By Chris Edwards
"Wet Willie," a longtime attraction at Lake Tejas, the waterpark owned and operated by Colmesneil ISD, will come down soon due to the potential safety risks it poses.
The 100-foot long water slide, described as the "crown jewel" of the lake on its website, "will not be a fixture at Lake Tejas for us this year," CISD Superintendent Angela Matterson said at the district's board meeting on Monday, Feb. 26. Matterson said there have been safety concerns with the slide and in looking to dismantle it, the district is "just looking out for the safety of our children."
As a possible alternative to Wet Willie, Matterson suggested the construction of fiberglass water slides. The report on Wet Willie came during Matterson's report to the school board. At this time there are no plans or any actions taken to proceed with the demolition of the slide or for subsequent replacement. Matterson added that with the recent rains, the water level at the lake is up substantially, henceforth it would be impossible to do any work on the project at present.
In further comments on Lake Tejas, Matterson spoke about the job being done by lake manager Dena Kay Stewart-Settlocker. "She is doing a great job as manager," Matterson said. She also commended Settlocker's job of running the kitchen and concessions area of Lake Tejas, and the variety of food items she has provided for patrons of the lake since taking over those tasks.
On its regular agenda, CISD Board of Trustees approved its District Improvement Plan for the 2017-18 school year. Matterson made mention of several items included in the plan, including the addition of I-Excel testing software across the CISD campuses, additional needs for students, teacher retention and incentives for end-of-course testing. Matterson said she meets with new teachers each six weeks to "discuss anything they've got going on from grading to lesson plans." "We've got all those things [within the plan] in place in hopes of keeping them," she said.
Board members also reviewed and approved the 2016-17 Texas Academic Performance Report. The Texas Education Agency-issued report examines "all accountability, credibility, financials...everything everyone would want to know about the school," Matterson said. Prior to Monday night's meeting, a public hearing was held for discussion of the report. There were no members of the public present at the meeting to provide any comments.
CISD's district-wide accountability rating per the report is that it met standards in all examined fields. Both the campuses of Colmesneil Elementary as well as the secondary campus were given the "met standard" accountability rating, as well, with the secondary campus achieving several distinction designations from TEA. These distinctions include: Academic Achievements in English Language Arts/Reading; Academic Achievement in Mathematics; Top 25 percent in student progress and Top 25 percent in closing performance gaps.
Matterson said once the report was approved by the board, it will be posted on the district's website. Following the review, the report was approved after board member Twyla Darder motioned for its approval and board member Danny Brown provided a second.
Matterson presented the trustees a packet of accountability ratings from TEA for districts in the region, all measured by the new letter grade system. She explained that while CISD is "far above the standard" in comparison to neighboring districts, the ratings system still represents an unfair system. "Hopefully when the legislature meets again things will change," she said.
Currently the ratings system, which assigns school districts letter grades of A-F depending on three domains used to measure academic performance, is being used as a test. "We don't get penalized right now," Matterson explained. The system was passed during the 85th Texas Legislature, and is slated to begin in August 2018, when TEA plans to measure overall performance, as well as performance in each domain. The A-F ratings for campuses is scheduled to begin the following year, according to the TEA website. Matterson showed the board members how the letter grading system is broken down, and how TEA decides to cut points and for what.