updated 2:19 PM UTC, Oct 15, 2020

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 coming school 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 had hoped 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.

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