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  • Chester board honors two retirees

    Chester ISD 062520PHOTO BY EMILY WATSON Gracie Cook (left) and Carrie McKnight were honored by the Chester ISD Board of Trustees at the board’s regular meeting last Tuesday.

    By Chuck Davidson

    CHESTER – The Chester ISD school board honored retirees Carrie McKnight and Gracie Cook last Tuesday night prior to the board meeting. They have given 46 years to students in Chester and will be missed. Both were presented with a sturdy rocking chair for them to use for many more years.

    Board president Ray McKnight gaveled the June meeting to order at 6 p.m., with all board members present, plus principal Katie Loughner, staff member Nancy Lewis, along with Vernon Lewis.

    After a board photo was taken, the consent agenda was approved and then all approved that the old concession stand by softball field be added to bidding list as salvage. Chester ISD Superintendent Cory Hines updated the board on the new concession stand/restroom and batting cage and asked for additional funds to add covered areas to both ends of the building which was approved.

    Loughner updated the board on graduation protocols in place for Saturday night as state and county guidelines must be followed. She also reported on the latest accountability info from the state. Prior to going into executive session, Hines reported that a long-lasting septic leak was found and repaired.

    After returning from a fairly long executive session, it was moved to change the method of board member elections from a 4-3 cycle to a 3-2-2 with staggered terms of three years; this was approved pending legality with the county. The board had also evaluated the job of Hines and moved that he be given a new five-year contract; this was approved with no discussion. No other action was taken thus meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

  • CISD votes to keep Pre-K program

    bulldogFile photo - Bulldog 

    By Mollie LaSalle
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    COLMESNEIL – The Colmesneil ISD Board of Trustees held their regular monthly meeting last Thursday evening. The meeting was moved to the band hall, at the request of Superintendent Eldon Franco.

    The first item on the regular agenda drew considerable interest and discussion. The district’s Pre-K Program was up for approval for the coming school year. Franco informed the board of the current year’s Pre-K numbers (shortened by COVID-19 closure.) “When the year began, there were 37 students enrolled in the program with one teacher and one aide, with 22% demonstrating readiness for kindergarten.” Expenses for the year were $247,920 with revenue at $201,456. Franco added “We are spending more money than we’re taking in”, and asked the board “Are we going the right way, are we going the wrong way, are we going any way at all”?

    “This program is running in a deficit”, not improving, not increasing. We are actually spending way more money. Accepting any student that comes in is very excessive,” he said.

    Elementary Principal Yvette Carlton went over the protocols for acceptance in the Pre-K program with the board. At the present time “the guidelines have changed; the whole point of the program is serving those children that qualify. In our area, this would be the economically disadvantaged, to give them a jump start that they wouldn’t get at home. So far, I have five students who have pre-registered (for the 2020-21 school year), and at this time only four of those qualify for the program.” Pre-K teacher Heather Seamans added that the program “should be geared more to those children who are not going to receive the jump start at home.” Carlton added that “our policy is that we serve those that meet the criteria.”

    Franco added, “so when we go beyond policy, we stick our necks out, but if we stick to policy, we are ok, that’s what you (Carlton) recommend, that we follow the policy that is in place for the Pre-K program. “Carlton added that “Pre-K tests (recommended by the state) are given three times a year, at the start, in the middle, and at the end.” This determines the children’s readiness for Kindergarten”.

    When all was said and done, the board approved the Pre-K program for the 2020-21 school year, with the understanding that “we follow the policy that is already in place.

    Other items on the regular agenda included increasing meal prices campus-wide (for both students and faculty/staff), discussing a bid for waxing the floors and approving the 2020-2021 school calendar.

    Also, on the regular agenda was a discussion of the preliminary 2021 Appraisal District Budget, and a discussion on the benefits of having an electronic board book, which carried a $4K initial expense and $2K a year, for board members. Franco added “It is a very user-friendly program that creates agendas, notices, and puts packets all in one place. Board members will have access to it almost immediately. This is something we are looking into in the near future, I want you guys (board members) to get used to the idea and get comfortable with it before it is presented for a vote.”

    The board voted to raise meal prices by $0.10 campus-wide and accepted a $14K bid for the floor waxing as the floors haven’t been waxed in quite a while. This should be completed (in and out) in a week’s time, with the board recommending that staff be trained on how to maintain the floors once they are waxed.

    In regard to the calendar, “we are going to stay put with what we have” according to Franco.

    Regarding back-to-school plans, the state is not requiring students to wear masks; it is optional. Screening and temperature checks are also not required, as this practice is not legal according to TEA guidelines.

    Franco also informed board members that the cameras that were set up around campus (specifically in the band hall and the shop) were in violation of district rules and have been disconnected. When the new school year starts, they will come on at the end of the day and be shut off at the beginning of the next day.

  • Courthouse remediation deadline extended

    TCHC Award 081320CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Mary Nell Rainey and Debbie Walker of the Tyler County Historical Commission are pictured with Judge Jacques Blanchette. Rainey and Walker accepted a Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission, which Blanchette presented during Monday’s meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court.

    By Chris Edwards
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    WOODVILLE – Tyler County Commissioners voted Monday to accept an offer from the Texas Historical Commission to extend the deadline for the remediation requirements on the courthouse project.

    The agreement was signed between the county and THC last year in order to resolve a dispute concerning several modifications made to the courthouse by the county between the years 2015 and 2018 during the ongoing restoration project.

    The original agreement provided a 24-month timeframe, or by March 31, 2021, for the county to fulfill several measures required by THC, at the county’s expense. The new deadline for the requirements is Dec. 1, 2021.

    County Judge Jacques Blanchette said the offer from THC was due to the ongoing pandemic response and setbacks due to it.

    In another agenda item pertaining to the ongoing courthouse project, Blanchette had originally expressed the desire to resign from the steering committee. “I think the committee has done an amazing job in keeping up with all of the responsibilities,” he said, but added that he felt a need to step away if the work did not continue to progress.

    Ultimately, Blanchette withdrew his intention to resign from the committee at Monday morning’s meeting of the Commissioners Court.

    County Historical Commission receives award
    Members of the Tyler County Historical Commission were on hand to receive an award from the state Historical Commission. The group received the Distinguished Service Award for work done in 2019.

    The county Commission’s Mary Nell Rainey spoke about the work the group is doing and spoke of the thoroughness of chairman Bob Morris.
    According to the THC’s website, the county historical commissions which have received the award “document well-rounded programs that preserve and promote Texas history.”

    Update on county annex
    Precinct 4 Commissioner Buck Hudson gave an update on the Tyler County Annex building during Monday’s meeting. The building’s interior sustained water damage last August due to a water heater bursting and flooding the building.

    Hudson said the electrical and plumbing work has been mostly completed, and there is sheetrocking and painting work to commence soon. “Hopefully by next several weeks” the building will be ready, Hudson said. He added that since the work has begun it is moving along quite well.

    Since the flood, the tax assessor/collector’s office; the Department of Public Safety Driver’s License office and State Representative James White’s office have been temporarily located on North Charlton Street in the same suite of offices that houses the adult probation office.

  • Tyler County receives ‘unmodified’ audit


    Blanchette Web Res File Photo - Tyler County Judge Jacques L. Blanchette

    By Chris Edwards
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    WOODVILLE – The Tyler County Commissioners Court received the results of its annual outside audit for the year 2019. Commissioners and County Judge Jacques Blanchette received the report during Monday morning’s meeting of the Commissioners Court, which was held in the District Courtroom at the courthouse, to ensure social distancing protocol was met.

    The findings merited an unmodified opinion, the highest level of assurance that an entity can receive, according to Darla Belt Dear of the firm Belt, Harris, Pechacek, LLLP, which conducted the audit.

    The county’s ending fund balance for the previous year was “nice, healthy,” Dear said, with an ending balance in the general fund of $4.6 million.

    The total revenues versus expenditures for fiscal year 2019 was $9,975,990 million and $9,049,451, respectively.

    Dear congratulated the officials for a great job of managing the county’s funds.

    Veterans Service report given
    The county’s Veterans’ Service Officer, Tina Cleberg, gave a report to the commissioners. Cleberg said that in the past month, her office provided services to 184 county veterans.

    Cleberg said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA-operated shuttle van service has been suspended until further notice, and her office is seeking volunteers to drive veterans to and from medical appointments. Currently, she said, there are three volunteers helping with the service. In order to volunteer as a driver, one does not need to undergo the screening process, she said, as the volunteer service is not run by the VA.

    She added that her office has received donations to assist with gas and other expenses related to the service. “Our community has been stepping up,” she said.

    Courthouse update provided
    Blanchette provided an update on the ongoing courthouse remediation project. He said that the steering committee met last week, and phase one is complete, with all of the plans and specifications finished.

    The next step, he said, is to go out for bids on the project, based upon the plans. “We need to go ahead and take action on that,” said Blanchette, and that action will come to the Commissioners Court in the future as a regular agenda item.

    Other Business
    During Monday’s meeting, the commissioners also approved:
    • The repair and replacement of a secondary beacon bulb and a damaged photo cell at the controller for the Sheriff’s Office tower in Doucette will be done. The job will cost $1,130.
    • A purchase of a Hitachi loader from Bane Machinery was granted for Pct. 2. The purchase will come through the buy board and financed through First National Bank of Wichita Falls. Pct. 2 Commissioner Stevan Sturrock added that his old loader is up for sale for any precinct that wants it.

  • Warren ISD examines budget

    Terry Ling 062520Caleb Fortenberry | TCB Warren ISD CFO Terry Ling presents budget workshop to school board.

    By Caleb Fortenberry
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    WARREN - Warren ISD school board conducted their monthly meeting last Thursday. The board of trustees conducted a budget workshop for this upcoming school year.

    Chief financial officer Terry Ling led the meeting discussing the possibilities for the 2020-2021 budget, showcasing numerous possibilities for the board to vote on at a later time.

    According to Ling, in the current school year, Warren ISD has collected $3.1 million of local revenue and almost $8.7 million in state revenue. Almost $12 million has been collected and $10.5 million spent with three months of payroll left. Ling expects another $120,000 of local revenue with $40,000 being the average on monthly collections, but possibly coming up $50,000 short of what was originally budgeted.

    The workshop included a discussion on payroll expenditures. Warren ISD superintendent Dr. Tammy Boyette expounded on the salary schedule. Of the four options presented she said, “There’s about a $130,000 difference in each one of these options just to make sure we prepare accordingly.”

    “We’re above the region 5 school districts on our zero years of experience,” said Ling, “We’re at 103.7%. We’re $1,500 above the average.”
    They expect to be able to raise the salary this upcoming year to mirror the average of all the school districts in region five.

    “We dipped below the average on the five-year experience,” Ling explained. “We put a little more emphasis on the beginning teachers so that we have that advantage to hire to get new teachers in.”

    Boyette affirmed that the applicant pool has become larger because of how competitive the pay is.

    Teachers were not the only faculty to be included in the reports presented. Ling stated that bus drivers in region five on average get paid $16.25 per hour and Warren ISD pays $16.62, staying above the average pay.

    Boyette explained to the board, should the schedule change, and they provide raises and add three new full-time equivalencies, the total will add $355,000 to the overall budget. However, as Boyette said, the district has $442,000 to work with if those expenditures are added, and the schedule will leave close to $100,000 for COVID-19 responses and other expenses.

  • Woodville ISD approves Covid-19 items

    Patti Tucker 061820CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Woodville ISD Board President Jimmy Tucker (right) presents his wife, Patricia, with a plaque commemorating her 30 years of service to the district.
    By Chris Edwards
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    WOODVILLE – The Woodville ISD Board of Trustees held its regular monthly meeting on Monday evening, and approved several items related to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on the district. Board members and district superintendent Lisa Meysembourg also discussed the possibilities of the coming school year in regard to finances.lisa quote

    Under one agenda item, which called for the consideration to approve a pay system and salaries for WISD, the board approved the system for the comingschool year, which includes a one percent, across-the-board raise.

    Business Manager Cody Jarrott said the salary raise proposal had to be retooled from an earlier version, due to COVID-19 concerns. Originally, the district hadhoped to give its employees a three percent increase to their salaries.

    Jarrott said the district has been exercising caution with the budget since the coronavirus pandemic hit, but also said uncertainty lies in what the state legislature will do in September 2021, with regard to school finance, as next year is a legislative year.

    Meysembourg agreed, and said the district wishes it could give a higher raise to its faculty and staff members but needs to be cautious. “We do need to recognize our teachers. It may not be much this year…but we want them to know how much we value and appreciate everything they do.”

    “We are being told through TASB to be very, very conservative for the next couple of years,” she said. “Most of the school districts I know are either freezing salaries or going with a one or two percent raise.”

    The new pay system also includes a pay grade chart, with compensation commensurate with the level of experience of the employee, as well as the type of position. “It gives flexibility, but it also provides very clear structure,” said Meysembourg.

    Prior to approving the pay system and raises, the board approved eight individual agenda items that pertained to COVID-19 concerns, which ranged from approving a waiver for missed school days for the period of March 17 through May 28 to approving a waiver from the ASVAB requirement.

    Tucker recognized
    Before it began the consent agenda, the board members acknowledged WISD retiree Patricia Tucker for her 30 years of service to the district. Tucker’s husband, WISD Board President Jimmy Tucker, presented her with a plaque and spoke about witnessing her inspiring qualities as an educator, including her dedication.
    Jimmy Tucker said that the board will honor the district’s other retiree, Gem White, next month.

    Other Business
    The WISD board members approved compliance certification of required employee security awareness training. Meysembourg said the district is 100% in compliance with this training, with all employees having completed the newly mandated security training measures.




Humidity: 100%

Wind: 14 mph

  • 03 Jan 2019 45°F 37°F
  • 04 Jan 2019 55°F 34°F