewable electric generation, or nuclear power; and these projects must create at least 10 new permanent jobs. "Basically it's an incentive for new companies, like East Texas Electric Coop and German Pellet Texas, to come in to our county or district. And there is no risk to the school," said Conner. After hearing the update from the firm, the board voted to submit the completed application to the state Comptroller.

Also visiting the members of the School Board was Jenny Grissom. Grissom is a HOSA State Qualifier, having been a finalist in the Health Care Issues Exam. Out of all of the students competing only 10 students advanced in the exam competition to State. Speaking to Grissom, Allison stated, "We are proud of how you represented Woodville ISD". Brook Brown, and AJ Foust also competed in the HOSA competition and are advancing to State in their respective contests as well.

During discussion on the financial statement, Cody Jarrott, from the district's business office advised the board it was time to set a date for the budget workshops. "We need to get an idea of where we are. We have to define what operations are," said Jarrott. "We are going to face challenges we haven't faced before," stated Conner. He went on to explain the district will experience those challenges due new changes by the State Legislature on values to the mineral accounts in the county.

During the Superintendent's Report, Conner reported to the Board the renovations on the music room were finished. He also told the Board construction on the new softball/baseball practice facility should be underway soon. He told the Board they would have to start thinking about replacing the water damage to the roof of the Kirby Gym and the middle school P.E. gym. "We have struggled with our security cameras for a long time," stated the superintendent. He advised the board he was looking into some possible upgrades using current equipment. "They are just good to have," he said. Conner then went over upcoming events happening around the WISD campuses. He pointed out the STAAR testing would be held on March 27 – 28, and April 24 – 27. The WISD campus is also the host of the annual Dogwood Pageant held in the amphitheater on April 7.

WISD Board Meetings are held on the third Monday of each month. The next meeting will be April 16, at 7:00 pm.

Colmesneil Council Considers New Fire Station

by Leann Monk

During the Colmesneil City Council meeting, Tuesday, March 13, Council heard from David Waxman, grant administrator from David Waxman, Inc., in Jasper. Waxman reported on the status of the proposed new Colmesneil fire station. He explained the fire station would be built with combined funds from Tyler County and the City of Colmesneil's Hurricane Ike Round Two Relief funds.

"Funding applications have been submitted," Waxman said. He then described the process that would take place in building the fire station. "First, after we are officially funded, we will get the interested parties to look at sites for the engineer to evaluate. Then we will turn it over to an environmental specialist." Councilman Charlie Branch asked if the fire station had to be built inside the city limits. "No. Not necessarily. You want to build the fire station centrally located to your response area, whether that is inside the city limits or not, is up to you all," Waxman said. Although Waxman has a contract with the State, he expressed his top priority was to please Colmesneil. "We want a first class project here," he said.

Waxman then discussed the need to replace deteriorated water lines in the city. According to a report he presented Council, the city is losing 20 percent of the water it is making due to poor water lines. That is one gallon lost for every five gallons pumped. Seven percent is typically considered an acceptable water loss. "This is something we really need to be looking at seriously," said Branch. Waxman told Council they had a couple of options on funding for the water lines project. One option would be to apply for a $275,000 grant that should be coming available in the next few months. Another option would be a bond. "We will no longer have the debt of the current bond after this year. We could look at another bond once this one is paid off," said City Secretary, Carrie Edwards. Waxman told Council to review the report he gave them and they would revisit the issue at the next council meeting.

Edwards then reported to Councilmembers the Annual Family Fun Day the City sponsors, which had been scheduled for May 19 has been cancelled. The event was cancelled due to a conflict with the Wings and Wheels Stunts Show which was also scheduled for that day. The stunt show is being held as a fundraiser for Colmesneil ISD and the Tyler County Art League. After a meeting with CISD Superintendent Stacy Ackely and Elementary Principal Yvette Carlton, it was decided the community could not support two large events and the Family Fun Day would be cancelled. Edwards told Council Family Fun Day would return next year.

Also addressed in the council meeting was a response to citizens' complaints to a street being paved recently. Barnes explained why Sutton Street in the city was chosen to be paved over other streets. "It was Round One Hurricane Ike Relief money that determined which streets were to be paved. We had $62,000 left over," Barnes said. "To get approved for the money, I had to show damage to the streets from hurricane clean-up efforts. Sutton Street was the only street that showed base failure and qualified." He went on to say, "Hickory Street has not been paved yet because it is tied up in another grant. If we paved it now, we would lose the grant money."

Also brought before Council was the need to correct a 911 addressing issue on Farm to Market Road 1745 North. "Currently numbering on the road inside the city limits is causing confusion," said Edwards. She went on to say, "According to DETCOG the City has two options, change the street numbers or change the street name." After some discussion, Branch made the motion to change the name of the portion of FM 1745 inside the city limits to Sturrock Drive. All of Council approved this motion.

In the upcoming events and Council comments section of the meeting, the Mayor told Council Congressman Kevin Brady's mobile office will be at City Hall on March 22 from 10 to 11 a.m. He urged everyone to attend this meeting.

The Colmesneil City Council meets the second Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be April 10.