The trustees of the Blanco Independent School District held their regular monthly meeting on Monday night, November 14. Trustees present were Darrel Wagner, Matt Herden, Kirk Felps, Troy Immel, and Tim Nance.
Blanco High School Principal Dustin Barton reported that last week’s football game against Edna was exciting and a nail-biter. The Panthers are advancing in playoffs and will play Jourdanton in Floresville on Friday at 7:30pm. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students, with $5 for parking. Tickets aren’t available for pre-sell this time.
Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford introduced Blanco Elementary Principal Sue Ann Reininger, who highlighted the elementary TAG students.
Before the school year started, Ms. Reininger asked the TAG students to come up, if they could, to help the school create a video that demonstrated elementary school rules. The principal presented a certificate to each student involved–Chloe Luna, Lucas Villarreal, Anna Beliveau, John Handley-Kainer, Mitchell Barnett, Adelyn Seymour, Johanna Villarreal, Avery Nance, Joseph Hernandez, Lexi Creswell, Brynn Kirkland, and Jayme Mowery.
Middle School Principal Jesse Salazar put the spotlight on the middle school’s front office staff, Paula Batey and Cheryl Tesch, for doing “an outstanding professional job.”
“They are on the front lines of contact when people make the initial call, whether it be community members, parents, business members,” Salazar said. “They do a great job as far a setting the tone about what people think about Blanco Middle School.”
Dr. Ford reported that the district received a total of seven Gold Performance Awards from the Texas Education Agency.
“This is an outstanding honor and accomplishment for our school district,” said superintendent Dr. Buck Ford. “Gold Performance awards are given to recognize high quality performance, which is over and above meeting a minimum expectation. I want to thank and congratulate everyone who was associated with this.”
Dr. Ford updated the trustees on the district’s #3 goal, ensuring effective communication between the district and its students, employees, media, and community as a whole.
The superintendent highlighted a few programs. The district updates its website weekly, such as calendars, bond information, and employment openings. The Bell is emailed to parents and other members of the community. The district creates site-based decision committees, such as the Citizens Advisory Committee.
Local organizations like the Masonic Lodge and Blanco Lions Club have scholarships and programs for the schools, Dr. Ford added. Dr. Ford presented the communications programs running at each campus.
District Curriculum Preps for STAAR
Curriculum Director Kathy Anderson updated the board on the district’s use of the CSCOPE curriculum program. With the new STAAR test that has replaced the TAKS test this school year, the curriculum must change to cover the new requirements.
“CSCOPE is our curriculum; it’s customizable,” Anderson said. “We consider it a living curriculum management program.” When TEA would change the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in past years or come out with new guidelines, Anderson explained, they often had to wait five to ten years for new textbooks to come out. With CSCOPE, those changes are made quickly and immediately due to the 19 Education Service Centers supporting and monitoring the curriculum.
Statewide, 782 school districts and over 4,000 campuses have adopted the CSCOPE curriculum. The program allows teachers to quickly see what the students have learned before entering the class and will learn after leaving the class. The program also shows teachers what to teach during the school year and how long to spend on each subject. Example lessons are also available, which greatly helps new teachers.
Anderson explained how CSCOPE is implementing STAAR standards. Anderson provided a handout detailing how the state tests have advanced. With TABS in 1982, an exit-level question needed one step to answer. With TAKS, the question needed five steps. The example question from STAAR also needs five steps to answer but has become more rigorous.
“We know there will be a big bump in rigor with STAAR compared to TAKS,” Anderson said. “It will measure a higher level of thinking for those content skills, there will be more items on the test, and students will have more options, like a grid for writing in an answer.”
Anderson noted that previous tests had bumps in rigor and, each time, the students succeeded.
Grades 3 through 8 will be taking the new STAAR test and first-time 9th grade students will be taking the STAAR end-of-course assessments. Students in grades 10 through 12, as well as repeating 9th graders, will still be taking TAKS.
STAAR testing for high schoolers is where the big change happened, Anderson added. Students will take 12 end-of-course STAAR tests after they finish the course–after completing Algebra I, for example, the student will take the Algebra I STAAR, no matter the school year. 8th graders taking Algebra I will take the STAAR and it counts toward their graduation.
The new tests are more rigorous because the questions are more complex and require more thinking, important topics will have more questions, and the tests will be longer. STAAR also has a four hour time limit.
CSCOPE will help prepare teachers to teach the topics needed to pass the STAAR test. The curriculum components have already been reviewed and revised to meet STAAR requirements, Anderson said.
Principal Barton added that the administration is still working on grade calculations–students who do the work in class and fail the STAAR test shouldn’t also fail the class.
Board President Herden congratulated the curriculum director and teachers for keeping up with the new state requirements while at the same time coping with the legislature’s 92% cut in funding to teacher training.
Update on Selected Demolition and New Maintenance Facility
The superintendent shared photos from the old school building after the floors and ceilings were removed. A variety of artifacts were discovered in the rubble under the floors, including ink wells, bottles, and pieces of desks. A piece of paper about the school mentioned Superintendent Bailey, who was in that position in 1912. The artifacts will be on display in the library. The name “Louis Capt” was found written on a large stone in the wall. Capt was found in the 1870 census and is known to have died in 1890.
Dr. Ford reported that the new maintenance facility at 11th and Elm streets has progressed. The slab foundation, designed by an engineer, has been poured, and the building components have been delivered.
Highly Qualified Teachers
“The No Child Left Behind Act of 2011 requires each local education agency (LEA) to publicly report progress of the LEA and its campuses toward meeting the highly qualified teacher requirements,” Dr. Ford reported. “Blanco ISD has met its responsibility to this requirement at a percentage rate of 100%.”
Appraisal District Director Votes
Blanco ISD nominated David Behrends and Lynn Boyd to the ballot for the Blanco County Appraisal District Board of Directors. The district has 1,812 to cast and the board voted to vote 906 for Behrends and 906 for Boyd. The board decided not to take any action regarding votes for the Hays and Kendall boards of directors for which they did not nominate anyone and, last election time, did not take any action on.
The 82nd legislature made changes to law that have to be incorporated into the FO (Local) policy of the district. Part of the update includes text for districts that permit the use of corporal punishment, which Blanco ISD does, that prohibits the use of corporal punishment with a child if the child’s parent has submitted a signed statement to the principal. The parent may reinstate the use of corporal punishment with another signed statement at any time.
The update from TASB also includes a guideline that states that only an employee of the same sex as the child can administer corporal punishment. Blanco ISD board voted to adopt the updated FO (Local) with the revision that omits the same sex guideline.
Power of Eminent Domain
As the district is currently authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain, Dr. Ford said, the district is now required to notify the state comptroller of its legal authority to exercise that power. Failing to notify the comptroller would mean the power would expire. The board moved to approve the resolution.
Appraisal District Asks for Vote on Extra Funds
The Blanco County Appraisal District notified the district, and the other taxing entities according to the letter, that tax certificate fees and earned interest have accumulated at the appraisal district. The appraisal board could not decide on whether to return the money to the entities or put it toward the mortgage on the appraisal district’s new office.
The unanimous consent of the taxing entities to put the funds toward the mortgage was required for that option. The default option, to return the money, would be chosen if the decision wasn’t unanimous. Johnson City ISD had already decided to take its share of the reimbursement, making the decision moot.
Blanco ISD was set to receive $85,446.92. After much discussion, the board voted to request the reimbursement with trustee Felps voting against the motion.
Dr. Ford noted that all three campuses observed Veterans Day on November 11. The board agreed to a special board meeting on Monday, November 21, for elementary project architect Fromberg and Associates to present drawings and assessments.
The board approved BISD athletic trainer Christopher Lay and Blanco Regional Clinic’s Dr. John Weaver as the district’s Concussion Management Oversight Team. Herden read a letter from one of the district’s attorney regarding the shelf life of football helmets. The age of the helmets must be recorded and that record be available to parents, the letter said. It also detailed the maximum life of helmets and the requirement to recondition helmets older than 10 years.
The board also awarded a bid of $39,400 to Dennis Moore Trucking to expand the bus parking area onto the property at 11th and Elm. Trustee Wagner abstained from voting as his company had submitted a bid.
The meeting adjourned at 8:18pm.